Underrated Netflix Gems To Add To Your Must-Watch List

If you're like us, you sometimes fire up Netflix and then spend the next 30 minutes scrolling through movies trying to find something that catches your eye. We know it can be tough; there are so many choices, narrowing it down to the exact movie or show you're in the mood for can be downright impossible. Do you go for a movie you've never heard of but is popular among Netflix users, or do you rewatch "Breaking Bad" for the seventh time? 

Sometimes, the greatest thrill is discovering something that's been flying under your radar. If you're chasing that feeling, you've come to the right place. There's so much to discover on Netflix, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again. Let's take a look at underrated Netflix gems to add to your must-watch list.

Updated on November 30, 2023: Netflix's library of movies is always changing, and we've updated this list to reflect what the most underrated films on the streamer currently are. Whether you're looking for a hilarious comedy, a heartbreaking romance, or a terrifying horror flick, we've got you covered with this up-to-date collection of must-watch Netflix gems.


The best science-fiction tales aren't just about unsure futures and alien worlds — they use new and unfamiliar environs to point out universal truths about the human condition. The script for "Advantageous" (by director Jennifer Phang and star Jacqueline Kim) is that kind of story. Set in a technologically-advanced New York City of tomorrow, the divide between the rich and the poor is more pronounced than ever and mothers will do absolutely anything to make sure their children get an upper hand in life.

 For Gwen, a wealthy cosmetic procedure salesperson who gets fired right as her daughter enters a fancy and expensive school, that means agreeing to be a test subject for a painful procedure that involves having her consciousness transferred entirely into a new body. Complications arise, calling into question whether or not this new Gwen is even Gwen at all. It's "a quiet and affecting film," according to Kathi Maio of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and "primarily a meditation on human identity and the delicate nature of familial relationships."

A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting

Based on Joe Ballarini's series of gently spooky kids novels of the same name, "The Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting" is one of the few family-friendly projects directed by Rachel Talalay, a cult filmmaker best known for her work on "Ghost in the Machine," "Tank Girl," the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series, and the films of John Waters. Ballarini and Talalay were the ideal combo to make what could be a kid's first horror-comedy, a dark, funny, and supernaturally twisted take on the '80s classic "Adventures in Babysitting." 

Teenage babysitter Kelly (Tamara Smart) gets a gig looking after a kid on Halloween night. That's a bummer in and of itself, made worse when the child is kidnapped by the literal and actual Boogeyman. Into the night of frights Kelly goes, helped along the way in her fight against monsters, goblins, and pure evil (headed by Tom Felton of "Harry Potter" as the wicked Grand Guignol) by a heretofore unknown secret society of elite and well-equipped babysitters.

"The Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting" promises "gorgeously imagined settings, a great cast, and an exciting story that hits the exact sweet spot between funny-scary and scary-funny," according to Nell Minnow of Movie Mom.

Blood Red Sky

Airplanes are an ideal and almost infinitely reusable setting for horror movies. After all, a passenger jet is a giant metal box hurtling through the sky at tremendous and dangerous speeds and disconnected from the regular world. If there are monsters on a plane, it's kind of hard to run away or call up the authorities.

And that's where "Blood Red Sky" begins. At first, it seems like a standard — if extremely intense — hijacking drama. But these kinds of films always have an unlikely hero on board who saves the day, and in this case, it's Nadja (Peri Baumeister), a German single mother seemingly suffering from leukemia who boards a long-haul flight to New York with her young son, Elias (Carl Anton Koch). When terrorists violently take over control of the flight, it's Nadja who fights back, and it quickly becomes clear that her illness isn't cancer but rather something akin to a progressive and aggressive form of vampirism.

The result is a bloody good time. Or as Randy Myers of the San Jose Mercury News put it, "Director co-writer Peter Thorwarth splatters the screen with gore while tossing in surprise, delirious preposterousness, and even a few touching moments. It's grand fun." 


Mixed martial arts is still a relatively new sport, which means the viewing public doesn't completely have their brains wrapped around it yet. "Bruised" handles this by approaching its subject matter the way classic boxing dramas like "Rocky" and "Raging Bull" get filmgoers into the minds and motivations of their fighters. An alternately introspective and action-packed MMA tale both starring and directed by Halle Berry, "Bruised" is something special. 

The Oscar-winner plays Jackie "Pretty Bull" Justice, a once-great brawler who forfeits a fight and retires a pariah. Still emotionally smarting from her ignominious exit years later, she follows the advice of her boyfriend/manager and agrees to participate in an underground fight ring that could lead her back to the top. All of this single-minded focus on career and winning gets complicated, however, when her estranged son reappears on her doorstep. Kevin Maher of The Times sums "Bruised" up by opining that the film is "rescued at almost every turn by Berry's fearless, vanity-free turn." 


