It Comes at Night

(Welcome to Now Stream This, a column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.) 

The end of the year is upon us. What better way to kick 2017 to the curb and usher in 2018 than by watching a whole bunch of movies? Blow off your dumb New Year’s Eve party – who wants to be social? Instead, hunker down under some blankets as the icy, cold wind howls outside and take in the following films until the mess that was 2017 is finally over once and for all.

This latest edition of Now Stream This features a Vertigo-like mystery, an end-of-the-world fable, a hypnotic blend of documentary and narrative storytelling, puppets having sex, a grindhouse throwback, and more! Here are the best movies streaming right now! Let’s get streaming, folks – and have a happy New Year.

1. Phoenix
Now Streaming on FilmStruck

Like Vertigo meets Sophie’s Choice, Christian Petzold’s unsettling character study Phoenix deals with identity, betrayal and survival. In the rubble of post-World War II Berlin, a woman (Nina Hoss) who has had her face reconstructed following a disfigurement sets out to try to find her missing husband. She eventually finds him, but her spouse doesn’t recognize her with her brand new face. What follows is a nail-biting drama in which Hoss’ character pretends to be someone else who is also pretending to be herself. It might sound confusing, but Phoenix isn’t attempting to trick its audience with mind games. Rather, it’s telling an achingly human story about badly damaged people.

Hoss is phenomenal here, playing her character in a constant state of flux. Director Petzold films the ruins of Berlin almost as if shooting a fantasy landscape, creating a dreamy, hypnotic experience. Above all, the final few minutes of Phoenix are guaranteed to leave you speechless.

For fans of: VertigoSophie’s Choice, the song “Speak Low.”

2. It Comes at Night
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Trey Edward Shults followed-up his cinematic panic attack Krisha with the extremely bleak post-apocalyptic horror show It Comes at Night. Full of existential dread and almost unbearable tension, It Comes at Night is a portrait of two families who have somehow survived a population-destroying plague. The families come together under the same roof, but learning to live and trust each other proves to be exceedingly difficult.

Some audiences had a problem with how It Comes at Night was marketed, with trailers that made the movie look supernatural (all the supernatural-tinged stuff actually happens during dream sequences). But while zombies and monsters may not really appear in the film, there is non-stop horror here – the type of horror that seeps under your skin and makes your blood run cold.

For fans of: The WitchKrisha, abundant dread.

3. Wormwood
Now Streaming on Netflix

Part documentary, part mystery, and entirely original, Errol MorrisWormwood deals with one man’s obsession to find out the truth about his father’s death. That won’t be easy, however, since almost everyone who knows the truth is now dead, and some of the events involve top secret involvement from the CIA.

Eric Olson wants to know what really happened to his father, Frank Olson, a biochemist with CIA ties. In 1953, Frank died after a fall from a window on the thirteenth-floor hotel room at the Hotel Statler in New York. But was it suicide, or was Frank pushed? Morris explores multiple possible answers, and stages them with lengthy dramatic reenactments featuring actors like Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Blake Nelson and Molly Parker. The end result is a saga unlike anything you’ve ever really seen before.

For fans of: The Thin Blue LineRashomonMaking a Murderer, unsolvable mysteries.

4. Brawl in Cell Block 99
Streaming on Amazon Prime Video on 12/31/17

One of the first scenes in Brawl in Cell Block 99 involves Vince Vaughn tearing apart a car with his bare hands. Things only get more brutal, and ridiculous, from there. Bone Tomahawk filmmaker S. Craig Zahler helms this gloriously gritty grindhouse throwback, which lands Vaughn in a hellscape of a prison where he has to fight not just for his life, but also the life of his pregnant wife (Jennifer Carpenter), who has recently been kidnapped by sleazy bad guy Udo Kier.

At 2 hours and 12 minutes, Brawl in Cell Block 99 is overlong – it takes more than an hour to actually get to the whole “brawl” portion of the film. Length issues aside, though, this is a well-made slice of brutality that will please fans of fake blood and gore. It’s also a nice reminder that Vaughn, who hasn’t done much worthwhile work in a while, can be pretty damn good when given the right material. Brawl drops onto Amazon on 12/31, making it the perfect movie to watch at a New Year’s Eve party and make everyone around you uncomfortable. 

For fans of: Bone TomahawkThe Raid 2, extreme close-ups of Vince Vaughn’s skull.

5. The World of Kanako
Now Streaming on Shudder

Crooked, perpetually rumpled cop Akikazu (Kôji Yakusho) is tasked by his ex-wife with finding their missing daughter (Nana Komatsu), but the more Akikazu discovers, the more he begins to realize his daughter may be less of an innocent teen and more of a reprehensible monster.

The World of Kanako is like a beautiful trip into hell, brimming with gorgeous cinematography that more often than not finds itself bathed in torrents of blood. Folks, this movie is nasty, but it’s nasty with style. Make no mistake: this is the opposite of a feel-good movie, so I’d recommend skipping it if you’re not in the right headspace. But if you’re looking for something dark, brutal and operatic as the final days of the hell year that was 2017 winds down, look no further than The World of Kanako.

For fans of: I Saw the Devil, Thirst, stylish misery.

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