The first half of 2016 has been a weird and wonderful one for movies, with the usual tentpole blockbusters contrasted by some highly original, bold and brilliant films
Films that may well have passed you by.
Some are already out on DVD or VOD. Others will be available soon. As we reach the end of June, here are 15 terrific indie, alternative and otherwise under-the-radar movies released in the UK over the past six months.
Gangster thriller, martial arts epic and darkly comic farce all wrapped in one, this bizarre fantasy mash-up from cult Japanese director Takashi Miike is as barmy as it gets.
The fact that the main villain is dressed in an adult-sized frog costume, complete with rocket boots, should tell you everything you need to know.
Kurt Russell stars as a grizzled small-town Sheriff who leads a rag-tag group on a dangerous mission when their friends are kidnapped by terrifying, cave-dwelling cannibals.
With some truly grisly scenes and nail-biting tension, this is not for the faint of heart. But it’s also a superbly made Western with some terrific characters, and enough charming comic relief to offset the mayhem.
Tom Hiddleston is predictably mesmerizing as a doctor living in a luxury tower block, which soon falls into complete chaos as the social order begins to break down.
A strong cast, thrilling soundtrack and plenty of deliciously dramatic moments propel this off-the-wall satire into must-see territory.
One of the thrillers of the year so far, this suspenseful shocker sees a punk band trapped and fighting for survival following a gig at a backwater bar, after they witness a murder.
Patrick Stewart is evil personified as a neo-Nazi leader in a captivating against-type role, while the late Anton Yelchin serves up another great performance as the band’s sympathetic, de facto frontman.
Robert Eggers’ gripping debut is one of the finest horror movies in years, if not decades, as a family of puritians in 17th century America face terrors beyond comprehension when they move to the edge of a dark, foreboding wood.
Packing incredible slow-burning atmosphere and a soundtrack to rival The Shining, this is a film that shuns cheap jump scares in favour of something much more insidious, and plays on the mind long after the credits have rolled.
When their mother returns home after an operation, her young twin sons begin to suspect something terribly sinister. Is it really their mum under that thick layer of facial bandages – or has an imposter replaced her?
Disturbing and widely acclaimed, here is an Austrian slice of domestic paranoia that will have you guessing til the very end.
Charlie Kaufman’s poignant, emotional portrayal of loneliness and awkward love is both heartbreakingly sensitive and endearingly oddball: its stop-motion animation serving up a number of ingenious tricks and surprises.
Nothing less than you’d expect from the man behind Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.
Astonishingly shot in one single, unbroken take, this urban drama turned intense crime thriller follows the young Spanish woman of the title through a rollercoaster two hour and fifteen minute saga in late-night Berlin.
Victoria befriends a group of close-knit but self-destructive locals after leaving a night club, but what starts as an innocuous procession of small-talk and drunken antics, soon spirals completely out of control.
10 Cloverfield Lane
Following a catastrophic car accident, a young woman wakes up in a stranger’s intricately designed and furnished underground bunker – where he tells her that an apocalyptic event has occurred on the surface.
Make no mistake: this is spellbinding stuff. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is terrific as the resourceful Michelle; John Goodman is by turns sensationally compelling, creepy and confounding as the man who could be her captor, or saviour.
When director Jeff Nichols and actor Michael Shannon team-up, fantastic things happen. And after the magnificence of Take Shelter a few years ago, this sci-fi drama is another treat to savour.
Shannon plays a man who flees a religious cult with his young son – who happens to have astonishing super-powers. What follows is a thrilling adventure with tinges of Spielberg at his ’80s best.
Son Of Saul
Shot almost entirely in close-up to present a uniquely personal, intimate account of its unimaginable horrors, this award-winning Hungarian film about the Holocaust is nothing short of incredible.
Managing to find humanity and quiet moments of drama amid the harrowing backdrop, it’s a distinctive and powerful take on a challenging subject.
Now for something a great deal lighter. John Carney’s ’80s set comedy-drama about a Dublin nerd who starts a band to impress a girl is funny, heartwarming and bursting with great songs.
Perfectly capturing that era, this is ideal for the nostalgic, music-loving romantics out there. A lovely coming-of-age creation.
Everybody Wants Some
Richard Linklater, he of Boyhood and Dazed and Confused fame, has mined plenty of semi-autobiographical, nerve-touching drama out of the worlds of kids before. But this movie sees him revisit his college years in some style.
What makes this film so interesting is that it effectively re-claims the jock stereotype; finding humour and relatability in the sports-loving ‘bros’ usually painted as villains in these kinds of movies. The results are genuinely amusing, and insightful.
The Nice Guys
A disappointing mis-fire at the box office that deserves wider appreciation, Shane Black’s witty neo-noir comedy might be the best buddy cop flick since his own Lethal Weapon.
Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe have a riot with Black’s razor-sharp writing as two mis-matched investigators in ’70s LA, and young newcomer Angourie Rice almost steals the show.
The White King
Inspired by the dystopian imagery of 1984, this compelling drama about a boy growing up in a fictional totalitarian regime is vividly thought-provoking.
Reflecting some troubling developments from our own modern world right back at us, its core question is how you raise a child right when they are surrounded by horrors on all sides. Jonathan Pryce, so excellent lately in Game Of Thrones, provides strong support.