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    These 25 WTF Movies Went Under The Radar In 2021 But Should Probably Be On Your Watch List

    The movie business is finally starting to rebound in 2021…though don’t be surprised if these new mind-melting movies flew under your radar.

    After an uncertain year in the film business in 2020, 2021 has seen the rebound of movie theaters and a wave of major releases over the past several months.

    From the day-and-date debuts of highly anticipated blockbusters like Godzilla vs. Kong, Dune, and Black Widow to the long-delayed releases of Candyman, No Time to Die, and A Quiet Place: Part II, there's been more than enough cinematic goodness to go around, whether it be on the big screen or on your flatscreen. 

    But while film critics and Letterboxd regulars are already preparing their "Best Of" lists, there's a whole lot of brain-melting movies worthy of your time and attention that you may have missed in 2021, many of which are available on your favorite streamers right now.

    So whether you want a ridiculous recommendation for your friends over the holidays or a quick fix of WTF to shake up your night, these twisted 2021 titles are guaranteed to scratch that itch.

    1. Come True

    IFC Midnight / Courtesy Everett Collection

    After stirring up some major buzz at the 2020 edition of the Fantasia Film Festival last summer, Anthony Scott Burns’ sophomore feature, Come True, crept into a day-and-date release in March 2021, courtesy of IFC Midnight. Starring rising star Julia Sarah Stone and ex-Hemlock Grove hunk Landon Liboiron, the film follows a young runaway (Stone) suffering from immersive, surreal nightmares. Eventually enrolling in an experimental sleep study, the young woman soon begins to question reality as the lines between the waking world and her demented dreams blur. Burns, who turned heads with his effortlessly eerie “Father’s Day” segment of the horror anthology Holidays, played renaissance man on this production, as he wrote, shot, edited, and even composed the film’s pulsing, synth-powered score alongside Shriekback and Electric Youth. Though Come True will lure you in with its terrifying visuals and intense atmosphere, the movie reaches its WTF heights in its shocking third act, with a final beat that’ll have your jaw firmly on the floor.

    Where you can see it: Come True is currently streaming on Hulu.

    2. Gaia

    Barend (Carel Nel) in "Gaia"
    Bleecker Media Street Media / Courtesy Everett Collection

    With a limited theatrical release via Decal this past June, Jaco Bouwer’s Gaia follows a pair of South African forestry specialists working deep in the Tsitsikamma Forest as they are beset by traps left by feral survivalists. However, they soon learn that there may be something even more dangerous than their newly discovered adversaries lurking in the jungle around them. A psychedelic fright film that offers a heaping helping of body horror, Gaia isn’t chock full of jump scares or the supernatural, but don’t worry: If the film’s trippy visuals and incredible cinematography don’t “wow” you, the “holy crap” factor of the monsters on display will.

    Where you can see it: Gaia is currently streaming on Hulu.

    3. The Five Rules of Success

    X (Santiago Segura) in "The Five Rules of Success"
    Ambassador Film Group

    Orson Oblowitz burst onto the independent film scene with the one-two punch of The Queen of Hollywood Blvd and Trespassers in 2019, but the filmmaker came back swinging in July 2021 with his visceral, mind-bending drama The Five Rules of Success. Oblowitz’s latest movie follows an ex-con, played with raw tenacity by Scream: The Series’ Santiago Segura, who attempts to rehabilitate his mind and soul on the streets by adhering to a rigid personal code. The Pursuit of Happyness, this is not; The Five Rules of Success veers into some seriously unhinged and tragic territory at times. Mixed with Oblowitz’s penchant for stunning visuals and no-punches-pulled storytelling, The Five Rules of Success is a brutal reminder that starting from the bottom sometimes means going to hell and back.

    Where you can see it: The Five Rules of Success is available for rent via Video-on-Demand, including on Amazon Video and Apple TV.

