13 Movies About Artificial Intelligence That Are AI Horror Stories

13 Movies About Artificial Intelligence That Are AI Horror Stories


  • Science-fiction movies about artificial intelligence serve as a cautionary tale, exploring the dangers and unforeseen consequences of advanced technology.
  • The power of artificial intelligence is not fully understood, and its increased reliance in society could have dire consequences for humanity, as depicted in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ex Machina.
  • AI-based items, such as dolls or home assistants, can have unintended consequences and turn from seemingly harmless to deeply horrifying and hostile, as shown in films like Child’s Play and Tau.


It’s no secret that most science-fiction movies about artificial intelligence turn into AI horror stories. A core tenet of the sci-fi genre is to investigate the dangers and unforeseen consequences of seemingly beneficial tech and other human advancements. Robotics, artificial intelligence, and other related innovations are enduring topics in sci-fi works, especially when it comes to film. As the intelligence of machines and software becomes commonplace in day-to-day life, it’s hard not to recall the lessons of movies about AI.

While unregulated tech like ChatGPT is in its fledgling stages, AI is already an industry unto itself. Not only that, but it’s a disruptive force akin to the early days of the internet. It’s currently impossible to predict exactly how society’s increased reliance on artificial intelligence-based machines and platforms will play out. If science-fiction movies and books are used as a roadmap, however, it’s clear the powerful tech isn’t something even its inventors fully grasp. From 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s devious HAL 9000 supercomputer to the titular, AI-imbued doll from M3GAN, artificial intelligence on screen usually spells doom for the human characters.

13 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

One of cinema’s most well-known depictions of artificial intelligence gone awry can be seen in Stanley Kubrick’s masterful 2001: A Space Odyssey. Adapted from the works of Arthur C. Clarke, the film explores the nature of human existence by digging into the concepts of time and evolution. Aside from its iconic ending, one of 2001‘s most memorable aspects is HAL 9000, a sentient artificial general intelligence computer responsible for controlling the Discovery One‘s systems.

Initially, HAL is a dependable member of the spacecraft’s crew, but the AI begins to malfunction and turn on its human comrades. Although the astronauts attempt to discuss HAL’s malfunctions in secret, the computer reads their lips, realizes the imminent danger, and starts killing off the astronauts to ensure the success of its mission directive. A chilling depiction of man vs. machine, 2001: A Space Odyssey covers a lot of ground outside of AI, but will always be remembered for HAL.

12 Ex Machina (2014)

Ex Machina promo poster featuring programmer Caleb Smith, the robot Ava, and billionaire Nathan Bateman.


Writer-director Alex Garland’s sci-fi psychological thriller Ex Machina centers on a programmer who travels to his eclectic CEO’s remote home to administer the Turing test to an AI-imbued humanoid robot. Developed by scientist Alan Turing in 1950, the so-called “imitation game” tests a machine’s ability to illustrate intelligence, noting if it’s equivalent to that of human behavior. Ex Machina‘s clinical, minimalist aesthetic adds to the film’s haunting atmosphere, but it’s Alicia Vikander’s AI android Ava that brings the most chills. A modern-day Frankenstein tale, the movie makes it easy to both empathize with and fear Ava.

RELATED: 11 Best Sci-Fi Movies Like Ex Machina

11 Demon Seed (1977)

Still from Demon Seed

The cult classic Demon Seed is a science fiction-meets-horror film that’s based on a Dean Koontz novel of the same name. Directed by Donald Cammell, the movie doesn’t just explore the nature of artificial intelligence, but the right to bodily autonomy too. In short, a woman is imprisoned and then forcibly impregnated by an autonomous AI called Proteus IV.

Although Proteus develops a life-saving treatment for cancer in a matter of days, the tech is also obsessed with being let “out of this box.” Proteus’ creator, Dr. Harris (Fritz Weaver), switches the AI off, but it reboots itself and ends up taking control of Harris’ smart-home devices. An artificial intelligence home invasion film, Demon Seed eventually sees Proteus developing the desire to conceive a child with Dr. Harris’ wife, Susan (Julie Christie).

10 Child’s Play (2019)

AI Chucky in Child's Play

Lars Klevberg’s 2019 horror film Child’s Play is a remake of the 1988 cult classic and a reboot of the Chucky franchise that brings the series into the modern era. Starring the likes of Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, and Brian Tyree Henry, the film updates Chucky, who is voiced by none other than Mark Hamill, into a high-tech doll. Bent on terrorizing the family that owns him, Chucky’s self-awareness turns from unsettling to deeply horrifying to fatally hostile. Child’s Play is a great reminder that even seemingly innocuous AI-imbued items, like a child’s doll, can have unintended, ill-fated consequences.

RELATED: M3GAN Sequels Risk Facing A Big Chucky & Terminator Appearance Issue

9 The Alpha Test (2020)

Alpha Test AI Robot

The Alpha Test may not have had the budget or reach of its peers, but that doesn’t make this indie film any less chilling. In the film, a family purchases The Alpha Home Assistant, a humanoid robot that aids them in day-to-day tasks. However, the Alpha model is driven to its limits after being abused by the family, which leads to a killing spree. The film interrogates several fascinating questions. For example, even if the Alpha model is a non-human entity, it seemingly deserves the right to fight against mistreatment and abuse. Here, the humans might be the more unsettling part of the equation.


