50 Great Films You Should See From 2014

Fifteen Unusual and Daring Genre Films

2014 has been a titanic year for genre movies. There are a few that have done festival rounds I’d love to be able to include here, such as It Follows, Faults, and Shrew’s Nest, but these won’t have any real distribution until well into 2015. There are fifteen other films below which will keep you busy until then.

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night trailer

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour, Kino Lorber)

This vampire film is set in Iran, and features a big influence from Western film concepts, but it’s really the central character, and the unique way she moves through public and private worlds, that is the unique hook in this strong debut.

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Coherence (James Ward Byrkit, Oscilloscope Pictures)

An “astrological anomaly” affects life on Earth during one night, and Coherence follows a set of friends who suffer reality-bending events and personal disclosures during a dinner party that takes place when the anomaly hits.

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Housebound

Housebound (Gerard Johnstone, XLrator Media)

An energetic blast for fans of early Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi movies, Housebound has a couple of really great concepts, and one of my favorite “reveal” shots of the year. The story of a young woman who returns home to house arrest, only to find that her home may be haunted.

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I, Origins (Mike Cahill, Fox Searchlight)

Mike Cahill of Another Earth writes and directs this film in which a pair of scientists investigating the evolution of the human eye discover things that lead to new notions about God and our own connections to each other and the universe.

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The Congress

The Congress (Ari Folman, Drafthouse Films)

Robin Wright grounds this massively ambitious story of an actress whose full digital likeness, and effectively her identity, is sold to a movie studio. Wright’s performance is as stunning as the fanciful animation that calls back to the wild experimentation of fringe ’70s movies.

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Enemy

Enemy (Denis Villeneuve, A24)

Jake Gyllenhaal has enjoyed a great career resurgence in the past year, and Enemy is the strangest of his recent films. (Which says a lot, after Nightcrawler.) A withdrawn teacher discovers his own doppelgänger, then meets and ultimately switches places with the man in a very unsettling chain of events.

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Starry Eyes trailer

Starry Eyes (Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, MPI Media Group)

The quest for stardom is seen as a brutal, even murderous descent into hell in this nightmarish thriller that gives Alex Essoe a chance to shine as a young actress who gives her all in the attempt to find the show business success she craves.

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Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier, Radius-TWC)

A simple and utterly effective thriller, Blue Ruin follows a young man (Macon Blair) as he seeks vengeance, and then must confront the true cost of exacting it.

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The Signal

The Signal (William Eubank, Focus Features)

Mysterious and very ambitious, Peter summed up The Signal nicely by teasing that it is a horror movie, a science fiction mindfuck, and a suspenseful thriller in which a set of road-tripping MIT students stumble into a very difficult situation.

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The Rover (David Michôd, A24)

An austere and unsettling nightmare, The Rover follows a man who has lost nearly everything and will go to great lengths to retain the last touchstone of his old identity. Robert Pattinson moves out of his comfort zone to play a simple-minded criminal, but it is Guy Pearce, in the leading role, who owns the screen.

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Cheap thrills making of

Cheap Thrills (E.L. Katz, Drafthouse Films)

Two old acquaintances are given a windfall opportunity, and the only thing they have to do to cash in is debase themselves and possibly destroy each other. E.L. Katz makes a strong directorial debut, and the only thing stronger than the work from Pat Healy, Ethan Embry and Sara Paxton is the truly dastardly turn from David Koechner.

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The Guest (Adam Winged, Picturehouse)

The lurid action movies of the late ’80s and early ’90s are raw clay for the very adept You’re Next writing and directing team of Simon Barrett and Adam Winged, but it is the star turn from Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) that makes The Guest a great experience.

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Cold In July

Cold in July (Jim Mickle, IFC)

A few different action and thriller concepts come together in this gutsy film where nothing is reliable for very long. Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard and Don Johnson all stand out in this grim and bracing adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale’s novel.

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The Double

The Double (Richard Ayoade, Magnolia)

This odd black comedy is a good pair with Enemy as it offers Jesse Eisenberg his own chance to play doppelgänger characters. But this is also a particularly biting black comedy in which one guy’s inability to act on his desires and ambitions nearly destroys him.

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On the final page, we’ll give you a master list of films, along with an appendix of another twenty titles that didn’t fit on the prior pages (and a couple we forgot) to which you can move on to after you’ve exhausted this first fifty.

Continue Reading 50 Indie and Foreign Films You Should See in 2014 >>

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