The thriller genre is highly diverse, ranging from action-packed films to dark comedies and psychological dramas. The slow burn, intricate plots, and uncertainty inherent to thrillers provide independent filmmakers with a platform for experimentation and creativity. Here’s a selection of 10 independent cinema thrillers.
IMDb rating: 5.5; Rotten tomamtes-63%
Director: Vasilis Katsupis, script: Ben Hopkins
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Jean Bervoets, Elisa Stike
The idea for the film came to director Vasilis Katsupis in a friend’s apartment in Lower Manhattan. This is a one-man show – Willem Dafoe. An art thief ends up locked in a luxury apartment. He cannot get out, all attempts are in vain, and the smart home system, just like the uninvited guest, is gradually going crazy.
A simple premise, as well as a plot, are worth absolutely nothing in such films, consisting of symbols, metaphors. They invite the viewer to decide for himself which direction of thinking he will go in, deciphering puzzles and signs. Whether it is about the loneliness of the mind locked inside our consciousness, about the dark side of luxury, the exhausted power of modern art or the nature of creativity, where the fashionable slogan “Steal like an artist” takes on meaning, and the search for identity turns into a hidden self-portrait of the artist.
IMDb rating: 6.9; Rotten tomamtes-94%
Director and screenplay: Hjalmari Helander
Cast: Jorma Tommila, Axelem Henney, Jack Doolan, Mimosa Villamo, Onni Tommila, Arttu Kapulainen, Tatu Sinisalo, Vincent Willestrand
An ultra-cruel, evil, bloody meat grinder in the spirit of Tarantino, John Wick and Rambo. The action takes place in 1944, with a platoon of Nazis moving through scorched Lapland. They meet a gold miner and former commando named Aatami, who lost his family back in the Winter War with the USSR. Further development is explained by the phrase from Game of Thrones “What is dead cannot die,” which could become an epigraph to the film.
In its bloody absurdity, the film turns the main character into a myth. Gold, the division into chapters supports this idea, which lies in an incomprehensible human hope and the ability to resist forces that are in many ways superior to you.
The Stars at Noon
IMDb rating: 5.5; Rotten tomamtes-63%
Director: Claire Denis
Starring: Margaret Qualley, Joe Alwyn, Benny Safdie, Danny Ramirez and John C. Reilly
The film is inspired by Denis Johnson’s novel of the same name. American journalist Trish is stuck in Nicaragua during the Covid pandemic. After an exposé about extrajudicial killings, her passport was taken away, and her employer, a glamor travel magazine, refused to support her. She’s already in survival mode, vegetating in a run-down motel and meeting with a police sergeant and deputy minister, who give money and some information about her situation.
The locals despise her, their own people reject her. She is angry, broken, scared and frustrated, often looking for safety and protection. In a hotel bar for foreigners, Trish meets a handsome, well-dressed young British man, Daniel, who works, perhaps, for an oil company. They fall passionately in love. As the situation around them becomes tense, they hide from the authorities and then flee the country. Suspense is part of the fabric of the story, with a lot of atmosphere and little plot. Stars at Noon is a doomed romance between two fragile people who are unable to comprehend the unknown world around them.
The Pale Blue Eye
IMDb rating: 7.5; Rotten tomamtes
Director: Scott Cooper
Cast: Christian Bale, Harry Melling, Gillian Anderson, Robert Duvall, Timothy Spall, Lucy Boynton, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones and Harry Lawtey
It is an adaptation of Louis Bayard’s 2006 novel The Pale Blue Eye. The film tells the fictional story of how Poe became the author and father of detective and horror stories.
Retired NYPD detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) is called to an undercover investigation at West Point Academy because a strange murder scandal could cause irreparable damage to the institution. One foggy morning a cadet was found hanging from a tree. It seems like an obvious suicide, but the next morning something truly terrible happens. Someone snuck into the room where the body lay and cut out the heart.
Augustus Landor, asking the dead man’s acquaintances, finds an energetic assistant in the person of a gloomy cadet named Edgar Allan Poe.