8 Blank (2022)

AI from Blank movie

Without a doubt, it doesn’t get more “of the moment” than 2022’s Blank, director Natalie Kennedy’s film about a writer’s block-foiled author who signs up for an AI-operated retreat. However, when something glitches, she finds herself trapped with an unstable android. The writer must outsmart her captor, of course, leading to what feels like an extended episode of Black Mirror that’s been mashed up with Stephen King’s Misery. While Blank may not be big-budget fare, the sci-fi thriller is a worthwhile, entertaining watch.

7 M3GAN (2022)

M3GAN doll with her skin slashed and metal skull exposed, glaring with intense menace

Allison Williams and Violet McGraw star in M3GAN as an aunt and niece duo who are forced together by tragic circumstances. Committed to her robotics work, Gemma finds her life upended when she becomes Cady’s sole caretaker. Gemma’s latest project, an artificially intelligent doll companion named M3GAN, serves as the perfect friend for the isolated, grieving Cady. However, Cady becomes increasingly attached to M3GAN, who, in turn, becomes aggressive and territorial around Cady. A story about the nature of grief, M3GAN is often hilarious, but, at its core, has a dark warning about the nature of AI companions and the extent to which they’ll follow their programming directives.

RELATED: 8 Differences Between M3GAN Unrated & The Original Movie

6 Tau (2018)

Tau smart home movie

Starring It Follows‘ Maika Monroe and Gary Oldman, Tau picks up where the 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House left off. One night, Julia (Monroe) is abducted from a nightclub and awakens with a glowing implant in her neck. A man named Alex subjects her and his other prisoners to psychological torture, causing Julia to wreak havoc on his lab. Aries, a robot run by the AI Tau, kills the other subjects, but Julia survives.

Upset that Julia has set his research back, Alex keeps Julia prisoner, putting her through various cognitive tests. However, she starts to form an uneasy friendship with Tau, telling it about the world outside Alex’s smart home. In a reversal of the genre’s tropes, Tau begins to see Julia is in danger, though the AI’s programming gets in the way of her release.

5 The Matrix (1999)

Neo stops bullets mid-air in The Matrix

The Wachowskis’ 1999 sci-fi film is an anime and action film-inspired cyberpunk outing that depicts an incredibly grim dystopian future. While Keanu Reeves’ Neo has a shot at saving humanity, The Matrix is unique in that it takes place after the intelligent machines have taken over. Humankind is unknowingly trapped inside a powerful program known as the Matrix — a life-like distraction that allows the AI machines to harvest energy from humans’ bodies. An incredibly influential film, The Matrix has served as the inspiration for countless other sci-fi films, and for good reason.

4 Blade Runner (1982)

Harrison Ford as Deckard Shaw getting off a train in Blade Runner

Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner is set in a dystopian version of Los Angeles wherein synthetic humans, a.k.a. replicants, are manufactured to do the jobs humans won’t take on. These bio-engineered, artificially intelligent beings serve as the modern-day Frankstein‘s monsters, insofar as they desire agency. The Tyrell Corporation, which manufactures Blade Runner‘s replicants, doesn’t agree.

This leads Harrison Ford’s detective Rick Deckard on a mission to hunt down a group of fugitive replicants. In the world of Blade Runner, there’s a Turing Test variant that helps distinguish replicants from humans, but, in the end, the movie shows the consequences of engineering intelligent humanoids and questions if there really is a difference between humanity and them after all. Ultimately, the lead fugitive replicant Roy Batty proves that he’s much more human than many of the actual people who exist in Blade Runner‘s vision of the future.

3 Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell Atsuko Tanaka as Major Motoko Kusanagi looking at skyline

Based on Masamune Shirow’s manga of the same name, Ghost in the Shell is neo-noir cyberpunk anime set in the near future. In the film, Motoko Kusanagi is a cyborg agent tasked with hunting down the Puppet Master, a nefarious hacker. The movie takes its title from one of the world’s key concepts: cybernetics have advanced to the point that humans can augment their bodies with tech and even employ a cyberbrain, which allows them to access the internet. While not focused on AI specifically, Ghost in the Shell illustrates the intertwined nature of tech and humankind and how that impacts a person’s vision of themselves.

RELATED: 10 Movies Like Ghost In The Shell Everyone Should See

2 Minority Report (2002)

Tom Cruise in Minority Report

Although Steven Spielberg helmed a film literally called AI after Stanley Kubrick passed him the project, Minority Report might be the director’s more prescient exploration of technology. A kind of tech-noir, Minority Report is based on Philip K. Dick’s similarly titled short story and set in the near future. The Department of Precrime, an arm of the police, uses technology to predetermine who’s a criminal and apprehend them ahead of their crimes. The deeply unsettling premise makes Minority Report one of those movies that eerily predicted the future. The film grapples with bias, free will, and the right to privacy, all of which are permeating discussions around artificial intelligence today.

1 The Terminator (1984)

Terminator 1984 movie poster


Director James Cameron warned Hollywood in 1984 about AI with The Terminator. The film is the genesis of the long-running franchise starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular cybernetic assassin. Sent back in time from 2029 to kill Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, the Terminator is a seemingly unstoppable force. In the wastes of the post-apocalyptic future, the hostile AI Skynet is set to wipe out all of humankind, and Sarah’s son, John, is meant to save it. One of the first humans vs. machines sci-fi blockbusters of its kind, The Terminator remains a classic and a stark reminder of the dangers of artificial intelligence gone unregulated.

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