So you just finished watching District 9, and you’re hungry for District 10? Well, bad news, there is no sequel (yet). That’s right, Wikus is still a prawn (the true name of the extraterrestrials is never revealed) and waiting for Christopher to return and turn him back into a human. His wife probably has at least a thousand metal roses by now, but anyways, there are a few different reasons why you might have loved District 9.
For one, the aliens look great. So many movies fail to hold up after over a decade, but the prawns still look decent— along with the rest of the environment in the movie. There’s also the not-so-subtle subtext about humanity, xenophobia, and segregation. The title itself is a reference to District 6, a segregated neighborhood in Capetown that was forcibly evacuated during apartheid. Lastly, there’s the dystopian future we see these aliens and humans living in and the action-packed last third of the movie.
There’s no movie that’s a one-for-one match for District 9, but there are some that check a few of those boxes. The following movies have all been raved about by critics, audiences, or both and feature themes of dystopia, aliens, science fiction and action, or all 3. Here are 10 dystopian sci-fi movies like District 9 that you will be sure to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a movie like District 9, the first thing you should do is check out other movies by the same director— Neill Blomkamp. Blomkamp made his directorial debut with District 9 and followed it up with a slew of other movies also set in a dystopian South Africa, one of which is Elysium. Elysium is a dystopian science-fiction film that stars Matt Damon in the lead role, fighting for his life after late-stage capitalism ends up giving him a lethal dose of radiation at his factory job. He can be saved easily with readily available technology, but it’s only accessible by the rich who inhabit a ring that orbits Earth known as Elysium.
This film also stars Sharlto Copley, albeit in the role of an antagonist, along with Jodie Foster, Alice Braga from the critically acclaimed City of God, Diego Luna, William Fichtner, and Wagner Moura. Elysium does have some flaws; it might not be as impressive as District 9, but it’s a great dystopian sci-fi film everyone should see once and is probably in Neill Blomkamp’s top 3 films.
The second and last Neill Blomkamp film recommended on this list is his 2015 dystopian sci-fi film about a robot— Chappie. This film is set in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is about how the government has invested heavily in a fleet of attack robots to combat the rising crime rate. The robots are built and designed by a private weapons manufacturer, which, as we all know, eventually will spell disaster for everyone involved.
One of the engineers at the company has developed a prototype AI module and wants to install it on a robot that was decommissioned after taking an RPG round to the chest in a raid against some gangsters. The creator and robot are kidnapped by a group of criminals, played by the leads of Die Antwoord, who aim to use the robot somehow to pay back their debt to a gang boss.
The movie itself leans heavily into the dystopian sci-fi vibes that are prevalent in District 9 and Elysium. If you enjoyed the environments, effects, and cinematography from those two films, you will love Chappie.
Children of Men (2006)
Less sci-fi, more dystopian, Children of Men is based on a novel of the same name and is about a future where two decades of infertility have left the world in shambles. As humanity tries to survive, Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is stuck in the middle of a tug-of-war over the only known pregnant woman on Earth. The movie itself is fast-paced for its subject matter but manages to build a dystopian world and emphasize the stakes for viewers all within 109 minutes.
The film itself explores the idea of hope in the face of almost certain death and despair. The fate of humanity is almost certainly doomed, yet there is a sliver of hope left that just might save it. While it wasn’t a box office smash, Children of Men has definitely found its place over the years and has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and is absolutely adored by fans of sci-fi and dystopia.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Next on our list of movies like District 9 is a Tom Cruise sci-fi action flick that flew slightly under the radar. A lot of people missed out on Edge of Tomorrow when it was first released due to the abysmal job the marketing team did. It was thought of as a bit of a flop, but those that have seen it consider it to be a great addition to the world of science fiction. Tom Cruise does what Tom Cruise does best and gives a decent performance alongside his cast members, especially Emily Blunt.
Set in the future, Earth is threatened by an invading alien race that is stopping at nothing to eradicate humanity. Tom Cruise plays an officer who is sent to the front lines, where he dies but is abruptly brought back to life just a few days before dying as if the events were a dream. As he repeatedly gets sent to the front to live, die, repeat, he enlists the help of supersoldier Emily Blunt to figure out how to utilize his abilities to fend off the alien invasion.
It’s full of action, it’s got aliens, it’s got sci-fi, there’s a whole groundhog day thing going on, and Tom Cruise’s character dies a hundred times; what’s not to like?
