Take a look at the best indie films of 2018, ranging from horror pieces to drama darlings.
Movie summaries and soon-to-hit awards season nominees are flooding the Internet now. Some people are calling Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) the best film of the year, while Black Panther (2018) gets nominated for a Golden Globe. It’s easy to let little, independent movies slide under your radar. To celebrate independent cinema of 2018, here’s a collection of movies that didn’t make the cut to my best of 2018 list, but for various reasons, they deserve a shoutout nevertheless.
Enjoy and don’t forget to share your favorite indie movies from 2018 in the comments.
Note: there isn’t any particular order for these movies.
10. Ederlezi Rising
If you like: Ex Machina mostly, but also many other indie sci-fi
Serbian sci-fi sounds like Malaysian black metal – truly exotic and also inexplicably funny as a concept itself. Ederlezi Rising (2018) had my interest for more reasons – it was the most walked-out-of movie of the Warsaw Film Festival, and its main star is Stoya, an adult movie star. A disaster was written all over it.
To be frank, it’s nothing particularly shocking about it. On the contrary, Ederlezi Rising (2018) reaches out to solutions we all know, but it’s an effective film that captures space loneliness and the moral ambiguity of artificial intelligence.
It’s a strongly theatrical film about an astronaut and his female android that becomes his sort-of a sex slave. Aside from that, director Lazar Bodroza poses an interesting question as the film’s axis, with a story that’s packed in stuffy visuals (heavy influence of “2001: A Space Odyssey”) and an engaging plot development. If you’re not too delicate and can sustain a naked android for a good portion of the film, you’ll enjoy it.
If you like: well-paced, socially-driven dramas
A Cannes-winning, Moroccan drama Sofia (2018) takes only 80 minutes of your life to tell a story so compelling that it’s going to stick with you for days.
The titular Sofia finds herself pregnant, but according to the local law, without a husband, she will be put in jail for the act of impurity. The film tells her story at a breathtaking pace, at the same time revealing a broader picture of Moroccan society and the absurdity of the law that forbids humans from being human.
If you like: nihilistic films and ones that rely on your imagination
Joel Potrykus defines the genre of head-scratchers that deploy simple premises to grow into powerhouses of the nihilistic side of ourselves.
This time, the idea is to observe one dude for ninety minutes, whose challenge is to sit on a couch and leave it under no circumstances.
It might sound preposterous, but Relaxer (2018) is gorgeous in the way it confines the viewer in the four walls of a cramped apartment. Joshua Burge, playing the main character, masterfully wears the skin of a laidback weirdo, only to become a devilish deviant by the end of the film.
Relaxer (2018) is gross, hermetic and a hell of weird, weird fun.
If you like: brutal, raw thrillers with a deeper meaning
Dogman (2018) depraves Italy of the sunny seaside shots from a travel agency guide and shows the Gomorra-inspired side of it. The film follows a pet hairdresser, who befriends a local thug. This relationship becomes more dangerous, and soon pushes the hairdresser to his own boundaries.
It’s a deep study of the oppressor-victim situation, with the former being blind to the latter’s rise to the power of his own will. There is a lot to praise Dogman (2018) for – Marcello Fonte’s impressionable leading role, the grim look of the Italian seaside, as well as the engaging plot.
6. Birds of Passage
If you like: visually stunning films
Birds of Passage (2018) focuses on the beginnings of the narco-business in Colombia. Directed by the visionary director Ciro Guerra (in collaboration with Cristina Gallego), Birds of Passage (2018) peeks into Colombian folklore with an intent to slowly digest the beginnings of narcotics business. Although I wasn’t entirely bought by the story itself, there is a more-than-decent reason to watch Birds of Passage (2018) – its breathtaking cinematography. You will get a strong Samsara (2011) vibe from it.
If you like: stoic, very slow cinema that contemplates life and nature
What is Zama (2017) about? In one word, it’s about waiting.
One man faces a lifetime of expecting things to change.
It’s a film, which builds its foundations on the sad truth of getting older and losing the will to fight for things that matter. There is a lot of existentialism weaved in the story and a lot of candy for your eyes too.
If you like: Any kind of weird stuff
A24 has been quite silent about the release of its ugly duckling Slice (2018). On one hand, Austin Vesely’s flick is a razzmatazz – the plot focuses on a series of killings of pizza delivery boys, but as the story unravels, there are werewolves, ghosts and street gangsters involved. You might feel it all doesn’t add up.
On the other hand, Slice (2018) is a kind of guilty pleasure. It’s chaotic, yet charming in a peculiar way. There are eyebrow-rising moments, there is a ton of creativity and ambition to build a strange cult classic.
3. Leave No Trace
If you like: slow-paced and acting-driven drama movies
A drama starring Ben Foster and a young revelation Thomasin Mackenzie, Leave No Trace (2018) is an intimate story about a father and his daughter, who live in the woods and try to limit their contact with the outside world.
Although the film didn’t deliver as much as it promises in the first half an hour, Leave No Trace (2018) has its undeniably heart-warming moments. The forest setting and the solid acting leading performances make this effort more than worthwhile.
2. The Clovehitch Killer
If you like: My Friend Dahmer (2017) and any other disturbing psychoanalysis of a serial killer
The Clovehitch Killer (2018) isn’t a fast-paced, frantic pursue after some maniac on a killing spree. On the contrary, it’s a slow-burn thriller, which takes time to paint the picture one truly cannot imagine – being a son of a serial killer.
While it may not be the best film portraying a sociopath this year (Lars Von Trier wins with The House That Jack Built (2018) by miles), Dylan McDermott is captivating in a disturbing mix of a light-hearted father who hides bodies under his bed. He’s often over-the-top, but makes the most out of the screen time he’s given.
If you like: Nic Pizzolatto and all stuff similar to “True Detective”
Ben Foster and Elle Fanning carry this sometimes muddled thriller about a dying hitman, who needs to lay low before exacting revenge on his foes. It’s a typical story for the creator of True Detective (2014-) – the complex characters fuel the story more than the events. It’s an exercise of a crime thriller with a dark, brooding atmosphere and a setting that captures the vibe of the shadier part of America.