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10 Movies of 2014 You Might Have Missed

December 11, 2014

Hello all. Mark here.

2014 has been a fun year for cinema. A bunch of A-holes dominated the box office while a mighty lizard napped his way to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Godzilla Nap

The thing I loved most about 2014 is there were a lot of fantastic independent movies. I know it is impossible to catch every micro-budget film about signals, third dimensions and fields in England. So, I’ve compiled a list of 10 films that might have flown under your radar.

This post could have been 30 deep but I decided to whittle it down to 10. I added movies that had limited theatrical runs and didn’t feature Mark Wahlberg battling giant robots. I’ve left out films like Tusk, Enemy, The Art of the Steal, Under the Skin, Alan Partridge, Joe, Only Lovers Left Alive, Locke, The Double, The Immigrant, Filth, A Long Way Down, Calvary, Space Station 76 and A Trip to Italy because they’ve all received a decent amount of press and have big names anchoring them.

The following 10 films offer something new and exciting to the film world and deserve an audience.

1. Cheap Thrills

Cheap Thrills Ethan Embry

Cheap Thrills tells the story of a down on his luck man who is drawn into a night of insanity. Pleasant it ain’t but it has an organic nastiness that doesn’t feel forced. It is a confidently directed trip down a rabbit hole of twisted human nature. Cheap Thrills also features the best bad guys of 2014.

2. The Signal 

The signal Cooke

The Signal does a lot with little. It is a visual marvel that plays like Safety Not Guaranteed met Moon and they teamed up with District 9, Chronicle, The Matrix and Dark City. Regardless of the comparisons The Signal stands on its own as a sign of talent on the rise. It has an earnest ambition and confident direction that is rare in such films. Director William Eubank made four million dollars look like 80 and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

3. Starred Up

Starred Up Ben

What I like about Starred Up is that it never feels inauthentic. It was written by an ex-prison therapist and filmed over 24 days in an old prison. It isn’t glorified tough guy crap that oozes style over substance. Starred Up isn’t trying to create anti-heroes and treacherous villains. It is told in the grey where you understand the violence and family dynamics. Keep your eye on Jack O’Connell, he is going to be a big star.

4. Coherence


Coherence tells the story of a dinner party gone awry. It is a welcome break from the mega summer science fiction that is loaded with CGI and light on story. It may be rich in Schrödinger’s cat and metaphysics references but it also realizes the importance of simplicity. The perfect word to describe the film came from director James Ward Byrkit when he called it “scrappy.”

The low-budget, mostly improvised science fiction experiment isn’t meant to take over Primer’s high concept/low-budget mantel. It is like an episode of The Twilight Zone meets every indie dinner party film you’ve ever seen

5. The Babadook

The Babadook

The Babadook is an Australian horror film that has a lot going on under the surface. You initially think it is about a jerky demon but it goes much deeper than that. The movie features wonderful performances, confident direction and one of the creepiest houses you will ever see. You will not sleep well after watching this film.

6. Odd Thomas


Odd Thomas lives up to its name as it bounces around in tone (humor, romance, death, ghost story) yet zips by with a sense of urgency. The story of a man named Odd saving the world from the dead is 30% paranormal detective comedy, 20% ghost story, 20% romantic comedy and 30% a combination of all those things.

7. Blue Ruin

Blue Ruin character

Blue Ruin is a force of nature. Told on a micro-budget the revenge thriller is nothing like all the other revenge thrillers you’ve seen. Blue Ruin plays like a massive stress bomb that comes out of nowhere. The lack of polish and adherence to logic help build simmering suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  The story revolves a bearded homeless man seemingly waiting for an unsavory character to leave prison.  When the criminal is released he goes on an unplanned mission that is full of dread, suspense and blood.

8. A Field In England

field in england

About an hour into A Field In England we get this fantastic exchange:

Friend: When you get to the alehouse, see a way to get a message to my wife.

Jacob: Anything, Friend. Anything.

Friend: Tell her… tell her I hate her. Tell her I did burn her father’s barn. ‘Twas payment for forcing our marriage. Tell her I loved her sister. Who I had. Many times. From behind. Like a beautiful prize sow.

Jacob: If I’d have known that, I would have paid you more respect, brother.

Ben Wheatley’s A Field In England is a wonderfully odd vision from a guy who has delivered some unique visions. His other films Down Terrace, Kill List and Sightseers were marvels of violence, oddity and dark humor. Ben Wheatley’s films walk a fine line of insanity, depravity and watchability. I’ve never felt drained after a Wheatley film. I’ve felt exhilarated because of how singular the experiences are. A Field in England is a roller coaster of wonderful weird.

9. Grand Piano

grand piano elijah wood

Grand Piano tells the age-old story of a man playing piano while another man is pointing a gun at his head. This thriller is a fun experiment that is executed to perfection. It is an original idea that uses its locations well and never looks back. It is fun cinema that gets why people watch movies (to be entertained!).  Telling a story about a concert pianist being threatened by a ornery voice is a massive risk. That is why I like Grand Piano.

10. Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

Dead Snow 2

Nazi Zombies battling other zombies whilst heads explodes and blood geysers erupt….Yes, please. Dead Snow 2 is a wonderful sequel that builds upon the glorious violence of Dead Snow.

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