Since emerging on the scene in 2013, A24 has quickly become a studio whose name is synonymous with groundbreaking, provocative independent cinema. Known as a studio that gives power back to the filmmakers, A24 has enlisted some of the best directors in the business and has inspired a new generation of independent filmmakers.
Some of A24’s films have gone on to become great successes, with films like Moonlight, Lady Bird, First Reformed, Good Time, Hereditary, and The Florida Project among others all becoming critical darlings and awards contenders. Some of the studio’s titles this fall, including The Lighthouse, Waves, and Uncut Gems rank among the year’s most anticipated films. However, A24 releases a great number of films each year, some of which don’t receive wide theatrical releases or go straight to VOD.
Outside of the well-known hits, A24 has amassed a very impressive library. Here are ten underrated A24 films.
10. It Comes At Night
While it was unfortunately marketed as a supernatural horror thriller, It Comes At Night is actually quite scary when it comes to its bleak depiction of humanity’s inherent nature towards violence. Using a post-apocalyptic setting as a backdrop for a paranoid chamber piece, the film follows two families that come into competition over resources.
The details as to what exactly sparked this doomsday event are never explicitly spelled out; its characters are adjusted to the reality they exist in, and the excellent performances from Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, and Kelvin Harrison Jr. explore what a tight family unit would do under these circumstances.
Regardless of what the apocalyptic inciting incident was, the characters are all on edge, calling into question what their ulterior motivations could be. Writer/director Trey Edward Shults sets the film primarily in one location, which increases the claustrophobic anxiety and draws attention to the bleak day-to-day living that these families go through. The film’s unsettling nature rises towards a devastating climax, and while it’s understandable that a film this thoroughly miserable would have a hard time drawing in crowds, It Comes At Night is a great character piece from a talented filmmaker.
Jonah Hill has certainly had an interesting career arc, having started as one of the most talented comedic actors in the industry who gradually ventured into dramatic territory. After working with some of the best directors in the business, Hill tried his hand in directing with Mid90s, a slice of life coming of age drama that follows a young boy Stevie (Sunny Suljic) who becomes part of a skater group.
While not following a traditional narrative, Mid90s feels like a collection of anecdotes from a filmmaker reflecting on their past, and the film’s provocative ending shows the emphasis Hill places on letting these kids see their own stories lived out on screen.
While the soundtrack definitely provokes nostalgia, it also feels authentic to the specific subculture that Hill is depicting. It’s clear that Hill is passionate about this material, as he nails the comradery and in jokes that would exist between a group of skater friends, and is able to explore an entire history between these boys through the perspective of an outsider that joins them.
As the film draws to a close, there’s a considerable amount of tension as to whether or not this friend group can sustain themselves, and Hill is able to reflect on these youthful experience with reverence whilst also being critical of how dangerous they are.
8. The Rover
One of the best post-apocalyptic westerns since the original Mad Max, The Rover features incredible performances from Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. Pearce plays a former soldier who is reeling from the loss of his family, and channels his vengeful spirit into a violent campaign against all that stand in his way. This forces him to make an uneasy alliance with a petty criminal played by Pattinson.
This was Pattinson’s breakout role; before he showed his acting abilities with Good Time and The Lost City of Z, he proved in The Rover that he could take risks, as he plays a simple-minded criminal who finds an authoritative figure in Pearce.
The central relationship between these two actors is what brings humanity to this bleak story, and while the revenge story is straightforward, there are clues as to what Pearce’s life before was like before and how he evolved into a ruthless killer. Pattinson also has a lot of development, as his character is abandoned by his brothers after an attempt to rob Pearce goes wrong. Their relationship is fraught with disdain, but in the end they are both survivors who only have their life left to give, and The Rover is completely unflinching in its brutal depiction of a world without hope.
7. The Blackcoat’s Daughter
Often the best horror comes from confusion, and The Blackcoat’s Daughter does a great job at disorienting its audience. Following three different Catholic school girls who are all intertwined in a story of satanic panic over a holiday break, the film switches between the perspectives of the three leads and doesn’t reveal how they all connect until the end.
The lack of answers is unnerving in the best way, and debut filmmaker Oz Perkins is able to create a creepy atmosphere through an absence of authority figures; two of these girls (Kiernan Shipka and Lucy Boynton) are left waiting for their parents in their abandoned school, while the other (Emma Roberts) is unable to find a ride home.
Shipka and Boynton have an age difference that casts their dynamic in a different light, and the tension between the two and their different motivations for staying on campus manifests into an interesting depiction of two stages of adolescence; Boynton is initially rude and dismissive of her younger classmate, and Shipka has an appropriately unnerving dead eyed stare that fits the dreary setting.
With the storyline involving Roberts, which does not take place on campus, Perkins runs the risk of breaking the scope of his chamber piece, but even that story still feels contained and finite. A terrific slow burn with three breakout performances, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a horror film so cleverly plotted that its worth rewatching to catch up on missed details.
6. American Honey
At nearly 3 hours, American Honey is the longest film on this list and among the longest films A24 has ever produced. It’s a completely immersive experience in a film that’s all about immersion; Sasha Lane stars as the eldest daughter of an impoverished family who is taken by a group of free spirited young people that travel and sell magazines. The film never settles in one location, with sporadic adventures developing over the course of different cons being pulled.
There’s a manic energy to how Andrea Arnold directs the film, with much of the film focusing on the conversations between characters who are bound together like a family. This runs the risk of being over indulgent, but each character is so unique that the dialogue feels very natural, with Shia Labeouf in particular giving a great performance as a group leader.
While there’s a lot of comedy that comes from the scams these characters run and it’s fun to see them celebrate their independence, there’s also an imminent sense of danger as they encounter dangerous people along the way. Often heartbreaking but never dull, American Honey is a mesmerizing odyssey into the underrepresented side of America.