Two Overlooked Gems: Better Watch Out & Brawl in Cell Block 99

From mainstream films like Dunkirk and Baby Driver to indie darlings like The Disaster Artist and The Devil’s Candy, 2017’s been chock-full of fantastic and exciting storytelling.

Sure, there’s been a few clunkers, like that over-stuffed, turgid turd mother!, but, overall, it’s been a super solid year.

As 2017 comes to a close, I’m taking a look back at two of this year’s overlooked gems. If you’re a movie aficionado, snob, or love stepping outside of your comfort zone, then give one of these a shot.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

Drawing inspiration from 70s exploitation films, Brawl In Cell Block 99 is a violent, no-frills journey into the dark heart of despair and desperation.

Anchored by a mesmerizing central performance from Vince Vaughn, Brawl In Cell Block 99 follows a former boxer-turned-drug runner who lands in a prison battle that will decide the fate of his family.

Like his previous effort Bone Tomahawk, writer/director S. Craig Zahler subverts genre tropes to create an exhilarating experience that’s filled with humor, drama, and plenty of carnage.

If you’re a fan of practical effects work ala The Thing and Scanners, this is a must-see, but Brawl in Cell Block 99 should definitely be avoided by the squeamish.

Better Watch Out (2016)

Home-invasion horror has a tendency to be stale and well-worn, but Better Watch Out gleefully breaks the mold.

I think it’s best to go into this one blind, but, without saying too much, the twists and turns in this one are so naughty, they’re nice.

Writer/director Chris Peckover effortlessly blends witty banter, action, and rich cinematography into a near-perfect holiday horror romp.

For fans of Krampus and Home Alone, Better Watch Out is just what the doctor ordered.

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