8. A Field in England (2013)
Plot: A group of war deserters are traveling along the English countryside when they are forced against their will to serve an alchemist; who uses these men to search for treasure.
Does it Show: Yes. The acting is a bit off for the most part, and while some of the actors do a decent job, others do not.
Final Result: A surreal folk horror film that will polarize its audience. Most people who see A Field in England will either love it or hate it, or have some in-between feelings about it. The plot is slow and the characters aren’t particularly that great or memorable.
The most memorable actor is undoubtedly Michael Smiley, as he is pretty creepy as the alchemist O’Neil. During the last 20 minutes there is an acid freak-out, and it’s pretty creative due to its visuals; it’s probably the most memorable part about A Field in England.
Once more director Ben Wheatley has created another British cult classic that will certainly polarize people based on its plot and pacing.
9. Lost River (2015)
Plot: Lost River follows a mother who is trying to save her family’s home by taking a job at a bizarre night club. Meanwhile, the oldest son Bones is also trying to save his family’s home, and does so by stealing from a psychopath named Bully, and by doing so puts his life in danger.
Does It Show: No, although the script could have used a bit more character development and maybe a more fleshed out second draft. This movie probably has the highest budgets on this list as well as the most star power.
Final Result: A masterpiece of surrealism and style. This movie definitely takes a lot of influences from other directors like David Lynch, Dario Argento, and Nicolas Winding Refn, and while that’s great, there’s very little of Ryan Gosling’s own directing style, or for that matter his writing style, and that’s the worst aspect about this film, although Gosling’s directing is great.
With that in mind, the lighting, cinematography, and especially the soundtrack by Johnny Jewel, are absolutely fantastic; despite the fact that the acting and characters are a bit weak. Actors Iain De Caestecker and Saoirse Ronan are really good, as Bones and his friend Rat. However, Matt Smith, who plays Bully, is almost comically over the top at times-, as he yells almost half of his dialogue.
Lost River, despite being critically mangled when it came out, will be remembered as a strong directing debut from Ryan Gosling and one of the best films of 2015.
10. The Myth of the American Sleepover (2010)
Plot: The Myth of the American Sleepover follows the intertwined lives of a group of teenagers during the last weekend of summer.
Does It Show: Yes. There’s some amateurish acting that’s pretty hit or miss.
Final Result: An average movie from an above average director. Director David Robert Michell, who is now known for his film It Follows, writes and directs this realistic portrayal of American teenagers. The characters are fairly fleshed out and real, but the acting isn’t exactly the best. It’s by no means bad, especially seeing how there are films with higher budgets that have worse acting in them.
It’s pretty clear that the writing is the strongest aspect about this movie and if it wasn’t for the script, then this would just be another teen indie film; which is exactly what this movie is not. The Myth of the American Sleepover is an honest and rather tender coming of age film that is much deeper than most teen films.
11. The Diary of Preston Plummer (2012)
Plot: Preston Plummer is about to graduate from university and can’t really think of anything memorable about his life, but then he goes to a party and meets Kate. Preston decides to accompany Kate when she goes home in order to live the life he’s always wanted to do.
Budget: Estimated to be $125,000.
Does It Show: Yes, quite a bit. The small budget of this movie is evident primarily with the supporting actors.
Final Result: A highly underrated indie gem. The Diary of Preston Plummer is a very underrated film that features some strong acting from its leads Preston and Kate, played by Trevor Morgan and Rumer Wilson respectively. Their acting along with Sean Ackerman’s strong script and directing really make this movie work. With that said, most of the supporting actors are kind of stilted, which is to be expected due to the small budget.
The Diary of Preston Plummer is an emotionally deep and lovely little film, which is certainly recommended for fans of independent films.
12. The Babadook (2014)
Plot: A grieving mother has to deal with her son’s fear of a monster called The Babadook. At first the mother doesn’t believe him, until she starts to also see the monster – and the nightmare fully occurs.
Does It Show: By no means a small budget, this movie does lacks any notable star power, however, this certainly makes the acting all the more surprising, especially from actress Essie Davis; who really should have been nominated for an Oscar for her role.
Final Result: The greatest horror film from this decade, so far! It would be very surprising to find a horror movie that is scarier and has the emotional depth than this movie has. The scares in this movie are built of tension rather than being composed of jump scares, and because of that it leads to a lot of very tense and unnerving scenes, especially when the mother starts to see the Babadook.
However, the emotional context of the film, especially the ending, differentiates The Babadook from other horror movies, and the less known about the emotional context the better, because it will surely catch you off guard. The Babadook certainly ranks up there with other horror greats of the past.
13. It Follows (2015)
Plot: A young woman is pursued by strange followers after having a forced sexual encounter with someone.
Does It Show: In some ways, especially in the acting, which is just ok.
Final Result: A solid horror movie. It Follows has a premise that is very intriguing and makes for an original concept. This movie acts as a metaphor for rape and unprotected sex, something you don’t normally see in horror films; especially seeing how unprotected sex is such a staple in the horror genre.
It Follows was written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, and his script is tight and focuses on character development rather than jump scares, and the movie actually includes some suspenseful sequences. The fantastic John Carpenter sounding soundtrack by Disasterpeace (Aka Richard Vreeland) help make this movie feel more like a 80s throwback. The intriguing premise and smart script makes It Follows one of the best horror movies from 2015.
14. Blue Ruin (2014)
Plot: Dwight returns back to his home to carry out his revenge on someone who killed his parents. However, the deeper he goes to extract his revenge the more complicated things get.
Budget: $420,000. The unique thing about the budget is that it was funded via Kickstarter, and was started by the writer and director Jeremy Saulnier. It honestly goes to show you how great a crowd funding site like Kickstarter is.
Does It Show: Not really, the acting is pretty good, and not that noticeably bad.
Final Result: A tense Neo-noir revenge film, with a unique twist. The thing that makes this revenge film unique is the idea that the audience doesn’t actually see what happens to invoke Dwight’s revenge. Dwight’s revenge comes from somebody killing his parents, but the audience doesn’t actually see this happening, instead you hear about it all; which is pretty unique as most revenge films take place before the event that sparks the act of revenge.
Blue Ruin takes inspiration from other Neo-noirs like the Coen Brother film Blood Simple, and even includes some dark humor; although it’s very subtle. For fans of the revenge sub-genre, this movie is a great gateway, especially seeing how it’s tamer than most films in that subgenre.
15. Short Term 12 (2013)
Plot: Short Term 12 follows the lives of two caretakers, Grace and Mason, and their personal lives while looking after at risk youths and also focusing on the youths at this facility.
Budget: Although the budget hasn’t been disclosed, it has been estimated at less than a million dollars.
Does It Show: No, all of the actors are fantastic, even the child actors manage to bring so much humanity into their roles; and knowing how little the budget is, that’s very surprising.
Final Result: One of the most honest portrayals of at risk youths ever put to screen. This movie is absolutely fantastic because of how it doesn’t sugarcoating an unglamorous topic like this, and how the script by Destin Daniel Cretton never feels fake; which is partially because of Cretton’s actual experience working with at risk youths.
All of the young actors in this movie are fantastic due to their believability. While the adult actors are also fantastic, which includes performances from Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr., especially Larson, who has so many heart to heart conversations and are just so tender that you can’t help but feel something. Short Term 12 is easily one of the best movies to come out during the 2010s, and is an absolute masterpiece.
Author Bio: Antony Copsey is an up and coming writer, who is studying communications at Rowan University at Glassboro, New Jersey. He is a huge fan of watching movies and writing about them, as well as writing his own material