Five Science Fiction Movies to Stream Now – The New York Times

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This month’s picks include a medical nightmare come to life, a rural tale of time travel and ghosts, and a spooky Arctic boat trip.
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Watching Seth A Smith’s debut feature is a grueling experience. But since “Tin Can” is a hybrid of science fiction and body horror, consider this praise. The film begins with the news that an untreatable disease dubbed Coral is spreading uncontrollably, covering the afflicted in Cronenbergian growths that look like creepy white plastic grafted onto flesh. Just as the scientist Fret (Anna Hopkins, “The Expanse”) has a breakthrough in her search for a cure, she is knocked out and wakes up, after an indeterminate amount of time, hooked to various tubes in a small capsule. Shot almost entirely in punishing close-ups, the scene might trigger oppressive claustrophobia in some viewers. Not that the rest of the movie pulls away all that much. Smith complements the suffocating visuals with an elaborate sound design involving an anxiety-inducing assortment of squeaks, gurgles, moans, whispers, whimpers and clangs that make “Tin Can” well worth watching with headphones. Explanations are dispensed in a slow drip — the idea of rich people getting themselves put under until Coral can be controlled is all too credible — but the movie succeeds as a medical nightmare come to life.
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There’s a particular kind of Australian movie — call it dirtbag cinema — that involves unsavory, violent characters engaged in outback mayhem and favors a twisted sense of humor. A fine example of this type of Ozploitation is Kiah Roache-Turner’s gory zombie tale “Wyrmwood: Apocalypse,” a sequel to his “Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead” from 2015. While it is technically possible to watch the new installment on its own, you will miss the background on some elements of this particular wasteland — like the existence of human-zombie hybrids — and won’t be able to gauge the importance of a couple of key returning characters. Since both flicks are on the short side, a double bill won’t take much longer than Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead.”
Leading the charge this time around is Rhys (Luke McKenzie), who drives the obligatory tricked-out SUV and happily tends to his compound, until he gets dragged into the orbit of the degenerate Surgeon General (Nicholas Boshier), who claims to look for a cure to the undead epidemic but is up to no good — which you’ll realize as soon as you get a look at him, so no spoiler here. “Apocalypse” may not reinvent the zombie wheel, but it’s primo grindhouse fun.
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Speaking of blood-soaked savagery, it’s a safe bet that you won’t find any in a movie based on a Paul Auster book. Lo and behold, this adaptation of his 1987 novel by the Argentine director Alejandro Chomski follows a more classic art-house approach: It’s shot mostly in black and white and favors ellipses and mystery over pure action. Don’t dismiss it as easy watching, though, because Chomski summons a real sense of existential dread. Searching for her missing brother, Anna (Jazmín Diz) finds herself in a devastated city where corpses are taken to a “transformation center” to be burned for fuel. The skies are perpetually gray, beached ships litter the shore and bedraggled locals push shopping carts filled with odds and ends in bombed-out streets. Anna shacks up for a while at a large research library with Sam (Christopher Von Uckermann), then moves on to a large safe house of sorts where Victoria (the wonderful Portuguese actress Maria de Medeiros) looks after people in need. This is the apocalypse as a philosophical opportunity, the end of books and civilization as one and the same, and Chomski makes the most of it. It doesn’t hurt that he has an excellent sense of composition that helps suggest a scarily plausible future.
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The Laotian director Mattie Do’s third feature is usually described as science fiction, and it is. But the film also has a loose conception of that genre, just like Do’s previous two movies had a loose conception of horror, with which they were associated. Ghosts feature prominently in all three, and in “The Long Walk,” they are embedded in a story constantly jumping between past and present, death and life — the borders are porous. The magnetic Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy, his weathered face subtly reflecting minute changes, portrays the unnamed main character, who, we slowly realize, can travel through the decades. The action takes place in a near-future where microchips inserted under the skin allow people to check out the time or receive payments. But while much semi-futuristic sci-fi is often associated with glitzy technology and urbanized settings, this film is set in a rural environment, where the unhurried pace of life is reflected in the story’s flowing rhythm. As with the Cambodian “Karmalink” (which shares the screenwriter Christopher Larsen), “The Long Walk” is embedded in a culture and beliefs that spur viewers rooted in Western thought to reconsider their assumptions.
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The blowhard host Ray (Michael Weaver) and the uptight director-producer Alan (Tim Griffin) board a small tourist ship in the arctic town of Longyearbyen to shoot an installment of their travel show. Joining them is Sean (Justin Huen), who is a last-minute replacement for the team’s usual cameraman and turns up lugging a mysterious metal box. The boat has barely left the harbor when Ray notices a bird with bloodied holes instead of eyes; shortly thereafter, the assembled tourists watch a walrus brutally kill its own calf. A mere four hour hours into the trip, everybody onboard disappears, except for the three from TV.
Almost anything gets an automatic spooky boost when it takes place in a frozen, desolate landscape, but the “Arctic Void” director Darren Mann upped the ante further by shooting on location in Pyramiden, a ghost Soviet settlement in the archipelago of Svalbard. Watching the men try to figure out what is going on takes up much of the film, and Mann craftily manages the suspense —  Alan, for example, is increasingly incapacitated by gaping wounds that appear out of nowhere. Viewers who enjoy neat explanations are likely to be annoyed by the end of this movie, but Mann deserves credit for sticking to his guns.


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