Top 12 Nightmarish Movies Like 'Annihilation'

Updated on June 20, 2020
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Rahul is a movie addict who can never get enough of good films. His all time favorites are Inception, 12 Angry Men, and Scarface.

What Films Are Similar to Annihilation?

Annihilation is not an easy movie to digest. It asks you to believe in its simple yet outlandish plot imbued with horror and mythology. This film from Alex Garland is steeped in with mysticism all the way through. Suspension of disbelief is the only prerequisite before you dive in deep into its dark affairs.

Garland knows how to play with the inherent fear of the unknown, as the story dashes towards a harrowing conclusion. The monsters lurking in the alternate world are terrifying, but not in the least because of their terrifying visage. Most of the times, they stay out of plain sight, screeching and growling, leaving you with the rest to conjure up in your own mind.

Annihilation knows how to toy with its audience, and in a good way. Are you ready to endure some more horror? Take a look at the list of movies like Annihilation I have compiled for you.

Movies Similar to Annihilation

  1. The Mist
  2. Arrival
  3. Under The Skin
  4. Interstellar
  5. Upstream Color
  6. Sunshine
  7. Moon
  8. Blade Runner 2049
  9. Oblivion
  10. Ex Machina
  11. Coherence
  12. Vannila Sky

1. The Mist

When a mysterious cover of fog engulfs a small town, the wicked, insidious creatures emerge to haunt everyone. As chaos and mayhem erupt everywhere, a small group plans their way out of the never-ending nightmare. Will they come out unscathed?

King’s novels have been adapted to big and small screen too many times to keep track of them, but The Mist certainly is one of the better, if not the best, adaptation of his pristine work to this date.

Frank Darabont, the director behind this feature, had brought two other King’s novel to the big screen before going all in with The Mist, namely The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile - two of the most poignant, emotionally exhausting movies I have ever watched. Even if The Mist isn’t your cup of tea, definitely give the other two films a shot.

2. Arrival

The less is more approach at its best, as the movie packs a punch with its sparse presentation-one that doesn’t let us in on a lot, yet spills everything we need to know. This philosophical alien invasion movie lacks the adrenaline-fueled action but makes up for it with an enigmatic and heartfelt story.

In contrast to other alien movies, the extraterrestrial elements here have a hard time communicating with humans. They use some kind of visual language, making fleeting cloudy shapes with their hand-like organs to communicate with each other and with humans. Will they be understood before the invariable happens and they’re attacked by a bunch of trigger-happy countries?

We’ve been through countless alien invasions in the movie and have survived almost everyone. What makes this Denis Villeneuve directed feature tick is its serenity, even in its action-packed moments. A strange sense of calmness and stability sweeps over the whole film, pulling you in its hypnosis from the very beginning. Arrival is simple visual storytelling at its best. If you haven’t watched it, you’re missing out on one of the most underrated movies of 2016.

3. Under The Skin

Only a few films can do what Under The Skin effortlessly achieves; it makes you think about what you witnessed on the screen. This part-genius part-outlandish feature dials originality and enigma up to 11.

The story revolves around an alien who embodies a young woman (Scarlett Johnson) and goes about picking up dudes, just for the sake of it. Until these poor chaps finally catch up with what’s happening, it’s too late for them.

It’s a demanding movie - one that requires you to pay attention and be an active participant in its affairs. Allow yourself to be comfortable with its rapid pacing and fleeting details, and you’ll have a better experience. Try to find certainty, meaning, or a closure, and this movie becomes a frustratingly futile exercise.

4. Interstellar

With humanity on its last legs on planet Earth, a few scientists take it upon themselves to venture deep into the uncharted territories of space, traveling far beyond anyone else in the search for a new home.

When they inadvertently warp time, it results in an unexpected voyage steeped in with time-travels, rapid aging, and some teeth-gritting drama.

