It’s been seven years since Alfonso Cuarón’s mesmerizing sci-fi tale Children of Men hit theaters, and the director’s follow-up, Gravity, is equally stunning. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock star as astronauts adrift in space following a shuttle accident. The vast blackness consumes them. As our own Jason Bailey wrote, “It is a powerful visual, encompassing both the genuine awe of the setting, and the utter terror of the situation.” The space thriller toys with our fears of the unknown, just like these other frightening galaxy-spanning stories.
With Alien, Ridley Scott set a haunted house film in space, adding monsters, abject horror, and existential dread. It became the blueprint for numerous films that followed and were unable to shake its influence. Like another movie on our list, it remains the standard every terror in space tale is compared against. The otherworldliness of Alien wouldn’t be as frightening without the designs of H.R. Giger, who created something foreign, yet familiar with his womb-like sets and phallic creatures. Scott heightened the dread and suspense of Alien by keeping us in the dark, masking the horrible things that go slithering through chambers and creeping along corridors.