Most of the sci-fi movies on Netflix lean toward the horrifying aspects of nature and technology, making them a stressful watch when you're flying close to the canna-sun. When you're stoned, you want pretty visuals, a good vibe, and a surprising or mind-bending premise. You can't always get all three, but when you do, you don't need your viewing choices to be critically acclaimed. If it has won awards for visual effects, costume, or set design, however, that's usually a good indicator the movie will be a satisfying feast for the eyes. Below, from most to least chill, are the best sci-fi flicks to watch on Netflix while high.
Video Game High School The Movie
Life is just like a video game in the prescient YouTube series-turned-feature film, Video Game High School: The Movie. It follows Brian D, a casual gamer suddenly catapulted into the elite academy for the best joystick slingers in the world. The whole universe is trippy, with gaming tropes blending seamlessly into reality and vice-versa. But even wilder is the degree to which it predicted the industry’s cultural dominance. When former pro gamer Freddie Wong used Kickstarter to fund his funny YouTube videos for then-niche viewers in 2011, the idea that esports would rival Super Bowl viewership within the decade was inconceivable. This gets bonus points for cameos from the Epic Meal Time guy and young Zachary Levi.
Doctor Strange (2016)
It can be a challenge to watch most Marvel movies stoned—too many characters and subplots to keep in my head—but Doctor Strange is brain food mixed with a healthy dose of eye-candy. The “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” special effects, time-bending plot devices, and vital appreciation of Beyonce provide more than enough for the mind to chew on. Plus it’s just weird thinking about British actors doing American accents.
Boy meets girl. Boy gets attacked by gangsters. Boy gets supernatural powers to manipulate technology and use augmented reality to wreak vengeance. Gangsters capture girl, forcing boy to extend his power to their outer limits. iBoy is a heartwarming tale of teenage empowerment, as told through a gritty techno-dystopian lens. It’s like Lucy meets a toothless Mr. Robot, in a good way. Clearly this concept was written on drugs, and that’s how it is best consumed.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
“When life gives you lemons, you make apple juice.” This is just one of many befuddling lines in a befuddling movie based on David Mitchell’s befuddling book about the befuddling, interconnectedness of humanity. The Wachowskis-directed film took some flak for the device of casting the same actors as different races and genders. But when you’re stoned to the bone, it’s truly wonderful to see Hugo Weaving—Mr. Smith from The Matrix, Elrond in Lord of the Rings, and V from V for Vendetta—as a Nurse Ratched-esque alpha female dominating a psych ward.
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (2009)
Fair warning: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is convoluted and confusing as hell, involving a guru who made a deal with the devil to achieve immortality and an incomplete performance by Heath Ledger, who died during production. It’s not the best work of frequent Monty Python collaborator Terry Gilliam—that would be 1985’s Brazil, which is worth several stoned viewings, but is not on Netflix. However, as the streaming platform’s only representation of the sixth Python’s vivid imagination and commitment to otherworldly visual effects, it’s worth pairing with an overstuffed bong, a generous snack spread, and enough friends to entertain you through the dry bits.
Don’t think too hard about Mute, Duncan Jones’ atmospheric story of an Amish man who lost the ability to talk in a freak boating accident and grows up to chase a woman through a glittering dystopian cityscape. Just sit back, light up, and soak in the killer cinematography and extremely chill soundtrack.
Lucid Dream (2017)
If Inception and Taken adopted a South Korean baby, it would look something like Lucid Dream, the story of a dream-hopping father searching for his kidnapped son. It’s an anxious film, but it’s a pleasure to see how director Kim Joon-Sung imagines tactical, weaponized dream logic in the tradition of Korean thrillers.
Aeon Flux (2005)
It’s obvious that Charlize Theron will be OK in the end, which is part of what makes her death-defying stunts on and around dystopian minimalist architecture so fun in Aeon Flux. Karyn Kusama’s overwrought super-assassin love story is more about creating interesting moments than getting bogged down in story, character development, and broad themes. If you smoke a jay and look past its nine percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
Hellboy II (2008)
Before Guillermo del Toro was winning Oscars for fish sex period pieces, he brought Mike Mignola’s darkly beautiful Hellboy comic books to life. Its delightfully creepy set design and costuming earned Hellboy II: The Golden Army two very much deserved Academy Award nominations, making the film an unforgettable take on hollow Earth theory. Remember that, aside from his heartwarming monster-rotica, del Toro is known for his nightmare fuel Pan's Labyrinth, and that's definitely the vibe Hellboy II gives off. Warning: stoned viewing is reserved for those with no fear of arachnids.
Either stoned or stone sober, the scene where Nicolas Cage says, "I'd like to take his face...off ," will never not be funny. Even though Hellboy has a scene where someone gets attacked by a giant swarm of spiders, this Cage/John Travolta masterpiece is perhaps the least chill movie on the planet, so it handily secures the final spot on our list.
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