A lot can go wrong during a trip into a remote natural preserve, and it certainly does in "Calibre." High-strung dealmaker Marcus brings along his old school friend and timid father-to-be Vaughn on a hunting trip deep in the highlands of Scotland. After drinking, carousing, and experiencing a taste of what life is like in a economically disadvantaged rural U.K. community, things get weird, tragic, and unpredictable when one of those clashing best friends accidentally kills another hunter — the first in a string of terrible, unforgettable decisions.

According to Neil Young of The Hollywood Reporter, this slow-burning thriller packs "a pungent, intriguing layer of ambiguity that only sharpens the acute pain of the awful events so skillfully depicted." Leslie Felperin of The Guardian wrote that "Calibre" "feels simultaneously familiar and fresh, just like a good, solid bout of genre-tweaking should do."


A young woman named Alice secretly performs explicit acts as Lola_Lola, camgirl extraordinaire. Though she's willing to do whatever it takes to rise through the ranks of popularity on her seedy hosting site, Alice is able to keep an emotional distance from her work ... until a dark contingent encourages her to perform a shocking act of violence. Then, a creepy doppelganger emerges, who might rob her of more than just her style, looks, and name.

"'Cam' plays with both psychological horror genre tropes and darker existential themes," said Ty Burr of The Boston Globe, "and its clear-eyed view of the drab realities of a camgirl's life is both refreshing and ultra-creepy." Indeed, "Cam" is an intense journey into the digital world's surreal underbelly. As Alice hunts down her mysterious copy, she finds more and more impossible personas, hidden behind multiple screennames, accounts, and bizarrely identical studio set-ups. Who is behind this? Where does the truth lie? What even counts as the truth, in this online age? "Cam" reckons with all these questions, and more.


The 1982 classic "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" set the template for movies about little kids who befriend inhuman creatures misunderstood by the world at large as monsters. The 2023 Netflix film  "Chupa" follows the "E.T." pattern, except that the titular being actually is a dangerous monster. Teenager Alex (Evan Whitten) travels from the Midwest to Mexico to meet many of his quirky relatives. He's particularly taken with his grandfather, a former wrestling champion, and his cool cousins. Then, Alex encounters a strange little monster underneath a shed, which he names Chupa. This is short for chupacabra, the blood-drinking, animal-attacking menace of Mexican folklore. Evan rallies his family to protect the adorable, innocent, and powerful Chupa as an obsessed scientist closes in, seeking to exploit the creature for his own means.

"It's a soaring adventure film that provides the kind of entertainment for the whole family that has recently been farmed out to franchises," Marshall Shaffer of Decider wrote about "Chupa." Shannon Connellan of Mashable called the movie, "A sweet, thoughtful adventure about family, celebrating heritage, and flipping the bird to bad guys."


Television has been graced with many reality and game shows that pit a group of strangers against each other, requiring a vote to eliminate all but one last-standing champion. Alliances are formed, but it's ultimately every person for themselves on programs like "Survivor," "Big Brother," and "The Weakest Link." The provocative and frightening 2015 film Circle takes the idea and ups the stakes considerably. 50 strangers, all facing execution, are placed in a darkened room (which looks a lot like the set of a futuristic game show) and made to choose among themselves which one of them shall get to walk out alive. 

The sparse film's sparse 87 minutes fly by as various unnamed, desperate characters passionately argue and bargain on behalf of their own futures while time and chances run out. Of course, they also have to fear immediate eradication by the wicked forces holding them in the room if they so much as move. The film "keeps suspense alive," says John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter, "building to a final tableau that, silently, says nearly as much about human nature as does all the talk leading up to it."

Coffee and Kareem

"Coffee and Kareem" is about a clashing, mismatched pair, and the film itself is a clashing, mismatched set of movie styles all ramming into each other to create an extremely entertaining end result that's full of action, comedy, and even heart. Ed Helms of "The Office" portrays incompetent Detroit police officer James Coffee, who begins dating single mother Vanessa (Taraji P. Henson), much to the consternation of her 12-year-old son, Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh), a street-savvy kid as obsessed with violent rap music as he is with his mother. 

To scare off the kind and doting Coffee, Kareem tries to hire a criminal to intimidate the cop, but winds up embroiling them both in a massive, extremely dangerous conspiracy involving drug lords and crooked police officers, requiring them to find common ground to keep safe the woman they both love. A little cliche? Perhaps, but "[director Michael] Dowse and his crew cover the entire movie in a slick gloss of grim and guts — a neat middle finger to ostensible expectations," said Barry Hertz of The Globe and Mail.

