The Top 15 Movies You Probably Haven’t Tried (That You Should Try)

Some movies unfortunately don’t get the recognition they deserve. Whether they end up getting a horrible distribution line-up, terrible marketing, or a straight-to-DVD release can determine the fate of a movie that remains to be completely unseen by the general public. Thankfully, there are lots of hardcore film nerds that like to give the smaller films support, and some of them end up becoming cult classics. But, believe it or not, there are movies that even the biggest movie snob has never heard of. And even if they heard of it, there’s no guarantee that they’ve even actually tried it. So this is a list that is dedicated to the dark horses of the industry. 15 films that even the most knowledgeable movie snobs can admit to not really trying, even if they may have heard of it.

With that in mind, let’s begin our odyssey into the unknown…

Honorable Mention: Timecrimes (Nacho Vigalondo, 2007)

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What It’s About: In this Spanish thriller, a man named Hector moves into his new house with his wife in tow, ready to make a new life for themselves. Things turn to shit, however, when he witnesses a murder and a mysterious man with pink bandages starts to chase him.

Why You Haven’t Tried It: The Foreign film department generally does poorly at the box office in general. Not only that, but it is one of the many films that are gonna be on this list that have been unfairly dumped onto Straight-To-DVD hell.

Why You Should Try It: Timecrimes is by no means great, and my main problem with the film (that is keeping me from actually putting it on the list) is that once the big TWEEST is revealed within the first half hour, you’ll likely start to see where the plot is headed. Still, though, it’s a remarkably well-done and clever thriller that has more than its fair share of twists and turns. Even if you can see some of those twists coming, it’s still an enjoyable time to sit through.

Available On Netflix Instant: No.

#15: Joshua (George Ratliff, 2007)

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What It’s About: Joshua (Jacob Kogan) has high hopes from his mother and father (Vera Farmiga and Sam Rockwell) to go to the best schools, play the piano, all that rich-kid stuff. Once Vera Farmiga gives birth to a new baby boy, however, a jealousy in Joshua begins to erupt from him, and demons emerge.

Why You Haven’t Tried It: The film is a very typical “demon child” movie, that doesn’t do too much new. However…

Why You Should Try It: It’s still very well-done, and that’s thanks in large part to the performances. Vera Farmiga and Sam Rockwell are two of the most underrated actors working today, and they both shine as the parents of Joshua. The film is understated and creepy, and the performances elevate it from its cliches.

Available on Netflix Instant: No.

#14: Grace (Paul Solet, 2009)

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What It’s About: A mother (Jordan Ladd) is preparing to give a stillbirth after a fatal accident takes the life of her unborn child, only to be caught in yet another fatal accident that not only kills her husband, but also forces the stillborn into early labor. When she gives birth to the baby, a miracle occurs and the baby amazingly comes back to life. Now left to take care of this miracle baby by herself, she begins to notice some strange things about her new child, who she ironically named Grace. Flies begin flying all around Grace’s crib, Grace won’t drink her milk, and when she’s breast-fed, Grace, rather than feeding on her mother’s milk, feeds on her bare flesh and blood.

Why You Haven’t Tried It: This film made little more than 6,000 dollars at the box office. Yikes, that’s harsh. Even then, marketing a movie with a crazy concept such as an evil vampire baby is hard enough, especially when the movie actually takes it’s ridiculous premise surprisingly straight rather than satirically.

Why You Should Try It: Like I said, Grace takes its ridiculous premise straight, for the most part. The film is a surprising slow burn that has one of the most interesting concepts for a horror film you’ll see in a while. The main problem with it is that the ending is unfortunately brief and anticlimactic, but everything leading up to that is very well done, with special mention to Jordan Ladd’s convincing performance as Grace’s mother. Not perfect, but an interesting horror film that any Stephen King fan should enjoy.

Available on Netflix Instant: Yes.

#13: Enter the Void (Gaspar Noe, 2010)

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What It’s About: Oscar is a drug dealer in Tokyo living with his sister in a relationship that hints on incest (Charmed, yet?). After a drug deal gone bad, Oscar ends up being killed, but that doesn’t mean that the camera doesn’t stop following him. Soon, we see everything through Oscar’s perspective as a ghost as he observes how his friends and family are taking his death, and he looks back at key moments in his past through flashbacks. Gratuitous sex, graphic drug use, and psychedelic imagery ensue…

Why You Haven’t Tried It: Gaspar Noe’s films in general are some of the most punishing experiences a viewer can hope for. This is the same man who brought us Irreversible, which gave us a hellish descent into a horrific S&M club, a graphic depiction of a man’s face being pounded with a fire-extinguisher in the most excruciating detail imaginable, and a 9-minute long, single-shot rape scene that feels like an eternity. The fact that Enter the Void is Gaspar Noe’s most graphically accessible film to date despite still being absolutely shocking in many points is a testament to his ballsy-ness. Also, it’s downright weird, but that’s just a small part of why many have and will reject it.

