Best of Netflix: Surreal Horror/Thriller Edition

Most horror movies these days rely too much on jump-scares and gore and not enough on atmosphere and presentation to be worthy of being taken seriously. Here are a few gems currently streaming on Netflix that are less scary and far more disturbing that manage to tell a horror story without having to stoop to using dumb CGI to gross out the audience.

Randy Moore’s “Escape from Tomorrow” is a surreal horror film about the macabre goings-on in the Walt Disney World resort. The film was shot on-location at both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California without the permission of the Walt Disney Company; thus, the filmmakers had to go to some interesting lengths to keep from drawing attention, like storing actors’ scripts in smartphones and filming with low-fidelity equipment.

Sadly, despite the fascinating story behind the making of the film and a David Lynch-esque atmosphere, the actual film suffers from a bunch of pacing issues that get in the way constantly. Nevertheless, the film is absolutely worth watching for the production values alone.

Moving on, we have the 1986 film “Manhunter,” directed by Michael Mann and starring William Petersen. The film, which is based on Thomas Harris’ novel “Red Dragon,” the sequel to “Silence of the Lambs” that had another film adaptation in 2001, has Petersen’s character Will Graham working alongside the notorious Hannibal Lector, Brian Cox, in order to catch a serial killer known as the “Tooth Fairy,” Tom Noonan.

The film was a major influence on modern police procedurals because of its focus on forensic science. Interestingly, Petersen’s “CSI” persona, Gil Grissom, is heavily inspired by Petersen’s role as William Graham. Also, the film’s stylized use of color and camerawork make for a tense and entertaining thrill ride that, like “Escape from Tomorrow,” has similarities to the work of David Lynch.

Finally, speaking of Lynch, his critically-acclaimed television series, “Twin Peaks,” is also available for streaming. The cult TV series stars Kyle MacLachlan (“Touch of Pink”) as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, who comes to the eponymous town of Twin Peaks, Wash. to investigate the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee, “Winter’s Bone”) and the unusual and supernatural circumstances behind it.

The series, like much of Lynch’s other work, was heavily influential in its themes and cinematic production, with shows like “The Killing” and games like “Alan Wake” taking many cues from its narrative. With show creator David Lynch recently announcing a continuation of the series 25 years after the fact, this is a perfect time for hardcore fans and newcomers to dive into the mystery of what happened to Laura Palmer.

If you’re looking for something less in-your-face and more drawn out and eerie, these three little gems aren’t a bad place to start.

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