    4. Shadow in the Cloud

    Vertical Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Perhaps one of the more high profile WTF titles on this list due to the controversy surrounding the film’s original screenwriter, which was heavily rewritten by director Roseanne Liang, Shadow in the Cloud kicked off 2021 with a limited theatrical run through Vertical Entertainment on January 1. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Shadow in the Cloud is a claustrophobic thriller following a woman on a top-secret mission aboard a B-17 bomber in World War II as she faces the ghoulish behavior of her hostile male counterparts as well as a literal monster outside of the aircraft. With a good chunk of the film taking place in a small area of the plane, Shadow in the Cloud makes the most out of its Twilight Zone-esque premise by injecting various twists and turns that keep raising the stakes for our vulnerable protagonist. Culminating in an explosive, badass finale, Shadow in the Cloud is destined to find a cult audience who are willing to go on its intense adventure.

    Where you can see it: Shadow in the Cloud is currently streaming on Hulu.

    5. Puppet Killer


    Have you heard of Puppet Killer? How about 6:45? If not, don’t worry, though I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s no Regal Theater near you. In an effort to bring audiences back to the movie theaters this year, Regal Cinemas exclusively released a number of independent horror films, including Lisa Ovies’ Puppet Killer, a horror-comedy about a puppet that…well…kills people, back in September. Co-starring Sonic the Hedgehog’s Lee Majdoub, Hawkeye’s Aleks Paunovic, The 100’s Richard Harmon, and Bingo Hell director Gigi Saul Guerrero, Puppet Killer shares more with 2021’s other murderous puppet movie Benny Loves You than Chucky, but what makes Puppet Killer truly WTF worthy is the fact that the film goes above and beyond to pay tribute to the horror greats of yesteryear.

    Where you can see it: Puppet Killer will be available on Video-on-Demand on November 29.

    6. Boss Level


    I don’t know how you define “irony,” but to me, it’s been the wave of Groundhog Day-esque films coming out during the COVID-19 pandemic, in which many of us had our own Groundhog Day experience. However, March 2021 brought the “day on repeat” formula to the action genre with Boss Level, in which the world is out to get MCU alumni Frank Grillo in a day that never ends. Though the plot and set-pieces aren’t that far out of the ordinary, Boss Level goes guns a-blazin' into WTF-ville with director Joe Carnahan’s brand of eccentric flourishes: If you’ve ever wondered when an ultraviolent action epic would enlist Naomi Watts, Ken Jeong, and Rob Gronkowski, wonder no more!

    Where you can see it: Boss Level is exclusively streaming on Hulu.

    7. V/H/S/94

    Shudder / Courtesy Everett Collection

    After an eight-year absence, the V/H/S franchise of found footage horror returned in October 2021 with an offering that rivals the best of the original trilogy. Bringing in series stalwarts Simon Barrett and Timo Tjahjanto as well as newcomers Jennifer Reeder, Chloe Okuno, and Ryan Prows, V/H/S/94 is a direct injection of “holy hell” into your eyeballs. Monstrous sewer cult? CHECK! A dark and stormy night with the undead? CHECK! Murderous cyborgs? CHECK! V/H/S/94 brings the pain, but you may be too busy screaming, “Whoa,” “Wait?” and “WHAT?!” to care.

    Where you can see it: V/H/S/94 is exclusively streaming on Shudder.

    8. PG: Psycho Goreman

    Shudder / Courtesy Everett Collection

    From the twisted mind of Astron-6 alumni Steven Kostanski, PG: Psycho Goreman is what happens when you take E.T., Power Rangers, and Hellraiser and put them in a blender. Making waves with a day-and-date release in January 2021, PG tells the story of Mimi and Luke, a pair of young siblings who unleash a genocidal extraterrestrial buried in their backyard. However, the children hold a crystal that gives them total control over the sadistic alien and are determined to teach him about the true meaning of friendship, even if it means destroying the world. Redefining the phrase “funny as hell,” PG: Psycho Goreman needs to be seen to be believed; just be sure to keep a barf bag nearby…just in case.

    Where you can see it: PG: Psycho Goreman is currently streaming on Shudder.

