2015 was certainly a year of highs and lows in cinemas, whether you were enjoying the brisk, down-and-dirty action of Mad Max: Fury Road or trying to endure whatever the hell Pan was. Whichever way you lean, it’s easy to agree that there were a lot of underrated films over the course of the year, movies that deserved greater exposure – although they could possibly get it on home video, if they haven’t already.
With that, here are five films in need of a second – or in some cases, a first – look, just to see what they have to offer. In fact, some could easily take you by surprise, due to the way they’re written, the subjects they tackle, the art direction, or perhaps a little bit of all the above.
What could’ve been another routine horror/survival movie is anything but, mainly due to the emotional attachment involved. Arnold Schwarzenegger, rebounding from the usual action fare (looking at you, Terminator Genisys), portrays a father dealing with the fact that his daughter’s slowly becoming a zombie in a doomed world. Slowly watching his daughter go from human to monster weight bears down on him over the course of the film. The pure tension can be seen throughout the film, and Schwarzenegger gives his all to the role, to the point that you feel his sorrow. Think you know Ah-nold? Think again.
The directorial debut by actor Joel Edgerton couldn’t have gone any better, as The Gift offers a unique twist on the usual revenge drama. In the film, a mysterious man named Gordo (Edgerton, at his best) comes into the life of married couple Simon (Jason Bateman) and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall), bearing gifts. However, all is not what it seems, as a truth from the past soon comes to light. With terrific direction and a story filled with twists (including a good one towards the end), this is one Gift no movie fan should turn away from.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
What could’ve been just another “drama of the week” is anything but, thanks to the deft touches by director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The film revolves around a high schooler named Greg, who produces parodies of classic movies alongside his co-worker Earl, but finds his life shaken up when he learns that one of his classmates has been diagnosed with cancer. With a superb amount of charm amongst the three main actors – Thomas Mann, R.J. Cyler and Olivia Cooke – and a point that isn’t hammered home like other dramas, this is one tale viewers won’t want to miss. Plus, Nick Offerman’s in it. Bonus!
It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Alex Garland, the writer of such films as 28 Days Later and Sunshine, but his comeback, Ex Machina, is a whopper of a tale. It tells the story of Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer who agrees to visit a private mountain estate for his company, only to find that he’s become the inadvertent subject for a Turing Test for an A.I. project named Ava (a wonderful performance by Alicia Vikander). A psychological thriller with plenty of tense moments – not to mention great acting – Ex Machina shouldn’t be missed.
The Final Girls
We’ve seen a pretty good share of horror comedies this year – in fact, Krampus is still fresh in theaters for the holiday season – but one you should add to your list is The Final Girls. In it, a group of teens watching a pair of classic slasher flicks, suddenly find themselves thrust into the movie, dealing with a dangerous psychopath in the process. Filled with plenty of laughs and, of course, enough gore to go around, The Final Girls definitely makes the cut.
Is there a movie you think needed to get a little more time in the spotlight? Let us know in the comment section below.
Cover image source: Universal Studios/Ex Machina