Prime Video, Amazon’s big competitor to Netflix, is a treasure trove of movie goodness. The only problem is that it’s annoying to navigate.
There are areas where Amazon showcases some fantastic content, but this is usually its own Amazon Originals and exclusive movies and shows. As such, if you’re looking for something beyond a blockbuster, then you’ll have to dig deeper – while also trying to avoid the many premium-priced pitfalls along the way.
So, to help you get the most out of your Amazon Prime subscription, we’ve spent numerous hours flicking through the online racks to find 7 movies that are worth checking out in the US and UK.
Originally titled Boyz in the Wood, Get Duked is a fun, frantic debut from music video director Ninian Doff (Chemical Brothers, Run the Jewels). Four boys from Glasgow are dropped in the middle of the Highlands, as a sort of punishment by their school, where they have to complete their Duke of Edinburgh. Cue weed smoking, hip-hop listening and far too many poop jokes. However, among the frivolity – there are a lot of laughs – is some politically charged, and gory, oddness that wouldn’t look out of place on The League of Gentlemen.
Shia LeBeouf’s career seems to ping pong from farce (in All My Movies he live-streamed himself for 10 hours, er, watching all of his movies) to the sublime. Thankfully, Honey Boy falls into the latter. A heartfelt and candid look at his own life, LeBeouf stars as a version of his own father – an aggressive, former rodeo clown, who witnesses his son hit superstardom. LeBeouf is fantastic in the movie, but it’s the script that’s the real draw here. He wrote it while in rehab, and putting himself in the role of the father, who allegedly caused him so much pain in real life, is truly something unique.
Hell House LLC
Hell House LLC came out alongside a glut of found-footage movies and was wrongfully dismissed by some critics as a result. This is a shame, since there are some real scares to be found here.
It’s Halloween and a bunch of friends believe they’ve created the ultimate horror house attraction, dubbed Hell House. You can probably guess what happens next, but the movie shows the lead up to the real-life horrors, unpicking the reasons that tragedy struck, splicing in interviews along the way. Full of freaky scenes to keep you awake at night, Hell House LLC is a low-budget curio that mostly works, unlike its pretty hokey sequels.
The Vast of Night
A low-to-no-budget thriller, The Vast of Night is The Conversation for UFO people. Set in the 50s but not wallowing in nostalgia over the decade (but definitely bathing in its paranoia), the movie is about a strange radio static that has budding radio enthusiasts in search of extraterrestrials. Cue a tension-filled turn of events that’s so brilliantly shot – some of the tracking scenes in this movie rival big-budget fare – that you’ll want to see this on as big a screen as possible.
Life After Flash
There will never be another film like Flash Gordon. Mike Hodges’ multi-colored masterpiece is a bad movie that knows exactly what it’s doing – even if some of its cast, Max von Sydow in particular, did not. It’s utterly ridiculous and infinitely watchable, and Life After Flash celebrates everything about the movie, from charting how it was made to the love and adulation it still receives from fans.
While it mainly centers around Sam Jones and Melody Anderson, as Flash Gordon and Dale Arden in the movie, there’s a ton of behind-the-scenes footage and talking heads that reveal how something so gaudy and operatic as Flash Gordon was brought to life.
The Farewell is one of the most well-known movies on this list, but we still think it needs to be seen by more people. It’s a culture clash of sorts, built around a superb premise: under the pretense of a wedding, a whole family gets together to say goodbye to their matriarch, grandmother Nai Nai, who doesn’t know she is suffering from terminal cancer.
We see most of the movie through the eyes of Billi. A New Yorker now, she heads back to China for the event, and is shocked by the industrial change that has eroded memories of her childhood. Directed by Lulu Wang, and inspired by her personal experience, this is a majestic movie about white lies and how, sometimes, they’re spun for good.
Brittany Runs a Marathon
In any other hands, Brittany Runs a Marathon could have been a throwaway movie about someone unfit aiming to run a marathon (we’re looking at you Run Fatboy Run), but there’s something different at work here. It’s thanks to both writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo’s honest approach to the subject matter and SNL alumni Jillian Bell (last seen in Bill & Ted Face the Music), who is fantastic as the titular Brittany. You’ll find yourself rooting for her as she attempts to work through some inner demons, despite her character being pretty unlikeable throughout.
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Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.