Hidden Gem Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix

Put down the remote and stop the doom scrolling. If you want some quality sci-fi movies that you haven't seen before on Netflix, we got you covered.

Underrated sci-fi movies on Netflix include Synchronic and What Happened to Monday
Photo: Netflix / Well Go USA

With Netflix constantly pushing their latest originals and newly acquired blockbusters on subscribers’ feeds, it’s becoming harder and harder to go off the beaten path to find less mainstream, underrated sci-fi titles to stream. Here are a few hidden sci-fi gems to type into the search bar if you’re looking for something you aren’t likely to find on your Home Screen doom scroll.

*Editor’s Note: All movies are available in U.S. and UK unless otherwise stated.

The Block Island Sound

A mysterious threat from the ocean deep—or perhaps somewhere even more nebulous—growls ominously in the background of The Block Island Sound, a moody psychological drama whose sci-fi elements reveal themselves in morbid fashion. The family drama at the center of the story is the going concern here, but the looming external forces give the movie an interesting metaphor to pivot from. It’s always fun to see the creative ways indie sci-fi movies tackle the typically budget-heavy genre, and in this respect, The Block Island Sound thoroughly delivers.


“There’s nothing fiercer than a mother’s love.” Advantageous made a bit of noise when the deluge of “Netflix Originals” broke back in 2015, but its incisive social commentary on inequity, encompassing gender, race, economics, and technology, rings as true today as it did back then, if not more so. The film is cinematically stunning, with the abstract imagery and editing underlining the near-future numbness that permeates the story, which follows a mother so desperate to provide a bright future for her daughter that she volunteers for a risky procedure that alters the very fiber of her being. Some of the material is a bit…on the nose, but the inventiveness of the premise is more than enough to offset the heavy-handed allegories.

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Directed by Attack on Titan’s Tetsurō Araki, Bubble makes the list not because it’s the best sci-fi anime title in the Netflix library (it’s not), but because it’s a rare example of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie that’s bright, colorful, and genuinely enchanting. The story—a riff on The Little Mermaid but set in a semi-submerged Tokyo overrun with gravity-defying bubbles that give rise to a pseudo-sport called “Tokyo Battlekour”—is a bit heavy-handed. In fact, the connection to the Hans Christian Andersen classic is made blatantly obvious. But the movie’s visuals are so breathtakingly effervescent that it strikes a completely different chord than any other film on this list. If you’re interested in a fun sci-fi romp that isn’t utterly despondent, look no further.


Mélanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds) plays doctor Liz Hansen, who awakens from a cryogenic slumber with no memory of her life before in Oxygen, a confined space thriller that stands as one of the best Netflix originals produced after the pandemic. The pervading mystery of Liz’s predicament makes the film fly by, but the towering achievement here is Laurent, who is able to convey myriad emotions at once throughout. There have been similar twists/reveals in other indie sci-fi movies, but what sets this film apart is its extraordinary lead and fine-tuned pacing.


Sociopolitical commentary in sci-fi movies can be hit or miss, but Circle’s distilled, The Twilight Zone-esque structure gives its messaging plenty of room to breathe, and thankfully, the insights woven into the characters’ interactions are cutting and elicit real emotion as opposed to being contrived or merely clever. Fifty strangers being forced to debate and vote on each others’ fates is a cruel, tragically accurate metaphor, and all of the conflicts that arise—whether they revolve around ageism, racism, sexism, or any other societal ill—resonate immediately.


Psychokinesis is a small-scale superhero movie that’s compelling on its own without needing to be connected to a gaggle of other superhero movies as a part of a super-ultra-megaverse. That’s not to say the story is low-stakes though. It’s about a father who is granted telekinetic powers by a meteorite and uses them to make up for being a lousy parent to his estranged daughter by protecting her small business from an evil construction company’s thugs. The film is Yeon Sang-ho’s follow-up to Train to Busan, and while it didn’t make the same splash its predecessor did, it’s a worthy action movie with a heartfelt father-daughter relationship at its core.


With effortless chemistry, co-leads Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan play paramedic best friends in New Orleans who are forced to take stock of their lives in the most batshit-crazy way in Synchronic, a gritty, psychedelic thriller that explores some big ideas while remaining grounded in a relatable, interpersonal drama. While visually hypnotic and narratively inventive (the depictions of time travel are mind-blowingly cool), the film’s real strength is its central theme about learning to embrace life’s beauties with what little time we’re given. Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are two of the most unique voices in the genre, and this trippy puzzle box of a movie should not be missed.


An engineer (Shamier Anderson) mistakenly becomes a fourth passenger on a mission to Mars specifically designed to sustain three people—and three people only—in Stowaway, a densely cinematic space thriller also starring Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, and Toni Collette. The cast is fantastic here, which is conducive to the character-driven script, balancing the dizzying barrage of astronaut jargon and terminology with some terrific scenes in which the crewmates unpack the ethical quandary of the stowaway in fascinating ways. The pacing may be too deliberate for some, but the payoff is well worth the wait, and the philosophical questions swirling around every scene make the film psychologically engaging even in the quietest moments.

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Rachael Taylor and Robbie Amell play a couple fighting to protect a world-changing free-energy machine from home invaders in Arq, which is directed by Tony Elliott (Orphan Black). The twist? The couple are stuck in a time loop, forced to live out the same nightmarish scenario over and over again. There’s nothing groundbreaking about the movie in any respect, but it’s rock solid, straightforward, and super easy to enjoy. The time-loop cat-and-mouse game between the couple and the intruders grows more interesting as the film progresses, and the final revelation changes the complexion of everything that came before.

Hardcore Henry

Sure, it’s shallow. It’s supremely gimmicky, too. But by presenting its story entirely from a first-person perspective, Hardcore Henry dares to do cinema in a new way, which is a virtue in and of itself. The titular, mute cyborg wreaks havoc in nauseating fashion, bulldozing through countless thugs as we experience the brutality through his eyes (watching a head explode at close-range is mortifying). Movies have become so homogenous and indistinguishable these days that titles like Hardcore Henry are a welcome deviation from the norm, proving that there are still new ways to make and watch cinema.

Note available to stream on Netflix in the UK, but it is available on VOD.

What Happened to Monday

In a future where families are forced to put all but their eldest-born children into cryo-sleep, identical septuplets decide to masquerade as a singular person until one of them breaks the chain in What Happened to Monday. Noomi Rapace plays the siblings (each named after a day of the week) and shows her extensive range as an actor, balancing out the high-concept plot with soulful familial drama. The plot takes countless twists and turns, particularly near the end. And while the movie isn’t exactly action-packed, director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) explores the premise in unexpected ways and creates a cold, oppressive dystopia that threatens to crush the sisterhood at any given moment.