The 5 best alien movies to watch on Netflix when you need a break from humanity

KTSDESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images
ByTebany Yune
Originally Published: 

We've all got 'alien invasion' on our 2020 bingo card, right? The way things are going, it seems like one of the likelier possible scenarios for this year. On the other hand, there's an equally good chance that aliens would take a quick look through their space telescopes at everything we've got going on down here and take a hard pass on coming to say hello.

And while we couldn't blame them for driving straight past Earth at the moment, if they did decide to stop in we'd welcome them with open arms. Hopefully they'd beam us up and carry us far away from all this, but in any case it'd be a much welcome distraction from the hell of 2020.

Until that happens, here are the five best alien movies on Netflix with a focus on the existence of extraterrestrials to get you ready for the big encounter.

1. The Endless

The Endless/IMDb/Well Go USA Entertainment

The Endless is a movie that starts with the premise of a UFO death cult and only ramps up from there. Two brothers are convinced to return to the campground of their youth where they find old members who haven't aged. As they remain in the area, they uncover more mysteries and events strangely repeating around them, and eventually discover the force driving them.

Aliens don't flood the screen in an invasion, but they remain in the background of this film through characters' thoughts and actions. The Endless also plays with sci-fi themes such as time, space, free will, and reality in smart and unnerving ways that has earned it much praise from critics.

2. The Signal

The Signal/Low Spark Films/Focus Features

Not gonna lie, this one's pretty weird but plenty alien-y. The Signal is part of the indie sci-fi trend that tries to pass as a thriller or hints at an encroaching horror before it actually hits audiences with the aliens. This film is about a trio of friends who go on a road trip to California and are abducted by a strange light on the way there. When they wake up, they're in some kind of government facility, assumed to be Area 51.

They try to escape, and things get wild from that point on. The Signal can be flashy with its CGI and strange with its story, but it's an entertaining indie pick nonetheless. Laurence Fishburne also plays a character, which, to me, is a decent enough reason to check it out.

3. The Cloverfield Paradox

The Cloverfield Paradox/IMDb/Paramount Pictures/Netflix

This movie is about a space crew desperately trying to power up a particle collider to solve an energy crisis that's threatening to set off conflicts between nations on Earth. When they finally succeed, they realize that the planet has disappeared from their station's view, and reality as they know it shatters as they learn very hard lessons about the consequences of their actions.

The Cloverfield Paradox explores many tantalizing sci-fi themes like space, extraterrestrials, quantum physics, and alternate universes. Viewers and critics have debated whether it covers these themes successfully, but the concepts are still intriguing to think about and can act as a launching pad for a late-night Wikipedia dive. Don't expect to see a ton of aliens, though: The majority of the movie centers on how events lead to extraterrestrials, with the build up to their appearance adding some tension to the film.

The Cloverfield Paradox is part of the Cloverfield franchise, which means you might want to watch the other two movies to understand how this one connects with them. Unfortunately, the other two movies are no longer on Netflix.

4. District 9

District 9/IMDb/TriStar Pictures

Instead of asking what aliens would do if they met us, District 9 asks what humans would do if we met them. The answer is depressingly on-the-nose considering current events; in the movie, humans have decided to send the alien refugees into a slum where the once-space faring species experience extreme prejudice and xenophobia.

Filmed like a documentary, the story is about a human who goes through a life-changing event that brings him together with alien allies and the support of an alien resistance movement against their oppressors. Despite the movie's low budget, it still received praise for having great special effects, attention-grabbing action, and a solid story. There's some clichés that come with the genre, of course, but there's also a string of hope throughout the plot that will leave you contemplating the essence of mankind.

5. Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers/IMDb/TriStar Pictures/Touchstone Pictures

Maybe a satire film about a fascist government calling for its youth to enlist in a military expected to sacrifice their lives to take down the nation's enemies sounds like a bit much to think about right now, but Starship Troopers injects just enough over-the-top exaggeration into its characters, setting, and themes that audiences can still watch it with a sense of humor.

The movie is chock full of bug-like CGI aliens that, surprisingly, still hold up to this day. The plot revolves around the theme of: "Let's all go to war and let's all die," director Paul Verhoeven said in an interview with AV Club. Verhoeven's experience growing up in a Nazi-controlled Netherlands shines through as he pokes fun at propaganda and fascism through the lens of a war between humans and aliens.

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