Editorial: Top 10 Awesome Obscure Films on Netflix Instant

Jacob "JJ" Jones

As a DVD salesman at a major entertainment retailer, I have encountered many customers who are more than happy to share their displeasure with Netflix’s streaming service. During this summer’s intense heat waves, consumers failing to find something that tickles their fancy on Netflix started what seemed to be a mass exodus to my store to complain about the service.

“There’s never anything good on there,” proclaimed one middle age customer reading the back of a season of Eureka, a Sci-Fi television show which is available entirely on Netflix. “It’s a total rip off.”

I feel that if people were willing to open themselves up to the unusual or obscure, they would find something they like on Netflix. So I decided to compile a list of movies that you can find right now on the streaming service that will completely change the way you see it. These ten films have been available for at least one year on Instant Netflix, and most are on my list of favorite movies. These may even be films that you’ve considered watching at some point or another, but haven’t taken the plunge (hopefully this will confirm that you should).

1. TiMER

Emma Caulfield from "TiMER"

[trailer link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYRYyvjKL7E]

I had low expectations for TiMER when I picked it for a movie night with my girlfriend. I was attempting to find something that mixed aspects of romantic comedies—my girlfriend’s favorite—with something that would make me not want to shoot myself halfway through the film. I pinned my hopes on the sci-fi element in the plot: a device that could count down to the exact moment when you would meet your true love. The film ended up being heartfelt, witty, fun and ultimately a crowd-pleaser. I would strongly recommend this for fans of romantic comedies looking for something with a little twist.

2. INK

[Trailer link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBGeErufQdY]

It is an injustice to the art of cinematography that more people do not know this film.

I know what I just said is a pretty serious statement, but I truly believe it. Ink is a work of art unlike any other film I’ve seen. It’s the story a small girl whose soul is kidnapped by a monster for use in becoming part of the Incubi, a group responsible for creating nightmares. A battle of good and evil ensues as the Incubi’s longtime enemies, the Storytellers, fight to get the little girl back. The film captures your attention from the very first frame and not only tells a great story, but keeps you interested with what I feel are some of the greatest visuals a film has ever produced. It combines Terrence Malick–inspired visuals with the storytelling abilities of Walt Disney or Alfred Hitchcock. It’s definitely worth the time it takes to watch (it runs at almost two hours).

3. The Parking Lot Movie

[Trailer link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcT9rylhEdY]

I like to imagine that The Parking Lot Movie started as a joke: “What do you get when you cross hyper-intelligent people with a menial day job?” This film is a documentary about a small parking lot run by a group that consists of grad students, overeducated philosophers, artists and more. From deeply philosophical discussions about the human race’s relationship with automobiles to the creation of the game “flip cone”, The Parking Lot Movie is a LOT more fun than it sounds.

4. The Man from Earth

from 2007's "The Man from Earth"

[Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVMhEAI3pvg]

The Man from Earth was penned by one of the writers of Twilight Zone, and plays out somewhat like an episode of said long-running television series. The film is a snapshot in the life John Oldman, a professor who pitches the idea for a book about a human living forever—which turns out to be an autobiography. Watching this film is a lot like reading a book, and should be treated as such for you to get the full effect from it. It’s well written and deep, and despite being a bit claustrophobic due to the small budget, it’s perfect for solo viewing tucked in bed late at night, when your mind is the most open.

5. Special

[Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo18EMnTY6o]

With all the big-budget superhero movies that have recently been released, you might be getting tired of the genre. But Special is a different kind of superhero movie. An adverse reaction to a medical test gives the chronically depressed protagonist, Les, super powers—or so he thinks. This interesting take on an overused genre is an original and bittersweet masterpiece that plays with your head and emotions. It’s a serious departure from The Avengers or The Dark Knight, but worth watching.

the demon from "Lo"

6. Lo

[Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhFsK7e8wUo]

Those who love The Rocky Horror Picture Show will become huge fans of this quirky horror-musical. Justin is head-over-heels in love with his girlfriend, April, when their relationship comes to a screeching halt after she’s dragged into Hell. Using a spooky old book and dark magic, Justin must summon the demon Lo to scour through hell and find April. Lo was an interesting surprise and visually engaging, borrowing a baroque look inspired by painters like Caravaggio and Rembrandt. What the film lacks in budget it makes up for in writing and is definitely worth checking out.

7. This Film Not Yet Rated

[Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTL3XMDwY0c]

For years, my parents wouldn’t let me watch movies with an R rating, which barred me from some of the greatest films of all time. But have you ever wondered exactly what the MPAA is? In this shocking documentary, we find out that there are ulterior motives driving these ratings, plus it’s proven that they’re being used to oppress and censor independent filmmakers.  This Film Not Yet Rated is a must-watch for anyone interested in the shady side of the film industry.

8. Adaptation

[Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HtZ2M4e_AM]

You probably just watched that trailer and thought to yourself, Nicholas Cage in two roles? That sounds terrible. But you have to trust me on this one—it’s one of only two films I use to defend Nicholas Cage’s honor. Bonus: The script is written by Charlie Kaufman, the post-impressionist behind Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s a moving autobiography and is exactly the way you’d expect Kaufman to pull off this type of film.

9. The Fall

from Tarsem's "The Fall"

[Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO0LYcCoeJY]

This visually stunning alternative fairytale is highlighted by an eye-catching set and costume design.  A young girl in a hospital agrees to do a series of tasks for a dying man in exchange for a story. Aside from being well made, The Fall features, in my opinion, some of the best acting ever done by a child. I would recommend this to fans of Pan’s Labyrinth and Tim Burton’s works.

10. The Corporation

[Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa3wyaEe9vE]

The Corporation is a documentary about the role that companies have taken on in our day-to-day lives. It takes an interesting look at capitalism and asks if bowing at the will of these companies is necessary. The film is frightening and fatalist—but one that every consumer needs to see.

And an honorable mention goes to…


[Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-WCCdkVDr4]

I don’t think this film counts as obscure by any means, but it’s worth watching. It’s a brilliant coming-of-age film directed by Richard Ayoade, who is currently starring in The Watch alongside a few other huge names in comedy (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill). I don’t know a single person who was disappointed by Submarine, and I doubt you’ll be the first.

Have you found anything awesome and obscure on Netflix Instant? Be sure to share it below in the Comments!


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