Humans have always been inquisitive towards the vast expanse of space, speculating as to what might be out there—and what might arrive on our planet to take us away for whatever reasons.
Is it any wonder, then, that so many movies have been made about it? That's right! We're talking about alien abductions!
Even the ancient Greek philosophers Democritus and Epicurus mused on the existence of other worlds inhabited by intelligent creatures. It's frightening to think that extraterrestrial beings could suddenly appear, steal us away, run experiments on us, and even use us as energy sources.
Here are my picks for the best movies about alien abductions, which take full advantage of the chilling possibilities and cause us to think differently about meeting aliens face-to-face.
10. The Fourth Kind (2009)
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi
Starring Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas, Will Patton
Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi (1h 38m)
The Fourth Kind wasn't as good as it could have been, but that doesn't mean it's a bad film. Combining mainstream filmmaking techniques with a documentary style, it gives us a realistic look at how an alien abduction might affect people after the fact.
Sure, critics may have panned the film—and I agree that it falls short in several areas—but The Fourth Kind still makes for an anxiety-inducing watch, especially in a few scenes where the documentary style effectively makes you stop and question things.
Perhaps the most important question is, what would you do if this really happened? If it happened to you?
9. Honeymoon (2014)
Directed by Leigh Janiak
Starring Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway, Ben Huber
Drama, Fantasy, Horror (1h 27m)
Honeymoon is a supernatural horror film that takes the romantic expression "sweep me off my feet" at face value.
When a newly married couple are honeymooning in a secluded cabin in the woods, it appears to be paradise. However, when Bea (played by Rose Leslie) goes out for a walk through the forest, she doesn't come back.
Paul (played by Harry Treadaway) later finds her naked and unaware of what happened. She claims she must have been sleepwalking, but Paul suspects something else is at play. He just can't put his finger on what.
Bright lights shining through their window and an inexplicable goo that covers Bea's clothes all point in only one direction.
8. Communion (1989)
Directed by Philippe Mora
Starring Christopher Walken, Lindsay Crouse, Frances Sternhagen
Biography, Drama, Horror (1h 47m)
Communion is one of those classic films that wasn't well-received at initial release but later built up a massive cult following.
This film stars Christopher Walken as Whitley Strieber, who's on vacation with his family in a remote cabin in the woods. When he wanders up the mountains one night, Whitley ends up being abducted.
From here on out, everything changes for the Strieber family as Whitley is plagued with paranoia, fears of future visits, and nightmares of large bugs and blue doctors in white coats.
Despite a few jarring tonal shifts that may disrupt your connection to the story, Communion a sci-fi classic for alien abductions.
7. Xtro (1982)
Directed by Harry Bromley Davenport
Starring Philip Sayer, Bernice Stegers, Danny Brainin
Horror, Sci-Fi (1h 24m)
Another cult classic, Xtro follows the story of Sam Phillips (played by Philip Sayer), a man who's abducted by aliens right in front of his son.
Over three years later, the spaceship returns and plants a seed in the ground—and from that seed grows a being that's part-human and part-alien, one that crawls across the countryside.
Xtro is a bit of a mish-mash of genres, with body horror playing a strong role in the film's enduring appeal. Moreover, the special effects are surprisingly good even by today's standards.
Though it was negatively received at release, Xtro eventually found a dedicated cult following and inspired several sequels.
6. Dark Skies (2013)
Directed by Scott Stewart
Starring Keri Russell, Jake Brennan, Josh Hamilton
Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller (1h 37m)
In Dark Skies, the Barrett family lives in quiet American suburbia. When a number of weird happenings occur inside their house, the parents suspect that one of the kids is up to something.
But then an entire flock of birds crash into the house and Lacy (played by Keri Russell) begins to think something more cosmic is at work.
That's confirmed when she wakes up one night to find a tall, spindly figure standing above her son's bed. She, understandably, freaks out.
Dark Skies isn't just chilling, but also one of the better movies to focus on the terror and trepidation a character might feel at the thought of their child being abducted by an extraterrestrial.
5. Love and Saucers (2017)
Directed by Brad Abrahams
Starring David Huggins
Documentary, Biography (1h 5m)
Though it wasn't a big hit, Love and Saucers is an eye-opening documentary. It follows David Huggins, an old man who claims to have lost his virginity to a woman from outer space decades ago. Now, he makes art that conveys the experience.
While the interspecies love affair is reminiscent of Star Trek, David Huggins is adamant that it really happened.
Of course, no one would blame you for being skeptical. However, Love and Saucers is compelling enough to hold your attention and make you second-guess your pre-established ideas of our universe.
4. Independence Day (1996)
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi (2h 25m)
Independence Day has been a pop culture phenomenon for decades. Who else remembers the first time Will Smith punched an alien in the face? "Welcome to Earth!"
But one of the most interesting characters in the film is Russell Casse (played by Randy Quaid), the man who claimed to have been abducted by aliens years prior.
Of course, no one believed him—and that's why the aliens arriving on Earth is a huge moment of vindication for him.
The trauma he experienced is immense as seen by his inability to function as a responsible father. But revenge is sweet, and boy does Russell finally get it in the end.
3. This Island Earth (1955)
Directed by Joseph M. Newman and Jack Arnold
Starring Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue, Rex Reason
Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi (1h 26m)
This Island Earth is an old film from decades ago, but it deserves to be remembered for making the public so afraid of alien abductions.
Dr. Cal Meacham (played by Rex Reason) is a scientist working on a groundbreaking project, but he's terrified when he realizes that the other scientists he's working with may not be of his kind. Paranoia ensues.
Considering This Island Earth came out back in the 1950s, there's no doubt that it influenced pretty much every other film on this list. Want to witness the cinematic roots of alien abductions? Watch this one.
2. Fire in the Sky (1993)
Directed by Robert Lieberman
Starring D. B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, Craig Sheffer
Biography, Drama, Fantasy (1h 49m)
In Fire in the Sky, five men are driving home together one night when a bright light shines down on their vehicle, forcing them to freeze.
One unfortunate soul, Travis Walton (played by D. B. Sweeney), decides to step out of the car to investigate. Before he can even blink, he's beamed up and abducted by a ship that vanishes without a trace.
As the men try to get people to believe what they saw, Walton returns—and their entire story is faced with ridicule. But the men know what happened, and it won't be easy to get over it.
1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr
Drama, Sci-Fi (2h 18m)
Leave it to Steven Spielberg, one of the greatest movie directors of all time, to make the greatest movie about alien abductions.
When a small boy is abducted by aliens, the government tries to cover up the entire fiasco. However, one man (played by Richard Dreyfuss) is obsessed and absolutely determined to get at the truth.
What follows is a truly iconic film, one that focuses on our capacity for curiosity even when it goes directly against our interests.
With an expert score, dazzling visuals, and some of the most memorable imagery in cinema, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is easily the best movie about alien abductions ever made.