Crimson Peak

Guillermo del Toro is a masterful writer and director, specializing in fantasy and horror and where those two imaginative genres intersect. A double Oscar winner for his work on "The Shape of Water," del Toro also made emerging classics like "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Hellboy." But in 2015, he directed a lesser-known fright fest called "Crimson Peak," a gothic tale that didn't get much love when it came out. However, we're here to tell you this haunted house story is definitely worth a watch.

In 19th-century Victorian England, a young American woman named Edith (Mia Wasikowska) marries the dashing Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and goes off to live in his sprawling mansion in the English countryside. But something doesn't feel quite right about the home or Sir Thomas' creepy sister (Jessica Chastain). And when Edith's abilities to speak with and see the dead manifest, she learns the truth behind her spooky visions, the house's ghoulish happenings, and the family into which she probably shouldn't have just married. Film writer Richard Crouse called the film "bloody and by times bloody terrifying," while Trace Thurman of Bloody Disgusting said that "you'll be mesmerized by what you're seeing on screen."

Dolemite Is My Name

You might be wondering what "Dolemite is My Name" is doing on a list of "underrated" movies when the film was a favorite among critics and was nominated for a few awards, although it was most noticeably snubbed by the Academy, not receiving any Oscar nominations. The film is on this list precisely because of the snubs it received. It's a shame the movie didn't get more recognition, because "Dolemite is My Name" is terrific.

It tells the story of Rudy Ray Moore, comedian and Blaxploitation actor known for his "Dolemite" movies. The movie covers Moore's life during the period right before he became a star through to when his first film opens in Los Angeles. Eddie Murphy, in a comeback of sorts, does an outstanding job as Moore. According to screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski ("Ed Wood," "Man on the Moon"), Murphy was their only choice, and they wrote the script with him in mind. The three had met way back in 2003 and bonded over their love of Moore.

Not only is Murphy great as Moore but his co-stars are amazing, too. Wesley Snipes is wonderful playing the director of "Dolemite," D'Urville Martin, and Da'Vine Joy Randolph is tremendous as Lady Reed, Moore's long-time friend and confidant. The costumes, by Oscar-winning designer Ruth E. Carter ("Black Panther") are also a stand out in this well-made comedy.

Don't Listen

A complex twist on the haunted house movie, "Don't Listen" (or, as its original Spanish-language release is known, "Voces") provides a lot of chills. The film explores every parent's nightmare with some supernatural menace added in, and is stylishly shot, well-paced, and compellingly performed to boot.

Young couple Daniel and Sara move into a new house with their nine-year-old son, Eric. He's tormented by creepy, ghostly voices, and a psychological exam doesn't help (the menacing figure attacks the doctor). As other tragic events unfold, Daniel and Sara seek out the help of a famous German paranormal investigator who discovers just how right Eric was, and how much danger everyone faces.

Jade Budowski of Decider wrote, "['Don't Listen'] masterfully manifests an atmosphere of horror and tension." Chad Collins of Dread Central praised the craftsmanship and storytelling: "Director Ángel Gómez Hernández does enough to imbue the movie with a spirit all his own ... rendering what would be a serviceable haunted house entry as something considerably more frightening and considerably more entertaining."


A coming-of-age story and satisfying protest comedy about people just trying to find their place in the world, "Dumplin'" boasts a cast led by comedy legend Jennifer Aniston and charismatic star-on-the-rise Danielle Macdonald. The latter plays Willowdean Dickson. She prefers to be called Will, but her mother — semi-degradingly, semi-affectionately — insists on referring to her as Dumplin'. A supremely confident and witty teenager, she stands up for herself against bullies who criticize her for her weight, but standing up to her mother, a former beauty queen, is a lot harder. What better way to establish herself than competing in her mother's beloved Miss Teen Bluebonnet Pageant? This begins as a protest against pageants and her mother, but in time, it becomes a celebration of all types of beauty, prompting other overlooked misfits to join her. "This is a generous movie, and an unrepentant fantasy at that," wrote Elizabeth Weitzman of TheWrap about "Dumplin'," "so it's hard not to meet it with openheartedness."

His House

Horror films are at their most effective when their creators manage to tap into (and artistically comment on) what really unsettles human beings. Supernatural menace is scary, but so is the dark side of daily life, not to mention horrific trauma. All those elements converge in "His House," the 2020 debut feature film from writer-director Remi Weekes

Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) escape wartime South Sudan and then take a crowded boat with other refugees, making it from France to England, where they're allowed to stay and given a rotting house to live in. Facing openly racist neighbors and threats of deportation, the couple attempts to embrace their newfound Britishness and a make a go of the new normal ... except that the house is inhabited by pure evil, a vengeful witch known as an apath who sends the duo grasping for their lives and even reality.

