6. Super

Now streaming on Hulu

James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes rocketing into theaters in May, so why not take a gander at his first adventure in directing superhero cinema? Gunn’s 2010 Super is a galaxy removed from GOTG’s brightly colored pop; it’s a nasty, nihilistic, ultraviolent comedy that’s like a cross between Taxi Driver and Deadpool. Short order cook Frank (Rainn WIlson) sinks into a deep depression after his wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a drug dealer (Kevin Bacon) who gets her hooked on his product. What’s a guy to do but don an unconvincing superhero costume and start cleaning up his city? As the Crimson Bolt, Frank takes a violent stand against pretty much anyone he deems to be unjust, be it child molestors or people who rudely cut in front of him in line at the movies. Along the way he picks up a sidekick, played deliriously by a remarkably vulgar Ellen Page. Super is both darkly comedic and devastatingly bleak, and it’s fascinating to watch and realize Gunn went from this gritty indie to Marvel blockbusters.

For fans of: The Toxic Avenger, God Bless America, Slither, moral ambiguity.

7. Casting JonBenet

Streaming on Netflix 4/28

Who killed six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey in 1996? We may never know, but there are plenty of theories, some plausible, some unlikely. Kitty Green’s haunting documentary Casting JonBenet isn’t so much interested in solving the case as it is examining the way people come to their own conclusions about mysterious crimes. Green assembles a cast of actors and has them audition to play the real people involved with the case – JonBenet’s parents Patsy and John Ramsey, JonBenet’s brother, the chief of police in charge of the case, and various suspects. The result is a revealing, unsettling film that peels back the lurid tabloid headlines and tries to reveal the human beings underneath.

For fans of: The Jinx, Kate Plays Christine, uncomfortable confessions.

8. Antichrist

Now streaming on FilmStruck

Imagine an art house remake of The Evil Dead and you wouldn’t be too far-off from Lars von Trier’s utterly deranged Antichrist. Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play a couple grieving the death of their young son. When Gainsbourg’s grief reaches crippling levels, the pair retreat to a cabin in the woods. Obviously these two aren’t familiar with the cinematic fact that cabins in the woods are breeding grounds for terror; it doesn’t take long before strange visions, nasty violence and talking animals start ruining the couple’s getaway. Antichrist is not for the squeamish, but those who can stomach it’s particular breed of unpleasantness will witness something stunning.

For fans of: The Evil Dead, Melancholia, chaos reigning.

9. The Place Beyond the Pines

Streaming on Netflix 5/16

One thing you should know about Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines: it’s not the movie you think it is. Trailers and marketing ahead of the film’s 2012 release sold it as a crime thriller. Instead, this is a somber meditation on the legacies certain people pass on and the wreckage they leave in their wake. The first half of the film introduces us to a motorcycle stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) who takes to robbing banks in order to support his family, and a rookie cop (Bradley Cooper) who crosses his path. The second half of the film focuses on the teenage sons of these two men, played by Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen. The less said the better, as part of the film’s power lies in how it subverts expectations. Cianfrance, who also directed Gosling in Blue Valentine, handles multiple complex narratives that other filmmakers would find daunting.

For fans of: Killing Them Softly, Only God Forgives, Heat, Ben Mendelsohn uttering cool lines like “If you ride like lightning, you’re going to crash like thunder.”    

10. I Am A Ghost

Now streaming on Shudder

I Am a Ghost is the rare ghost story that’s told from the perspective of the one haunting the house, rather than those being haunted. Anna Ishida is Emily, a woman from a seemingly Victorian time stuck in a loop. She keeps reliving the same random events every day, and she also finds herself communicating with a medium she cannot see, named Sylvia. Emily died in the house she haunts, and Sylvia is trying to get her to move on – but it’s not quite working, and neither woman can figure out why. This is a simple, slow-burn horror movie that does a lot with very little. Director H.P. Mendoza employes several tricks to keep the mostly quiet movie engaging – the film itself is presented in a frame reminiscent of an old photograph, with rounded edges and split-screens and washed-out colors help with atmosphere. At a quick 76 minutes, I Am a Ghost doesn’t overstay its welcome, using every second of its brief runtime to give you the creeps.

For fans of: The House of the Devil, The Others, things that go bump in the night.

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