6. Lost Girls
Since the early 2010s, people have been obsessed with the Long Island serial killer. Because the identity remains a mystery to this day, people are drawn to the topic. They want to connect all the dots and come up with some sort of conclusion. It’s an appealing mystery that will continue to grip people as long as there is new information.
Lost Girls attempts to tackle that mystery, but it never pretends that it has all the answers. It presents viewers with information that is available to the public. It rarely tries to skew the original story, and as a result, there’s a clear lack of closure. Just like real life, Lost Girls doesn’t know the identity of the infamous serial killer. Still, the central intrigue is very much there.
If you’re okay with an open-ended analysis of the decade-old crime, you’re liable to enjoy your time here. Lost Girls has an impressive level of polish because of its gifted cast and skilled direction courtesy of Liz Garbus. Although it occasionally fails to sink its teeth into viewers, it provides plenty of other reasons to watch.
Stunt casting Kevin James as a neo-Nazi in a horror-tinged revenge thriller could have gone horribly awry. There have been plenty of comedic actors who tried and failed to break free from their typecasting. In spite of these concerns, Becky successfully delivers a seemingly never-ending assortment of thrills.
Admittedly, James doesn’t end up being the main draw here. His performance is adequate, but he’s outshone by a 14-year-old girl. Lulu Wilson is the star of the show here. If you ever wanted to see John Wick as a 5-foot-tall teenage girl, this might be up your alley. Wilson stabs her way through countless white supremacists, and it’s just as satisfying as you would expect.
There is one caveat though. A lot of the entries on this list are heavy-handed and thought-provoking. Becky is not. In fact, Becky can’t fairly be described as an intelligent movie at all. Then again, it has no interest in being one. More than anything, this is a movie that wants to entertain, and entertain it does.
8. Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street
In 1985, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was released to middling reviews. It was described as a “tedious and humorless mess” by People Magazine back in 1985. Though the special effects were praised, most people agreed that it paled in comparison to Wes Craven’s original. As time passed, this unusual sequel was reevaluated, and while most people still wouldn’t describe it as “good” in the conventional sense, they might at least describe it as “fascinating.”
In fact, it’s so fascinating that it inspired a documentary chronicling its rise from perceived disaster to the “gayest horror film ever.” Actually, that might be underselling this introspective doc. Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street has a lot on its mind. From the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s to the rampant homophobia in Hollywood, there are countless topics presented to the viewer, but the second Nightmare on Elm Street movie holds it all together.
At times, it feels like this might have been better as a docuseries rather than a single motion picture. There’s a definite lack of structure that comes as a result of the limited runtime. The film bounces from one topic to the next without giving you much time to breathe. That being said, the information presented is frequently engaging. Even if it seems like you need to catch a breath to soak in every tidbit of information, this remains a worthwhile experience.
9. The Whistlers
After a Romanian release in November of last year, this comedy thriller eventually made its way to most other territories this year. Like many foreign language films, the release was quiet. While film critics and cinephiles found a way to appreciate this sharp mystery, casual viewers mostly ignored it even though they shouldn’t have.
The Whistlers is bound to be a polarizing film, but that doesn’t mean it should be forgotten. Director Porumboiu, known for his low-key narratives, has taken a very different approach when crafting this feature. Most viewers will need to keep their eyes glued to the screen. Any distractions could completely derail your understanding of the story. It’s all rather convoluted thanks to its zigzagging narrative approach. That being said, attentive viewers will be rewarded.
10. The Wretched
The pandemic was kind to this low-budget Rear Window love letter. Following a release in drive-in theaters across the world, The Wretched maintained its number one position at the box office for seven straight weeks in the United States. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean much when only about 100 theaters were actually open. Seven straight weeks as the box office champion sounds great until you realize that The Wretched only made $1.7 million. With that in mind, it’s safe to call it a little-known gem.
This occult horror film stands out from other Rear Window knock offs because it delves into the supernatural. Disturbia and The Stepfather felt frustratingly similar because they essentially told the exact same story. While The Wretched borrows elements from Hitchcock’s masterpiece, it explores a different territory. It’s not about a murderer next door; it’s about a witch next door.
This isn’t to say that The Wretched is a one-of-a-kind experience. In a lot of ways, it’s reminiscent of countless other teen horror flicks. At the same time, there’s a very human story at the center. This doesn’t solely revolve around a spooky neighbor. It also tackles topics like divorce, teen romance, and paranoia. This allows it to differentiate itself from a crowded field.