Below is a list of the different thematic categorizations that we can apply to dystopian films. None are exclusive, and plenty of films will fit in a variety of categories. Click to browse through a list of reviewed films in each category.

A future of desolation, destruction and decay. The post-apocalyptic world is one that has been ravaged, and may or may not be on the mend. War, particularly nuclear war, is a popular cause of the destroyed world, though environmental catastrophe and pandemic’s often play the catalyst role as well.

The cyberpunk genre is a difficult one to peg down, much like dystopian itsef. To be cyberpunk is not necessarily to be dystopian, but there’s plenty of crossover. Films labelled here as cyberpunk will by characterized as having a focus on high tech and style.

Rise of the Machines
It’s not all about Terminator 3. Any film that involves the sentience of artificial life forms, not only where they take over and enslave or exterminate humanity, although quite often, that’s the case.

Twisted Utopia
The twisted utopia is an examination of the thin veneer covering the world, convincing its inhabitants that they live in the best of all possible worlds, pulling back the curtain and exposing the gritty, and generally horrible, reality behind the scenes.

Totalitarian films are about fascist politics and police states, centralized, iron-fisted oppression, jackbooted enforcers, and a general lack of personal freedom.

Similar to the Totalitarian films, the Corporate films are those where private (or public) industry exercises a disturbing degree of control over government and society.

Zombies! And not zombies, too. The Undead classification includes the classic zombie flick, but also those where the infected aren’t dead, but lose all control and succumb to the homicidal imperative.

Medical Science
This category encompasses any film where medical experimentation runs amok or at least plays a role in the overall dystopian nature of the future society. This often plays a foundational role in the Twisted Utopias, Undead and Pandemic categories.

Rampant, unstoppable, often incurable infection, disease or syndromes that sweep the city, country and world, leading to death and destruction.

Global Warfare
Death and destruction on a massive scale through human implements of war, either active or as a precursor to a poast-apocalyptic wasteland.

Environmental turmoil which changes the face of the earth and threatens mankind’s existence.

Anything with an overtly religious cause or solution. Not simply a film where, in desperation, a character prays for salvation, but one where a deity actually shows up.

Any film which contains a public spectacle in which humans are likely to or meant to be killed, generally to appease some public bloodlust, often channeling it away from the powers that be.

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