Five sci-fi movies to stream right now
While science fiction can explore galaxies far distant and provide interstellar spectacles, it’s often more difficult when it stays close to home and investigates what makes us humans. This month’s selection of little-known streaming sci-fi movies is particularly interested in our bodies, in ourselves, but don’t worry, the laser battles will be back soon.
“Infinitum: unknown subject”
Rent or buy on most major platforms.
The title of this British film gives a hint of the premise: Yes, this is another entry into the crowded time loop subgenre, but with some intriguing twists and turns. The first is that it has been known from the start that the main character, Jane (Tori Butler-Hart, who co-wrote the script with her director husband, Matthew) keeps waking up tied up in an empty attic, is the subject of a scientific experiment, so for once we know how the loop came about and, in general, its purpose. Another is that Jane travels through a deserted world, which means that there aren’t any of the repeat encounters that usually make this type of movie so entertaining. The film was made on lockdown last year, but the Butler-Harts cleverly incorporated their constraints both in a minimalist style (the amount of dialogue would likely fit over three pages) and into the plot itself. : other people would impact the data from the experiment, so let’s just not get it.
Behind Jane’s ordeal are two researchers played by Conleth Hill (Lord Varys in “Game of Thrones”) and Ian McKellen (who features prominently in the credits and trailer but has limited screen presence. ). It’s Butler-Hart’s show from start to finish.
Stream it on Netflix.
Another lonely woman is at the heart of this sophisticated French production, and her situation is dire: she is awakened by shaking in a cryogenic capsule, having no idea who or where she is. With the help of a disembodied AI who calls herself MILO, for Medical Interface Liaison Officer (voiced by art house favorite Mathieu Amalric), she quickly deduces that her name is Liz Hansen. The rest of the film is mostly made up of Liz, played by Mélanie Laurent (“Inglourious Basterds”) in a tour de force, pushing her way through her circumstances while remaining flat on her back in the small pod. “Oxygen,” named after Liz’s shrinking supply, is essentially a (mostly) one-set detective film. Director Alexandre Aja – who manages to move away from the horror genre with which he has been associated since “High Tension” in 2003 – has the technical virtuosity to deliver action in a confined environment, but he also puts his know-how to the fore. service of won emotion. Typical is a dizzying shot involving Laurent’s eye – say more would be a spoiler – that manages to be both impressive and poetic.
Post it on Amazon.
This film by genre specialist Blumhouse Productions offers a more conventional take on amnesia and the search for her identity than “Oxygen” and, at least at first glance, is also more relevant than the story of a woman being herself. waking from cryogenic sleep – after all, what is happening to Nolan (Mamoudou Athie) seems too conceivable in 2021 in America. Following a devastating car accident that left him widowed, he struggles to care for his young daughter, Ava (Amanda Christine, formidable in the usually squeaky role of a precocious child). Nolan has trouble remembering even the simplest of tasks, like when to pick up Ava from school, and overall he just doesn’t feel like himself – and he doesn’t even know who or what that. would be anyway. Desperate to get to the bottom of it, he embarks on a series of unorthodox memory-retrieval sessions with Dr. Brooks (Phylicia Rashad). Directed by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr., “Black Box” does not deviate from the general guidelines governing the “doctor going rogue” subgenre, but it is an effective vehicle playing on huge questions of conscience and awareness. ‘ethics. Bonus: terrifying shots of a disjointed man crawling upside down on all fours, as Blumhouse goes to Blumhouse.
When an epidemic hits Argentina, Augusto (Agustín Rittano) and Laura (Jazmín Stuart) get into their campervan and flee Buenos Aires for what they hope will be a safe haven in the remote countryside. What is happening – “the disease”, “this thing happening now” – is never explained. The problem appears to be a form of insomnia that leads to a complete breakdown of technology (cell service is spotty, ATMs are down) and the social contract. The premise is similar to that of “Awake,” but “Toxic” is a lot more artistic than this dismal Netflix effort. Director Ariel Martínez Herrera turns Augusto and Laura’s journey (in their funky vehicle and comically huge interior) into a surreal road trip full of quirky scenes that aren’t going anywhere but are strangely satisfying, including meeting the couple. with a series of strange characters. Many aspects of the film – like people wearing masks and fearful of contact with others – are familiar in our Covid-19 world, but production of “Toxic” began years ago. You could say that these concerns are in the air of the 21st century. Herrera, however, is not particularly interested in sounding the alarm or terrifying viewers at “Contagion.” What he did instead, with a sure sense of composition and color, is a symphonic poem in the sweet mood for the apocalypse.
“The honeymoon phase”
Rent or buy on most major platforms.
Tom (Jim Schubin) and Eve (Chloe Carroll) are young, attractive and in love. They think they can easily earn $ 50,000 by signing up for a month-long study in which they are locked, under constant video surveillance, in a free-standing home. Things go well at first – how could they not be when the alcohol and food magically appear and the apartment comes with a stylish record player (musical montage)? Within just a few days, however, Eve begins to sense that something is wrong. Is she paranoid or insightful? Could Tom himself be behind his discomfort? The movie obviously nods to “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Shining,” but it’s not at that high level (and the score, filled with melodramatic flourishes, is in a bad way). Still, Phillip G. Carroll Jr., who wrote, directed, and edited “The Honeymoon Phase,” puts together enough twists and turns to make us guess not only Eve’s fate, but the film’s main themes as well – the story seems to point to a specific topic. path at first, then made hairpin turns. It can cause a whiplash, but Carroll Jr. is keeping us on edge.