After my first article, "Top 10 Criminally Underrated Movies," I felt it right to continue with more films that have seemingly gone under the radar, or been less than stellar at the box office. Here are 20 films, instead of 10, that are once again criminally underrated.
1. 'The Final Girls'
Check out my full review of this amazing and funny deconstruction of the slasher movie genre. The camerawork is to die for — the 360° panning shots; the low angle and epic wide shots that sprawl the camp environments are stunning; each movement ramps up the pace frantically. Director Todd Strauss-Schulson masterfully blends violence with perfect comical timing and a wonderful sense of mystery. I highly recommend this film. It deserved a wider release and I'm hoping this will get you readers interested in buying a copy for yourselves.
Bruce Willis, when he seemingly gave a damn, made some good films. Nowadays, he's just making cheap straight-to-DVD crap. Surrogates,back in 2009, sees him give a great performance in a compelling and action-packed dystopian thriller where the entire world lives through surrogate robots. Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, and Boris Kodjoe give strong supporting performances, and Jonathan Mostow stirs tension and builds some awesome action sequences.
3. 'The Taking of Deborah Logan'
One of the most realistic and grounded documentary type horror films,
The Taking went by largely unnoticed. It's a shame, as this found footage horror is a decent one among the crop of recent poor ones likeThe Vatican Tapes
The acting is really solid. This horror shows the deterioration of mental illness in a smart and balanced manner, as well as boasting a whole load of well-timed jump scares. With no cinematic release, I'd urge horror fans to check this one out.
Gina Carano's first major movie role sees her kick some serious ass as Mallory Kane, a highly trained agent who is betrayed and set up by her superiors. Steven Soderbergh's style is instantly recognizable and Carano gets to boast her acting and action chops each in a seamless balance. When I mention this film, many have never heard of it. I definitely recommend giving it a go as it's an interesting action film with some unique stylistic touches.
5. 'Eden Lake'
There needs to be an award for "Most Unfair Movie Ending,"Eden Lake
is sure to build you up and break you down by its teeth-gritting finale. The violence is shocking, the threat is consistent and at times unbearable, and the film is enlivened by two very dramatic and natural performances from Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender. All I can say is — that ending. Just watch this terrific British thriller.
Sadly, a box office disappointment, this is gripping and smart Sci-Fi that baffles me how it underperformed at the box office. Danny Boyle does a great job at directing, getting you close to the injury detail and taking you along for a thrilling ride in which the characters face problem after problem. The odds are insurmountable and consistently set them back, making for some gripping drama. An all-star cast led by Cillian Murphy and Chris Evans work wonders as a team of space explorers. After another recent viewing it made me say out loud: "God, I love Sci-Fi."
I don't think this film got a cinematic release. Deadfall is filled to the brim with talent like Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Sissy Spacek, Charlie Hunham, and Kate Mara. With frequent bursts of grisly action, Deadfall keeps you hooked. The dynamic between Bana and Wilde (playing brother and sister) is creepy and unnerving, you're never sure about their motives, which sets up some killer suspense when all of the characters collide in a tightly-wound finale.
It may have some cheap effects and a few too many shouty scenes, butAltitude
is well acted (especially by Jessica Lowndes), atmospheric, and considering it's almost entirely set in a plane, it keeps your attention and throws in some weird imagery. If you've seenPirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
, imagine the big beasty "Kraken" in the sky — that's whatAltitude
throws in and surprisingly, it works without becoming laughable or silly.
Despite inconsistent CGI, Lockout is an hour and a half of Guy Pearce dropping funny one-liners and killing bad guys in space. Directors Stephen Saint Leger and James Mather direct with giddy abandon and the pace rockets by, which often leaves little room for character development. However, the cast clearly enjoyed themselves and so did I. Give this undercooked action flick a go.
10. 'Under The Skin'
Scarlett Johansson is mesmerizing in this haunting and totally unique experience. Failing to make back its budget, this film received critical praise but didn't get the traction going in theatres. This was a surprise to me as this is one unforgettable and creepy Sci-Fi. Check it out if you haven't, you have never seen anything like this.
