You've read through the lists. You've scanned the new releases. It's time to settle in for a night of streaming, and you've already exhausted all your possibilities. You've seen every Most Romantic, Entertained All Summer, Spookiest, and Thrilling movie out there. For you, the seasoned Netflix expert, it's time for something a little more... subtle. So, scanning through the queue, I've found 18 of the creepiest movies on Netflix that will perplex and befuddle you in ways you aren't expecting.
These are the kind of movies that have a slow, steady oddity, that get under your skin in ways you didn't even think of. The most controversial take on the list is probably Grease, adored by sleepover attendees everywhere. But lately its underrated sequel Grease 2 has taken the spotlight and been lauded as a feminist manifesto. Since its plot is the inverse of the original, it's long time Grease was reevaluated.
Nightcrawler, meanwhile, has a creepy premise from the get-go, but seeing adorable Jake Gyllenhaal absolutely convince as an utter sleazebag somehow makes the film even creepier. The most unexpected twist on the list might come from "adult" animated film Sausage Party. Expectations were set very low for a film whose entire plot was advertised as "what if food, but bro," but this leaves you blindsided by the actual plot being "philosophical musings on the existence of God."
So dive in — every film on this list is guaranteed to leave you entertained, but with a nagging sense of unease.
Okja uses lovable Studio Ghibli stylings to sneak in a scathing critique of the entire factory farming industry. It's the emotional gut-punch of watching Bambi's mom get shot, but then dressed and set up for the dinner table. The impact of casual cruelty is somehow worse when everyone looks like they stepped out of a Wes Anderson film. In an interview with Indiewire, director Bong Joon-ho said he went vegan for two months after making this film; I'm surprised he ever went back to meat.
2'Maria Bamford: The Special Special Special'
You ever have that awkward first holiday visit with the Significant Other's folks, where everyone sits around the living room making painfully polite small talk? OK, take that feeling, concentrate it by 10, and instead of small talk make it pitch-black stand-up and blunt discussion of mental health issues. Maria Bamford's intense comedy special has a live audience of just two — her parents. But you're invited along to witness the painful interaction, and Bamford's unflinching, genuinely funny set.
3'Under The Sun'
Starting off as a straightforward documentary of a North Korean family, Under The Sun quickly reveals that it's documenting the propaganda machine behind the few images the reclusive dictatorship shows the world. Government representatives coach factory workers to announce new records in production that change by the minute, and to extol the life-extending virtues of kimchee at dinner. Director Vitaly Mansky's crew secretly duplicated memory cards before government handlers deleted "unacceptable" footage, giving us a rare peek behind the brash façade.
A tonally bizarre TV series, Richie Rich takes an odd concept (boy millionaire) and updates it for the modern era. Unfortunately the modern era, with the widest wealth gap since feudalism, is precisely the wrong time for the zany adventures of a kid so rich he can't grasp the concept of normal life. Sure, you could read it as social critique of Silicon Valley entrepreneurial worship (that might explain the inappropriately sexy robot maid). But turning class issues into strange CGI set pieces feels increasingly icky as the show goes on, and for a show about immense wealth, it looks awfully cheap.
Starting off as a documentary about The Shining conspiracy theories, the film ever-so-slowly widens scope to get you thinking about who's spouting these theories, and why.
Based on the J.G. Ballard novel, this film adaptation works on your mind in the same way — a slick surface reading that sticks in your mind for weeks. A perfect '70s period piece, the film tracks residents of a luxury high rise as they ascend to chaos. ABBA's "S.O.S." never sounded so intimidating as the soundtrack to anarchy rushing the penthouse.
7'Blood On The Mountain'
This documentary manages to feel personal without following personalities around as it tells the exploitive history of West Virginia coal mining. What really sends shivers down the spine is watching generations of Americans willingly take up work they know will kill them, slowly or suddenly.