    9. Zola

    A24 / courtesy Everett Collection

    We’ve seen films based on podcasts, toy lines, board games, and even KFC promotional novellas, but with A24’s Zola, we finally got a motion picture based on a tweet thread. Nevertheless, a tweet thread has to be pretty crazy to get a whole movie made about it, and Zola meets those expectations before doubling down. Directed by Janicza Bravo, Zola recalls the true-life story of Aziah “Zola” King (Taylour Paige) and “Stefani” (Riley Keough), a pair of strippers who travel to dance at a high-profile club in Tampa, Florida, but Zola soon discovers her companion is not who she seems. What follows is a night of debauchery and danger in the seedy, not-so-secret underbelly of Florida that’ll have you gasping when you’re not going, “NOPE.”

    Where you can see it: Zola is streaming on Showtime-on-Demand.

    10. Demonic

    IFC Midnight / Courtesy Everett Collection

    The latest film from District 9 director Neil Blomkamp is perhaps his strangest film yet, as it tells the story of a young woman (Carly Pope) facing her demons — both figuratively and literally — when she is given the opportunity to explore her estranged mother’s comatose consciousness through a 3D virtual model. While Blomkamp utilizes his knack for engaging visual storytelling, especially in these virtual sequences, this unique possession film plays out as a roller coaster of WTF that flames out in a shocking, if not anticlimactic, fashion.

    Where you can see it: Demonic is currently available for rent via Video-on-Demand, including on Amazon Video, YouTube, and Apple TV.

    11. In the Earth

    Neon / Courtesy Everett Collection

    The latest from the British master of WTF filmmaking, Ben Wheatley, In the Earth is the second slice of psychedelic ecological horror to grace this list after Gaia. Set during the height of an undisclosed pandemic, In the Earth follows two scientists (Joel Fry and Ellora Torchia) who venture into a forested area outside of Bristol to search for a missing former colleague. With a looming shadow of a local legend surrounding them, their rescue mission soon becomes a descent into madness. Wicked, weird, and wild in equal measure, In the Earth might make you think twice about partying in the woods (or at least not without packing a second pair of shoes).

    Where you can see it: In the Earth is currently streaming on Hulu.

    12. Shiva Baby

    Utopia / Courtesy Everett Collection

    The cinematic embodiment of an anxiety attack, Shiva Baby is ideally for the type of comedy fan who thinks Curb Your Enthusiasm isn’t cringey enough. Exuding an unrivaled nervous energy and showcasing the story using the most intimate lens possible, Emma Seligman’s story of two lesbians, a married sugar daddy, and the families between them over the course of a shiva has a sweaty, old-school approach to its cinematic language, punctuated by unwavering tension and palpable awkwardness. Nevertheless, there’s something to appreciate when this comedy of errors inches closer and closer to becoming a comedy of terrors throughout its lean, 78-minute runtime. Some movies might be worthy of spilling the tea; Shiva Baby pours out the whole kettle.

    Where you can see it: Shiva Baby is currently streaming on HBO Max.

    13. Happily

    Saban Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Don’t you just hate it when you accidentally kill someone who is literally trying to destroy your relationship? The main characters of Ben David Grabinski’s Happily can certainly relate, as this Black Mirror-adjacent film showcases a couples' retreat that soon oozes hostility and paranoia as secrets begin to surface. With an ensemble cast that includes Joel McHale, Kerry Bishé, Natalie Zea, Paul Scheer, and Stephen Root, Happily is a fun ride that twists you around its finger while making you second guess everything and everyone before it reaches its shocking yet effectively poignant conclusion.

    Where you can see it: Happily is currently available for rent via Video-on-Demand, including on Amazon Video, YouTube, and Apple TV.

    14. Saint Maud

    A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Originally destined to become A24’s next major horror outing shortly before the world shut down in 2020, Rose Glass’s Saint Maud sat in limbo until January 2021, at which point the film debuted on an extremely limited theatrical release to little fanfare. Becoming available on Epix soon thereafter, Saint Maud has slowly but surely found its audience, as fans of its disturbing and mind-bending story of a deeply religious private nurse losing her mind continue to sing its praises. Saint Maud is certainly not for the weak of stomach, but if A24’s brand of art-house horror is your bag, you may too pray at the altar of this nightmarish psychological thriller.

