Wait Until Dark (1967)

With as much suspense as you can stand, a young woman learning to cope with her recent blindness is terrorized by henchmen of a crazed killer desperate to find smuggled heroin that was given to her husband at the airport. The very limitation that makes her vulnerable provides an unmatched skill she’ll need to survive after letting the thugs into her home, believing they’re old friends of her husband’s.

Mushrooms (1995)

While the food is delectable, the humor is dark and dry. In the same irreverent tone as Harold and Maude, 2 old widows share a big house they inherited from their late husbands. One (an agoraphobe) rents their spare room to a police inspector without realizing the other (a compulsive shoplifter) is confronting an intruder– a fugitive who intends to hide in her bedroom. Needless to say, the living arrangement is dicey. When they end up with a dead body on their hands, the ladies must devise a means of disposal without drawing attention to it or to themselves. At least their charming dispositions have the normally cunning inspector blinded to all their suspicious activity!

The Iron Giant (1999)

This easily passes for a children’s movie given its young main character and sentimental tone. However, the historic context is noteworthy. Long before adventures were musical– certainly before computer animation, cartoons (such as the earliest depiction of the original superhero, Superman) were infused with a wariness of technology, especially in the era of McCarthyism.

This story captures the intrusion of industrial experimentation upon optimistic innocence, a concept lost on kids. Moreover, the military’s response to a creature capable of humanesque emotions will likely be disturbing to young viewers. But for a relatively mature audience, the theme of self-sacrifice will underscore the sweetness of friendship between a boy a robot during a time when the world needed it most. Perhaps it still does.

One, Two, Three (1961)

Don’t say I didn’t warn you: crisscrossed boisterous action and frenetic dialogue at breakneck speed are not for the faint of heart!

Mac, a driven Coca-Cola exec assigned to West Berlin is desperate to advance, which will ensure relocation to a better city, though he doesn’t share his wife’s preference. He agrees to host his boss’ teenage daughter, who turns out to be impudent and headstrong. Her antics, along with Mac’s priorities, further strain his troubled marriage.

Already juggling a mistress and business negotiations with some reluctant Russians, Mac finds himself the ringmaster of his own circus when the young socialite disappears. Then turns up married. To a Communist. And her parents announce they’re on their way to retrieve her. With only 24 hours to turn a Red beatnick activist into a Blue blooded Count, everyone springs into action to save the day (and thus their own skins).

Greta (2018)

Though touted as a “feminist thriller,” more impressive than the casting of all female leads is the originality of the story. To truly thrill, there must be an original premise and genuine plot twists. Nothing kills suspense faster than predictability; fortunately, this movie does not disappoint.

The Little Stranger (2018)

A fast- fading mansion with seemingly temperamental qualities is as much a character as the moody people that pass through its rooms. Both lend a consistently brooding tone without resorting to typical genre tropes (e.g. explanatory soliloquies or intrusive graphic flashbacks). The few instances of blood are preceded by obvious horror to the characters, who see it before the audience; the lack of shock value in such a familiar element serves to heighten the film’s uneasy tone. Periodic disclosure of important details keeps the story engaging, despite being enigmatic, and by the end manages to deliver a satisfying revelation.

Money Train (1995)

If you like action, buckle up. Two NYC cops, who also happen to be former foster brothers, are thick as thieves despite incessant bickering about the one’s gambling addiction. All bets are off when they both fall for their beautiful new coworker, a fellow undercover sting agent who knows exactly which brother she wants. Sparks fly as a tangle with the transit authority ups the ante in a turf war for control of the subway. The arrogant director doesn’t care who lives or dies so long as he makes his money– an irresistible temptation to a chronic gambler…

The Others (2001)

When suspense turns creepy– especially when it’s downright chilling– you know you’re watching a horror movie, even if there’s no gore. As if a haunted house isn’t spooky enough, mysterious visitors appear; some helpful, others ghoulish. Like any proper ghost story, nothing is as it seems.

The Mule (2018)

The prickly maverick we’re used to seeing in so many iconic Westerns is anything but stoic in his role as a cantankerous old man, whose family receives none of the tenderness reserved for his prized flowers. In fact, the horticultural circle where he’s found his niche brings out a charming side few others get to see. As it turns out, he’s also good at minding his own business and staying under the radar. His newfound value to a Mexican drug cartel provides a whole new source of pride, especially since it provides the means to buy his family’s admiration.

This film is a sincere sentiment about the true meaning of love in an unflinching glimpse into the world of drug running; disparate worlds are two sides of the same coin as they struggle to understand loyalty and affection.

(I feel it’s worth mentioning the bedroom scene at the mansion party, though not necessarily gratuitous, can be skipped to avoid the disparate element of nudity as it does nothing to advance the plot.)

Mortal Engines (2018)

How to describe such a unique fantastical premise…

Entire societies are mobile; each hierarchical city functions within its own feat of engineering (think interlocking collapsible compartments). These giant robotic apparatuses roam the globe vying for power, forcibly assimilating anyone who gets in their way. The plucky young heroes could easily have been in The Maze Runner!

Until now, such an imaginative book series couldn’t have been adapted for the screen. Fortunately, The Peter Jackson specializes in bringing fictional worlds to life via intricately detailed sets and props enhanced by state-of-the-art computer animation.