With so many titles to choose from, Netflix Instant's library can be overwhelming. So we bring you this biweekly column as a tool to cut through the clutter by highlighting some now streaming titles that pair nicely with the latest theatrical releases.
Looking to Oblivion, Lords of Salem, and Mud for inspiration, we've pulled together a selection of exciting end of the world tales, edgy horror stories, and mind-bending crime dramas.
Matthew McConaughey stars as the titular vagrant found by two young boys on a rickety island down South. Full of fantastical tales and covered in intriguing talismans, he seems a down and out hero in need of some help to reunite with his true love. But when bounty hunters begin circling, the boys have to wonder if Mud is who he claims to be. Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, and Reese Witherspoon co-star. Jeff Nichols writes and directs.
Nichols' latest offers charismatic characters with conflicting versions of "the truth." In a good crime mystery it's a tricky thing to pick out truth among the laced-in lies. Whether it's a small town missing persons investigation, the incredible true story of an unlikely killer, or a plot to commit the perfect crime, these three titles offer plenty to mull over as they dazzle you with charming liars and dangerous men.
Top of the Lake (2013) Set in the backwoods town of Paradise, New Zealand, this mini-series created by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee follows Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) as she attempts to discover what's become of the pregnant 12-year-old daughter of a local drug lord. I've been raving about this ambitious and intoxicating crime drama since I had the luck to see it's first two chapters during its Sundance Film Festival debut. Now you can see what all the buzz was over as all seven episodes are now streaming. Holly Hunter and Peter Mullan co-star.
Bernie (2011) This polarizing dark comedy from Richard Linklater blends fact and fiction, mixing biopic conventions with doc-styled talking heads of people who actually knew the subject. Jack Black stars as Bernie Tiede, a chipper man who gave a great deal to his community and shocked them all when it was revealed he had murdered his long-time friend. Linklater forces viewers to parse through these jarring sides of Bernie and decide for themselves not so much whether or not he's a killer, but rather whether he should be punished for his actions. Matthew McConaughey and Shirley MacLaine co-star.
Double Indemnity (1944) Ranked #38 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Best American Films, nominated for seven Academy Awards, Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity is quintessential film noir with dark promises of sex, deception, and murder. Barbara Stanwyck stars as an alluring housewife, and Fred MacMurray plays the insurance salesmen who is sucked into her sob story, and wrapped in her arms. Edward G. Robinson co-stars.
Tom Cruise stars as a salvager scouring a ruined Earth for its remaining resources. But when he uncovers something unexpected, his whole world is thrown into spin. Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurylenko co-star; Tron: Legacy's Joseph Kosinski directs.
Katey and I recently considered all the ways filmmakers have imagined the end of the world as we know it with the Emmerich Scale. When the world around us does seem like it's falling apart at the seams, it's always a relief to dive into the safety of movies where end of the world scenarios are turned around by some plucky and crazy attractive star. Whether it’s the threat of nuclear holocaust, an impending doom-bringing asteroid, or a tyrannical government hell-bent on keeping the have-nots close to starvation, these action-packed adventures offer us the highest stakes with inspiring heroes to save the day.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011) Tom Cruise fronts the fourth installment of this popular espionage franchise as Ethan Hunt, a fearless IMF agent who throws himself full-bodied into every fray. Directed by animation visionary Brad Bird, this story of burned American operatives having to stop the nefarious plot of a deranged end-of-days enthusiast boasts plenty of style and jaw-dropping action. Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Paula Patton co-star. Make it a DIY marathon with Mission: Impossible and Mission: Impossible III, which are also streaming.
Deep Impact (1998) Morgan Freeman memorably played the President of the United States in this sprawling natural disaster action flick. When a comet the size of Mount Everest is hurtling toward the Earth, threatening to smash the planet to pieces, POTUS has to make a series of impossible decisions to secure the future of mankind on Earth. Among them, he sends a Hail Mary Pass in the form of a team of stupendously brave astronauts to try to destroy the comet before it's too late. Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Elijiah Wood, and Vanessa Redgrave co-star; Mimi Leder directs.
The Hunger Games (2012) One of the biggest blockbusters of last year is now streaming! Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen, a teen hunter whose forced to put her archery skills to the test when she's thrown into a kill or be killed blood sport for the amusement of her nation's cruel government. But her quest to simply survive soon evolves into one to take a stand, inspiring a revolt that could change the world as she knows it. Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, and Woody Harrelson co-star; Gary Ross directs.
The Lords of Salem
Writer-director Rob Zombie returns to horror with this twisted witch tale. Sheri Moon Zombie stars as radio DJ Heidi Hawthorne, whose spinning of a fateful record "a gift from the lords" brings back the heinous history of Salem, Massachusetts in the form of a bloodbath. Bruce Davison and Jeff Daniel Phillips co-star.
Zombie's brand of horror might be too gory or grungy for your tastes. Perhaps you prefer the slick and sick meta humor of Wes Craven? Or the spine-tingling terror of gothic ghost tales? Or maybe you like being at the cutting edge of the genre, where bites and blood can unfurl fast and furious. Whichever version of terror you prefer, we got you covered with horror three ways.
Scream 4 (2011) Wes Craven revisited his genre-defining slasher franchise with this bold new installment. Picking up ten years after the last string of Ghostface murders, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) has come to grips with her past, and with the publishing of an inspiration memoir is ready to move on. But someone else wants to relive the nightmares of the Woodsboro murders, killing off a new cast of young characters who grew up with a deep love of horror movies. Bloody and bonkers, this one has David Arquette and Courtney Cox reprising their roles as Dewey and Gale, as well as newcomers like Hayden Panettiere, Emma Roberts, and Rory Culkin. Wes Craven directs.
The Awakening (2011) For something less graphic but still deeply chilling, try this British thriller set in the wake of World War I. Rebecca Hall stars as a professional skeptic, who lives to prove so-called clairvoyants are frauds and that ghosts are a fantasy. When the death of a young boy at a strict boarding school is rumored to have been caused by a tormented child's spirit, she's eager to uncover the truth…but is totally unprepared for what lies within the creepy school's walls. Dominic West, Imelda Staunton co-star in this engaging horror-thriller. Nick Murphy directs.
Hemlock Grove (2013) The next wave of Netflix original programming is now streaming. Set in a deeply strange Pennsylvanian town, this series executive produced by Hostel director Eli Roth kicks off with the bizarre murder of a local teen girl. It seems she's been ripped to ribbons by a brawny beast, which spurs talk of a werewolf running amok. Could it be the new gypsy kid whose just moved to town? Or maybe the rich kid with the malevolent mother? In a town with this many secrets, everyone is a suspect. Famke Janssen, Bill Skarsgard, Landon Liboiron, and Penelope Mitchell co-star.
For even more selections, peruse our Now Streaming archive.
Staff writer at CinemaBlend.
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