    Where you can see it: Saint Maud is currently streaming on Hulu, Epix, and Paramount+.

    15. Mainstream

    IFC Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

    A provocative and satirical film about the Faustian price of going viral, Gia Coppola’s sophomore film, Mainstream, feels like Network for a generation that was raised on WorldStar, Catfish, and Keeping Up With the Kardashians. The film easily allows you to slip into the shoes of struggling filmmaker Frankie (Maya Hawke), who is seduced (as are we) by the charismatic and carefree viral video star Link (Andrew Garfield). However, much like Frankie, the audience learns far too late of Link’s dark side. Yet even as heavy as the film goes at times, Mainstream employs stunning and humorously chaotic visuals to anchor the story firmly in a WTF headspace.

    Where you can see it: Mainstream is currently available for rent via Video-on-Demand, including on Amazon Video, YouTube, and Apple TV.

    16. Censor

    Magnolia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Premiering at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival before its limited theatrical release in June, Prano Bailey-Bond’s debut feature is a chilling brain-melter of a movie. Set in the 1980s, Censor follows a sheepish member of the British film censorship board whose haunted memories are awakened after reviewing an old film whose details match those of an unsolved mystery from her childhood. Bolstered by a phenomenal performance by Raised by Wolves’ Niamh Algar and Bailey-Bond’s deranged vision, Censor is a modern masterpiece that ends with one of the more unforgettable WTF finales in recent movie memory.

    Where you can see it: Censor is currently available for streaming on Hulu.

    17. Titane

    Neon /Courtesy Everett Collection

    Frankly, the less you know about Julia Ducournau’s Titane, the better, as the film is absolutely the most shocking cinematic offering on this list. Genuinely speaking, there’s an element to this Palme D’or-winning movie where you’ll absolutely think to yourself, Oh, this can’t be where this movie is going. But trust me, friends: It goes there, and it’s going to go wherever the hell it wants. By the time the film is speeding to its “see it to believe it” ending, you will either be thinking, “Titane" is made for me, or, Who the hell is "Titane" made for?!

    Where you can see it: Titane is currently available for rent via Video-on-Demand, including on Amazon Video, YouTube, and Apple TV. The film is also still playing in select theaters as of this writing.

    18. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

    Lionsgate / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Sharing some tangible DNA with the Anchorman franchise, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar’s WTF-ness is probably the most affable and welcoming of all the film’s on this list. Directed by Josh Greenbaum, Barb and Star is a hysterical showcase for writer/stars Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo as they see just how silly and absurd they can get over the course of 107 minutes. To ruin any of the countless incredible gags throughout Barb and Star should be punishable by death, but if you aren’t hooked by the idea of Jamie Dornan serenading a seagull on a derelict tire with an Imagine Dragons-esque power ballad, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

    Where you can see it: Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is currently available for streaming on Hulu.

    19. Honeydew

    Barbara Kingsley in "Honeydew"
    Dark Star Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Now, I’m not going to lie to you: Honeydew is a slow piece of work at times, which can sometimes keep an audience from getting to its bizarre peaks and valleys. But with Devereux Milburn’s 2021 film, patience is indeed a virtue, as not only does Honeydew have the WTF cameo of all the movies on this list, but it is so utterly committed to being bonkers that the absolutely insane final moments are worth the crawl to get there. And that’s not even mentioning the top-notch performances from the core cast and an atmosphere you can practically smell off of the screen.

    Where you can see it: Honeydew is currently streaming on Shudder.

    20. Sound of Violence

    Gravitas Ventures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    The directorial debut of Alex Noyer, Sound of Violence is the kind of horror film that absolutely blindsides you in the best way imaginable. Starring Jasmin Savoy Brown of The Leftovers fame, Sound of Violence follows a formerly deaf music student who discovers intense synesthetic sensations that awaken in her when she hears the sounds of pain and violence. A story about coping with trauma, the power of addiction, and the desire for creative fulfillment, Sound of Violence is warped, trippy, and unapologetically aggressive. Nevertheless, the film is incredibly clever, and there are a few scenes of twisted ingenuity that I hope will leave your mouth agape as it did mine.