Why You Should Try It: Despite still being rather unpleasant at many moments, this is one of the most technically impressive films you will see in a long while. Absolutely stunning cinematography and a few gorgeous visuals make the film pop, and while the film does drag on a way too long, the ending does leave a strange, emotional impact that I will never forget, in its own weird way. Not for everyone, and not without its flaws, but an interesting, existential look at the world around us.

Available on Netflix Instant: Yes.

#12: The Living and the Dead (Simon Rumley, 2006)

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What It’s About: Wealthy Donald Brocklebank is in a tough predicament. His wife is afflicted with a terminal illness, his house is in risk of being taken from the family, and he unfortunately can’t take her with her to an important business trip that can save their property. And if that’s not enough, not only does he have to leave her alone in the house, he has to leave her alone in the house with his schizophrenic son James (Leo Bill). He calls a nurse to take care of both his ill wife, and his mentally ill son, but James, after not taking his required medication, starts to think he can be the man of the house. So he locks the nurse out, and begins to take care of mommy himself. A descent into madness ensues…

Why You Haven’t Tried It: While the film was successful in a robust amount of film festivals, the film didn’t have a good enough distributor, and even some positive word of mouth wasn’t enough to expose this obscure, British title. Also, audiences in general don’t really feel pleasant when faced with a film that deals with mental illness such as schizophrenia in such a gut-wrenching depiction.

Why You Should Try It: The first half of this film is one of the most hard to watch moments you will ever experience…and I do mean that in a good way. Seeing this man-child attempt to take care of his mother is surprisingly stomach-churning, as he ultimately makes things worse for her. You can see thousands of limbs dismembered in all the Saw films, but watching James (With an exceptional performance from Leo Bill) force feed ten pills too many to his frail mother is even more disturbing. And what makes it so terrifying is the innocence the character of James Brocklebank keeps on his face. When he is force feeding those pills, that face shows that he is honestly doing his damnedest to help his mother, unaware of all the pain and misery it is all causing her. The second half of the film isn’t nearly as successful, but the movie as a whole is still a demented journey worth taking.

Available on Netflix Instant: Yes.

#11: Rubber (Quentin Dupieux, 2010)

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What It’s About: A sentient tire wreaks havoc using its psychic powers to blow people’s heads up. That’s really all you need to know.

Why You Haven’t Tried It: Have you read what I typed up above? This movie is about a killer psychic tire. Even amongst the most jaded cinephiles BEGGING for something original, this premise is far too out-there, and no one in their right mind would wanna try it even if the film ends up being good…

Why You Should Try It: …and that’s a real shame because this movie is good. REALLY good. Much better than you’d expect a killer-tire movie to be. It’s completely ridiculous and entertaining throughout, and the film adds an element of self-awareness that keeps things fresh and funny, even if it sometimes doesn’t work. It’s simply just a blast to watch. It’s funny, gory, original, absolutely silly, and totally aware of just how silly it is.

Available on Netflix Instant: Yes.

#10: Goodbye Solo (Rahmin Bahrani, 2008)

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What It’s About: A taxi driver (Souleymane Sy Savane) and a grumpy old man (Red West) form an unlikely friendship when the old man asks the taxi driver to be his personal driver for a few days until he is ready to go on a mountain hike.

Why You Haven’t Tried It: The premise doesn’t sound too interesting on paper, and it sounds like a quintessential indie film about friendship. And it kind of is, but it’s exceptionally well-done.

Why You Should Try It: The performances are absolutely stunning. Regardless of the fact that you can’t pronounce Souleymane Sy Savane’s name, he’s one guy that you have to remember because he takes what could’ve been an annoying character and makes him one of the most likeable and friendly men you will ever see in a film. That description kind of describes everything about the film in general. It takes well-worn ideas, concepts, and themes but reinvigorates them with life, honesty, and remarkable emotional weight. The ending in particular is powerfully done, as it takes the unusual route of looking at the Red West character’s predicament (which I won’t spoil) with perspective and understanding, rather than feeling the need to intervene. A well-done drama that deserves a larger audience.

