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11 best sci-fi shows and movies you can’t miss

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Now that September is here, a slew of new shows and movies have arrived on Netflix just in time for the start of Autumn. And you know what that means: It’s Halloween season! Here’s a look at some of the best sci-fi shows and movies on Netflix that skew towards horror to help celebrate the season.

If you’re hankering for a taste of tomorrow this September — particularly if you’re in the mood for zombies and other pieces of sci-fi horror — here are 11 of the best science fiction shows and movies available to stream on Netflix, with a focus on whatever’s new, original, or leaving soon.

These zombies look a bit grabby.Next Entertainment World

If there is one sci-fi movie to watch this month — and at some point in the next two weeks, no less — it’s Train to Busan. The premise is ostensibly “zombies on a train,” but writer-director Sang-Ho Yeon infuses this Korean horror with enough suspense, excitement, and humanity to create one of the best zombie stories in recent memory.

The central story involves a selfish, workaholic father taking his daughter on a birthday trip to see her mother. When an outbreak deters their travel plans, the story mutates into a high-adrenaline, zombie-ridden nightmare, leaving the two to seek the only safe city left in Korea: Busan. And because it’s leaving the platform soon, make this one a priority.

Train to Busan will be removed from the Netflix library on September 17, 2020.

Look: The Resident Evil movies are pretty much all universally despised, but there’s no denying that they do deliver on some ridiculous, pulpy zombie-horror action that’s actually pretty fun if you’re a bit delirious and watching it in the middle of the night. And with the newly confirmed live-action Resident Evil TV series in the works, there’s no better time to commit to at least trying to understand what’s going on here. (Added bonus: Wesker, whose daughters are the focus of the new show, is the principal villain in this move!) It’s also only 96 minutes long, so what do you have to lose?

Afterlife is the fourth of six movies starring Milla Jovovich as Alice, and five years after the T-Virus has swept across the globe, she wanders the wastes in search of survivors. After an initial confrontation with the villainous Wesker leaves Alice depowered, she teams up with fan-service caricatures — Chris Redfield, Claire Redfield, and even a Jill Valentine cameo — to try and take him down in Los Angeles.

Resident Evil: Afterlife will go extinct on Netflix as of September 30, 2020.

girl with all the gifts

’28 Days Later’ meets … ‘Hannibal’?Saban Films

Just because the weather is getting cool enough that I want to watch nothing but horror these days, let’s keep this zombie train rolling. This 2016 BAFTA-nominated thriller is an adaptation of an award-winning novel about a girl who’s one of many second-generation children born into a zombie apocalypse who retain their intelligence after being infected. The protagonist Melanie and a host of other children are being studied in a facility run by desperate scientists hoping to find a cure before traditional humans go extinct.

The Girl with All the Gifts draws obvious inspiration from previous science-heavy zombie movies like 28 Days Later, I Am Legend, and Dawn of the Dead in its world-building and overall execution, but the core idea of a zombie girl struggling to retain her sense of empathy despite an overpowering hunger is compelling and novel. For those who crave more of the undead, The Girl with All the Gifts is a contemporary classic you need to see.

Speaking of trains: From visionary South Korean director Bong Joon-ho (Okja) comes Snowpiercer, a brutal, grim piece of dystopian sci-fi released in 2013 in which an impossible train in perpetual motion hurdles through the icy, apocalyptic wasteland of Earth. A failed climate-change experiment plunged the world into this second Ice Age, and the only survivors are those lucky — or unlucky — enough to have made it aboard this ridiculous train. And it ain’t stoppin’.

Snowpiercer stars Captain America, aka Chris Evans, as a grizzled survivor from the back of the train leading a violent uprising against the aristocrats in control of the rest. For anyone who wants something a bit edgier and frightening to watch on their way into autumn — and eventually winter — look no further than this wickedly compelling dystopia. (There’s also a spinoff/prequel series you can watch elsewhere if interested.)

jurassic park sick triceratops

A sick triceratops gets treatment in the original ‘Jurassic Park.’Universal Pictures

Dino-disaster! Somehow, Steven Spielberg’s iconic dinosaur movie is already leaving Netflix after only having just returned at the start of August. The original Jurassic Park achieves a captivating sense of natural majesty and sheer terror that we really haven’t seen since from the franchise. This 1993 film may have launched a wildly lucrative sci-fi blockbuster series, but as the sequels get bigger, the overall quality seems to diminish. (The second and third films are also leaving if you’re keen on a franchise binge before the start of October.)

Based on Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel of the same name, the titular Jurassic Park is a park created on a tropical island where genetic scientists figured out how to clone dinosaurs based on ancient DNA found in mosquitos. While the science doesn’t make a ton of sense, this is an excellent premise for a wildly entertaining movie where you get to watch a young Jeff Goldblum make a bunch of wise jokes for a couple of hours.

Jurassic Park and two of its sequels will go extinct on Netflix September 30, 2020.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Starship Troopers only arrived on Netflix just in time for summer on June 1, and it’s leaving at the end of September, right after the season ends. It’s almost poetic for this steamy, gory, pulpy action film about humanity’s war against a race of bug-like aliens.

