What do you think of when you think of suburbs? Most of us imagine average people living our quiet, worldly lives without much interference or fuss. But what if there is more to it than you think? Filmmakers like David Lynch are known for pulling the curtain off the small American town to reveal the dark underbelly that hides just below the surface. You can rely on the movies on this list to take this concept to the extreme.
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10 A simple favor
Out of the blue Emily is missing and Stephanie has to piece the pieces together. What begins as a mystery turns into a twisted tale of murder, betrayal, and vengeance as secrets are revealed that lead to an endless spiral of lies and deceit.
Highlight: Emily’s impeccable style, as modeled by the stunning Blake Lively, is to die for.
Cory Finley’s 2018 directorial debut begins with childhood friends Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke), who reconnect after years in suburban Connecticut. Lily is now a polished upper-class teenager while Amanda is an outcast on the other end of the social spectrum.
Lily is hired by Amanda’s mother to teach her. Amanda quickly realizes that this arrangement is little more than mom paying for her daughter to have a boyfriend. Lily denies getting paid, but the interactions between the two girls are awkward as they no longer have anything in common. It didn’t take long, however, for the couple to bond over Lily’s hatred of her stepfather. Amanda, an emotionless sociopath, has a plan to murder him.
Sad fact: Thoroughbred was the last film for 27-year-old Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin, who died of a freak accident shortly after filming.
8th Go out
This 2018 horror film was written and directed by Jordan Peele. Next up is Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams), who take a weekend trip to upstate New York to meet their family. What at first glance appears to be your average parental meeting soon becomes troubling when a series of events unfold that make Chris wonder whether he will make it alive or not.
Interesting Insights: Kaluuya went head to toe with Samuel L. Jackson over whether he was “black enough” to play this role.
7th Blue velvet
David Lynch’s 1986 dissection of bourgeois America set the tone for a deeper exploration of everyday suburban life in the years to come. Student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) returns to North Carolina after his father suffers a stroke. On his way back from a hospital visit, Jeffrey discovers a severed human ear in a field.
Jeffrey takes the ear to a police station where he meets the detective’s daughter, Sandy (Laura Dern), a girl he once knew who tells him that she thinks the ear is related to a lounge singer named Dorothy Vallens ( Isabella Rossellini) could have been doing. .
Jeffrey and Sandy work together to solve the puzzle behind the ear. However, the clues lead them into the dark, twisted world of a sexually disadvantaged psychopath named Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) and they quickly realize they are above their heads.
Ironical fact: Hopper was freezing sober and fresh from rehab when he played this awkward, drug-mad character.
6th Edward with the scissor hands
This 1990 gothic fantasy romance is perhaps one of the most notable films made by Tim Burton. A scientist suddenly falls dead before he can complete his latest creation, an artificial man who is unfinished and has scissor blades for his hands.
The husband Edward (Johnny Depp) now lives alone in the mansion of the late scientist until one day he is visited by Peg (Diane West), a friendly local Avon lady. Peg brings Edward home to her suburb from the mansion.
Edward is viewed as both a novelty and an outcast by the people of town. His new life becomes even more complicated when he falls in love with Peg’s daughter Kim (Winona Ryder) and an accident involving his hands causes him to be perceived as a threat.
Film fact: Edward Scissorhands was the first of many collaborations between Burton and Depp.
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Michael Lehmann’s 1988 teen film revolves around the most popular high school clique: Veronica (Winona Ryder) and three other girls – each named Heather. Veronica is so excited about the never-ending antics of pagans and desperate to get out of the group when she meets JD (Christian Slater), a rebellious new student who lives on violence and ravages popular children.
The two soon become an item, but something Veronica perceives as a joke is taken to the next level when JD poisons and kills one of the pagans. Chaos arises. Heathers was bombed at the box office but has become a cult favorite and (unfortunately) a musical.
How many pagans ?: The name is pronounced exactly 90 times throughout the film.
4th Donnie Darko
Written and directed by Richard Kelly in 2001, the psychological thriller stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Donnie, a teenager who leaves his house one night while sleepwalking and sees a human-sized, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank. Frank tells Donnie the world will end in 28 days. Donnie returns home to find that a jet engine has crashed into his bedroom, right where he should have been sleeping.
Time travel and wormholes come into play, causing Donnie’s family to send him to a therapist who believes the teen’s visions are daylight hallucinations and symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. Events sparked by Frank manipulating Donnie into various crimes turned the small town of Middlesex, Virginia, on its head.
High inspiration: Kelly found his inspiration for the future blobs in surprising ways: He saw John Madden’s chalk chat Monday night football.
3 Girl interrupted
James Mangold’s 1999 psychological drama is based on the true story of Susanna Kayson, played by Winona Ryder (her third mention on this list!), An aimless 18-year-old in the 1960s who was sent to a mental hospital for young women in New York becomes New England after the suicide attempt. There she meets other patients, like the beautiful and seductive Lisa (Angelina Jolie). She ultimately has to choose between the people inside, whom she comes to know and love, or the outside world, which can be intimidating and difficult to navigate.
Casting Trivia: Jolie knocked out Claire Danes and Rose McGowan for the role of Lisa. An unrecognizable 16-year-old Elisabeth Moss played the burn victim Polly.
2 The Virgin Suicides
Based on the bestseller of the same name, Sofia Coppola made her directorial debut in 1999 with a story told from the perspective of a group of teenagers who grew up together in the suburbs of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, in the 1970s.
The boys reflect on their experiences with their neighbors, the five girls from Lisbon, whose strict parents forced them to lead a sheltered life. If the girls experienced otherwise normal human interaction, the results were not good.
Sibling facts: 17-year-old Therese was the oldest sister, followed by Mary, Bonnie, Lux, and Cecilia, who was 13 years old.
1 american beauty
This film, directed by Sam Mendes in 1999, is considered to be one of the best films of our time and one of the best scripts ever written. It brought the audience some of the most memorable dialogues, images and performances ever seen on screen.
Kevin Spacey plays Lester Burnham, a middle-aged man who lives in the suburbs, works on a job he hates, and is married to a woman (Annette Benning) he can’t stand. He finds a new meaning in life when he falls in love with his daughter’s best friend.
Critical Recognition: American Beauty was named Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Spacey), Best Original Screenplay (Alan Ball), and Best Cinematography (Conrad Hall) at the 1999 Academy Awards. In total, the film was nominated for 160 awards and won 89 of them.
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