Available on Netflix Instant: Yes.

#9: Home Movie (Christopher Denham, 2008)

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What It’s About: The Poe family is having a strange disconnect after having moved to an upstate New York home in the middle of the woods. The kids have been performing inexplicable acts of violence to their many pets, and their parents (Cady McClain and Heroes‘s Adrian Pasdar) want to get to the bottom of their strange behavior. The wife, being a psychologist, decides to document their children (Yup, this is another mockumentary–HEY, DON’T YOU CLOSE THIS PAGE!) and examine their behavior. The revelations they bring up are more terrifying than they can even imagine…

Why You Haven’t Tried It: Another one of those unfair Direct-To-DVD dumps.

Why You Should Try It: In the tradition of other small mockumentary films such as The Blair Witch Project, Home Movie takes full advantage of its mock-doc style by heightening the realism, making the terror feel more intimate and close to the viewer, and, much like Joshua mentioned above, it gives us some surprisingly authentic and believable characters that the audience can sympathize with. Cady McClain and Adrian Pasdar are really underrated as the parents of these troubled children. Unlike other demon-seed films such as The Omen and Orphan, the film doesn’t treat the evil children as a gimmick, the parents act like normal parents who are terrified not only because of the horror that unleashes, but also because they still love their children deep down inside, and it’s never explicitly explained why the children behave the way they do, leaving enough room for interpretation on whether they’ve been possessed by a demon, if they’re just screwed up, or if there’s some sort of trauma that is buried inside of them. I’d actually rival the absolutely horrifying climax of this film with how horrifying The Blair Witch Project‘s climax was, and while many already say that Blair Witch is a snooze, this film is much more accessible, to be perfectly honest.

Available on Netflix Instant: No.

#8: The Nines (John August, 2007)

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What It’s About: Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis, and Melissa McCarthy play multiple roles in three intertwining stories. I’m not telling you what they’re about, though. The best way to go into this mind-fuck of a movie is to go into it as blind as humanly possible. Don’t watch the trailer (Seriously, the trailer gives away almost everything), and don’t read any plot synopses. Come into the movie clean, and let the strangeness wash over you.

Why You Haven’t Tried It: Despite making a splash at Sundance 2007, the film had a tough distribution. It’s hard to give away plot details when you can’t spoil anything major, and even in spite of a big-name star like Ryan Reynolds, it didn’t catch on in limited release or through word-of-mouth the way the filmmakers hoped.

Why You Should Try It: I hate to give out the cliche’d “If you love X then you’ll love Y” saying, but if you loved Donnie Darko, you can’t go wrong with The Nines. Think of it as a metaphysical, philosophical web of characters that are connected in a strangely cosmical way. Whereas Richard Kelly’s Darko doesn’t really give too much explanation, this film does reveal most of what’s going on, if rather vaguely, and it still ends up feeling rather satisfying. This is in large part to Ryan Reynold’s ridiculously strong performance. The way he inhabits each of the different characters in this film is remarkable considering how different each of them feel, and he brings a surprising amount of emotional depth to the mix. It’s unique, it’s strange, and it’s always compelling.

Available on Netflix Instant: Yes.

#7: Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, 2008)

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What It’s About: Lucie is certain that the family she just murdered was the one responsible for torturing her as a child. She calls up Anna to clean up the bodies, but the plan goes awry and…that’s about all I’ll give away.

Why You Haven’t Tried It: The film has become rather notorious for it’s explicit violence and torture sequences, for good reason. This film is not a fun one to watch, and leads to some of the most sickening cinematic moments you will find in a film. I mean, look at this MPAA rating. Rated R for disturbing/severe aberrant behavior involving strong bloody violence, torture, child abuse and some nudity. AND THAT’S JUST THE EDITED VERSION.

Why You Should Try It: If you have the stomach for it, Martyrs is a fascinating film. Beneath its depravity is a surprising amount of religious questions that provide ample food for thought. The final scene in particular is one of the most compelling philosophical enigmas I’ve experienced in a while. Also, while it’s easy to write the film off as “torture-porn”, the film’s infamous 20-minute long torture sequence doesn’t have too much gore (except for the last bit of it, which I shan’t spoil) but it is emotionally violent and sickening. This is especially thanks to the strong performances of its largely female cast. Once again, see it if you have the stomach for it, but to the queasy movie-goer, this should be avoided like the Black Plague.

Available on Netflix Instant: No.

