When we label a film as “underrated,” the parameters are as hazy as those for its counterpart, “overrated.” Is it a matter of critical acclaim overshadowed by low box office numbers, or does it involve a hidden cinematic gem eclipsed by mainstream juggernauts? The term is subjective, but these ten films from 2023 have faced a fate of being overlooked, misunderstood, or unfairly maligned. Let’s delve into the realm of underrated cinema and shed light on these hidden gems.
10. The Exorcist: Believer David Gordon Green’s “Believer,” the latest addition to the Halloween trilogy, faced its fair share of criticism. While it might not be a groundbreaking masterpiece, the backlash seems disproportionate. Despite its flaws, the film carries Green’s signature atmospheric touch, and perhaps its timing amid questions about The Exorcist’s legacy played a role in its lukewarm reception.
9. Napoleon Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” suffered from mixed reviews, which is an unfortunate fate for a sprawling historical drama that Hollywood rarely produces nowadays. Beyond its unfashionable qualities, the film cleverly smuggles a dry comedy of royal insecurity into multiplexes. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance alone should have tipped the critical consensus in its favor.
8. Share? Ira Rosensweig’s “Share?” quietly slipped into theaters, earning only a handful of reviews. This minimalist lo-fi sci-fi film, despite its heavy-handed critique of social media, captivates with its formal and conceptual ambition. Perhaps it will find its audience on smaller screens, where it metaphorically comments on the very platforms it critiques.
7. Scream VI The sixth installment of the Scream franchise faced skepticism for being one too many. However, “Scream VI” managed to inject fresh energy with inventive set pieces and a subversive cold open. The film’s fun factor overshadowed the boneheaded decisions of its production company, making it a standout entry in the post-modern slasher saga.
6. Skinamarink Kyle Edward Ball’s “Skinamarink” emerged as a polarizing midnight-movie experiment. While some found it tedious, others celebrated its uniqueness. Viral hype and a quasi-wide release divided audiences, but it’s a lament that more critics didn’t rally behind this ultra-low-budget supernatural horror, appreciating its singular approach.
5. Enys Men “Enys Men,” a psychological reverie with bad hippie vibes, applied the aesthetics of British cult classics to tell a haunting tale of a lone researcher losing her mind. Neglected rather than panned, the film deserved a larger fan base for its vibrant celluloid imagery and hypnotic editing, rewarding those who indulged in its sensual wonders.
4. The Creator Gareth Edwards’ “The Creator” might not have delivered a stellar script, but its visual spectacle stands out in the crowded landscape of Hollywood blockbusters. The film’s rich futuristic design and stunning IMAX-scaled imagery deserve recognition, showcasing that sometimes, the individual parts can outshine the whole.
3. Full Time Éric Gravel’s “Full Time” brings urgency to the screen, blending the drama of a working mother’s daily commute with the threat of financial explosion if she slows down. Despite glowing reviews, this film barely made a blip in the American cultural radar. Consider this a call to appreciate overlooked gems like “Full Time” amid the year-end movie discussions.
2. The Last Voyage of the Demeter Horror movies often face overly harsh reviews, and “The Last Voyage of the Demeter” is no exception. Despite its flaws, this Hammer-grade hokum inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula delivers an enjoyable creature feature. Critics treated it as an unholy abomination, but perhaps it’s time to appreciate such tactile monster effects and the thrill of a quintessential August thriller.
1. De Humani Corporis Fabrica Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s documentary, “De Humani Corporis Fabrica,” takes audiences on an anatomical deep dive through surgeries captured in big-screen close-ups. Despite its jaw-dropping achievement, the film’s theatrical release was brief and limited. Its absence from the awards season discourse raises questions about a potential squeamish reluctance to acknowledge its visceral brilliance.
In conclusion, these ten films, each in its own way, suffered from being overlooked or misunderstood in 2023. Whether due to critical misjudgement, timing issues, or distribution challenges, these hidden gems deserve a second look. Cinema enthusiasts, take note – your next favourite film might be among these underrated treasures.