If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that even if the planet isn’t overtaken by fire-breathing dragons, alien squid monsters, or robots from the future (that look suspiciously like Arnold Schwarzenegger), a year can still be pretty awful. So what do we have in store for us in 2021, at least according to the movies? Surely, there’s something to look forward to … right? Yeah, about that. How about psychotic, cyborg preachers, extraterrestrial insectoids, moon miners, and sound-sensitive, flesh-eating monsters (plus a few sappy love stories, give or take)? Okay, so some of that sounds pretty awesome, to be honest, but that’s only because we don’t have to live through it … yet.
Turns out 2021 has actually been a pretty popular year with filmmakers, and not because it’s all sunshine and rainbows (more like monsters and mobsters). Filmmakers are naturally a doomy and gloomy lot, and they’re almost always predicting the worst. While there are a few glimmers of hope, most of these movie’s predictions for 2021 seem especially bleak. We’re hoping a lot of these things won’t happen, but after 2020, we’re not holding our breath. Frankly, any of these predictions seem plausible to us now. So which future predictions are frighteningly accurate and which seem too strange to believe (but heck, in today’s world can probably happen)? Whatever the year may bring, consider this list your primer. Here’s what these movies predicted about 2021!
This BBC mockumentary predicted Carnage for meat lovers
No, this isn’t Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage, scheduled for summer 2021, or Carnage, the 2011 film about sophisticated parents who descend in shrieking animals. This Carnage is a 2017 BBC mockumentary set in 2067, but it goes all the way back to World War II. Written and directed by Simon Amstell, Carnage shows how the UK in the future has happily gone vegan and abandoned "carnism," aka meat-consumption, albeit only after a lengthy, political, and painful process that begins in, you guessed it, 2021.
In 2021, Carnage: Swallowing the Past predicts, millions will perish when Britain succumbs to a super swine flu. Meat prices skyrocket, livestock numbers crash, dogs and cats are living together, mass hysteria (we made up that last part). While many still cling nostalgically to their old, flesh-eating ways, the story ultimately has a happy ending (provided you’re not a rancher) when Britons abandon meat and embrace a vegan lifestyle. This is no doubt helped by the fact that animals gain the ability to speak.
While we don’t need to remind anyone about the perils of a rampaging pandemic, the rise of veganism has gone under the radar. According to a report by GlobalData (reported by SinglePlatform), there has been a 600% increase over the past three years in people identifying as vegan in the U.S., though these numbers are still small (from 1% to 6%). If animals develop the ability to talk like in Carnage, expect those numbers to skyrocket.
Moon Zero Two is too awful to be true
Hammer Films isn’t known for its prestigious filmography — more like, kitschy B-level horror movies (and we say this as huge Hammer fans). But even with movies with titles like Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, The Vampire Lovers, and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (each classics in their own way), Moon Zero Two is particularly bad. Its audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is a pathetic 4%, while no critics bothered to review it. Moon Zero Two was released in 1969 in the hopes of capitalizing on the previous year’s 2001: A Space Odyssey but with probably one-eighth of the budget and one-tenth the talent.
Honestly, the 2021 setting is just a cheap plot contrivance to connect it to 2001. The story is pretty complex, all things considered, and is about a group of space criminals who crash a valuable asteroid filled with sapphire onto the far side of the moon, outside a mining camp. But before they can cash in, they have to kill a miner who’s unwittingly helping them. So yeah, Moon Zero Two is garbage, but its predictions about the future? More on the mark than you might think. The world’s richest man, SpaceX, Tesla, and PayPal founder Elon Musk told Business Insider he plans to sell all his possessions to raise capital for his real goal — forming a colony on Mars. Why not the moon, Mr. Musk? Maybe that’s for the sequel.
