The Best Netflix Originals You Probably Haven’t Seen

netflix the cloverfield paradox deal

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. In this edition, we take a look at the best Netflix Originals that have probably slipped past you unnoticed.)

Netflix pulled something of a fast one Superbowl weekend by not only confirming that they would be premiering the new Cloverfield film, The Cloverfield Paradox, but that it would actually be dropping later that night. No trailers, no previews, and no other marketing beyond this Superbowl ad – all movies should be this lucky. Of course, the one downside to it all is the unfortunate realization that the movie is a bland, poorly-scripted feature manhandled into being a new Cloverfield film. Like Bright and too many Adam Sandler-starring films before it, though, the movie’s quality seems at inverse odds with the attention, clicks, and views it’s gotten.

So let’s give some love to the Netflix Originals that are actually well worth your time! The streaming service releases plenty of great titles from Bojack Horseman and The End of the F***ing World on the series front to movies like Mudbound and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, but I’m here to recommend six Originals that are both fantastic and sorely in need of more eyeballs.

The Break (series, Belgium)

Inspector Yoann Peeters arrives with his daughter in the rural town where he grew up to begin again as a small-town cop. Before he’s even finished unpacking, he’s called to the discovery of a body in the river, but while the police chief is content calling the young immigrant’s death a suicide, Peeters isn’t so sure. His investigation peels back the layers of the community, but as suspects reveal themselves, the cracks in Peeters’ own psyche come equally clear.

Europe’s home to some of the best television shows exploring dark acts and the darker minds behind them, and unlike American series, they usually avoid overstaying their welcome with excessive episode counts. This series from Belgium understands that and paces its ten episodes smartly to tease beats of suspense, revelation, and drama throughout. It’s not a big town, but Peeters draws more than a few suspects out of the woodwork in his pursuit of an ultimately disturbing truth.

Running along with the mystery and investigation is the deteriorating mental state of Peeters himself. It’s no secret that he has some issues, as the first scene reveals he’s speaking to a psychiatrist about his violent dreams and the outcome of the case at hand. It’s unclear, but he may be there against his will, and as the story unfolds we’re reminded that he may be a more reliable cop than he is a storyteller. The series balances our interest in the mystery with our concern for Peeters’ well-being, and as the episodes wind down the tension cranks up.

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train

Deidra is a high school senior on the fast-track towards success if she can land scholarships to pay tuitions her divorced parents can’t, but her life is thrown for a loop when he mom winds up in jail. The situation leaves Deidra in charge of her younger sister Laney and their even younger brother Jet, and with few options for some much-needed income, the brainy teen does the only thing she can think of… she becomes a train robber.

For all the heavy themes at play here – child endangerment, incompetent parents, federal crimes involving theft on the interstate railroad – the film is remarkably lightweight. Some may see that as a negative, but there’s room in this world for casual, breezy action and and even fluffier comedy. Riverdale‘s Ashleigh Murray gives Deidra real strength that occasionally reveals the truth beneath in that she’s still essentially a kid herself, while Rachel Crow’s Laney doesn’t even attempt to hide her goofy, easily corruptible innocence.

None of that is to imply that the film doesn’t offer up some fun thrills. Once the duo start robbing train cars, the film delivers some minor action beats and suspenseful moments, and Tim Blake Nelson makes for a dogged and determined authority figure on their trail. Neither of our outlaw antiheroes ever feel as if they’re in a lot of danger, but you still get the sense things could actually get worse for them.

Erased (series, Japan)

Satoru is a regular Japanese twentysomething in a lot of ways. He’s single, he’s struggling to make it as a manga artist, and he’s capable of traveling backwards through time. That last bit isn’t entirely in his control, though, as he’s randomly jumped back – usually no more than a minute or so – and given the opportunity to notice something or someone in need of his assistance. His already odd existence is given a new twist one day when he’s moved back in time far more than a minute to discover he’s a child again. One month before a classmate disappeared, never to be seen again.

I’m admittedly in the bag for this one as a Quantum Leap nerd, but Erased is a suspenseful, beautifully-told tale about grief, friendship, and the desire to do right by those around us. Satoru’s ability isn’t explained in the usual sense, but it’s a real possibility that his guilt over not having saved Kayo and others is what fuels his predicament. That drama plays out well as adult Satoru narrates his thoughts while he’s back in his childish body – he’s a kid, but he knows all that’s yet to come – and even with that knowledge, he’s still far from infallible in his efforts to help his friends.

As is law in Japan when it comes to films and TV shows, the series is unsurprisingly based on a manga, and it’s not the first adaptation. It was previously made into both an anime and a feature film, but while I’ve seen neither, I’m happy with the amount of detail and character work they’re able to fit into these 12 thirty-minute episodes. Time is given to his existing friendships and the one he tries to build with Kayo, and the result is a sweet tale of kids forced to face some very adult realities.

Continue Reading The Best Netflix Originals You Probably Haven’t Seen >>

Pages: 1 2Next page

Cool Posts From Around the Web: