Sometimes the best movies are not big-budget blockbusters. Often smaller indie films are better than major motion pictures but are overlooked for a variety of reasons. Rather it be limited screening or lack of advertising, most underground films do not get the recognition they deserve. Here are a few great underground movies that any film buff should see.
God Bless America
This little known 2011 dark comedy/action movie was directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. You might remember Bobcat Goldthwait from his acting in the Police Academy or his unique stand up comedy. However, God Bless America is much more serious than any of his previous work. There is still a good amount of comedy in the film, but it has more of a dramatic and story-driven focus.
God Bless America is about a man named Frank whose life is falling apart. He finds out he only has a few months left to live and he is going through a very rough divorce. Frank becomes fed up with how trashy and mean American society has become as well as everyone who follows these tasteless trends. After watching an episode of My Super Sweet 16, Frank decides to kill everyone who is intentionally mean, spoiled, or toxic in general. Along the way, he meets a hyper teenage girl who joins him on ridding the world of garbage humans as he travels from the east coast to California in hopes to kill the judges on American Idol.
This plot might sound ridiculous (which it is) but somehow God Bless America manages to pull it off superbly. There are action-packed moments as well as great comedy. There is also a hit of wholesomeness in the movie as well. The connection between Frank and the teenage girl is very much a father-daughter relationship. Overall the film is extremely well done with plenty of action and laughs that any indie film fan can enjoy.
Hatchet is a 2006 horror movie that brings the cheesy 80s slasher genre to a new generation. The film got Kane Hodder to play the villain in the movie who is best known as Jason Voorhees. Hatchet is a comedy horror that mixes the 2 genres perfectly. The movie is full of hilariously cheesy parts as well as brutal kill scenes that will shock any horror fan. The cheesy parts of Hatchet are done on purpose to mock the B rated slasher films of the 80s as well as give the audience a laugh.
The film is about a haunted swamp in rural New Orleans where the infamous Victor Crowley wonders about. A group of tourists decide to take a tour of the swamp but soon after the tour begins, their boat gets damaged and sinks. The group is forced to roam the swamp in order to make it to safety. Victor Crowley begins to stock them and pick them off one by one in some of the best kill scenes you will ever see. The tourists are forced to stick together if they want to make it out of the swamp alive.
As stated before, Hatchet has a huge 1980s B-rated slasher vibe. It takes itself seriously enough to give you some legit scares but also has some insanely funny parts as well. The tourists consist of stereotypical horror characters such as the dumb blonde, the nerd, and the token black guy. Hatchet makes fun of all the stereotypes seen in horror films as well as commending the slasher genre. Hatchet is a must-see for any horror fan, especially fans of cheesy 80s slashers.
Busters Mal Heart
This 2017 indie drama stars the Academy Award winner Rami Malek. You might know him for his role as Freddy Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie was first seen at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016 but was not released until April 2017. The film has a few arthouse elements to it but not so much that a mainstream moviegoer would be turned off by it.
Buster’s Mal Heart follows the story of a heart working man named Buster. Buster works the night shift at a local hotel in order to support his wife and newborn baby. He has had a somewhat sketchy past but has turned his life around in hopes to become successful. One day, a coked-up conspiracy theorist shows up to the hotel and fills Buster’s head with insane conspiracies about many different things. This continues for multiple days and Buster starts to believe these crazy theories. At the same time, Buster’s life starts to spiral out of control causing him to lose his sanity.
Buster’s Mal Heart is very serious most of the time but somehow throws bits of comedy throughout the film. There are a few major things left out of the plot summary in order to avoid spoilers but towards the end of the movie, it becomes more of a dark comedy than a drama. It is kind of hard to explain but is very satisfying. The film dives inside the mind of an overworked and depressed young adult who does everything he can to support his family. It shows just how important mental health and quality family time really is. The movie is an underground classic that deserves way more credit than it receives.
This little know 2004 drama is a great coming of age film that deals with the dark sides of adolescents. It is similar to movies like Stand By Me, Bully, and Thirteen (Bully and Thirteen are also great underground films). The film stars the brother of Macaulay Culkin, Rory Culkin, and Nickelodeon actor Josh Peck from the show Drake and Josh. Although the movie revolves around kids, the film is very mature. The film deals with murder, bullying, depression, and more.
Mean Creek is about a group of teenagers who are tired of getting bullied by a boy named George. One of the bullied teens named Sam comes up with a plan to humiliate George by making him strip naked while playing truth or dare on a boat trip and making him run home in his underwear. Everything seems to be working out fine until George figures out what is really going on. A fight breaks out causing George to fall out of the boat. George cannot swim and drowns before the group of teens can save him. Scared of getting caught, the teens decide to bury George and not tell anyone what happened. The rest of the film shows how the group of teens cope with their actions as the town tries to figure out what happened.
The movie is pretty heavy and will pull many different emotions out of you. You feel for each individual character as they deal with their bully’s death. Each character has very unique personality traits making it easy for the audience to connect with them. Mean Creek is also very realistic making the teen’s burden very believable. The acting is great as well which helps make the movie even more realistic. Anyone who enjoys serious coming of ages films show definitely check out Mean Creek.
Paranoid Park is another movie revolving around the life of a teenager. The film was written and directed by the iconic indie film director Gus Van Sant. Gus Van Sant is known for his stylistic movies and Paranoid Park is no exception. It has many avant-garde elements such as scenes that seem to be unnecessary or that go on for too long. This helps engulf the audience into the picture as well as make it a bit more realistic.
The movie tells the story of a teenage skateboard named Alex who has was involved in the accidental death of a security guard while trying to go to a skate park called Paranoid Park. Instead of reporting the death to the authorities, Alex decides to cover it up so he won’t get in trouble. The only problem is this cover-up makes the death look more like a murder. Alex does not realize how bad this looks and tries to just forget about the whole thing. Eventually, the police start investing the death and figures out Alex is linked to it. As the film progresses you learn more about Alex’s involvement and what really happened that night.
The film is very well done and will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire movie. It does a great job of dropping little hints of what happened without giving to much away. You get a feeling that Alex is not as innocent as he might seem, but you also sympathize with him as you find out more about the character. Any fan of mystery or skateboarding will probably enjoy Paranoid Park.