While Netflix is good for an afternoon of binge-watching your favorite TV shows, it has a great movie selection, too. With an amazing 83 million subscribers, the streaming service has capitalized on the cord-cutting movement and has recently expanded into offering their own original series and films. Even though the titles Netflix offers change from time to time, they consistently offer up some really great movies, including plenty of titles that are well worth watching even though they might not have attracted the audience they deserved at the box office—or missed theaters entirely on the way to home video.
At the time of this writing, these are the best “hidden gems” on Netflix you may not know about. Some are sleeper hits from the last decade, while others are older classics you may not have seen unless you’re a real cinephile. Either way, do yourself a favor and add these to your queue.
The Void (2016)
In many ways, the John Carpenter horror thrillers of the ’80s were a genre unto themselves. Movies like The Thing and Prince of Darkness reveled in violence and body horror without leaning on it as a pure shock tactic the way many horror movies did at the time—and although Carpenter’s output slowed as his style of horror fell out of favor at the box office, his influence lives on. In fact, while Carpenter himself hasn’t directed a movie since 2010’s The Ward, his fans will spot the filmmaker’s blood-spattered DNA in this small sci-fi horror outing, which slipped unnoticed into that exclusive genre. The Void is a throwback to those ’80s creature features in many ways, from the practical monster effects to the subdued, foreboding atmosphere, but writer-directors Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie clearly learned some good lessons from the master—this is one creepy homage that also stands on its own as a bloody good sci-fi creepfest.
Odd Thomas (2013)
Based on a series of bestselling Dean Koontz novels about a guy who can see ghosts and monsters, 2013’s adaptation of Odd Thomas missed the mark with critics and completely bombed at the box office. But don’t let that keep you from streaming this on Netflix—the character’s big-screen incarnation, brought to life by actor Anton Yelchin and directed by The Mummy vet Stephen Sommers, is really a singularly quirky fantasy thriller that takes a refreshingly lightweight approach to its paranormal themes, adding up to something along the lines of Supernatural crossed with Dirk Gently. Admittedly, it isn’t hard to see why critics may have been left less than impressed, or why audiences weren’t inclined to pay full ticket price. There are plenty of clichés along the way, and the cast certainly wasn’t working with a perfect script, but Odd Thomas is still a roundly entertaining gem worth digging up on a rainy day.
Turbo Kid (2015)
What happens when you roll every post-apocalyptic trope into one movie, mix in absurd violence straight from Quentin Tarantino’s unaired Saturday morning cartoon series, and then add superheroes? Probably something like Turbo Kid, a movie that plays like Mad Max if the production crew could only afford bicycles. Stay with us here. It’s got wastelands, a water war, robots, Soylent Green jokes, and, most importantly, an evil Michael Ironside (the best kind of Michael Ironside).
In the distant future of 1997, a loner kid survives one day at a time in a wasteland, scavenging junk to trade for water. To pass the time, he reads the adventures of Turbo Rider, a superhero with a blaster cannon on his arm. But when he gets on the wrong side of the local warlord, he has to become the hero himself to save his new friend. Don’t expect any deep insights into human nature with Turbo Kid. Just enjoy it for what it is: a goofy romp through the imagination of someone who probably grew up wearing out the scanlines on their RoboCop LaserDisc.
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