There's a lot going on in "His House," and almost all of it will provoke some kind of emotional reaction from viewers. "The film has much to say about grief, guilt, assimilation, and the ongoing refugee crisis. And on top of all that, it's also a nifty nerve-jangler," writes Tim Grierson of Screen International, while Robert Daniels of Polygon said the movie "breathes a fresh voice into the haunted house subgenre."

I Am All Girls

An unnerving and difficult thriller about global sex trafficking, "I Am All Girls" tells its harrowing story through the points of view of a few characters based on real-life historical figures. The plot begins in 1994, with a man confessing to kidnapping six girls and sending them to the Middle East in exchange for oil on the orders of a high-ranking government official. In contemporary South Africa, detective Jodie Snyman is devoted to raiding alleged human trafficking operations, but never turns up anything. She's on the verge of losing her assignment when the murdered body of the cabinet official turns up, the initials of one of the missing girls carved into his skin. This leads to Snyman teaming up with a mysterious serial killer. Together, they attempt to bring down a sophisticated worldwide syndicate.

A Netflix exclusive in North America, "I Am All Girls" was nominated for 11 SAFTA Golden Horn awards in 2022, of which it won two, including best feature film. Critics praised the film as well. "'I Am All Girls' not only tells a powerful story, but acts as a deeply compelling thriller at every turn," wrote Jade Budowski of Decider. Carlos Ovalle of But Why Tho? further noted, "If you like atmospheric thrillers with a dark and gritty undertone, you'll be right at home."

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

"I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore" is another original film from Netflix that deserves a place on your must-watch list. Actor Macon Blair ("Green Room," "Blue Ruin") wrote and directed this comedy thriller starring Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood. The movie is about a woman, recently robbed of a laptop, who joins her slightly weird neighbor in trying to track it down when the police won't do anything about it. The two are soon in over their heads, and mayhem — as well as a fair amount of disturbing humor — ensues.

Blair's double duty as writer/director works well here, as he's crafted a tight little movie that feels like a throwback to the sort of low-budget, quirky independent features so rarely get attention these days. Lynskey's performance as Ruth is pretty terrific, bringing life to an "everywoman" who finally has had enough. Wood has, in the past few years, excelled at playing the weirdo, and his role as Tony here is no exception.

I See You

Horror movies often explore one of two sources of terror: the mysterious supernatural or the sinister mundane. "I See You" carefully rides the line between the two, eliciting potent fear of the unknown, or what could be lurking in the supposed sanctuary of one's home. Detective Greg (Jon Tenney) investigates a spate of kidnappings while his home life becomes tense and frosty; his wife Jackie (Helen Hunt) has had an affair and their son resents her for it. But then strange, ghostly occurrences begin. An unidentified young woman is spotted, objects are moved or go missing, and an unseen assailant attacks Jackie's lover. It's all connected to the kidnappings — and the source of this otherworldly behavior is shockingly close by.

"The film's tone is extremely eerie, with creeping camera movements, striking imagery, abrupt edits, and a delicately sinister score," wrote Henry Stewart of Slant. Serena Seghedoni of Loud and Clear Reviews called "I See You" "a hauntingly good puzzle of a film with twists you won't see coming."

In the Shadow of the Moon

Here's a wildly different and unpredictable movie that merges together movie genres that often rely so heavily on tropes that they're overly familiar and predictable. "In the Shadow of the Moon" is part sci-fi movie, part mystery, and part serial killer story. The film begins in 1988, when Philadelphia police officer Thomas Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook), his partner (Bokeem Woodbine), and his detective brother-in-law (Michael C. Hall) desperately try to find and stop a prolific murderer whose victims seem to lose all of their blood at once. They find the suspect, Rya (Cleopatra Coleman), but she evades capture by jumping to her apparent death. 

Flash forward nine years, and Rya is killing again. Then another nine years, and more murders occur. Thomas becomes the obsessed detective, researching the case for decades as his quest leads him down the unexpected crime-fighting path of time travel. "In the Shadow of the Moon" is "never less than engaging, and it's just about always clever," according to Chris Vognar of the New York Times.

The Last Kingdom

Based on Bernard Cornwell's "The Saxon Stories," the Netflix series "The Last Kingdom" is a historical drama about King Alfred the Great of what would become the mighty England. The show blends actual events from the 9th century with fiction in order to tell the story of bringing kingdoms together in order to form a united England. 

