Into the Forest
There is no shortage of post-collapse movies and TV shows out there, for those who want to experience every different flavour of the apocalypse. From zombie outbreak to nuclear holocaust to alien invasion to meteor landfall, your streaming services have you well and truly covered – but Into the Forest pretty much stands on its own.
A quiet, thoughtful and slow-paced indie film about two sisters forced to deal with the aftermath of a countrywide power outage, it’s far more interested in its characters than in showing off exploding volcanoes, collapsing cities or rampaging cannibals. Its understated, realistic approach and the performances of Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood wield more weight than a hundred San Andreases (sorry, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson).
Shaun of the Dead
The first and arguably best film in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy (comprising this, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End) sees London electrical shop worker Shaun (Pegg) attempting to rescue his girlfriend and flatmate and survive a sudden zombie outbreak.
This zom-rom-com's scares might be somewhat thin on the ground, but the laughs more than make up for it. There’s bags of heart to it too, mostly erupting from the relationship between Shaun and his slacker best mate Ed, played memorably by Nick Frost. Wright also demonstrates time and time again the tricks and quirks that have made him a Hollywood darling – with this movie’s inspired quick-fire editing proving a star in its own right.
Time travel, parallel universes, child abuse, scary rabbits, school bullies and general coming-of-age tropes all come together in Richard Kelly’s astonishing movie, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular 1980s high school kid going through Some Very Heavy Stuff. A mind-bending trip through four weeks in small town America, it manages to pull off the tricky feat of creeping out viewers one minute, and having them chuckling at a throwaway line the next.
Kelly may have never repeated the success of Donnie Darko (in fact his director’s cut of the movie is markedly inferior to the regular release), but the film made Gyllenhaal a star, bagged the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and remains a cult classic of early noughties cinema.
Sneaky Pete (S3)
Amazon Prime’s original series output doesn’t match Netflix’s in terms of size or quality, but there are some gems there, both widely celebrated (Transparent, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel) and hidden. Sneaky Pete falls into the latter category but, despite the odd episode where nothing much happens, it’s well worth checking out for its masterful mix of family drama and tense crime thriller.
Giovanni Ribisi stars as a likeable conman who finds himself entangled (and increasingly emotionally attached to) a working class family he sets out to rip off. The third season of this series is now streaming on Prime alongside the first two – and it’s in Ultra HD for those of you who have 4K tellies.
Why can't all teen comedies be as funny, well-paced and ultimately life-affirming as Superbad, which manages to juggle all the tropes of the genre (partying, sex, friendship) without feeling hackneyed, gross or bloated?
It's ninety minutes of proof that parties are sources of never-ending angst. You need someone over the age limit to buy the booze (your nerdy school friend with an ID that reads "McLovin" will do); you’ve got to impress the girls (Jonah Hill’s Seth realises headbutting them in the face works a charm); and in American movies, there’s always the chance the cops will show up – we just wish all of them were as warped as Bill Hader and co-writer Seth Rogen.
Quentin Tarantino’s comic book-style take on World War II is typically brash, bold and bloody, packed with the filmmaker’s trademarks of bravura camera work, sizzling dialogue, memorable characters and copious violence.
With Brad Pitt and his band of Jewish-American guerrilla fighters hunting down Nazis in occupied France while a French girl plots her revenge on the sadistic German colonel that slaughtered her family (Christoph Waltz in his Oscar-winning breakout role), the plot is heavy on twists, even if it has a fairly conventional structure. At over two and a half hours, it feels a bit bloated, but hey, you’re streaming it – so taking the occasional bathroom break is no biggie.
“If it bleeds, it leads,” is the mantra of Los Angeles’ increasingly ghoulish TV networks - and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom is ready and willing to dish up the gore. Video camera in hand, he roams the streets of the city in the dead of night, chasing ambulances and combing crime scenes for footage that’ll give middle-class families a frisson of fear as they watch the morning news.
Director Dan Gilroy’s film is a pitch-black satire of the American Dream – with Lou’s dead-eyed sociopathy and his willingness to do what others would balk at as his ticket to success. As he rattles off motivational business-speak with absolute sincerity, it’s infinitely more chilling than any of the footage he captures.
Titus Welliver returns for his fifth season as gruff Hollywood detective Harry Bosch, embroiled in a fresh homicide case while fighting an official investigation into his unorthodox policing methods during a decades-old murder trial.
On paper, Bosch sounds like another cliche-ridden cop series, but it’s actually one of Amazon’s best original shows, blessed with a fantastic ensemble cast, relatable characters and a rare ability to weave together multiple episode-spanning plot lines into a satisfying, novelistic whole. Easy to binge-watch, it’s a perfect homage to LA’s strange blend of grit and glamour and an intriguing insight into the world of policing.
Inspired by Joe Wright’s 2011 movie of the same name, this Amazon original drama is a coming-of-age story with a twist: the titular teenage girl happens to be a deadly assassin, trained and conditioned from childhood by her special agent foster father (Joel Kinnaman), and now hunted by a ruthless CIA operative (Mireille Enos).
With action, drama and touching character moments in equal measure, the show’s also notable for reuniting The Killing’s Enos and Kinnaman – albeit this time as enemies, not partners.