Director and writer Nolan needs no introduction here, or anywhere for that matter. Grounded in reality despite tackling varying themes, his movies speak for themselves. Once again, he has delivered with this gem of a movie that will stay relevant years from now, probably more when you bring in the nostalgia into factor.

His passion and masterful direction intermittently manifest in this movie, where finding time to take a breather is a challenge in itself. Interstellar is a once-in-a-decade movie - one that’ll deluge a storm of a wide range of emotions in you.

5. Upstream Color

This Shane Carruth’s second feature is an infuriating journey, especially if you’re not familiar with his artful ways. Check out Primer, his first foray into the movie industry, a mind-numbing ride rife with convoluted time-traveling sequences. Upstream Color, the sci-fi thriller, is cut from the same cloth.

Any effort to summarize this movie is a futile exercise. If you go by IMDB’s synopsis, it won’t be much of a help either. Truth be told, the story isn’t even the main focus here. In its symbolism, it represents everything relevant in life, and yet as you delve deeper into its twisted, romantic affairs; it seems like random mumbo-jumbo. It‘s as if they filmed and put together this feature in random sequence just to baffle and get a rise out of audiences.

Take your time, watch it, and then repeat it. Not every movie has to be reduced to a simple, expository affair. Let some mysteries be unresolved.

6. Sunshine

It’s 2077 and the end of humanity is nigh. The Sun is dying sooner than expected, without which no life can be sustained. Thanks to a few bravehearts, there still is hope that Sun will be reignited and shine upon Earth, brighter than ever.

When a group of astronauts ventures far in the cold, distant space in that noble quest, it doesn’t take them long to realize that it’s most likely a suicide mission, even if things go as planned. Of course, no mission has ever been ‘perfectly executed’ in a sci-movie. Sunshine has all the hooks of a space sci-fi spectacle, and it utilizes them to its grandiose advantage.

The movie starts with a bang, without much care for an introduction to the characters. We’re told that mother Earth needs some saving, and these handful random faces will seal the deal. Unlike many other movies of the same genre, the first half is chock full of people dying, screaming, and running away from something or someone.

Somehow, the second half is even more of a chaotic delight - one you’ll absolutely enjoy. What Boyle has achieved in a measly budget of $40 million is nothing short of incredible! Yes, the ending sticks out like a sore thumb in what otherwise is an action-packed movie to the brim, but don’t look too much into it. Sunshine might not have the vigor of blockbuster sci-fis, but the movie packs a punch where it matters.

7. Moon

Sam, our protagonist, is the only worker on the moon, sending invaluable resources back to Earth via mining. When he’s not working, he spends his time talking through a peculiar one-way communication system, updating his work-status and communicating with his family. As his tenure on the moon comes to an end, he realizes that not everything is as it seems. He digs in deep, only to face a life-changing truth.

As vast and full of wonders space is, it can be a lonely place, especially if you’re stuck there for some time, and both facets of space have been realized in meticulous detail. Sam Rockwell justifies his choice for playing a lonely, deluded character who has lost pretty much everything. His excellent performance induces sympathy, as he single-handily carries the whole movie upon his shoulders.

Thanks to some excellent acting and cinematography, Moon cements its place as one of the best movies like Annihilation. Savor this trippy, and possibly one of the best indie movie experience!

8. Blade Runner 2049

The plot follows K, a Blade Runner, whose job is to track the obsolete android models and finish them for good. He goes about his job, not caring in the least about the trivial ‘why’ and ‘whats’ relating to his ruthless assignments. He knows better than to ask. When K comes across the last of his long line of victims, reality finally hits him as he learns the true nature of his job and the prize at stake.

It’s easy to mistake Blade Runner 2049 for a mere eye-candy. Don’t let all the glitter and dazzle fool you; this movie not only justifies its place as the sequel to 1982‘s classic, but also sets a benchmark for sci-fi movies to come in future.

It’s audacious, visually-striking, staying true to its roots. If you have watched the original, the overcrowded city will seem familiar to you instantly. Even if you’re a newcomer to the series, there’s plenty to cherish and feat your eyes upon.

