Given that astral projection is such an intriguing and mysterious concept/phenomenon, it comes as no surprise that the film industry sought to capitalize on its appeal quite a number of times.
Some of the artistic efforts resulting from the cinematic exploration of astral projection turned out to be rather documentary-like. Others saw the creators take sometimes unexpected artistic liberties in regards to the phenomenon. All the movies included in the list below are well worth seeing though, as they – in my humble opinion – represent the cream of the crop of astral projection cinematography.
Insidious lends AP a dark twist, focusing on one of the worst fears of travelers of the astral plane: having their bodies possessed by evil entities while they’re projecting.
From the creators of Paranormal Activity and Saw, Insidious sets the benchmark for AP horror movies.
The film is about a family whose AP-capable son, Dalton, gets trapped in a realm called The Further, as his body becomes “haunted” by the evil entities populating that astral plane.
The movie depicts the struggles of the family and those who come to their aid, and the terrifying happenings unleashed by the dwellers of The Further.
Though it “only” earned a score of 6.8/10 on IMDB, the movie was deemed successful enough to sprout a series of sequels, which continued “milking” the original plot.
Doctor Strange (2016)
A more recent – and by IMDB-standards: more successful – movie, Doctor Strange is not focused on astral projection. Instead, the film is in effect the genesis of a Marvel Avengers superhero, Doctor Strange – brought to life by Benedict Cumberbatch’s talent – with astral projection only appearing as an occasional side-theme.
A brilliant but conceited and arrogant neurosurgeon, Dr. Strange is pushed into the realm of the mystic arts by a car accident. Having to cast pride and ego aside, the main character learns how to use the ambient energy of the universe to travel to different dimensions and to perform visually impressive feats of “magic” – thereby also satisfying the itching fingers of the special effects team that worked on the movie.
His repertoire of metaphysical abilities includes astral projection too.
The protagonist of the movie is a young billionaire, in need of a heart transplant, who finds himself on the operating table, under the hands of surgeon who is his best friend. After he’s put under before the operation, he realizes that he is in fact wide awake, albeit unable to move or interact in any way with his physical surroundings.
To his horror, he overhears the medical team talking about murdering him.
As he turns his attention to the astral realms instead of the physical one in his awkward condition, he actually meets the person who donated the heart he’s about to receive and they manage to talk before the latter dies.
The film is rated 6.5/10 at IMDB.
Our Home (Nosso Lar) Astral City (2010)
Rated slightly lower at 6.3/10 is a movie of many titles. Known as Our Home (Nosso Lar – its original, Brazilian Title), or Astral City: a Spiritual Journey, this Brazilian movie is squarely about the afterlife.
The protagonist, a certain Dr Andre Luiz – about whom we learn that he is a selfish man, who does not dedicate enough time to his family – dies and becomes trapped in a world located in the astral plane.
As he soon learns though, this world (called Umbral; Spanish for “Threshold”) is something akin to heaven: a place of harmony where the souls of the deceased exist under rather ideal circumstances, awaiting reincarnation.
Eventually, due to the enlightenment so generously dispensed by the Astral City, the character of the protagonist undergoes a radical change for the better.
An interesting fact about the movie is that it is based on book by the well-known Brazilian medium Chico Xavier.
The Good Night (2007)
A self-described comedic fantasy, the Good Night is not so much about astral projection as it is about lucid dreaming.
Featuring an A-list cast, the movie has protagonist Gary Shaller (Martin Freeman), a burnt-out British pop star, at a crossroads: unhappy and depressed, he meets a young woman, Anna (Penelope Cruz) in his dreams.
Honing his dream-wise skills, Shaller manages to take control over them, thus turning his in-dream relationship with Anna into a full-fledged affair.
His dream-world and woman the very definition of perfection, the commercial jingle-writer finds himself unwilling to do anything but sleep.
The Good Night’s 5.8/10 IMDB rating is a little disappointing, though the movie does not actually aim to transcend its “comedic fantasy” condition anywhere along the line.
Out of the Body (1989)
With an even lower IMDB rating of 4.3/10, Out of the Body does actually revolve around its protagonist’s astral projecting abilities.
Enveloped in the undeniable aura of 80s B-movies, a streak of gruesome murders of seemingly supernatural execution, has the population of Sydney, Australia, on edge.
David, the above-mentioned protagonist, manages to witness some of the murders through his AP skills. Being able to deliver suspiciously exact details about the homicides ends up landing him in hot water with the police though.
With both the law and the forces of the dark-side lined up against him, he attempts to do what’s right: try to save the lives of those he knows are next in line to meet their maker in an explosion of ridiculously campy 80s special effects.
Dreams Come True (1984)
Sticking with the 80s, Dreams Come True – a movie the central theme of which is astral projection – is halfway between an “unusual comedy fantasy” and the very first “sensual comedy about astral projection.”
Of an undeniable 80s pedigree, the film is the story of two random people who can astral project and who learn that doing the deed together can indeed be more fun than going it alone.
Using astral projection, they explore a multitude of interesting places and situations, going all the way to the ends of the Earth (which is apparently located right below the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France).
Along the way, as the protagonists experience various romantic situations, the movie even manages to tickle the funny-bone of the viewer – though it may not be its actual intention.
Rated 6.4/10 at IMDB, Dreams Come True is not a bad movie. It is light and dare I say: funny take on AP.
Altered States (1980)
Altered States is living testimony to the fact that not all movies created in the 80s need to be campy and comedic.
Considered by many a greatly underrated science fiction classic, the movie follows the experiments of a certain Eddie Jessup (William Hurt), a somewhat eccentric Harvard scientist, who employs an isolation chamber and a number of dubious hallucinogens used by indigenous Mexicans, to induce altered mental states.
His experiments are so successful, he taps into a part of his own brain which causes him to regress genetically.
The film is surprisingly well put-together from several angles, and thus it is indeed fully deserving of the 6.9/10 IMDB rating it attained.
That said, it is not as clearly AP-focused as some of the titles discussed above.
If I Stay (2014)
A romantic tear-jerker, If I Stay is in an entirely different league from some of the more or less similar 80s movies discussed above. That said, its 6.8/10 IMDB rating is hardly an accurate reflection of this fact.
Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, the movie serves up the life story of a talented young cellist, whose pre-movie-plot-trigger life borders on perfection. All that blows right up though when she finds herself in a car accident (the above said plot-trigger) that destroys her family and leaves her astral body separated from her physical one.
Stuck halfway between life and death, and fully aware of the changes ushered in by the said plot trigger, she is faced with a major decision: does she decide to return to physical life and live on without her parents, or does she move on to heaven…
A word of warning about this film: calling it a tear-jerker is by no means an exaggeration. It can apparently also be quite addictive: there are people who can’t seem to stop watching and re-watching it over and over.
Psychic Killer (1975)
Being the first movie to deal with astral projection, Psychic Killer is in a category of its own. Instead of being a spot-on depiction and documentary-like presentation of the phenomenon, it serves as a benchmark for the evolution of the concept of astral projection in cinematography.
The movie’s main antagonist is a mental patient who learns to astral project and uses his newfound skills to exact revenge on those he believe have wronged him.
Committing murder after murder without leaving any traces behind, Arnold James Masters brings the dark side of AP into play again.
By any standards, Psychic Killer is indeed a horror movie.
The viewer sees the events unfold from the perspective of Police Lt. Jeff Morgan, the protagonist, whose goal is to chase down the AP-powered killer and to put an end to his bloody vengeance-spree.
The IMDB rating of this film is 4.7/10.