I accept that sometimes people are not in the mood for an ultra scary horror movie and would prefer a somber thriller instead. So here are three films, one recent release, to possibly add to your watchlist. Forewarning, I wasn’t blown away by these, but I do think they possess some strengths worth appreciating.
The Gift (2015)
After moving back to his hometown with his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall ), Simon (Jason Bateman) gets reacquainted with an old schoolmate named Gordo (Joel Edgerton). The interactions are kind, although odd as he often leaves gifts despite not knowing them well. Simon doesn’t appreciate the gestures and believes the man is more interested in his wife than anything else. When they try to cut off contact, Gordo begins to behave oddly and things go awry from inside their home.
The film is also written and directed by Edgerton and while it may play as a standard stalker film in the beginning, it slowly evolves into something else. It’s sad, disturbing, and a fairly unpredictable film. The ending is abrupt, but it allows the viewer to make their own conclusion — which I quite liked.
Stonehearst Asylum (2014)
Loosely based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, this film follows a young doctor, Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess), hoping to gain experience at an insane asylum in 1899. He is surprised that the superintendent, Dr. Silas Lamb (Sir Ben Kingsley), is overly kind to his patients, allowing them to join staff dinners and refusing to medicate or experiment on them. Soon he’ll discover the disturbing truth at Stonehearst and must play along until he can escape.
I recall when this trailer was released, many claimed it was too similar to Shutter Island, which funnily also stars Kingsley. However, once you are watching this film, you realize that this is something completely different. The film has an impressive cast and was quite entertaining to watch, although it wasn’t too suspenseful until the very end.
The Guilty (2021)
A 911 operator with a slew of his own life problems is caught up in a potential abduction with the woman secretively calling for help. As the mystery around who she is and who has taken her unravels, he’ll come to terms with his own mistakes as the case takes unexpected turns.
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, The Guilty is a remake of a Danish film and takes place entirely from the 911 call center. The remainder of the cast, including Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, and Peter Sarsgaard, are only heard through the calls. While everyone excels with their performances, impressive for those who are off-camera, I did find the story to feel a little tiresome in the second act because of the focus being only on Gyllenhaal. But it does include a good twist and the third act manages to reel you back in.