Denis Villeneuve's "Arrival" was released this month to widespread acclaim. So, in celebration of this truly fantastic Film, I thought I'd recommend a few other Alien themed flicks. P.S: If you like this, then feel free to check out my top 5 underrated horror movies as well!

'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'

Ostensibly the most comparable entry in this list to "Arrival", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is a magnificent demonstration of how a Hollywood blockbuster doesn't need OTT action or constant spectacle in order to keep its audience engaged.

Instead, this oscar-nominated film functions more as an intelligent sci-fi drama, centred around a disparate group of people and their efforts to make contact with alien life. It's comparatively slow burn, for the most part, examining how the earth-shattering revelation that we are not alone in the universe impacts the psychology of one man, played to perfection by Richard Dreyfuss.

There's so much to enjoy here, thanks to the engaging character study, great performances and legitimately stunning visuals that still hold up to this day. If nothing else, this one is worth a watch for its more optimistic outlook on alien life and its properly beautiful and awe-inspiring conclusion.

'The Thing' (1982)

On the other side of the spectrum, we have John Carpenter's cult-horror "The Thing", which is somewhat less positive. Channelling the hostility and paranoia of Reagan-era America, this film paints a much bleaker picture of extraterrestrial life, through the use of an amorphous creature that insidiously shifts its appearance in order to imitate other lifeforms.

The result is a sci-fi film that also works exceedingly well as a mystery thriller. Just like the characters, the audience can never be confident in pinpointing exactly who is human, and who is not, which leads to some terrifically suspenseful standoffs and conflicts. Complimenting the potent tension are some truly mind-blowing practical effects (including the best animatronics in film history), a suitably inhuman soundtrack, and some incredibly stylish direction.

As a result, you have not only one of the best alien movies ever made but one of cinema's all-time greatest achievements.


James Cameron's legendary sequel "Aliens" is also a good shout, but for sheer influence and iconicity alone, you can't get much better than Ridley Scott's original 1979 masterpiece. Pitched as a slasher movie in space, this effectively reinvented the creature feature for the modern generation, switching out B-Movie cheese for genuinely nightmarish terror, as well as an often overlooked sense of elegance and beauty. The visuals here are absolutely exquisite, and the performances are top-notch, but what earns "Alien" it's place on this list, is its unique lore and mythology.

There's nothing quite like the Xenomorph's complex and repulsive life cycle, as the beast goes through a myriad of stages (egg, facehugger, chestburster, adult) before reaching its final form. This is not only a radically imaginative way to depict alien life, but it also permits the film to offer up some of the most psychologically scarring images in all of horror.

'District 9'

Another case of political allegory seamlessly working its way into the alien arrival genre, this time in the form of Neil Blomkamp's celebrated tale of extraterrestrial apartheid in the slums of Johannesburg. The name of the game here is world building. In particular, the wonderfully immersive opening of the film introduces us to the diegesis via an ingenious mockumentary gimmick.

Here, we follow the half-charismatic, half-detestable Wikus van der Merwe, as he carries out the unpleasant task of serving eviction notices to the marginalised 'prawns' who reside in the titular district. The sequence is engaging in that it's essentially bureaucratic in nature, and whilst the rest of the film is equally impressive, it's this immediate, improvisational first act that really separates "District 9" from the crowd.