At the start, the land has been captured by the invading Vikings, with only King Alfred and his Kingdom of Wessex standing in the way to total domination. "The Last Kingdom" then focuses on Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon), a noble Saxon who gets kidnapped as a slave and then raised by the Danes. Uhtred is conflicted — to whom does he pledge his allegiance? He will be forced to choose between the people that raised him and the land of his birth. 

"The Last Kingdom" has everything you'd want in a historical drama covering this time period — brutal fighting, great characters, intriguing story, loads of death, and gorgeous cinematography. The cast is packed with great actors like Ian Hart, the late Rutger Hauer, Matthew Macfadyen, and Jason Flemyng. If you're in the market for a show full of English accents and good-old fashioned swordplay, "The Last Kingdom" is for you.

Level 16

Adherents of the dystopian sci-fi boom of the 2010s — both of the literary and film version of stuff like "The Maze Runner" and "The Hunger Games" — will find a lot to like in "Level 16." The action centers around the students at an extremely bleak, sedate, and colorless residential girls-only boarding school. The enrolled young women are actually more like prisoners, and they've been at this school since they were infants, when they lived on Level 0. Now, as Sophia and Vivien are 16-years-old and live on Level 16, they start to question their strange existence, where they live in fear of a vague but cruel punishment if they don't properly learn and execute their lessons in home economics and etiquette. It's up to Sophia and Vivien to learn the true nature of their school — and their very existence — if they want to escape.

According to film writer Richard Crouse, "Level 16" combines "elements of social justice, horror, and sci-fi," and is "a genre movie that delivers both intellectually and emotionally."

Little Evil

The best horror movies consist of a lot more than just a few jump scares and some terrifying form of bone-chilling menace — the good ones reflect and comment upon the everyday things that trouble human beings. "Little Evil" is that kind of movie. It's a horror-comedy about an eager-to-please guy (Adam Scott) who marries a woman (Evangeline Lily) who has a son from a previous marriage. He's desperate to connect with the inscrutable little guy so his relationship can thrive and they can all come together as a happy, blended family. That's a difficult task, as the kid (Owen Atlas) is actually the spawn of Satan and he's not afraid to unleash pure evil and terror on his well-meaning new stepdad. And that's where the horror comes into play; that, and with a creepy goat puppet named Reeroy. "'Little Evil' is '[The] Omen' by way of 'Shaun of the Dead,'" said Amanda Sink of The Hollywood Outsider.

A Monster Calls

"A Monster Calls" sounds like the name of a horror movie, but it's actually a Spielberg-esque tale of boyhood fantasy. Director J.A. Bayona crafts an allegorical, eye-popping film about all-too real and difficult emotions from the point of a view of a child, which makes it all the more heartbreaking. Yes, "A Monster Calls" is about grief, but it's also about a walking, talking, tree creature with the voice of Liam Neeson.

Conor (Lewis MacDouglass) is 13, and his mother (Felicity Jones) is dying. He's just old enough to know what's going on, but young enough to have no idea how to cope; he can't turn to his stern grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and his father took off long ago. An unlikely and impossible ally arrives just when Conor needs him: He is the Monster, a massive, sentient yew tree (kind of like an Ent from "The Lord of the Rings") who offers to tell Conor three grand tales — after that, Conor must share of his own. It's all a little frightening and also wonderful, and the revelation of where the tree learned his stories will definitely leave the viewer moved and misty-eyed, which is rare for a movie about a giant monster who may or may not be a figment of a child's imagination. "As a literal visual illustration of the power of creativity to help process life's woes, "A Monster Calls" excels," writes Sarah Ward of Concrete Playground.


Be careful what you wish for, "Nightbooks" subtly suggests, because wishes just might be real. Or at least magic is — and it's a powerful and oppressive source if placed in the wrong hands. 

Alex (Winslow Fegley) is a little kid who loves to write scary stories until other kids call him weird for it, and he endeavors to never write again. Not long after, a happily wicked and very stylish witch (Krysten Ritter of "Jessica Jones" and "Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23" hamming it up) traps him in her magical, traveling, all-consuming townhouse and orders him to write her a scary story each night ... or she'll kill him. Alex teams up with another of the witch's young captives, Yasmin (Lidya Jewett), to survive and find a way out of the villain's clutches by defeating the powerful magic that's all around them. 

"Nightbooks" is a dark but family friendly tale, reminiscent of the works of Roald Dahl and R.L. Stine, and Looper's own Matthew Jackson found it "not just an effective little family horror adventure, but an ode to weird kids everywhere."

