You want some examples? Then take note: these will likely be films you’ve never seen, perhaps never even heard of. They may not even include marquee names. Such is the nature of the true SciFi/Fantasy independent scene, that place where those smaller, quieter films go to make less noise but charm those who find them nonetheless.
About those examples …
I’ve read enough and corresponded with enough fans to know that most dismiss writer/director Gareth Edwards Monsters (2010) as a ‘scifi afterthought’ largely because it’s an alien invasion flick with barely any look at the aliens themselves. Well, that would be because the narrative crux of the story isn’t so much about exploring a life with these said aliens arriving on Earth so much as it is the consequences dealt with by two people thrown together in an environment where these visitors pose a great threat. The monsters of the title? They’re us. If you miss that point, then you miss the whole central premise of the movie … that sometimes the aliens are those who just don’t fit in … in more ways than one.
You want another?
In 2018, storytellers Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl brought a little something something to filmdom called Prospect. Again the backdrop of the picture sounds big – on an alien moon, a young girl and a dangerous fugitive are unlikely allies who band together for survival – and this one actually brings a few household names to its mix (The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal and critical favorite Jay Duplass). Still, it’s a smaller story focusing on not so much the physical aspects of surviving as it is the emotional requirements and how two entirely differing mindsets can overcome their differences, work together, and maybe – maybe – even make the other a better person. What’s being prospected here? Humanity.
Alas, if the silver screen isn’t showing phasers blasting, starships warping, or aliens hungry for human flesh then many in the SciFi and Fantasy community dismiss it. That’s a sad state of affairs not only for our fandom so much as it is our civilization.
OK … done with the rant …
This morning, I stumbled across a trailer for a little something something called Settlers (2021). If my research is right, it looks like this one actually releases today; and because it appears by all counts to be one of those quieter films I tend to enjoy I’m suspecting no one will see it. Heck, even I didn’t see the trailer for this one until today – and I’m usually scouring the web for content – so I’m figuring this will avoid most folks’ radar. It looks like a somewhat conventional thriller – a small family on a distant world gets torn apart by a dangerous human intruder – but its set in an unconventional locale; and I’m aware those ardent enthusiasts I spoke of above don’t think of these as SciFi.
Meh. It is what it is.
Trailer is below. Check it out if you’re interested.