In case you don’t know what the list is about, A24 is an independent film company that mostly distributes and sometimes produces films. However, they’re known for not only releasing mostly acclaimed films but also they don’t know how to sell themselves as a brand. That’s how it’s a rare kind of company that actually have fans.
Of course, it’s great that the company helps independent filmmakers and does actually introduce great indie films to wider audiences, it’s important to note that A24 is not a genre. So by saying “this is a typical A24 horror”, you might actually diminish the work of the people who worked on the film. When you look at some of those films, for example, “X”, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and “The Lighthouse” are nothing alike but they all are great in their own way. That’s what we celebrate here. Now let’s rank and look at the diverse but always interesting titles the company has given us.
24. Slice (2018)
When you do a ranking of somebody’s filmography or catalog of some company as in this case, it’s always hard to start because you give an intro full of praise, and then right after you need to talk about their absolute worst. The film follows the murders of several pizza deliverymen in the Ghost Town neighborhood of Kingfisher, and if you think about it, it has a fine premise..
It could be turned into a decent horror/comedy, instead of “Slice” which basically has no idea what it’s doing. It feels like a film consisting only just ideas rather than a plot and even those ideas don’t come together. However, A24 knows when they went wrong and they surely how to make the film disappear. They released this on VOD and we almost didn’t hear anything about it. Probably it’s for the best.
23. Tusk (2014)
Kevin Smith was a big deal in the 90s, he was the hero of comic book lovers and a fresh voice in independent cinema. Hard to believe now but “Clerks” and “Chasing Amy” were great films and “Mallrats” was funny, “Dogma” was courageous. However, it’s been decades that Smith is not the same old guy, it’s like he’s stuck in his own era and the best thing he can offer is the nostalgic sequels to his early successful films.
“Tusk” has gained some cult following because it indeed has some funny or interesting sides but most of it? Just doesn’t work. The film, which is based on one of Smith’s own podcasts feels mostly pointless, gross, and strange in a bad way. Justin Long is such an unappealing lead and there’s also an insufferable level of ham served by Johnny Depp’s terrible performance. He doubles it down in the spin-off “Yoga Hosers” which is even worse.
22. False Positive (2021)
In search of a doctor to fulfill her long-awaited desire to have children, Lucy ends up with Dr. Hindle. At first, it seems as if he was able to help her. She is pregnant and her belly is growing and growing. But then Lucy has the feeling that all is not as it seems at the clinic.
Pregnancy is a theme too common in the horror genre and there had been lots of strong films about it but this A24-produced, Hulu-distributed film is rather a weak one. It doesn’t find the right one and for a satire, it lacks wit. Some of the themes keep you engaged but the ending is unfortunately a letdown. At least, the performances are fine. Pierce Brosnan in particular is turning out to be one of the best “leading-actor-turned-character-actor” stars around these days.
21. Men (2022)
Alex Garland is certainly an intelligent man, he wrote great films for Danny Boyle and others and made good films by himself also, including “Ex-Machina” for A24. This is why “Men” feels so bizarre. It’s almost admirable how weird it is and how much it’s willing to go there but also you can find the revelation and the whole metaphor incredibly silly and weak.
It’s “mother!” of 2022 because just like that film, it has a premise that some might find intriguing and some others might find stupid. Some might say it’s original and others might think it’s a student film-level pretentious. The cinematography and the acting are fine but the film also feels a bit repetitive even if you like the idea. There’s a totally bonkers scene close to the end that even if you won’t like, at least you can appreciate the fact that you probably haven’t seen it anywhere else before.
20. It Comes at Night (2017)
A deadly infectious disease has wiped out almost all life on earth. Seventeen-year-old Travis (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) and his parents Paul (Joel Edgerton) and Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) are among the last survivors. Heavily armed, they live in a lonely house in the woods. Driven by fear and paranoia, the family struggles to survive on their meager supplies when a desperate young couple (Riley Keough, Christopher Abbott) and their young son seek shelter with them.
Post-apocalyptic psychological horror is a slow-burn and not for everyone. It’s stylish, has a great soundtrack, and mostly engrossing but then again, the ending is underwhelming and the plot is not too original can turn this into an underwhelming experience for some.
19. The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
Joan makes a cumbersome and determined journey through a frozen landscape in order to arrive at an all-girls private school where Rose and Kat await the arrival of their parents. When the woman is confronted with the girls’ gazes, terrifying visions arise in Kat’s head as Rose watches as her friend begins to be possessed by an unseen force of evil.
The good thing about A24 is that we’re still early on the list but we’ve already reached the good films but the problem is, maybe because it was released on VOD by DirecTV or something like that, this movie is much less known than most other A24 releases. This is a strong debut starring a couple of well-known names, the atmosphere is great and the film doesn’t stop being intriguing. Obviously not easy to like for everyone but it’s not like A24 keeps delivering crowd-pleasing films anyway.
