6. A Perfect Getaway (2009)
Three couples, one island, one mystery to solve. Cliff (Steve Zahn) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich), a recently married couple, are visiting Hawaii for their honeymoon; while traveling to a remote and beautiful beach, they encounter a couple of hippie hitchhikers, Cleo (Marley Shelton) and Kale (Chris Hemsworth). After a discussion, the hippie couple decides to continue their trip without taking the passage from Cliff and Cydney.
Again, along the way, the newly married couple meet another couple, former soldier Nick (Timothy Olyphant) and his partner Gina (Kiele Sanchez). The news of a couple murdered on the big island in Hawaii by a mysterious couple starts suspicions.
A great plot that keeps you always on the edge is what makes “A Perfect Getaway” a deeply underrated thriller with a slasher touch; the viewer always wonders who is the murderous couple and who will survive the trip. The Hawaiian setting is helpful in creating a dichotomy between the beauty of the landscape and the monstrous violence about to happen.
Director David Twohy is able to craft a solid and strong movie, directing in a sober and effective way. A great cast – with Hemsworth in one of his first movies – completes the experience. This movie is 98 minutes of pure entertainment; from beginning to end, you can’t look away from the screen.
7. The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)
Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton) is the daughter of a rich man; Danny (Martin Compston) and Vic (Eddie Marsan) are ex-convicts who are planning to kidnap her in order to get a big ransom. The two criminals manage to kidnap Alice: they take her to a soundproofed room, tie her up, and silence her with a ball gag. The first part of the plan succeeded. However, the two didn’t consider the tenacity and the cunning of Alice; what seemed to be an easy and smooth operation was going to become harder, due to the willing of the kidnapped girl to escape and survive.
Directed by J Blakeson, “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” is a minimal thriller when it comes to its budget and the number of actors; the great peculiarity of the movie is the superb screenplay, full of twists and suspenseful moments. The great presence of changes gives the movie a totally unpredictable storytelling, which contributes to the instability of the audience. You don’t know what is going to happen; you are waiting for new twists, but you never know when these will be used. A great British thriller that unfortunately went unnoticed in the past 10 years. Now is the time to rediscover this gem.
8. Cold In July (2014)
Directed by Jim Mickle, who also shot the underrated “We Are What We Are” (2013), “Cold in July” is the best thriller on the list. Texas, 1989. Richard (Michael C. Hall) is woken up by his wife because she heard noises in the house; he soon finds out that there’s an intruder. By accident, Richard shoots and kills him. The case is dismissed and Richard is free to go for the right of self-defense.
Richard goes to the funeral of the intruder and the father of the dead men (Sam Shepard) threatens him and his family. However, something mysterious is related to the intruder’s death and soon, the two men will have to cooperate to solve this mystery, alongside the eccentric private detective Jim Bob Luke (Don Johnson).
Everything is perfect. The acting is always on point, especially Don Johnson, who deserves a special mention. The technical side is flawless, from the atmospheric cinematography to the camera movement; Mickle shows what he’s made of and continues his positive path in cinema.
At the same time, what is really powerful about this movie is the screenplay, based on the novel of the same name by Joe R. Lansdale and written by the director and his longtime collaborator Nick Damici, who also play a role in the movie. It’s gritty and strong with many violent scenes, a noir feeling, and an outstanding finale. A modern masterpiece that every film enthusiast should see. Unmissable.
9. I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (2017)
“I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore” is not your usual thriller; it’s a combination of multiple genres – including comedy, drama, and horror – that resembles, in a way, the work of the Coen brothers. Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) is a nursing assistant, bored and depressed about her life.
One day when she comes home she finds her house burglarized: her computer, her medicine, and most importantly, her grandma’s silver were stolen. After she understands that the police won’t even make a single effort to find her stolen properties, she decides to search for them on her own, helped by an eccentric neighbor named Tony (Elijah Wood).
Starting with the technical side, the movie has no defects; Macon Blair – in his debut as a director after many roles as an actor, especially “Blue Ruin” (2013) and “Green Room” (2015) – really knows how to use a camera and work with the little budget he had: the movie flows perfectly and the editing is just perfect. Same thing for the cinematography – above all the final scene in the woods – and the soundtrack.
Wood is the real highlight of the film: he’s perfectly in character and delivers a great performance as an eccentric Christian metalhead, with a passion for oriental weapons. Impressive acting also for Lynskey, who manages to convey a spotless image of the effects of monotony and boredom on a human being.
This unconventional thriller will make you crave more under-the-radar gems. Don’t let it slip away.
10. Hold The Dark (2018)
Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright) is an expert in wolf behavior. One day, he receives a letter from a woman living in a remote village in Alaska named Medora Slone (Riley Keough), inviting him to visit the state to chase and hunt a group of wolves that supposedly took and killed her little son. Russell decides to go to Alaska, also because he wants to reconnect with his daughter, who’s living in Anchorage. However, the investigation seems complicated and the return of Medora’s husband Vernon (Alexander Skarsgård) – a soldier stationed in Iraq – will change the course of events.
“Hold the Dark” is worth seeing even just for the beautiful shots of the landscape: vast woods, massive mountains, and of course, the constant presence of snow. The isolated environment and the wise directorial choice – by Jeremy Saulnier – of a slow-paced rhythm gives the movie a dream-like feeling. Moreover, the reference to Native American mysticism infuses esotericism in the picture, which, in combination with the dreamy tone, sets an overall dark tone.
The performances by the actors are skillful; Skarsgård highlights himself for the representation of this cold and calculating soldier, merciless and heartless. “Hold the Dark” – just like “Wind River” (2017) or “Winter’s Bone” (2010) – gives you a different perspective on the thriller genre, setting the movie in cold and wild places. However, what really stands out here is the mystic and uncertain twist in the story: there’s always something covert and mysterious that has to be figured out.