No One Gets Out Alive

Horror movies are most effective in delivering truly visceral and bewildered responses from audiences when they speak to deep-seated, widespread fears — the kind shared by a large number of people. They become relatable on a deep, even subliminal level, and great horror filmmakers use tropes like ghosts, monsters, and other supernatural phenomena as allegories for what truly (if metaphorically) can eat us alive. That's what's going on in "No One Gets Out Alive," a Netflix Original from visual effects creator turned first-time feature director Santiago Menghini.

Cristina Rodlo portrays Ambar, an undocumented immigrant living in a rundown, women-only boarding house in Cleveland. Beyond the physical disrepair, there's a bigger creepiness to the place, which becomes clear when the ghosts of previous borders start to frighten Ambar. But since she's living in the U.S. illegally, she can't seek out the help of authorities or find refuge elsewhere because she fears deportation. "No One Gets Out Alive" is a haunted house story, but it's really about the plight of recent immigrants trying to survive in a new country. The film "succeeds primarily in the vividness of its physical environ," said Dennis Harvey of Variety, "an impressively decrepit boardinghouse that seems to swallow up vulnerable young women whole."

Nocturnal Animals

Fashion designer Tom Ford (of all people) scripted and directed "Nocturnal Animals," a twisty, mind-bending, and deeply unsettling thriller in which the plot itself blends, interferes, and gets confused with a story being told by the film's troubled characters. Amy Adams plays Susan, an icy and unhappily married art gallery owner who receives a fascinating novel manuscript called "Nocturnal Animals," written by her vindictive first husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). 

The action shifts to depict the book, a horrifying story about Tony (Gyllenhaal again), a man whose car breaks down in rural Texas just before a gang of criminals kidnaps his wife and daughter and leaves him stranded. It's up to Detective Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon), a strong-but-silent type dying of cancer to help Tony exact his revenge. Meanwhile, back in Susan and Edward's world, audiences learn about the emotional devastation that led to the demise of their marriage.

"Nocturnal Animals" is "arty and grotesquely gorgeous, but hardly an uplifting tale," says Neil Pond of Parade. "Think 'No Country For Old Men' meets 'CSI: West Texas,' by way of 'Twin Peaks.'"

The Old Ways

"The Old Ways" is a haunting thriller about haunting things. Partially in English and partially in Spanish, it's a horror movie that blends traditional and familiar elements of classic horror movies with Mexican folklore and tales of witchcraft. Brigitte Kali Canales portrays Cristina Lopez, a Mexican-American reporter who heads back to her hometown, near Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico, to research a story about the area's many witchy legends. Her information gathering quickly turns from academic into something much darker and hands-on when a collection of local residents kidnap and hold her against her will. The reason? A bruja (a female master in the ways of witchcraft) means to use her powers to rid Cristina of the demon the group believes possesses her.

Michael Talbot-Haynes of Film Threat praised "The Old Ways" as "the greatest exorcism movie since 'The Exorcist,'" while Deirdre Crimmins of Rue Morgue Magazine found it "an all-around good and scary movie."

Operation Mincemeat

Featuring an all-star cast of familiar British actors — including Colin Firth, Penelope Wilton ("Downton Abbey"), Jason Isaacs ("Harry Potter"), Kelly Macdonald ("Trainspotting"), and Matthew Macfadyen ("Succession"), "Operation Mincemeat" tells a fascinating and gripping but little-known World War II story, one so filled with audacious and foolhardy participants that it's hard to believe it's real. 

Set in 1943, the Allied forces plan to stop Hitler's conquest of Europe with a multi-pronged attack on Sicily, a troubling option because it would ensure mass casualties on both sides. And so, two elite British intelligence officers come up with a bizarre scheme, "Operation Mincemeat." With plenty of help from higher-ups and the rank-and-file, they dress up an abandoned corpse in a Royal Marines uniform and plant evidence of a false Allied invasion on his person and wait for the Axis forces to discover him and act accordingly on the misinformation.

"'Operation Mincemeat' is a genuine surprise package — it prompts nostalgia, if not for the war, then for an almost equally distant era of skillfully crafted entertainment," raved Jake Wilson of The Age, while Neil Murray of the Los Angeles Times said, "It tells a fascinating tale, snappily."

The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure

Pirate movies are almost always a guarantee of rollicking, death-defying, high seas adventure, but they're usually about European pirates. "The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure" is an extremely entertaining, seriously funny, and action-packed movie about the buccaneering and privateering going on elsewhere in the world. A follow-up to the 2014 South Korean movie "The Pirates," "The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure" concerns a group of colorful sea bandits gleefully going in search of the biggest windfall they'll likely ever see. These pirates soon learn that the royal family's treasures have gone missing, and are possibly stolen. Thus, they seek the roguish glory and monetary rewards of recovering the loot. Of course, they'll have to contend with other, far more nefarious pirates to get what they want. "It's a swift, often endearing watch," wrote Nathan Sartain of Ready Steady Cut, "one which vitally keeps audiences engaged."

