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Summer Movies That Deserve More Hype

Summer is blockbuster season at the movies, and these days, that mostly means lots of superheroes and sequels. But there's plenty of good stuff off the radar at your local cineplex during the warmer months, and we've rounded up a few of the more intriguing titles between now and Labor Day.

The Neon Demon

Going by the dominant themes of his filmography, writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn is fascinated by two things: visual beauty and ugly behavior. They can definitely work well together, as evidenced by cult Refn favorites such as Bronson and Drive. But they can also be used to produce stylish-yet-inscrutable fare like 2013's Only God Forgives. The jury is still out on The Neon Demon, which stars Elle Fanning as a model whose arrival in Los Angeles brings the worst out in a bevy of competing beauties, but the cast, setting, and director guarantee that at the very least, it'll be interesting to watch. (June 24)

The Duel

Nothing makes a better backdrop for a good old-fashioned struggle between good and evil than a traditional Western, and that's just what filmgoers get with The Duel. It stars Liam Hemsworth as an 1880s Texas lawman whose murder investigation puts him in the path of a wacko preacher played by Woody Harrelson. It's the basic framework for countless genre pictures, but with these two starring—and rising Australian director Kieran Darcy-Smith behind the cameras—a little fresh entertainment value seems like a safe bet. (June 24)

Swiss Army Man

Look, we could try and explain the storyline of Swiss Army Man in a sincere way that would help you understand it's a uniquely inspirational tale about one man's last-ditch shot at survival. On the other hand, it's a lot more fun—and just as true—to say it stars Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe as a farting corpse that a suicidal man played by Paul Dano uses to attain salvation after seeing him wash up on the beach. Love it or hate it, you won't see anything else like it this year...or any other. (June 24)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

You may not know Taika Waititi's name yet, but you probably will a couple of years from now. He's the guy Marvel hired to helm Thor: Ragnarok, which looks likely to catapult the New Zealand director from indie obscurity to blockbuster fame. So catch his latest low-budget effort, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, so you can say you watched him way back when—and so you can see an offbeat coming-of-age story about a troubled kid who flees his foster home and sets off a national manhunt. (June 24)


What if you lived in a world in which emotions no longer existed—and then you came down with a sickness that made you feel? That's the intriguing dystopian, sci-fi premise behind Equals, which stars Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult as a couple of crazy futuristic kids who find themselves saddled with compassion in a society without any. Stewart's riding high after a post-Twilight comeback, and Hoult has demonstrated a knack for picking quirky scripts between blockbuster installments of the X-Men franchise. If you're looking for some thought-provoking science fiction this summer, Equals might deserve your ticket money. (July 15)


Yes, it's a supernatural horror movie coming out in August, but don't be so quick to judge Spectral. While we honestly don't know much about it yet, there's every reason to think it'll end up being more than just another fright flick dumped off in the dog days of summer. For one thing, it's brought to you by Legendary, the studio behind Pacific Rim and the most recent Godzilla. For another, it rounds up an intriguing cast that includes Emily Mortimer and James Badge Dale. Want one more reason to watch Spectral? According to the official synopsis, it's about "a Special Ops team dispatched to fight supernatural beings who have taken over a European city." Perfect for beating the summer heat. (August 12)

Don't Breathe

On one hand, we weren't exactly bowled over by the results when producer Sam Raimi teamed up with director Fede Alvarez and star Jane Levy for the 2013 Evil Dead movie. On the other hand, judging from the supremely creepy trailer (and positive early reviews) for the trio's latest effort, they might have just needed a change of scenery. (August 26)