Black Mirror is an anthology TV series that built one of the eeriest collections of cautionary tales this decade. From the detriments of dependence on new-age technology to the chilling effects of society’s latest and clever ways of dealing with the human condition, there are many tales that leave viewers sitting on the edge of their seats as they merge sci-fi technology with very real philosophical dilemmas surrounding societal antagonism.
Some movies have a perfectly imagined storyline full of the same suspense and innovation that are reminiscent of the Black Mirror universe and are the perfect films to watch in anticipation of Charlie Brooker’s next project (whether or not it is the much-anticipated sixth season of the series).
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Limitless (2o11) built a world in which there is an ingestible pill that allows the user to expand their mental acuity. The drawback, the drug has terrible withdrawal symptoms, and it is in extremely limited supply.
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Limitless opens a world that delves into how far people would go when they not only crave power but have immense desperation to avoid the pain that comes with losing that power. The drastic choices Bradley Cooper’s character makes in the film, including drinking the blood of a man he killed to get another dose in him demonstrates the iconic and eerie nature of the message this movie carries.
The Giver (2014)
In The Giver the leader of the main society forces its people to unknowingly take a drug that inhibits their ability to feel emotion, exercise free will, and see color. The goal of this excessive societal control was to create a “perfect” and undying civilization.
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This film demonstrates the lengths people may go to preserve humanity, which challenges the notion of “peace at any cost.” The film leaves the viewer with a brain-bending philosophical dilemma, whether it’s more logical to prevent the downfall of humanity by any means necessary, or to allow society the freedoms which may ultimately result in their own extinction.
In Time (2011)
In Time depicts a world in which one’s time left to live acts as in place of physical currency, as the solution to immortality had been realized. The drastic differences in lifestyles between the wealthy and the poor are apparent; while the wealthy are granted stress-free immortality, the poor live day-to-day and can’t even make the simple decision of sleeping in without threatening their life.
The eeriness of the new-age technology combined with the unjust means of preventing overpopulation in an immortal society leaves the viewer with an appetite for thought-provoking dissections of the world, even after the movie’s upbeat conclusion.
Would You Rather (2013)
In Would You Rather, a sadistic benefactor decides to push the limits of his dinner guests to determine how desperate they are for the life-changing money he is offering to one lucky winner. The most chilling and mind-bending moment comes from the conclusion, in which the protagonist is given an ultimatum near the end of the dinner party; kill the person in front of her, or walk away having saved a life, but sacrificing the chance to take the money.
The movie is an excellent suspenseful slow-burn thriller, highlighting the devolvement from the discomfort of having to perform a small uncomfortable task, up to the horrors of making tough, life-or-death choices as the night progresses. The drastic change in demeanor and morality of the characters drives the eerie thought-provoking nature of the film right up to the shocking twist in the end in which the protagonist murders the only other surviving guest to win the money for her brother, which ends up being a tragic waste, as he too dies from his illness.
The Circle (2015)
In The Circle, 50 people are abducted by aliens and situated in a room that has a machine that dictates one of them must die every two minutes. The people can either let the machine choose someone to kill at random, or they can individually vote for the person who goes next.
The scenario forces the unwilling participants to reveal who or what they value most in society, making them justify who is most worthy of life. The movie delves into the people’s values based on the group’s age, race, lifestyle, religion, and more, allowing the viewer to involve themselves with the participants’ selection processes, getting them to justify each successive vote. The movie ends in the most chilling thought-provoking ways, in which a shocking twist arises from an unpredicted deception, leaving the viewer feeling betrayed alongside those sacrificed.
Nerve focuses on two individuals Vee (played by Emma Roberts) and Ian (Dave Franco), who meet through an app that tests to see how far people will go when they enter a competition that uses foot-in-the-door tactics to get them to complete high-stakes tasks for money. Considered one of Dave Franco’s best films, Nerve takes the audience through a high-stakes adventure through a series of requested tasks.
This movie shines a light on the insidious nature of incrementally increasing dangerous stakes and the power of online anonymity. Anyone who acts as a “watcher” on the app could anonymously propose a dare for the player to complete for a sum of money equal to the intensity of the dare, which leads to some thrilling results, and thought-provoking questions surrounding the power of online anonymity.
In Passengers, technological disruptions lead to the unlikely life of one passenger Jim Preston (played by Chris Pratt), who is left to decipher his meaning and purpose as a traveler in which he will never live to see his destination. After being released from cryogenic sleep too early Jim wakes up another passenger, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). In one of Jennifer Lawrence’s most iconic roles, Aurora discovers the nature of her regained consciousness on the journey and rightfully feels betrayal and complex emotions about it after having bonded with Jim.
The eeriness of this film lies in the terrifying nature of the helplessness of the passengers stuck in cryogenic sleep for the duration of a lifetime. For decades, they were all at the mercy of one individual’s decisions, and the expansive unpredictability of space, giving it a chilling and mind-bending uncertainty that sticks with the viewer after watching the movie.
Level 16 (2019) follows the story of a group of young girls who are raised in a highly restrictive environment, which they believe is an adoption agency. The girls are depicted as being forced to take sleeping pills, cruelly punished for insubordination, and not having been taught how to read. It is later revealed that the facility is raising the girls so that when they come of age, they may carve the skin off of their faces to transplant onto wealthy women who wish to look youthful.
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This movie presents an eerie hyperbolic twist on humanity’s unrelenting desire for eternal youth in which the young girls are farmed like cattle, rather than treated like human beings. It reaches a thrilling thought-provoking conclusion when the girls discover their value is in their skin, and carve it themselves to finally be recognized in the end as children in need of proper care.
Get Out (2017) is a critically acclaimed film and one of the best-rated horror movies of 2017. In Get Out, an interracial couple Chris and Rose travel to a house in Lake Pontaco for him to meet her family, which is revealed to be something far more sinister than a weekend trip.
This movie presents an eerie twist on humanity’s unrelenting desire for eternal youth and immortality, paired with the horrors of losing bodily autonomy at the hands of one seeking to exploit another’s body for their own gain. It tackles the insidiousness of the disarming power of racism through stunning visual representation of the backroom of one’s mind, where they are hauntingly forced to watch as another person takes full control of their autonomy.
Mother! (2017) is a metaphorical story between G-d and Mother Earth, which surrounds the horrific devolvement of the peace within a house shared by an expecting couple. The movie plays on the terrifying nature of allowing minor disturbances to occur and continue on with incrementally increasing discomfort until they become dangerous and horrifying conditions for a mother’s home.
The increasingly horrifying disturbances and imagery as the movie progresses give it a chilling feel as the actions become more hectic as the small guest list in the house turns into a fully functioning society that is riddled with disturbing cultish behavior and prone to inciting violent wars. The devolvement of the peace in the small home highlights the most destructive aspects of human nature in a concentrated and unbearable way for the mother in a chilling journey.
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About The Author
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Anna Lando is a freelance writer based in Long Island New York. She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and a double minor in Creative Writing and Philosophy. Anna is also an avid reader, trivia enthusiast, and TV binger. Anna takes pride in all of her various interests to add fun and complexity to her writing and day-to-day routine.
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