The Platform

"The Platform" is a Spanish-language horror movie that's made unsettling and captivating by taking common fears — agoraphobia, claustrophobia, starvation — and heightening them to all-new levels in a dystopian prison. In this engross thriller, cellmates Goreng and Trimagasi cope with life in "The Pit," a tower facility where food is delivered via a platform that slowly lowers to reach prisoners on their levels. However, those at the top are able to gorge themselves on all manner of delicacies. Those at the bottom are reduced to scraps. If someone tries to take any food off the platform and keep it hidden away for later, they'll be brutalized by extreme heat and cold.

Making things even more complex, levels are changed at random every so often and without warning. One day, you're at the top — the next, at the lowest level. Through it all, the prisoners are at war with themselves and one another — or they could choose to help each other. "A gnarly mash-up of midnight movie and social commentary," Jason Bailey of The New York Times said of the film, "the picture is overly overt but undeniably effective, delivering genre jolts and broad messaging in equal measure."

Red Dot

Quality thriller films don't have to have a novel or complicated premise — all they have to do to keep viewers interested and excited is tell a compelling story with some unexpected twists that slowly reveal a mystery. "Red Dot" is an action movie broken down into its most basic elements. It's about two people in an unfamiliar environment being chased by an unknown party trying to kill them for unknown reasons. 

The film starts out with Nadja (Nanna Blondell) and David (Anastasios Soulis), a couple expecting a baby but otherwise disconnected, who embark on a hiking getaway in snowy northern Sweden. After some awkward and unsettling encounters with locals, Nadja and David soon find themselves desperately trying to survive brutally violent and surreptitious attackers, essentially alone in an icy, isolated forest. Eventually, the deadly game of human hunting all makes sense, but viewers will enjoy putting together the tragic pieces. Jadę Budowski of Decider says "Red Dot" is "tense, disturbing, and well-made."

The Ritual

The "lost in the woods" scenario is a familiar one in horror movies and for good reason — there are lots of potentially frightening things in a spooky forest, and an anxiety toward them is a universal feeling. "The Ritual" plays on that deep sense of dread while introducing new and innovative elements to the well-established subgenre of scary forest flicks. For example, "The Ritual" takes on a mythological and supernatural element, as four old college buddies, seeking comfort and connection after the unexpected death of a fifth friend, go out hiking in a rural area in Scandinavia and encounter ancient, poorly understood, and deeply evil forces that wish them harm.

"The Ritual," according to Alan Scherstuhl of the Village Voice, "achieves a tense and devilish power, leaving you in the dark with these guys," while Katie Walsh of the Los Angeles Times called the film "efficient and highly effective in its style, relying on sound, creepy production design, and the men's own fear and misjudgment to create the sense of pervasive doom."

The Siege of Jadotville

After expelling Belgian colonialists in 1960, the Congo declared independence and in 1961, the United Nations arrived to help support the newly formed government. U.N. peacekeeping troops soon got caught up in a civil war between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the natural resource-heavy (and industry-backed) secessionist state of Katanga. "The Siege of Jadotville" tells of a little-known moment in this seven-day conflict, in which 3,000 mercenaries working for mining companies in Katanga attacked the 150 Irish troops serving under the U.N. 

Led by commandant Pat Quinlan (played in the film version by Jamie Dornan of "Fifty Shades of Grey"), the defense held its ground, pushing back the thousands of attackers while suffering no casualties, and waiting for reinforcements to arrive. "The Siege of Jadotville" is a harrowing, high-stakes drama, loaded with military action and almost unbelievable acts of courage and tactical brilliance. "The battle scenes alone make this solid and well-paced film worth watching," wrote Paul Whitington of the Irish Independent.

The Sleepover

Not much sleep happens in "The Sleepover" — it's a heist movie and a kidnapping caper with a switcheroo in that it's the kids who need to save the grown-ups. It's one of those movies like "Adventures in Babysitting" or "Hocus Pocus," where tweens get to stay up all night and go on a grand adventure. It would seem that goofy mother Margot (Malin Akerman) was once an intentional master thief, who quit that life, entered witness protection, and married her dweeby husband Ron (Ken Marino). The past comes back to haunt her when her old team recruits her — by way of kidnapping her and Ron — and forces her to help them steal a precious crown from a dignitary. 

