Beyond the Blockbusters: 19 Must-See Underrated Films

Mainstream movies often get all the glory, but that doesn’t mean nothing else exists. Sometimes, the best movies only get a few niche reviews and little attention. So, next time you’re in a movie-watching slump, why not try some of these little-known gems?

Ink

Photo Credit: Double Edge Films.

The indie movie Ink is a dark fantasy about a strange creature that steals a child’s soul while she sleeps. The creature is part of the world controlling dreams, a Drifter called Ink who wants to become one of the nightmare-bringers called Incubi. Visually striking and creative, Ink has been praised for its touching storyline.

Beyond the Black Rainbow

Photo Credit: Mongrel Media.

Beyond the Black Rainbow is a sci-fi horror movie about a sinister institute that uses unconventional, mind-altering therapies on its residents. Some of these people gain psychic powers, including Elena (Eva Allen), who is held prisoner there. The movie’s retro-futuristic feel and excellent use of suspense have earned it a loyal following.

Triangle

Photo Credit: Icon Film Distribution.

The psychological horror movie Triangle focuses on a group of friends who have to abandon a boating trip after a storm capsizes them. They are forced to board an ocean liner that appears to be deserted, yet they all feel like they are being watched. Creepy and full of plot twists, Triangle received generally positive reviews from critics but underperformed at the box office.

Coherence

Photo Credit: Oscilloscope Laboratories.

Set during a dinner party, Coherence sees the guests experience a strange sequence of events after a comet passes, resulting in multiple realities colliding and merging. Despite being made on a small budget, Coherence still impresses with its complex themes and skillful writing.

Timecrimes

Photo Credit: Karbo Vantas Entertainment.

Timecrimes is a Spanish movie about the consequences of unintended time travel. Protagonist Héctor (Karra Elejalde) is stuck in a time loop where he keeps meeting himself and reliving the same events from a different perspective. The tightly woven narrative keeps the thriller moving quickly, taking the viewer along for the ride.

The Proposition

Photo Credit: UK Film Council.

The Australian Western movie The Proposition is set in the outback. Gang member Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) must find and kill his older brother Arthur (Danny Huston) to save their younger brother Mikey (Richard Wilson) from execution. A brutal look at morality and the will to survive, The Proposition was a success with critics.

The Orphanage

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

The Orphanage is a Spanish horror movie directed by J. A. Bayona, a friend of Guillermo del Toro, who helped finance and produce it. The plot focuses on Laura (Belén Rueda) as she returns to the orphanage where she grew up, planning to reopen it as a facility for disabled children. The film’s haunting and touching themes were received positively in both Spain and America.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Photo Credit: Kino Lorber.

Dubbed the “first Iranian vampire Western,” A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night mixes Western elements with horror and romance for an intriguing movie about a lonesome vampire. Partly crowdfunded by a campaign on Indiegogo, it was released to positive reviews and quickly attracted new fans.

The Fall

Photo Credit: Roadside Attractions.

The 2006 movie The Fall is an adventure fantasy based on a Bulgarian movie called Yo Ho Ho. It centers around a story told by an injured stuntman to a young girl named Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), who is a patient in the same hospital; her imagination brings it to life for the viewers. Although stuntman Roy (Lee Pace) has an ulterior motive: to befriend Alexandria, he gradually comes to care about her.

Kontroll

Photo Credit: THINKFilm.

Kontroll is a Hungarian comedy thriller set in a fictional version of the Budapest Metro. The title refers to the officials checking rider’s tickets. The ticket inspectors are the protagonists, and their encounters with passengers and a possible killer form the basis of the plot. Darkly comic, the movie has proved popular with critics.

Kisses

Photo Credit: Focus Features International Element Pictures.

The coming-of-age drama Kisses focuses on two children from neighboring houses in Ireland who run away from troubled homes over Christmas, searching for something better. Tense and gritty, the bittersweet ending left many viewers wanting more.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Photo Credit: FS Film Oy.

A dark take on the Santa Claus legend, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is a Finnish fantasy horror comedy based on earlier short films by director Jalmari Helander. Black humor and parodies of horror tropes led to the movie’s critical success.

Safety Not Guaranteed

Photo Credit: FilmDistrict.

Starring Aubrey Plaza as Darius Britt and Mark Duplass as Kenneth Calloway, Safety Not Guaranteed is a comedy about a newspaper’s investigation into a classified ad for a time traveler. Excellent acting and an engaging script made It a critical success.

The Secret in Their Eyes

Photo Credit: STX Entertainment.

An Argentine-Spanish crime drama movie, The Secret in Their Eyes, tells the stories of judiciaries Bejamín Espósito (Ricardo Darín) and Irene Hastings (Soledad Villamil) and their investigation into a murder case. This compelling narrative cleverly weaves together political drama, romance, and mystery.

Dogtooth

Photo Credit: Feelgood Entertainment.

Greek movie Dogtooth focuses on three teenagers who are kept inside the house at all times by their controlling parents, who warn them they can only leave once they have lost a dogtooth. With all access to outside material banned, teenagers are in a perpetual state of childhood, unaware of the real world. Dark and unsettling, it received praise both in Greece and internationally.

Moon

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics.

Nearly at the end of his three-year contract to maintain a mining facility on the Moon, Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) has not been able to reliably contact his family on Earth for the duration of his assignment. He starts to hallucinate a teenage girl and a disheveled man, causing him to crash his rover and later discover that there are multiple versions of him. Thought-provoking, Moon toys with themes of identity, isolation, and how having multiple versions of yourself would affect you.

Trollhunter

Photo Credit: SF Norge A/S.

The Norwegian movie Trollhunter is a found-footage mockumentary. Focusing on a group of students trying to make a documentary about a bear poacher, this dark fantasy movie quickly reveals that the poacher Hans (Otto Jespersen) is hunting trolls. With a perfect blend of horror and humor, Trollhunter won multiple awards.

Sleep Tight

Photo Credit: Filmax.

The psychological thriller Sleep Tight sees unhappy apartment concierge César (Luis Tosar) take out his feelings on the tenants by trying to make them as miserable as possible. Trying to upset Clara (Marta Etura) proves more complicated than he expected, and he is found out by her boyfriend Marcos (Alberto San Juan). Chilling and creepy, critics praised the suspense elements of this Norwegian movie.

Monsters

Photo Credit: Vertigo Films.

Monsters is a British sci-fi horror movie with elements of romance, adventure, and political themes. A low-budget film, it only had two main characters, with other characters being played by people who happened to be around while the crew was filming and were persuaded to appear in it. It premiered at South by Southwest and was quickly picked up for American distribution, with critics praising its premise and the relationships between the characters.

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Sophie Baxter

Writer & Blogger

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