This acclaimed anime predicts a stormy 2021
The year 2020 may have been terrible for anyone not named Jeff Bezos or Joe Exotic, but it was a great year for anime. Variety reported that more than 100 million households watched at least one anime on Netflix, while Polygon reported that Sony’s Funimation acquired Crunchyroll for $1.175 billion in December, merging two of the world’s top anime studios. All of which is to say, if you haven’t seen Weathering with You yet, you’ll probably have the chance real soon.
Weathering with You is the latest feature from writer-director Makoto Shinkai. Set in 2021, Weathering With You tells the story of Hodaka, a high school boy who becomes friends with a girl named Hina, and she isn’t like other girls. Sounds trite, but Hina’s the real deal — she can manipulate the weather. However, it’s not without a cost, as using this ability damages her body because she’s literally a finite natural resource. We won’t spoil the film’s ending, except to say it’s not happy in the traditional sense, but it may be poetic justice.
Shinkai’s decision to set his 2019 film in the not-too-distant future of 2021 wasn’t an arbitrary decision, but purposeful, a way of suggesting that the climate change-decimated world of the future is, well, now. With NPR reporting that 2020 was just two-hundredths of a degree cooler than the hottest year on record, 2016, it’s not a stretch. And we can’t count on a magical teenager to save us.
In 2021, we battle alien locusts with robots made from garbage
In 2007’s Resiklo, Filipino writer-director Mark A. Reyes predicted that in just 14 years, the world will have resorted to scavenging through trash to survive after running out of raw materials. In this muck emerges a ragtag group of survivors, led by an ex-military colonel, who must battle an army of locust-like aliens called the Balangs who conquered the Earth. But instead of battling their alien overlords with traditional weaponry, the survivors fight back with garbage, hence the film’s title: Resiklo, Filipino for "recycle." But not just any garbage — it’s garbage recycled into robots! Reduce and reuse, right? So Resiklo is basically Captain Planet meets Transformers meets Pacific Rim meets Starship Troopers meets, well, we could keep going. But, yeah, awesome.
Resiklo‘s predictions about the decline of raw materials and the ensuing destruction of the manufacturing industry proved false, as according to Manufacturing.net, the U.S. had the best month for manufacturing growth in October 2020 in two years. What about an alien invasion? Shockingly and frighteningly, that seems more likely than a world without manufacturing. According to the USA Today, glowing blue UFOs were spotted over Hawaii on December 29, 2020. This sighting occurred eight months after the U.S. Department of Defense declassified footage of UFOs taken by Navy pilots (as reported by the BBC). Honestly, if aliens want to invade us with all the trash we have at our disposal, all we can say is "just bring it."
Not even a meteorite can stop a Manic Pixie Dream Girl!
Not every movie about 2021 predicted doom and gloom. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World predicted doom and gloom … and friendship! Released in 2012 (the year the world was supposed to end), Seeking writer-director Lorene Scafaria’s feature debut stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley as two people who are just so gosh darn adorable, even in the end times.
Carell plays a heartbroken man dumped by his wife who then goes on a road trip to meet up with his high school girlfriend. Knightley rides shotgun as Carell’s delightfully quirky neighbor who’s just shy of Zooey Deschanel on the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" scale (not even the end of the world can eliminate clichés). Oh, by the way, an asteroid is also hurtling towards Earth, and in three weeks, it promises global death and devastation that not even Bruce Willis can stop.
So it’s quirky road comedy meets Armageddon meets Lost in Translation. Must have been an interesting pitch. While critics found it "tender, charming, and well-acted," it only mustered a meager 55% critics’ score and a slightly worse 53% audience score, while its box office was a cataclysmic $11 million worldwide. How accurate were its 2021 predictions? EarthSky reported that a nearly 36-foot asteroid skimmed our atmosphere in November 2020. Fortunately, astronomers estimate an asteroid has to be 60-miles wide in order to destroy all life on Earth (Inside Science). So that’s good news, we guess.