Snowpiercer also has some not-so-subtle conversations about class and social hierarchy, kind of like District 9. In the world of Snowpiercer, civilization has been ravaged by an ice age after an attempt to stop global warming went wrong. The last surviving members of humanity are on a train, Snowpiercer, created by a transportation industrialist knowns as Wilford. Snowpiercer is on a track that circumnavigates the globe, with the rich people at the front and the poor people in the back.
As you can imagine, the lower class members don’t have the best quality of life. They are forced to eat gelatinous protein bars for every meal and are regularly tortured if they fall out of line while the rich live extravagant lifestyles. When the rich come to take away children for god knows what, the lower class begins revolting and fighting their way to the front of the train. Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton play phenomenal roles in this original and visually entertaining film.
The Road (2009)
Viggo Mortensen is best known for his role as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but he is a great actor in a number of other films, too, The Road being one of them. Mortensen plays a father with a young son struggling to survive in a world that has been destroyed by some apocalyptic event. With roving packs of cannibals and unfriendly people around every corner, Mortensen attempts to head to the coast to find a safe haven for the two of them in a world filled with despair.
The Road was well-met by critics and viewers, especially for its themes and outright brutality. It’s dark, it’s gritty, and it is hopeless. After finishing this movie, you’ll stare at the darkness of your TV, wondering what the hell it is you just watched. Fans of District 9 and dark post-apocalyptic worlds would do well to watch this one; others might want to pick the next one on this list.
Book of Eli (2010)
Who doesn’t love a good Denzel Washington movie with Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, and the guy that played the Ukrainian mob boss in season 7 of Dexter? If The Road sounded a little too hardcore for you, but you still want a post-apocalyptic movie about a dude trekking through the world to get to the coast, Book of Eli is definitely for you.
Washington plays Eli, a bad-ass loner trying to take the last known Bible to wherever god intends. Gary Oldman plays Carnegie, the leader of a local town hellbent on getting it so he can use it to bend the masses to his will and become something like a televangelist. The road to the promised land isn’t easy, and Eli will have to do a lot of sinning if he intends to follow god’s word. This movie touches on themes of humanity, religion, and believing in something till the very end.
Blade Runner: 2049 (2017)
It almost doesn’t get more dystopian than Blade Runner: 2049. While you should try and watch the first Blade Runner before watching the sequel, you can get caught up to speed fairly easily by reading the plot summary and knowing a few things about the world before going in. The movie itself does a good job of filling in the blanks, as the films themselves were released 35 years apart, and the filmmakers knew people would need a refresher.
Ryan Gosling is Officer K, a replicant working for the Los Angeles Police Department in a dystopian future 30 years after the events of the first one. Replicants are androids that are essentially slaves, and Officer K is tasked with being a blade runner. Blade runners hunt down rogue replicants and permanently “decommission” them. After discovering evidence that replicants might be able to reproduce, K goes down a rabbit hole he will be unable to recover from.
Super 8 (2011)
J. J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg teamed up to produce this science fiction thriller about a supernatural being that turns the life of a small town upside down. In 1979, a group of kids spurred on by their friend, who is an aspiring filmmaker, are shooting a zombie flick near the train tracks when the train is derailed by a pick-up truck. As the military rolls into town to recover lost cargo, strange things start happening as dogs begin disappearing along with townspeople.
The film itself features elements of classic summer blockbusters we were so used to in previous decades, along with exciting visuals and emotional depth. The film focuses more on its story and the consequences certain characters have to face or come to terms with rather than showering viewers with scenes of actions like so many films do today. Super 8 is a movie that will make you question how you would find your own place in the world amidst tragedy.
If you haven’t seen Dune, stop what you’re doing and go check this film out; plus, the second part is coming out this year, giving you time to catch up. It’s not exactly as dystopian as District 9, and there aren’t any aliens like the prawns, but still, Dune has some of the best visuals of any recent science fiction film, with great world-building and a bright future for the series itself.
The story takes place in the distant future and focuses on the son of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet). The Duke has been given command over planet Arrakis, a desert world that is rich in spice. Spice is an extremely expensive and valuable resource used throughout the galaxy to navigate space flight. The previous owners of Arrakis, the Harkonnen, despise the Atreides and, through political plots, plan to take the planet back by force. He who controls the spice controls the universe.
The scenes with Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) and the massive sandworms that inhabit Arrakis are enough for most people to fall in love with this science fiction blockbuster instantly.
District 9 is an amazing science fiction film and still holds up almost fifteen years later. There are a number of films that might scratch that same itch if you’re looking for more, and, hopefully, you found one on this list. If we missed a movie you love that is similar to District 9, let us know in the comments, and we’ll see if we can add it to our list of movies like District 9.