This satirical film directed by Paul Verhoeven follows a young soldier training for the military amid the outbreak of an interplanetary war. There are monstrous bug aliens, telepaths, and all sorts of high-tech weaponry. Action-packed, outrageous, and often hilarious, Starship Troopers is the perfect kind of brainless entertainment that’s secretly lowbrow-brilliant with its meta-commentary on the military’s fascist tendencies and commentary on barely-veiled racism.

There’s a lot to unpack here if you’re looking for it — or you can just watch good-looking people fight and get skewered by a bunch of huge, nasty bugs.

Starship Troopers will lose the war when it leaves Netflix on September 30, 2020.

bird box

‘Bird Box’ seems like the most challenging apocalypse to survive in.Netflix

If you’re a sci-fi enthusiast who has Netflix frequents this monthly round-up often, then chances are you’ve already seen Bird Box. It’s been almost two years since it was released, so it may be time for a rewatch this Halloween season. The Sandra Bullock-led apocalyptic horror film that leans more towards Lovecraftian dark fantasy than it does overt science fiction, but the overall execution feels reminiscent of survivalist sci-fi horror like 28 Days Later or I Am Legend.

Unexplained entities suddenly emerge around the globe one day, and anybody who sees them instantly goes insane. In the vast majority of cases, a person will commit suicide almost immediately in the most straightforward way possible. Survivors who venture out into the world have to travel about blindfolded to avoid meeting such a grim fate. Told across two timelines at the start of the apocalypse and five years into it, Bird Box focuses on Malorie (Bullock), a frustrated woman who will do whatever it takes to survive.

Gripping, tragic, and eventually pretty uplifting, Bird Box is a fascination meditation on how difficult it is to retain one’s humanity despite bleak circumstances.

freaks you're one of us

More waitresses should have superpowers.Netflix

This German-language superhero film only just landed on the Netflix library September 2, so the jury’s still out on whether or not this weird but fun plot hook makes for a good movie: Wendy (Cornelia Gröschel) lives a mild-mannered life as a waitress, but after she discovers that she has superpowers, she soon meets two others like her with different abilities. As government agents and other nefarious parties begin hunting these supers, they’re left to decide how they want to use their powers.

Based on some early reviews, it seems like Freaks — You’re One of Us does some interesting things in its first half before relying too heavily on predictable tropes to round out the story. Despite that, it sure seems like for superhero enthusiasts, this one might be worth watching.

Freaks — You’re One of Us was added to the Netflix library September 2, 2020.

While Stranger Things Season 4 probably won’t be released until the middle of 2021 at the earliest, it’s now been more than four years since the show first debuted in July 2016. Therefore, it might be the perfect time to rewatch the sensational first two seasons which both take place in the fall of 1983 and 1984, respectively. In particular, the second season kicks off in the days leading up to Halloween, so by the end of September in the real world, watching these first two seasons will feel extra timely.

After a local boy goes missing in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, a group of kids who love to play Dungeons & Dragons begin a search for their lost friend. In the process, they meet a mysterious girl with telekinetic powers and with her help uncover a government conspiracy that ripped open a hole in reality leading to an alternate dimension they come to call the Upside Down. There are nightmarish monsters, cool superpowers, and enough synthwave to give Boomers a bonafide flashback to better times.

netflix away space

Hillary Swank stars in ‘Away.’Netflix

The always-excellent Hillary Swank stars in an excellent new Netflix drama series about the first manned mission to Mars, and while this science-heavy show basically takes place in our near-future, you can still technically classify it as science fiction.

During the three-year journey to Mars, Emma Green (Swank) and her crew encounter a series of near-deadly malfunctions and has to contend with all sorts of problems you’d expect from such a dangerous mission. Meanwhile, Emma’s husband and daughter deal with their own problems back on Earth. The narrative relies on video chat, of all things, to up the drama. The further the ship gets from Earth, the longer it takes video files to travel to and from Earth, so as the lifeline to mission control gets longer and longer, the crew is forced to improvise in interesting ways. It’s oddly fitting for a time when most people remain indoors, relying on video chat for day-to-day interactions.

Away will blast off on Netflix September 4, 2020.

the good place season 4 episode 10

‘The Good Place’ Season 4 wraps up the series in the best way possible.NBC Universal

I know what you’re thinking: “An NBC sitcom about a group of goofy people trying to navigate the afterlife is not science fiction!” Well, I don’t care! The superb final season of The Good Place finally makes its way onto Netflix at the end of the month, so if you didn’t finish the series when it aired on January 2020 or shortly thereafter on Hulu, then the time is nigh.

In Season 4, the core group of Elanor, Chidi, Tahani, Jason, and their demon and A.I angel friends Michael and Janet are tasked with creating a new afterlife experiment through which human beings can undergo moral development. Without giving any of the delightful twists away, I’ll say that few series finales stick the landing so well. I never cry at anything, and yet, the final episodes and minutes of the series had me in tears.

The Good Place Season 4 will arrive on Netflix September 26, 2020.

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