Striking a balance between staying faithful to the cult-classic hit and embracing unexplored territories could have gone awry, but Denis Villeneuve’s expert hands ensure that it stays right on track throughout its run.

To sum it up, Blade Runner 2049 is a grandiose experience - one that’s both brave and bold. If you didn’t catch this spectacle in cinemas, now is the time to redeem yourself.

9. Oblivion

Oblivion’s take on the post-apocalyptic fantasy world that feels empty, but a strong narrative keeps this film from falling apart. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, Obvlion puts us in the shoes of Jack (Tom Cruise), the last remaining human on Earth, scavenging whatever is left of it in a quest to save humanity. Things, however, turn upside down when he learns the true nature of his reality and the boss he’s working for. All his supposed noble work wasn’t for the betterment of dying humanity after all.

Obvlion is a visually striking experience with a profound, slow-paced drama that takes its sweet time in showing the viewers a war-ravaged world through its somewhat pessimistic lenses. Earth has never looked so beautiful before, thanks to Claudio Miranda, who captures its pristine beauty in every possible way.

As you board this eccentric ride, it’s hard not gasp and stop every other moment to savor its beauty.

10. Ex Machina

This debut feature by Alex Garland is a mind-bender, not because of its vicious twist at the end, but because of how it leads viewers to believe it’s a straightforward romantic movie.

The story revolves around a coder, who’s selected to spend a week with his boss living in an isolated expanse. Little does he know that his boss has set other plans in motion, including secret one-on-one experiments with an advanced AI robot, which will change his life forever.

Ex Machina has all the hooks of a sci-fi movie, but its crude, minimalist take on the oversaturated genre is unforgiving, and to some extent, cruel - a delight for the virtual masochists. It’s an experience you can appreciate, enjoy, however, you can’t.

Sharp writing coupled with intricate direction and punctuated with some masterful cinematography cements Ex Machina as one of the best movies like Annihilation.

11. Coherence

Directed by James Ward Byrkit, Coherence is an allegorical science fiction movie made for intellectually smart people. It’s short, shrewd, and transfixing, even in its most confusing moments.

The plot spins around a couple of friends who join in a gathering for dinner. Things soon turn sinister as they inadvertently open the door to multiple alternate worlds. Together, they must fix the mess or hope they escape unscathed.

One can argue that ending felt a little out of the place, but I felt that it’s the only way a multi-threaded plot could justify its conclusion, leaving the door open for various interpretations.

It’s unfortunate that this movie didn’t get the recognition and attention it needed, at least not in the cinema halls. It did reasonably well, but not as well as an exquisite masterpiece like this should do. The success was partly clouded by the fact that Coherence lacked mass appeal, big time.

It’s not for everyone. In contrast to brain-dead blockbusters, this feature will only appeal to a handful portion of cinephiles. Who wants to join the herd anyways?

12. Vanilla Sky

More than anything else, even more than Cruise’s haunting visage, the realization that this dark story could easily be our reality will get you. This romantic-story-gone-haywire is hard to watch, even for a cold-hearted person.

In what possibly is his best performance in movies, Tom Cruise plays a tycoon who loses everything to a car crash, including his identity. He wakes up and continues his life as if nothing has happened. However, something about his after-accident life doesn’t feel right. He digs deep to unravel the mystery, only to get pulled in a life of melancholy and irrelevance where he can’t separate dreams from reality.

Just when you think you’ve figured the story out, Vanilla Sky takes an acute turn, changing the pace as well as the direction of the story in a dime. The twists and turns deliver more than fleeting cheap thrills. Every dialogue, setup, and background score is designed to deliver the twists with a thud.

Did I miss out on some movies like Annihilation? Let me know in the comments section.


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    • Sam Shepards profile image

      Sam Shepards 

      19 months ago from Europe

      I never really saw Arrival as a nightmarish movie, but still like the list!


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