18. Climax (2018)
Maybe this will anger some fans as Gaspar Noe is beloved by some cinephiles and this film has a lot of admiration. It’s understandable, the film is full of impressive dance choreography that many seem to like and then everything goes into hell but when it comes to plot, the movie is somewhat thin. It doesn’t have much to offer, the dialogues feel either silly or pretentious.
Noe is someone who’s a bit obsessed with the shock value and cheap provocations. At least this one, compared to his previous films, is better on the technical side. Since the cast is full of non-actors, it’s really hard to get through their line readings also. Still, his technical work here is enough to please many genre lovers. If you like anxiety-inducing cinema without much depth, then this might be a ride worth taking for you.
17. The Monster (2016)
In the middle of the night, a single mother, accompanied by her daughter Lizzy, drives down small country roads to visit her ex-husband. Tired of taking care of her abusive, alcoholic mother, daughter Lizzy makes it clear she wants to live with her father from now on. After hitting an animal, they try to get out of the forest which they are lost. But they are the prey of a supernatural creature…
Just like the previous title, “The Monster” is another one that didn’t get enough attention. It’s a fairly simple movie and the concept isn’t something you haven’t seen before but it works, mostly because of strong direction and powerful performance from Zoe Kazan. It’s not long also, so you don’t ever get bored. Horror always loves to explore motherhood and while this one is not incredibly complex, still good enough to satisfy the fans who’re interested in such topics. Cool sound work also.
16. Life After Beth (2014)
Bethany, Zachary’s young girlfriend, was bitten by a snake one day while she was hiking alone and died. But one evening, Beth is mysteriously brought back to life. Zach, after learning the news from Beth’s parents, initially believes the story of the zombies, but then becomes convinced that it is a resurrection and that he deserved a second chance to start a new life with Beth but soon things change..
The film got a lot of criticism that it’s too long and would work better as a short film or whatever but unless you have sky-high expectations from the film, it’s an entertaining ride and not too long anyway. The story doesn’t necessarily surprise but Aubrey Plaza is so strong and so committed here that it’s impossible to look away. Plaza had been showing great range recently with projects like “Black Bear” and “Emily the Criminal” but “Life after Beth” is a good reminder of her deadpan comic skills.
15. High Life (2018)
A group of convicts and death row inmates is headed, in a spaceship, far from the solar system because they are part of a scientific experiment that aims to investigate black holes. It’s one of those films that could be skipped on the list to appear on the science fiction list but then again it has a great balance between being a horror film and a sci-fi, and it’s so many other things too. So it’s hard to classify, and it’s not the only film of that kind that appears on the list.
The first English language film from celebrated French filmmaker Claire Denis is the kind of film you’d expect from her. Deeply unsettling, challenging, haunting and thought-provoking. The story is not necessarily flawless and the film is not involving all the time but thanks to the involving atmosphere, and fine performances from the cast, the film keeps your attention no matter what.
14. In Fabric (2018)
In a Thames Valley town in 1993, the busy winter sales season is in full swing. Sheila, a bank teller who recently separated from her husband, enters the store with her son Vince and his new girlfriend Gwen. She opts for a stunning red dress, which turns out to be an unfortunate decision… Peter Strickland is an original filmmaker, whose atmospheric Berberian Sound Studio (2012) and the erotic The Duke of Burgundy (2014) have stood in the horror films of the last decade.
“In Fabric” is the stylishly fun In Fabric, a work in the spirit of the Italian giallos. Originally designed for six haunted house-style stories, Strickland was financially limited to two but that’s okay ‘cause the film still feels complete. The story remains unpredictable, the style is very obvious and the colors are wonderful. Strickland doesn’t focus on the classic supernatural horror film elements such as the logical explanation of why the dress is haunted and whether all the clothes in the mysterious shop have a similar effect because it’s not important. Important is the experience and the film delivers a good one.
13. The Hole in the Ground (2019)
Sarah O’Neill tries to escape her broken past and makes a new life for herself on the outskirts of a rural upstate town with her young son Chris. An awkward encounter with a mysterious neighbor throws Sarah into a maddened nightmare of paranoia and distrust. With his captivating and impressive debut film, Lee Cronin has created a true genre gem full of atmosphere and suspense. Seána Kerslake shines as a young mother whose son becomes a source of horror.
Obviously, some of the themes here have been explored much better in some of the classics like “Don’t Look Now” and more recently, “The Babadook” because as it’s been mentioned in one of the previous entries, motherhood and parental fears have always been among the favorite subjects of the horror genre. How to make it work is not always about to say something new about these topics but more like how to say it. “The Hole in the Ground” finds a good way to say it that feels fresh and involving.