#6: Noroi: The Curse (Kôji Shiraishi, 2005)

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What It’s About: In this Japanese mockumentary–HEY! DON’T SHUT THE COMPUTER OFF!! *Ahem* A documentary filmmaker whose expertise is investigating the paranormal tracks down the supernatural occurrences of the fabled demon Kagutaba. Considering it’s one of those “Found Footage” films, you can tell things don’t end well for him and the rest of the gang…

Why You Haven’t Tried it: Unlike all of the films in this list, this one has a fair excuse for being rarely seen: It hasn’t even been released in the U.S. yet. The only way to watch it is through YouTube, an imported copy, or something along those lines.

Why You Should Try It: Much like most Japanese horror offerings (Ringu, Pulse, Ju-On: The Grudge, etc.), this film is utterly terrifying, thanks in large part to its sound design and some of the creepiest visuals you’ll ever find (Seriously, just look at that mask! What the hell!). One shot in particular involving ghost babies has been engraved in my mind for years.

Available on Netflix Instant: It’s not available on Netflix. Period. The best way to get your hands on this one is through probably YouTube, unfortunately…

#5: Session 9 (Brad Anderson, 2001)

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What It’s About: Asbestos cleaners have to do work on an abandoned mental institution and, as you may expect, things slowly start to turn to shit for them.

Why You Haven’t Tried It: While Brad Anderson’s low-budget creep-fest has earned somewhat of a cult-following, it’s still remarkably not too well-known in the movie space, mostly because it was more of the kind of horror film that emphasized atmosphere and slow-burn tension rather than copious amounts of gore.

Why You Should Try It: Atmosphere pretty much OWNS this film. Session 9 was shot on location in a real abandoned mental facility (One that is said to be the first one to use frontal lobotomies in real life. FUN FACT HIGH FIVE!!), and the decrepit and decaying look and feel of the place brings an insane amount of dread and foreboding to an otherwise standard psychological thriller. Though there are still some above-standard moments involving a revelation involving the main character that can be taken with multiple interpretations, as well as an utterly insane climax. If these Asbestos cleaning characters were cleaning up Silent Hill rather than an abandoned mental asylum, it wouldn’t make much of a difference, the atmosphere is that strong.

Available on Netflix Instant: Used to but not anymore. No.

#4: Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, 2010)

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What It’s About: Kathy (Carrey Mulligan), Ruth (Keira Knightley), and Tommy (Andrew Garfield) have lived sheltered in a seemingly idyllic English orphanage as children in the late ’70s. Now grown up, they face new challenges that involve pre-destined demises for each of them. They all slowly realize how detached they are from the normal, human world, and even more slowly begin to realize an even stranger feeling: That perhaps they weren’t even human to begin with…

Why You Haven’t Tried It: It’s rare for a British period piece to make money to begin with. But when the period piece in question starts adding subtle, but defining sci-fi elements to the mix, it’s an even tougher sell.

Why You Should Try It: I don’t usually like British period pieces in general. I found Pride and Prejudice to me ridiculously boring, The Victorian is just blah on top of blah, and both of the Elizabeth movies have failed to captivate me. The only ones to really strike a nerve with me so far have been Atonement, The King’s Speech, Barry Lyndon (Though that’s not your traditional period piece), and Never Let Me Go. Never Let Me Go captures a heartache that few films capture nearly as well. Each of the performances are grade-A, with notable kudos to Andrew Garfield, and the way the film gently incorporates the sci-fi elements is wickedly smart, as the film never truly feels like you’re watching sci-fi. Added with some absolutely gorgeous cinematography, Never Let Me Go is a melancholic film that delivers some heart-wrenching blows.

Available on Netflix instant: No.

#3: Dogtooth (Giorgos Lanthimos, 2010)

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What It’s About: Three teenagers live in the confined space of their isolated country house, where their parents make all the rules…literally. They are told that the word “sea” means “leather armchair”, the word “keyboard” means “vagina”, that a “zombie” is a yellow flower, that the outside world is filled with dangerous man-eating cats, and that in order to be allowed to hug their mother, they most win a blindfolding game. Because these children have absolutely no normal sense of outside human interaction, their only means of pleasure is hurting and sometimes “pleasuring” themselves.

Why You Haven’t Tried It: Have you read the synopsis I gave you? This movie is INSANE!! With a double-capital “I” and two large exclamation points!! To unleash this monster into the public would cause controversy, chaos,
and the space-time continuum to collapse upon itself
and a bunch of other stuff!

