Posted by: GregMo Roberts Source:Killer Reviews
The word ‘underrated’ is defined by Webster’s dictionary as something “rated too low” or “underestimated”. It is a word incorporated far too repeatedly by the film critiquing system as we relentlessly attempt to bring attention to smaller less accessible films by tossing these ten letters into catchy headlines.
But there is no denying that anyone who regularly watches film would have a ‘Go-To’ title (or 10) when the discussion of underrated films is brought to conversation. Whether it was simply a movie one adored that received no box office support or a film that flew under the radar, these are the titles that you love to pull out of the discussionary bucket at parties telling a bewildered or unknowing audience what movies they must search for at their earliest opportunity.
Killer Reviews sat down and put together our list consisting of 10. Ten titles that we believe are underrated and deserve a first or second viewing opporunity. We opted not to rank the 10 entries, but to simply list them in alphabetical order. Our list starts here:
The Crimson Rivers (2000)
Starring Jean Reno (Leon: The Professional) and Vincent Cassel (Irreversible), The Crimson Rivers is a French language film about a detective and an inspector who’s investigations intersect in a small town called Gueron. It begins when a body showing signs of torture and amputation is found naked on a mountainside. As the two officers explore the reasoning for the death, they are engrossed into a University society of scientists where genetic diseases and selectiveness. The film boasts a complex story based on the novel by Jean-Christophe Grangé and there are some incredible visuals brought to us by director Mathieu Kassovitz that are accented with some moments of gory juiciness. There was an inferior sequel released four years later that failed to build on its predecessor’s greatness, but it still took nothing away from this hidden gem.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
Directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent) we believe that Dog Soldiers is the best werewolf film of all-time (Sorry, American Werewolf, but you come in a close second). Still, Dog Soldiers is not a film that rolls off the average film watchers tongue when discussing the lycanthrope genre. The idea is simple: a military exercise in a remote forested area in Scotland turns violent after the squad encounters a family of werewolves. The special effects were brilliant and the humor and gore work together seamlessly. Characters react intelligently to their situation and the creatures look believable amongst stellar make-up effects. The movie didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but it was a damn good spin all the same.
Directed by Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Lifeforce is an alien/vampire/zombie/science fiction movie that was a huge bust upon its initial release earning a paltry $11 million on its initial release. Still, the story about a space shuttle investigating Halley’s Comet that brings back a race of alien life suckers (naked ones no less) was as audacious as it was stupid. The special effects were at times laughable and the dialogue had more cardboard than the packaging of a washer and dryer set, but still, this movie is still mounds better than most of the garbage being released in and around the 1980’s and deserved a better fate – even if only on DVD or video. And watching Mathilda May walk around naked ...well, that is worth the investment right there.
Stir of Echoes (1999)
Kevin Bacon’s character is hypnotized by his sister-in-law and begins to see visions of a young girl’s ghost. Wanting to find out more about the meaning of the strange sightings, he virtually goes insane and estranges himself from friends and family on his quest for answers. What he reveals is a dark past of the house and of his neighbors – a past that has deadly consequences in this highly underrated ghost story that is as eerie as it is effective. Directed by David Koepp (Secret Window), Stir of Echoes was considered a disappointment upon release and reaped only $21 million at the box office and almost being ignored before finding some signs of life (enough signs for a sequel) on DVD. Don’t make the same mistake as others and seek this one out.
No – the movie was not about a mutated rat that teaches Ninja Turtles how to fight evil. Splinter was a small budget horror movie released in 2008 about a small group of people trapped in a gas station store by a parasite that transforms its victims. The film did have too many stereotypes (an escaped convict? Really?), but we think the film was one of the most overlooked films of 2008 and it was a fun ride through a basic premise.
Our second French film on the list is Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s Inside. The film is almost like a small dramatic play with most of the scenes taking place in a single setting. Alysson Paradis plays Sarah, a widowed mother-to-be who is 8+ months pregnant when she is violently tormented by a strange woman with an unforeseen connection and motive. The film is incredibly graphic and is definitely not a film that would make an expected mother comfortable. By the time the movie progresses to the end credits, you will be exhausted in your involvement of Sarah‘s plight and her life and death battle with the intruder. Five years ago another French film, Martyrs, got all the internet hype, but Inside stands on its own of the as one of the country’s best horror films and is highly underrated.
The Howling (1981)
The Howling is underrated you say? Yes. Consider that it was released the same year as another small werewolf film called An American Werewolf in London. Consider that it was also released just two weeks before Friday the 13th Part II and could only muster up a $17 million cume at the box office. Still, the Rick Baker effects in this story about a newswoman’s experience with werewolf is one of those 80’s movies that can still be enjoyed by today’s more demanding audiences. Any student of horror film should enjoy the lack of CGI and the practical werewolf morphing effects that were brilliantly put on display in Joe Dante’s classic.
Sunshine might not have the horror cred of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later or the awards shelf of Slumdog Millionaire, but we think that 2007’s Sunshine was Danny Boyle’s best work behind the camera. Sunshine takes audiences 50 years into the future where our sun is dying. A team of astronauts and scientists are then sent on a mission to revive the sun but they end up missing. A second team is then sent seven years later with Earth’s future hanging in the balance and what they uncover will lead them on a deadly adventure in this well crafted science fiction drama. Sunshine was generally accepted by critics (a 75% approval rating on rottentomatoes.com), but it failed to connect with audiences and died a quick death in its theatrical run before showing a pulse on DVD. Still, the movie is a superb hidden gem and we rated Sunshine as our top movie in 2007.
A Serbian Film (2010)
A Serbian Film made headlines last year with its uncut version that was banned in more countries than we can name on a world map. But don’t let the icky subject matter or violently perverse and pornographic scenes fool you. A Serbian Film is at its core a good movie that is too overshadowed by the hype and backlash that followed its near non-existent release. The story follows a retired male porn star who takes a job in a supposed art film directed without a working script. Before long, he discovers that he is participating in a reality movie full of pedophilia and violence that is nothing more than a snuff film. There are scenes and quotes from the movie that still give us shivers (Two words, “Newborn Porn”), but beyond the shock is an underrated film that deserves attention outside of its upsetting premise and sickening ending.
Solomon Kane (2009)
Michael J. Bassett’s deserved attention when released in 2010. But bad marketing and promotion made Kane fade before it even had a chance to show what it had to offer. The film about a mercenary who fights evil even as his soul is owned by the devil had a respectable $45 million budget and was filled with enough monsters and magic for two films. But Solomon Kane never got a North American theatrical release and it’s a shame as it is five times the movie that Jonah Hex wanted to be.