Underrated Sci-Fi Movies Set In A Lawless Post-Apocalyptic Frontier

List Rules
Vote up the lawless post-apocalyptic movies that deserve another look.

One of the most popular sub-genres of science fiction is the end-of-the-world dystopian future. For decades, these types of films have entertained the masses as they warned humanity of its impending doom à la the Planet of the Apes or The Terminator. Whatever the situation, it seems difficult for us to imagine a futuristic society that's not terrible, and while these films may say something about this fatalistic approach to our future, all they're really about is entertainment.

But not every movie in this sub-genre does well. In fact, most of the time, they do horribly. Usually, it's not due to lack of story or great acting, but to the fact that people simply don't flock to see them in the theaters. Eventually, they wind up becoming cult classics, though that doesn't help a studio's bottom line. Regardless, many of these movies are legitimate masterpieces.


  • 1
    6,902 VOTES

    Children of Men takes place in a world emotionally and physically ravaged by two decades of worldwide infertility. The last generation has been born, and when they all perish, so too will the human race. Hope has left mankind, and the youngest person in the world is treated like a celebrity. The film follows Theo Faron, a civil servant played by Clive Owen, who works to keep a surprising refugee safe from harm.

    This movie is a perfect example of extraordinary filmmaking that hardly anyone bothered to see. It was produced on a budget of $76 million and only pulled in $70 million at the worldwide box office. Children of Men won the Best Science Fiction Film award at the Saturn Awards and two of the three BAFTA Awards it was nominated for, including Best Cinematography and Best Production Design. It was also nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing.

    • Actors: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam
    • Released: 2006
    • Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
  • 2
    8,213 VOTES

    The Book of Eli stars Denzel Washington as the titular Eli, a nomad who traverses a post-apocalyptic United States in search of a safe haven for his mysterious book. It features a desert punk aesthetic, superbly choreographed fight scenes, and a moving performance from Washington.

    In terms of ticket sales, The Book of Eli didn't do too badly, taking in a little over $157 million at the worldwide box office. Unfortunately, the film cost as much to produce and market, so it was seen as a box-office failure. The film did better in the home media market, and some call it a cult classic.

    • Actors: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals
    • Released: 2010
    • Directed by: Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes
  • 3
    4,565 VOTES

    In the post-apocalyptic world of Doomsday, the country of Scotland has been quarantined from the rest of the world following the outbreak of a dangerous virus. When the same virus appears in London, a team is sent into the lawless apocalypse that Scotland has become to try and find a cure. They find two types of survivors - marauders and medieval knights - making their mission far from easy.

    Doomsday draws inspiration from similar movies like Escape from New York, The Omega Man, 28 Days Later, and other post-apocalyptic films, but manages to distinguish itself with a well-written screenplay and the talented direction of Neil Marshall. The film had a sizable budget of £17 million ($22.1 million), but only managed to pull in $22.4 million at the global box office. The film was welcomed by the country of Scotland, which paid £300,000 into the budget in the hopes it would increase tourism.

    • Actors: Rhona Mitra, Malcolm McDowell, Bob Hoskins, Adrian Lester, Alexander Siddig
    • Released: 2008
    • Directed by: Neil Marshall
  • 4
    2,745 VOTES

    Monsters is set in a world infested with an invasive species of alien following a downed NASA probe in Mexico. Following that event, giant tentacled beasts reign supreme, and push the surviving humans into a lawless post-apocalyptic society. The film follows an American photojournalist played by Scoot McNairy, who is tasked with escorting his boss's daughter through the "Infected Zone" back into the United States.

    Monsters is an intelligent, well-crafted film, and it was only made for $500,000. While that's a lot of money to the average person, it's nothing in terms of a major motion picture - much less one requiring giant tentacled monsters. To get around the impossibly low amount of money writer/director Gareth Edwards had at his disposal, he did all of the visual effects work himself, using off-the-shelf Adobe software. He barely slept through the whole project, but managed to deliver a film perfectly themed to the genre.

    • Actors: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able, Mario Zuniga Benavides, Annalee Jefferies, Justin Hall
    • Released: 2010
    • Directed by: Gareth Edwards