    Where you can see it: Sound of Violence is currently streaming on Showtime-on-Demand.

    21. Annette

    Amazon Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Though Annette has somewhat received the red carpet treatment, largely due to its all-star cast and Amazon’s heavy-duty promotional machine, Leos Carax’s gonzo filmmaking sensibilities and the movie’s 2-hour-and-20-minute runtime have kept it from truly permeating through the zeitgeist. With original music by Sparks ushering the film into full-blown fever dream territory, Annette largely feels like a movie that should not exist, even though the subtext is biting and unconcerned with the expectations of its audience. Ultimately, there is something admirable about Annette in that it begins in a place of WTF and maintains that same vibe effortlessly until the closing credits.

    Where you can see it: Annette is exclusively streaming on Prime Video.

    22. Pig

    Neon / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Michael Sarnoski’s Pig is a great example of a movie that weaponizes your preconceptions against you. A movie about a recluse (Nicolas Cage) who is forced to confront his mysterious past in order to rescue his kidnapped pet pig, Pig lays all the groundwork for yet another all-too-violent John Wick knockoff that would encourage another campy Cage performance. Instead, Pig plays its cards close to its chest, dropping a trail of cryptic bread crumbs that lead you to a place that you might not have anticipated but is satisfying nonetheless thanks to its subversive story and Cage’s best dramatic turn in years.

    Where you can see it: Pig is currently available for rent via Video-on-Demand, including on Amazon Video, YouTube, and Apple TV.

    23. The Night House

    Searchlight Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

    Sadly overlooked during its theatrical run in August 2021, The Night House is the latest cinematic nightmare from The Ritual director David Bruckner. On the surface, The Night House appears to be the simple story of a grief-ridden widow (Rebecca Hall) who is guided deeper into her late husband’s secret double life by supernatural forces. But the film is more interested in taking a classic ghost story and reverse engineering it into something more complex and supernatural, tasking the audience with putting the puzzle pieces together alongside the protagonist so that you experience the “holy hell, he did what?” moments all at once.

    Where you can see it: The Night House is currently available for rent via Video-on-Demand, including on Amazon Video, YouTube, and Apple TV.

    24. The Beta Test

    IFC Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

    After dropping one of 2020’s best films with The Wolf of Snow Hollow, Jim Cummings returns with a film that puts many peers and colleagues on blast while farming big laughs (and equally big gasps) throughout. The premise is simple enough: An engaged man overwhelmed with the stress of his personal and professional lives receives an invitation to an anonymous sexual encounter with a secret admirer, only to become obsessed with finding the truth behind the mysterious situation. Co-directed, co-written, and co-starring PJ McCabe (The Block Island Sound), The Beta Test may be filled to the brim with plenty of sexually charged OMG moments, but it is far more biting and vicious under the surface, offering a modern-day version of The Player for the Fifty Shades of Grey generation.

    Where you can see it: The Beta Test is currently available for rent via Video-on-Demand, including on Amazon Video, YouTube, and Apple TV. The film is also still playing in select theaters as of this writing.

    25. New York Ninja

    Vinegar Syndrome

    New York Ninja comes from the same breed of film as those insane, almost indescribable midnight movies you would stumble upon on some random channel at 3 a.m. Yet almost as wild as New York Ninja promises to be, the story of the kung fu epic itself is equally as crazy. It was abandoned and left unfinished nearly 40 years ago by its director, John Liu, only to be rediscovered by specialty distributor Vinegar Syndrome, who enlisted in some of the brightest stars of ‘80s action cinema to help finish the film and bring it to life. Premiering at Beyond Fest in 2021, New York Ninja is an over-the-top blast from the past where you won’t believe what you’re watching, though you’ll have a hell of a time watching it.

    Where you can see it: New York Ninja is currently available on Blu-ray through Vinegar Syndrome.

    Are there any movies you think should be added to this list? Let me know below in the comments!