Science-fiction writers and imagineers are bitter cynical bastards, determined to concoct the most pessimistic vision of the future possible. This rivalry is clearly evident from the most populous form of storytelling of our time: feature films.
Movies about the future are usually about dystopian societies, in which humankind is going extinct, being exploited or engaged in depravity against itself (sometimes all at once). But if these cinematic imaginings of the time ahead of us were actually possible, which dystopian future would suck the most?
Let us count down to the worst future - from the illest to the realest - that our children might actually live in (if we are lucky enough to have died by then).
Warning - some spoilers ahead.
15. Battlefield Earth
If the sentence “John Travolta is an Alien Overlord Rasta” doesn’t send shivers down your spine, nothing else will. Considered by most as one of the worst movies ever, Battlefield Earth is a movie based on books by Scientology’s founder L.Ron Hubbard - whose writings inspired the Church of Scientology.
In the movie, Earth is taken over by aliens in the year 2000. A thousand years since and most humans only exist to serve as slaves, while the remaining pockets of free humans live in tribes out in the wild.
Likeliness: Not happening. The year 2000 has passed and humans continue to be the only sentient beings that are persecuting and exploiting humans as cheap disposable labor for unearthing valuable resources in lethal environments.
14. Army of Darkness
Bruce Campbell is Ash, the intrepid S-MART clerk who travels back in time to kill an ancient evil with the only ways that work - using shotguns and chainsaws. Between his classic one-liners and use of inventive DIY engineering, Ash is really quite a normal guy - who screws up fairly often - and eventually winds up in the far-flung future.
We only ever catch a fleeting glimpse of the future in Army of Darkness, and it looks pretty crappy. We can safely assume that the world (whatever is left anyway) is ruled by deadites - and you know, “I’ll swallow your soul” isn’t the most ideal motto for a benevolent authority.
Likeliness: Fairly unlikely. But you never know when a bunch of college kids will stumble on a book of human skin and go “Hey! This looks like a fun read! What’s the worst that could happen?”, thereby starting the deadite Apocalypse.
13. 28 Days Later
You know what’s worse than zombies? Running zombies. The first movie to popularize the idea of zombies that don’t conveniently shamble towards you at a lazy stroll, the zombies in 28 Days Later were the result of an unstoppable viral epidemic that spread through exposure to bodily liquids. This variant created insatiable metabolically-charged zombies that could sprint endlessly after their prey.
A crumbling world in the brink of an unstoppable outbreak is our definition of “no fun”. And zombies that run? We don’t like the idea of having to constantly run for survival, our prefered pace of preambulation is somewhere between plodding and waddling.
Likeliness: It could happen. Epidemics aren’t new and they come on fast and heavy. Ebola, SARS, MERS, and bird-flu have been contained, but at high human-cost. And how long can it possibly be before a virus like Rabies mutates? It’s probably a good idea to get out for a run now and then, just to be prepared.