Five Science Fiction Movies to Stream Now

‘I’m Totally Fine’

Rent or buy on most major platforms.

Vanessa (Jillian Bell) is a wreck after the unexpected death of her childhood friend and business partner, Jennifer (Natalie Morales, from “Dead to Me”). Until Jennifer suddenly turns up again, fresh as a daisy. “I am simply an extraterrestrial who has taken her form,” she tells the stunned Vanessa — the alien is a “species observation officer” and has been sent to study earthlings.

The premise is similar to that of “Starman,” from 1984, and both movies directly deal with grief and renewal. But whereas John Carpenter’s movie was a romance, Brandon Dermer’s “I’m Totally Fine” borrows its structure from the buddy-comedy genre. And it is, indeed, quite funny, as well as sweetly affecting.

Bell mostly plays it straight, while Morales’s performance is ceaselessly inventive, with every line reading feeling unexpected. The actress even injects new life into a sci-fi stock character — the alien whose connection to emotion is theoretical. Jennifer 2.0 looks startlingly like her dead host but that does not mean she thinks or behaves like her. And while she has downloaded the original Jennifer’s memories, those do not translate into experience, and Jennifer 2.0 must learn as she goes along. Like, for example, friendship is real, and it’s best to not eat a whole sandwich in one gigantic bite.

‘The Witch: Part 2 — The Other One’

Rent or buy on most major platforms.

An info dump around the 50-minute mark helps somewhat, but there is no denying that the plot of Park Hoon-jung’s latest feature is convoluted. At least the entertainment factor is high. Technically speaking, this is a sequel to Park’s “The Witch: Part 1 — The Subversion,” though the characters are new, with the notable exception of the great Jo Min-soo’s Dr. Baek. It’s worth starting with “The Subversion” anyway since we are in the same universe — and an epilogue after the end credits of “The Other One” suggests that the director is planning a trilogy.

This extended saga centers on young women who escape from a lab in which they were created, raised and endowed with superpowers, and the various factions trying to find them. Park throws everything he’s got at the screen: nefarious secret organizations, potty-mouthed mercenaries, a thoughtful scientist in a wheelchair, surprise twin siblings and, of course, gallons of blood and an elevated body count. There are so many groups of rival goons that it can be hard to keep track of them, but the director, who has a terrific eye for striking visual compositions, keeps viewers wondering what could possibly come next.

‘Among the Living’

Rent or buy on most major platforms.

Harry (Dean Michael Gregory) and his little sister, Lily (Melissa Worsey), take off to visit their father. Harry estimates the journey will take about two weeks through the countryside, which seems a bit long but they are walking and, well, there’s been a zombie apocalypse.

Mind you, we don’t actually see that many of them in Rob Worsey’s indie release — just enough to learn that they move fast and react not to sound, as per common lore, but to smell. The merest whiff of blood is a particularly big lure. In a neat example of economical world-building, we discover that duct tape has become a necessary commodity because it can be used to seal off wounds.

The story is mainly concerned by the small details of survival as the siblings make their way in an eerily empty world. And since Britain doesn’t have guns lying around everywhere, people have to make do with whatever tools they can find — Harry, who was an accountant, does not suddenly become a sharpshooter. Fans of zombie carnage might be frustrated by the emphasis on the drudgery of life in a catastrophic new normal, but that precisely is what makes this movie worth a look.


Stream it on Tubi.

Like “Among the Living,” this low-budget Tubi Original from Daniel Byers, which is streaming for free, is a modest effort that ventures off the beaten post-apocalyptic path. And here, too, the smell of blood is a powerful draw for very hostile creatures. David (Harry Aspinwall) has somehow managed to make it through a pandemic that pretty much laid waste to the United States. There are a few other survivors but David is different: He was infected but remained seemingly healthy.

Holed up in a house in the woods, he sends samples of his blood at regular intervals to his wife, Sam (Anita Abdinezhad), a scientist working to find a cure in a Washington, D.C., lab. After two years of that routine, David starts getting odd calls on his landline and slowly realizes that his situation is not quite what he had been led to believe. “Eradication” is at its best when describing the crumbling psyche of a man cut off from everyday interactions while being under surveillance — an exaggerated version of the way many of us live now. What really gets to David, after all, is not so much monstrous ghouls created by a virus, but being alone.

‘Neptune Frost’

Stream it on the Criterion Channel. Rent or buy on most major platforms.

Some science fiction experiments with plot and some with form; Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams’s “Neptune Frost” does both. Set in Burundi, the story centers on Matalusa (Bertrand Ninteretse), whose brother was killed in the open-air mine where they worked, and the intersex hacker Neptune (Elvis Ngabo then Cheryl Isheja).

The movie, which incorporates songs by Williams, is a head trip that refuses to be tamed into convention yet eschews the “wackiness for the sake of wackiness” that provides a safe, noncommittal refuge to so many directors. Fluidity is key here, starting with dialogue and songs in languages that include Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, English and French. Similarly porous are the borders between genders, various dimensions, even between man and machine — the costumes look as if they were made of recycled electronic parts. The film often feels like an overly cryptic flight of fancy, but it also offers a startling vision of a realistically chaotic near-future (or alternate present), made up of jury-rigged scraps and hardy souls fighting off oppression. This is the rare pamphlet that feels equally political and poetic.

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