Rashaad Ernesto Green’s second directorial effort ticks all the right boxes. Premature is a somber and moving tale revolving around love, heartbreak, and everything in between. The screenplay isn’t overly convoluted, and that’s because it never feels like it needs to be. Instead, Premature tells a simple story with a sense of realism that feels so rare.
Throughout the 86-minute runtime, you’ll spend time with Ayanna and Isaiah as they navigate young love. They’re constantly confused about how this romance will transform, but they’re happy to be with one another through thick and thin. On paper, this is all very straightforward, but Green makes Premature feel special with excellent dialogue and naturalistic performances.
For some viewers, that won’t be enough, and that’s okay. Premature isn’t exactly a crowd pleaser. It’s a quiet little indie flick that knows its audience. If you’re part of that audience, you’re in for a treat.
7. Big Time Adolescence
If you enjoyed The King of Staten Island, but thought it featured a little too much Pete Davidson, then Big Time Adolescence might be the movie for you. Davidson plays a remarkably similar character to the protagonist of the latest Apatow dramedy, but in this instance, he plays a supporting role. This seemingly minor variance allows Big Time Adolescence to tell a completely different story that still manages to use Davidson’s charm to the fullest.
Given the subject matter of this list, it might help to describe what makes this so different than its more mainstream brethren. While The King of Staten Island focuses almost entirely on Davidson’s character, this film follows a much younger character, played by Griffin Gluck, who begins to idolize his sister’s ex-boyfriend (played by Davidson) as he weaves through the usual teenage troubles. With this premise, you can expect a more traditional coming-of-age experience.
“Traditional” can be a scary word when you consider the plethora of remakes, reboots, and sequels that flood the market. It’s easy to be turned off by movies that follow a specific formula. Nobody wants to watch the same recycled ideas again and again, so let’s make one thing clear. Big Time Adolescence is traditional by definition because it takes a tried-and-true template and runs with it, but it never feels like a run-of-the-mill coming-of-age flick.
It has too much heart to be dismissed so easily. Unlike his contemporaries, director/screenwriter Jason Orley seems to have a firm grasp on the teenage mindset. These characters are facing real, relatable challenges that countless others have had to deal with in their lives. Obviously, not every teenager has been roped into a drug dealing scheme by a tattooed 26-year-old, but the sentiment feels authentic. This isn’t a by-the-numbers story about growing up because it manages to hit so close to home, and that’s a rarity.
It would be easy for writer/director Carlo Mirabella-Davis to demonize pica, the misunderstood eating disorder found within Swallow. Shows like My Strange Addiction exist to make us feel as though the people suffering from these disorders are mutants. It would be easy to cash in on that trend and create a horror movie that ignores the psychological trauma often associated with pica.
Honestly, the promotional material leading up to the release of Swallow attempted to trick people into believing that Swallow was a simple body horror movie and nothing else. Thankfully, anyone who has seen it can attest to the fact that there’s far more beneath the surface.
Swallow is a psychological drama about abuse and neglect. There are certainly elements of body horror, but we are never meant to look down on the protagonist. On the contrary, we’re supposed to feel her pain and sympathize with her.
This leads to an unnerving experience. Swallow is never a “fun” movie, but it is a fascinating one with a surprisingly big heart. Your mileage will vary depending on a number of factors, but you should be able to appreciate the craftsmanship regardless of any noteworthy hiccups along the way.
9. Ghost Town Anthology
If snail-like pacing isn’t your bag, it might be a good idea to skip Ghost Town Anthology. The slow, often methodical supernatural drama doesn’t always entertain in the traditional sense. The subdued approach to storytelling can be frustrating, especially for people who want something straightforward, but patient viewers will be rewarded with a contemplative analysis of loss and the slow road to recovery.
Ghost Town Anthology takes place in a fictional Canadian town known as Irénée-les-Neiges. With a population of under 300, it’s easy to conclude that everybody knows everybody. That’s why the town is so shaken following the death of a young teenage boy. This tragic loss soon begins to have an even greater impact on the close-knit society when numerous ghost sightings begin to occur.
This set-up takes its time, but it eventually leads to a brilliant conclusion that will leave viewers pondering for hours on end. With absorbing writing and relatable characters, there’s not a whole lot to complain about as long as you can get past the unconventional pacing. This isn’t an adrenaline rush by any means, but it offers thematic depth as a substitute.
You may not know it, but Sydney Sweeney is slowly making her way toward A-list status. Following sublime performances in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Handmaid’s Tale, and of course, HBO’s Euphoria, the actress is on top of the world. Unfortunately, you won’t find her in many starring roles at this time. Though her career is off to an excellent start, you’ll most likely find her buried somewhere in the supporting cast. While she always makes an impression, her presence seems wasted when you consider her undeniable talent.
Folks wanting to get a bigger glimpse of Sweeney’s starpower should give Clementine a look. Lara Gallagher’s directorial debut made its way through the festival circuit before quietly launching on virtual theater platforms. Unlike a traditional video-on-demand service, these virtual theaters are often too niche for mainstream audiences to use. This meant that the erotic thriller was overshadowed by easily accessible Netflix orginals, and that’s a damn shame when you consider its quality.
Most of this quality is derived from the chemistry between the two leads. As easy as it is to hype up Sydney Sweeney, she is not the only cast member. Her costar, Otmara Marrero, is the perfect counterbalance to Sweeney’s more vulnerable performance. Together, they put on an electric show that feels raw and provocative. Gallagher’s sharp script only serves to heighten an already solid thriller.