A romance between Theron and Rogen may be the most far-fetched prediction
On a list with monsters, aliens, and alien monsters, Long Shot may be the most unbelievable movie on the list, as Charlize Theron falls in love with Seth Rogen. Right. Maybe she liked his laugh? Released in 2019, Rogen plays a free-spirited journalist named Fred Flarsky who reunites with his childhood crush, the unlucky in love Charlotte Field, played by Theron. Field has beauty, brains, and charm, but she’s also the secretary of state, and she’s planning on making a run for the White House, so finding a guy who isn’t intimidated by her has been impossible. Maybe she should try EliteSingles.com? Enter Fred, who she hires as her new speechwriter. Hilarity ensues and romance blossoms as Field falls for Flarsky.
The year 2021 comes into play when spoiler alert Charlotte is sworn in as the first female president, while her new husband Fred (who changed his surname to Field) becomes "First Mister." Critics gave Long Shot a Fresh 81% rating, calling it a "sharp and deceptively layered comedy," while audiences gave it a 74% score. The box office was less impressive, as Long Shot bombed with $30 million domestically and $53 million worldwide on a $40 million budget. In 2020, Senator Kamala Harris was elected as the first female vice president, and her term begins in 2021. However, she appears to be happily married to California attorney Douglas Emhoff, not her speechwriter or Seth Rogen.
It’s All About Love earned a frosty reception
The year is 2021 (but you knew that). Earth is in the midst of an ice age, with summertime snowfall, a plunging economy, and an unidentified cause killing people by the millions. Alas, all this apocalyptic doom and gloom is just the backdrop for the It’s All About Love‘s real plot. Joaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes star in this 2003 sci-fi drama from writer-director Thomas Vinterberg as a couple in the midst of a divorce. Danes plays a soon-to-be retired figure skater whose family has cloned her so they can continue to make money from her. Unfortunately, they’ll have to kill the original first — dun, dun, DUN!
So the filmmakers and stars were definitely throwing a Hail Mary pass with this one, and it didn’t land. Like, at all. It’s All About Love earned an atrocious 19% critics’ score and 27% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics calling it "dramatically inert and narratively incoherent." Moviegoers were even meaner, tanking It’s All About Love with $5,494. We’re not missing a zero. You could buy a used car with 200,000 miles on it that costs more than It’s All About Love‘s box office. However, the bad economy this 2003 movie predicted would occur with the Great Recession of 2008, while we’re currently in the throes of climate change. And while cloning humans isn’t as easily or commonly done as It’s All About Love predicted (as far as we know), Stat reports it is possible.
Johnny Mnemonic is glorious cyberpunk insanity
Before John Wick and Neo, there was Keanu Reeves’ forgotten iconic character — Johnny Mnemonic. His name isn’t "Mnemonic," that’s what he is, which in this film’s vision of 2021 is a human hard drive. Johnny has been hired to transport 320GB in his brain, but evil corporations are willing to cut off his head to get the information inside, which may be the key to defeating a horrible pandemic. Johnny must join forces with Henry Rollins as a drug-dealing doctor and Ice-T, who’s playing the Fagan-like leader of a rebel street army in this Dickensian dystopia, all while he’s being hunted by laser whip-wielding yakuza and a sadistic cyborg preacher played by Dolph Lundgren, who spews psychotic sermons while murdering people with Bowie knife made from a crucifix. Did you get all that?
As magnificently bonkers as that sounds, that’s not even the craziest part! Seriously, if you only take one thing away from this article, it’s that you need to watch this glorious movie right now. Four years before Reeves set cyberpunks’ hearts aflutter with The Matrix, he jumped into the same dystopian waters, though Johnny Mnemonic wasn’t nearly as successful, inexplicably earning a horrid 12% Tomatometer score and $19 million box office. Not sure what movie they were watching, but Johnny Mnemonic was wronged. As happy as we are with The Matrix, in another life, this movie got the same praise. We can’t predict the future, but we can say Johnny Mnemonic deserves to be rediscovered.