Why You Should Try It: I’m not entirely sure you should try it. It’s not a film for the faint of heart. It is weird, disturbing, sometimes absolutely sickening, and filled with the blackest of humor. It’s easy to write it off as “just a bunch of random weird shit”, but the film does encapsulate the theme of “nature vs. nurture” and how every facet of our lives is truly dictated by our parents. There is food for thought to go along with the madness that is displayed on screen, and the film deserves to be seen by those with the balls to do it.

Available on Netflix Instant: Yes.

#2: Triangle (Christopher Smith, 2009)

What It’s About: Jess and her friends just wanted a peaceful yacht trip for the day, but unfortunately get shipwrecked in an oncoming storm. Their only means of survival is an abandoned cruise ship that just so happens to be sailing by them. Once inside the ship however, all is not well.

Why You Haven’t Tried It: First of all, let me just say one thing: THIS is the DVD’s box art. It’s one of those covers that just screams “I’M A HORRIBLE MOVIE! DON’T WATCH ME!” It also doesn’t help that it was dumped in Direct-To-DVD hell and the initial plot synopsis just sounds like a slasher film set on a boat (Insert Horrible Lonely Island Joke Here).

Why You Should Try It: I will assure you, however, that Triangle is not just a slasher film set on a boat. It is actually one of the most deceptively smart sci-fi psychological thrillers I’ve seen in ages. As much as I hate to overhype this film, I honestly believe it is one of the most clever thrillers since Memento, in that it truly takes every advantage it can get with its insane premise that I am not going to spoil. Once again, it’s one of those movies that’s best going into it clean and without much in the way of expectations, other than expecting the unexpected. If Triangle was just about it’s neat little concept, it would’ve just been a must-see rental. But when it gets to the final act, it leaves a surprisingly strong emotional impact and thematic resonance that elevates the film much higher than it should. This is thanks in large part to Melissa George’s exceptional performance, who is able to go through many character changes throughout the film (some of them a little preposterous) and make them all very convincing. If you want a film that is full of surprises, Triangle is one of the biggest surprises you’ll see in a long while.

Available on Netflix Instant: No.

#1: Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009)

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What It’s About: Mia (Katie Jarvis) is an angsty 15-year-old trapped in the slums of Britain with a penchant for stealing her mother’s booze, and dreams of becoming a hip-hop dancer. Trapped in a bleak world that does everything in its power to corrupt her spirit, her life takes a drastic change when her mother begins dating a new man (Michael Fassbender).

Why You Haven’t Tried It: Fish Tank is the kind of film that sounds like cliche on top of cliche when you read it on paper. A coming of age story with an angsty, rebellious teenager, who begins to experience a change of heart when a new parental figure comes along doesn’t sound like much of a winner in the originality department. And the comparisons with Precious don’t help either…

Why You Should Try It: I’ll be perfectly honest with you all right now: Fish Tank has quickly become one of my top 10 favorite films of all time. It is one of the most emotionally devastating experiences I’ve had with a film in a long while, and it features two of the most pitch perfect performances for a film. Michael Fassbender plays a man who is equal parts charming and sleazy, and never gives way to one over the other. Katie Jarvis is the real star of the show, however, as she plays Mia with a fierceness that is rare in female actors today. She’s a bitch and a whiner at surface level, but she plays the role with amazing dimension and depth that makes you sympathize with her even if she doesn’t explicitly want you to. Andrea Arnold directs the story with an honest unflinching eye that never holds back at even the ugliest moments of the film. One scene in particular involving a young girl in a pink scooter becomes a surprisingly shocking and tension-filled scene that lingers on with you months after seeing the movie. Fish Tank transcends its cliches by treating everything as real and honest as humanly possible. Not in a quirky way like the Duplass brothers, but in a way that feels grim and empty. And despite all this, the movie ends on a beautifully hopeful note. Equal parts beautiful and ugly, just like it’s main character, Fish Tank peers into the lives of its main characters in just the right way.

Available on Netflix Instant: Yes.

That’s all the movies I have for you. If you got any movies that you think deserve to be on this list, leave a comment and whatnot. If you agree or disagree with anything on this list, once again, leave a comment.

That is all.

See ya next time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I shall proceed to act like a hipster douchebag to all of you. You guys prolly just don’t like these movies because they aren’t mainstream. Bye.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Top 15 Movies You Probably Haven’t Tried (That You Should Try)

  1. I really enjoyed this list and definitely agree with Time Crimes, Session 9 and Never Let Me go. I can't wait to check out Rubber, it sounds awesome. I would imagine that Primer would be a great addition to this list as well.

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