When Margot and Ron's kids come home to an empty house, they figure out their mother's secret life and potential whereabouts and set out to rescue her with the aid of criminal and spy gadgetry she left behind for just such an occasion. "The Sleepover" is an "outrageous, silly, family-centered film," according to Sarah's Backstage Pass, appropriate for the whole family, not just action aficionados.

Small Crimes

There are many different kinds of crime dramas, like character studies about why people turn to a life of drug-dealing or working for the mafia, or exciting heist thrillers. They're not usually like "Small Crimes," a small crime movie about people on the fringes of society who have seemingly resigned themselves to life on the edge. It's an interesting and unsettling take on the genre.

In "Small Crimes," a movie that would've been a perfect vehicle for Sylvester Stallone or Charles Bronson decades ago, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays a fallen-from-grace police officer just emerging from prison after serving six years for attempted murder. He wants to get his life on track and redeem himself with his family, but they don't want much to do with him, which helps to send him headlong back into a world of corruption, organized crime, casual violence, and other seedy elements. "If the film came across as jaded and cynical, it might well be hard to take. Instead, it seems weary and defeated, as if some people are simply born to fail," said Mike D'Angelo of The AV Club.

Soft & Quiet

At first, it seems like "Soft & Quiet" is an exploration of how regular people develop racial and social prejudices. But in placing its characters into a situation in which they have to either confront or embrace their toxic beliefs, "Soft & Quiet" transforms into an uncomfortably realistic and bloody horror movie — one told in real time at that. 

A group of middle-class white women form a white supremacist group, but are kicked out of the church where they meet. Deciding to take the party back to one of their homes, they stop into a member's store for wine and engage in a racially-based altercation with two Asian-American women. The group follows one of the women home, where things escalate into a sad, violent, and irreversible situation. "This is powerful filmmaking that goes beyond just vilifying racist scum," wrote Rod Machen of the Austin Chronicle. We couldn't put it better ourselves.


A hard-to-categorize 2019 effort by filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, "Synchronic" starts out as a gritty, bleak drug drama, then evolves into an original, compelling, and intimate science fiction fable. Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) work as paramedic partners in New Orleans, and find themselves receiving an increasingly strange series of calls. One incident involves a stabbing victim and a very old sword stuck in a wall; others involve completely burned bodies, a bite from a venomous snake long disappeared from New Orleans, and a dirty needle stab, forcing Steve to get tested and learn he has pineal gland cancer. All of these cases are linked by a new street drug called Synchronic ... and, of all things, time manipulation. That's because Synchronic isn't just a narcotic — it's a dangerous time travel device.

"'Synchronic' is suitably weird and sufficiently fun," says Rory Doherty of The Skinny. Matt Fowler of IGN Movies writes, "The movie makes superb use of New Orleans as a city that hums with hauntings and harrowing history."


The fear of turning into one's parents as they settle into adulthood is an extremely common worry, and it's the basis for the psychological-supernatural horror film "Umma." Amanda (Sandra Oh) and her teenage daughter Chrissy (Fivel Stewart) enjoy an idyllic existence on their farm, hanging out and tending to bees, until the remains of Amanda's mother (or umma) arrive from Korea. Umma wasn't a good umma, cruel and abusive, and it was the reason for a long estrangement, but what remains of her corporeal form literally haunts Amanda, as she quickly evolves into her mother at her most monstrous and horrific.

While critical reviews for "Umma" were overall middling, with critics finding the film uneven, it's still worth a watch for its originality, quirkiness, and unpredictable plot and character choices that subvert many horror movie cliches. According to Jeremy Aspinall of Radio Times, the movie "delivers atmosphere, tension, whirling camerawork, and jump scares aplenty," while Joel Harley of Starburst called the movie "a refreshingly humanist take on supernatural horror films."

Vampires vs. the Bronx

On one level, Netflix subscribers know exactly what they're getting when they click on a movie called "Vampires vs. the Bronx." It is indeed a messy, violent tale of creepy bloodsuckers (hailing from Eastern Europe, in the classic vampire movie style) in a modern-day urban setting, specifically in one of New York City's most crowded and interesting boroughs. But "Vampires vs. the Bronx" is so much more than that — it's a socially conscious celebration of Bronx culture, the story of a bunch of smart and capable kids coming together to save the day, and a deeply satirical horror-comedy. 

The vampiric real estate agents at the center of the story represent wealthy individuals and businesses that want to gentrify older neighborhoods, and a scrappy bunch of young people have to stop them before nothing and no one is left. "Vampires vs. the Bronx" is "a witty and likable horror-comedy that manages to put a stake to the heart of some real issues while it tickles your ribs," says Ben Travis of Empire.