Moral message: Donnie Darko

This is an integral aspect of the sci-fi genre, as the best art is reflective of the world we live in. The underlying narrative is more concealed than most, owing to the inscrutability of its intended meaning. In an alternate reality threatening to cave in, typified by a creepy giant rabbit. Donnie Darko struggles with notions of predetermination and ethics, plus a healthy dose of teen angst.

Alien invasion: Signs

M Night Shyamalan’s first alien film, Signs, is a feat of mystery and tension. Unlike the similarly alien-based blockbuster Alien, where an alien emerges from the thorax of John Hurt, this film thrills not through gory scenes, but through the clandestine treatment of the aliens. They are seldom seen but their mysterious presence in the shadows is repeatedly felt. The effect is other-worldly and utterly chilling.

Doomsday: The Terminator

An imminent threat to all life on Earth is a central feature of many sci-fi films. In The Terminator, progress in the realm of artificial intelligence is the hazard as computers become capable of independent thought. Although the humans inevitably secure their survival (at least until the next threat of the sequel) in this instance the film serves as a dramatic warning against the hubris of man in relation to machine.