11. 'Men, Women & Children'
The biggest surprise about this film is Adam Sandler's performance. WithoutHappy Madison
insight, Sandler proves he still has it in him to deliver a rather engaging performance. Here, he plays a man looking to spruce up his love life in all the wrong places. This fascinating look at human connection is timely and packs a talented cast: Rosemary DeWitt, Jennifer Garner, and Judy Greer are amazing. Too bad all this talent went unseen, as this was a box office failure.
12. 'The Innkeepers'
A slow burn horror, The Innkeepers is bolstered by excellent performances from Sara Paxton and Pat Healy. Hotels can be terrifying in horror films (The Shining
is a prime example) and this film is very creepy with the long, empty corridors and isolated hotel interiors enveloping the characters. The climax is frightening and much like the previously mentioned Eden Lake, ends on a low note.
13. 'Drive Angry'
Nicolas Cage is notoriously known for his recent streak of shoddy movies and unpredictable performances. However, there is one that stands out among the crop, and despite it being a box office bomb, Drive Angry is a ridiculously good time. Cage plays a man who has broken out of hell in order to save his granddaughter with the help of the fiery (and awesome) Amber Heard. Quotable, explosive, silly, and in goofy 3D, this is a rare Cage movie that needs to be experienced.
Behind all the big budget films like The Expendables and Fast & Furious, Statham has his smaller action films. Some suck (Killer Elite) then there are some truly terrific ones like Homefront, in my opinion one of Statham's finest and best pieces of work. All the characters are rather unstable and aggressive, so when Statham moves into town the tension builds and the payoff of action is marvellous. It's an under-appreciated film that didn't deserve the middling reviews.
15. 'The House of The Devil'
Ti West’s slow burning demonic horror is dark and thrilling. Jocelin Donahue, one of the best female leads in the genre, delivers a masterclass performance. The blood-splattered finale makes the slow buildup totally worth the stay, and among all the scares, the dance scene with Donahue is a blast. Frame by frame she lets herself go and moves like a pro, hilariously oblivious to what’s coming.
Wow! Just wow. This is one of the smartest and most original Sci-Fi films in recent memory. Ethan Hawke is effortlessly cool as a temporal agent who is after a target that has eluded him time and time again. Sarah Snook, an actress who is clearly going places, delivers a marvelous, screen-stealing performance in this whopper of an adventure. The film features impeccable dialogue and shocking twists throughout that make full use of the time-hopping narrative.
17. 'The Losers'
Considering it's packed with proper star talent, this action film barely made its budget back at the theatres. It wasn't very popular, and while it's not the smartest and most original action film, it's good fun watching talent like Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Chris Evans boast their action chops and deliver witty and cool performances in this comic book adaptation.
18. 'The Den'
After enjoying Unfriended, I went looking for similar found footage/POV genre flicks and stumbled upon The Den. Garnering solid reviews, I didn’t expect it to be this good. This is an effective, chilling, and surprisingly brutal horror that boasts many twisted images and sequences that fill you with dread. But even the build-up of terror cannot prepare you for the unfairly messed up climax much like Eden Lake and The Innkeepers.
19. 'The Awakening'
After watching the 2015 film The Gift, starring the wonderful Rebecca Hall, I revisited this horror film that sees her take the lead role as hoax exposer Florence Cathcart. The terrifying apparitions, happenings, and cold atmosphere in this film really make it a brilliant horror movie — one that deserves more recognition as a well-made, well-acted and spooky British horror flick that never indulges in cheap scare tactics.
20. 'The Voices'
Ryan Reynolds is on fire lately! Deadpool, Mississippi Grind, and of course The Voices, a quirky comedy drama with Reynolds playing sweet factory worker Jerry who happens to be a serial killer controlled by the voice he hears from his evil cat. If you can find this on DVD, buy it! There's great supporting performances from Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, and Jacki Weaver, and the weirdness increases when talking heads start manipulating poor Jerry.