Thankfully, Hollywood and the film industry as a whole are catching on to the concept of LGBTQ+ representation in film. Whether it’s in casting, jobs, subject matter, and storytelling, although there’s still a long way to go, there’s more LGBTQ+ visibility and inclusion now more than ever.
While anyone can sit down and enjoy a nice rom-com, holiday movie, and drama starring diverse characters and themes, sometimes others have a thirst for something more intense and gripping - movies that not only involve LGBTQ+ characters and stories but those that make the heart race and questions arise.
10 What Keeps You Alive – Available To Watch On Netflix - 5.7
This Netflix gem intends on catching the viewer by surprise along with its characters. The twisty thriller is directed by Colin Minihan and is his most memorable release to date, as it follows a married couple, Jackie and Jules, as they head out to Jackie’s isolated cabin in the woods to celebrate their first year anniversary.
Brought back to old memories, Jackie reminisces from place to place, acting more and more strangely until she reveals why she really brought Jules to the cabin. It’s exciting, extremely well-written, and leaves the viewer feeling like the odds could be in anyone’s favor.
9 Make Up – Available To Watch On SHOWTIME – 6
Make Up is a fantastic film that made its rounds at the SXSW Film Festival, directed by Claire Oakley. It’s genre-bending, disorienting, and will keep the audience questioning where it will lead in a strange and uncomfortable story about a young woman’s relationship and the exploration of her identity following her discovery that her boyfriend may be cheating on her.
The cinematic drama is confrontational and frank, but it also leaves enough to interpretation, considering gender identity, queerness, romance, and coming-of-age. It’s highly underrated and is sure to soon garner a cult following.
8 Assassination Nation – Available To Watch On Hulu – 6
Directed by Malcom & Marie and Eurphoria’s Sam Levinson, this high-octane coming-of-age thriller doubles as a horror movie. It’s a blatant statement on America’s shortcomings and hypocrisy and how it affects both adults and teens in how women and queer people are demonized.
Taking place in Salem, the town quite literally devolves into a Purge-like, witch-trials state after a hacker leaks everyone’s personal information. This leaves the town boiling in rage as a cult of men arises, looking to murder the women they decide are at fault without evidence or trial. It’s relatively close to a horror film and although it was released a few years ago, it rings all the more relevant today.
7 The Perfection – Available To Watch On Netflix – 6.1
This tricky thriller-comedy, directed by Richard Shepard and released on Netflix, managed to fool everyone into believing it’s something that it isn’t. Without spoiling too much, this revenge movie focuses on Charlotte, a “has-been” cello prodigy who used to be taught by the world-renowned musical teacher, Anton.
Charlotte meets Paloma, an up-and-coming prodigy who is Anton’s newest pride and joy. Charlotte and Paloma seem to hit it off, right off the bat, and decide to hook up. The day after, Paloma isn’t feeling so well and devolves into incredible and immediate sickness to a nightmarish degree.
6 Knife+Heart – Available To Watch On Shudder – 6.3
Directed with utmost aesthetic by You and the Night’s Yann Gonzalez, this French film brings blood and other bodily fluids to the screen in a campy Giallo-inspired slasher. Starring Vanessa Paradis, this film stars a largely queer cast of characters as it follows Anne, a famous art-porn director who films fantasies involving gay men.
One by one, the people around her are murdered by a masked person who kills with a knife disguised as a phallus. It’s funny, pulpy, indulgent, sexy, and definitely out there and the characters are likable and memorable as well.
5 Stranger By The Lake – Available To Watch On AMC+ – 6.9
In this tense, patiently-paced thriller directed by Alain Guiraudie, a group of men hangs out at the quiet French lakeside during the summer. Most of them are strangers, either sunbathing, swimming, looking for peace, or to hook up. The area is a popular spot for gay men to find partners or watch sexual acts in the forest.
Franck witnesses a murder involving Michel drowning another man, but finds himself falling in love with him, and the audience and Franck both are lead to wonder where the direction of their relationship will lead, considering how charismatic yet dangerous Michel is.
4 Tom At The Farm – Available To Watch On Prime Video – 7
Directed by Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan, Tom at the Farm reveals nail-biting surprises, dark humor, and the psychology of a violently dysfunctional family. The director stars as Tom, a man who gravitates to his partner’s hometown to reminisce on their relationship after his passing. On the way, he meets his boyfriend’s mother, who is overall very hospitable and kind, inviting him to her son’s wake.
When Tom stays the night, he’s threatened by her other son, a volatile and unpredictable man named Francis, who continues to force Tom to do as he wants in order to save face for his mother and perhaps replace his dead brother.
3 Mulholland Drive – Available To Watch On HBO Max – 7.9
David Lynch’s landmark film about Hollywood, romance, and how dreams are necessary for understanding the emotional weight of someone’s reality, Mulholland Drive delves into the mind of a new, young actress (played by Naomi Watts) and her quest to help save and protect a mysterious woman with amnesia who has people out to murder her.
Through her dreamy perspective and the strange shift that the film takes in the latter half, the viewer is able to piece together the actual depth of heartbreak and misery that lies beyond the dream.
2 Dog Day Afternoon – Available To Watch On HBO Max – 8
This thriller is one of Al Pacino’s most famous performances in the ’70s, and is directed by 12 Angry Men’s Sidney Lumet. Based on a true story, it stars Al as a young bank robber named Sonny whose scheme goes very wrong as he takes the bank staff hostage for a long period of time and finds himself having to hold off law enforcement on his own, along with his friend.
Sonny is trying to get enough money for his and his girlfriend’s well-being and to pay for her gender confirmtation surgery. The pacing and writing are tight, the characters sympathetic, and the suspense as a whole is sweat-inducing.
1 The Handmaiden – Available To Watch On Prime Video – 8.1
While Oldboy is by far Chan-wook Park’s most notable work, The Handmaiden doesn’t get nearly enough acclaim for just how incredibly intricate its characters, their chemistry, and the plot is to a mind-blowing effect.
A handmaiden and a Japanese heiress fall in love as they realize a plot to defraud the heiress. This partnership is not only one of the greatest relationships ever featured in film.
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