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 well with the latest theatrical releases.
Looking to Riddick, Insidious: Chapter 2, and Salinger for inspiration, we've pulled together a selection of action-packed science-fiction, haunted house horror stories, and in-depth artist docs.
Vin Diesel reprises the role that first hinted at his unique star power. This time around our stealthy anti-hero is left for dead on a desolate planet. In desperation, he activates an emergency beacon that calls two ships, both promising more problems than salvation. Karl Urban and Katee Sackhoff co-star; Davod Twohy directs. Read our full review here.
If you love tough guys and science fiction, you’ll dig this trio of titles. Whether they are laying down the law in a dystopian future, seeking salvation in a post apocalyptic world, or trying to unravel a dizzying murder mystery, these grizzled men are destined for action.
Dredd (2012) The Earth’s population has been crushed into megacities, and the law force has been similarly condensed. Cops are judge, jury and executioner. In this intense landscape Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) leads a rookie (Olivia Thirlby) in a quest to bring down a crime ring dealing a reality-altering drug called SLO-MO. Lena Headey, Wood Harris co-star; Pete Travis directs.
The Road (2009) Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Cormac McCarthy novel, this chilling thriller stars Viggo Mortensen as a father who has survived a world-devastating catastrophe. Dedicated to his young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee), this stern man pulls him through dangerous terrains in this grim world in hopes of finding a better life. Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron, and Guy Pearce co-star; John Hillcoat directs.
Strange Days (1995) This Kathryn Bigelow thriller stars Ralph Fiennes as an ex-cop whose moved onto a far shadier trade. Lenny Nero (Fiennes) is a pusher of illegal virtual-reality clips that put the buyer in the place of someone else’s experience. But when Lenny stumbles across a murder caught on clip, he is caught up in a manhunt that forces him back into his detective role. Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, and Tom Sizemore co-star.
Insidious: Chapter 2
The Lambert family’s adventures in The Further aren’t over yet. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne return as the haunted husband and wife who are fighting a villainous ghost for the future of their family. Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins and Barbara Hershey co-star; James Wan directs. Read our full review here.
When Wan unveiled the trailer for Chapter 2 he spoke about how he was aiming to shake up this spooky sub genre with Insidious and its sequel. For more unexpected takes on the haunted house genre, check out these terrifying titles.
The Awakening (2011) For something fresh yet sharply old school, check out this Gothic horror story. Rebecca Hall fronts the British thriller set in England following World War I. It's a place thick with grief…but is it also haunted? Professional hoax buster Florence Cathcart (Hall) doesn’t think so, and has made it her quest to prove there’s no such thing as ghosts. But when she takes her scientific strategies to an all boys school, she finds her methods and mind are tested. Dominic West, and Imelda Stanton co-star; Nick Murphy directs.
The Innkeepers (2011) If you worked in a hotel rumored to be haunted, would you investigate? Of course you would. That’s what the overnight employees of the New England spook site The Yankee Pedlar attempt here. On the eve of the inn’s closing, the two decide to up their efforts to find evidence of Madeline O’Malley, the woman who hung herself after being ditched at the altar in 1800. But you know what they said about curiosity and the cat, right? Sara Paxton and Pat Healy star; Ti West directs.
My Amityville Horror (2012) Everyone knows about the horrors of the Amityville house, but none so well as Daniel Lutz. Thirteen months after Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered his entire family in his Long Island home, the Lutz family moved in, and Daniel was just a boy. While the story of their haunting hit headlines, Daniel was fighting with his mother and stepfather. And in this documentary his side of the story is explored…and called into question. Eric Walter directs.
This in-depth documentary looks into the mysterious life of Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger with interviews from some of the artists his work has influenced, from Gore Vidal, Judd Apatow, Martin Sheen, Tom Wolfe, Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and many more. See an exclusive clip here.
Often learning about the artist behind a given work can give audiences a new, possibly deeper, appreciation for the art, be it a book, photograph or movie. In the case of the docs below, the creator is as fascinating as their creations. Learning about both feels rich and rewarding, and is made all the sweeter by docs that are works of art on their own.
Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird (2010) The Pulitzer Prize-winning Southern Gothic novel To Kill a Mockingbird has been a great influence on American culture since its release in 1960. While school children from generation after generation can recount the book’s incredible story of Scout and her father Atticus Finch, far less could tell you about the life of author Harper Lee. Director Mary McDonagh Murphy explores Harper’s history and the continued relevance of her work through interviews with James Patterson, Anna Quindlen, and Tom Brokaw.
Marwencol (2010) This fascinating documentary is a character study about Mark Hogancamp, an American photographer whose art was born from a need for therapy, both mental and physical. Documentarian Jeff Malmberg reveals Hogancamp’s art—photos of carefully choreographed dolls who inhabit the titular model town he has built in his back yard—as well as who Hogancamp himself is with a tender and exhilarating approach. A man who nearly died from a brutal assault, Hogancamp rose from the ashes with no memory of his life before, but a burning need to create art and heal himself through it. I cannot recommend this title enough.
The Woodmans (2010) American photographer Francesca Woodman has caused stir with her black and white photographs of herself and female models, many of which dealt in nudity and sexuality. But when her work failed to catch on, Woodman fell into a depression and killed herself by jumping off a building in 1981. In this documentary, her painter father, noted ceramicist mother, and videographer brother Charlie look back on her life and work. C. Scott Willis directs.