You know that smarmy coworker everyone just loves but you can't stand? What if they looked exactly like you and no one seemed to notice? Based on a Dostoyevsky story, this macabre office drama was written and directed by Richard Ayoade, one of the geniuses behind Garth Merengi's Darkplace and The IT Crowd. Watching it will make you loathe Mondays more, if that's even possible.
When your subject's an unsolved child murder the creep factor's already ridiculously high, but this odd documentary avoids the "real crime" cliché entirely. Instead, it focuses on the surrounding town, and their opinions and thoughts on the case that put the national spotlight near, but not on them. Despite no one actually knowing what happened, reactions run the gamut from disinterested to conspiratorial.
10'Know Your Enemy: Japan'
At the outbreak of WWII, the U.S. Government tapped beloved director Frank Capra to make propaganda films for the troops. Why We Fight is the most famous, but Know Your Enemy wasn't even seen by its intended audience — released the day Nagasaki was bombed, the film rallies troops to battle an enemy the U.S. was already negotiating with. The struggle behind the scenes makes it to screen - according to John Dower'sWar Without Mercy: Pacific War, writers thought Capra was being too racist, not realizing the push came from the Pentagon (their notes said the film was "too sympathetic" to the Japanese people).
11'The Sunshine Makers'
The Odd Couple of LSD, nerdy Tim Scully and buff (in all senses of the word) Nick Sand distributed millions of tabs of Orange Sunshine all over the U.S. Despite wildly different backgrounds and interests, they earnestly believed acid could save the world. After LSD was made illegal, the pair got tangled up and taken down, an actual Prisoner's Dilemma netting them both jail time. Watching the different paths of these men come together and diverge makes for a fascinating peek at the era, with a dark undercurrent of the drug wars today.
For every grisly image you see on the evening news, someone was out there filming it. Now, what if that person had an entrepreneurial bent? After watching Jake Gyllenhaal sleaze his way to a mini-media empire, you might think twice before playing that chase footage.
13'After Porn Ends'
The creep factor's behind the scenes on this fairly straightforward documentary on an under-examined subject. Porn stars discuss how they got into the business, and what they are, or plan to do after they leave. It's a business like any other, save for the fraught moral handwringing around it. But for director Bryce Wagoner, pitching involved Russian mobs, no one in Hollywood would touch the project, and while he knows his subject, his frat attitude's a little off-putting.
The creepiness begins with the fact this film is based on a horrific true story. A naval mix-up led to hundreds of agonizing, prolonged deaths over several days after the USS Indianapolis sunk. Survivors floated in the ocean, suffering dehydration, exposure... and then the sharks found them. Unfortunately the movie's CGI and historical accuracy aren't up to the task, slowly jarring your brain as you try to keep taking the harrowing story seriously.
The twee charm alone might push some over the edge, but Amélie's real creep factor sits with what she does to make them "feel better." Breaking and entering, theft, gaslighting, forgery, and lying to a widow, all done in the cutesiest way possible.
16'Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things'
Supposedly against consumption, this doc falls into the trap of buying into a different, "superior" type of consumption. Don't splurge on fast fashion, spend extra on that one perfect shirt. Why have a whole house, when you can have a tiny house (that still involves home ownership, energy, and building materials)? By ignoring the high bar needed to "go minimal," this documentary gives the creeping sensation minimalism is just the new materialism.
Yes, anthropomorphic food is disturbing. Yes, it's even weirder when the film doesn't just imply food has sex (?!) but shows an entire supermarket orgy. Yet what puts this over the top is the entire plot centering around losing faith in a higher power — "God Is Dead" isn't exactly the kind of "adult" fare people were expecting.
Hey, it's everyone's favorite sleepover staple. Who wouldn't enjoy seeing a bunch of young, impressionable ladies in a fun '50s throwback musical... about changing yourself for a guy... with a side of of "locker room talk" that gets an entire song to itself? Weird movie.
If you've worked your way through this list, you might feel like a nice, long shower to wash away the weird. Go ahead, you've earned it. And you'll have lots to talk about the next time someone asks "So, watched anything interesting lately?"