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  • Writer's picturePigeon Montes

Under the Radar - Underrated films of 2020

Underwritten in the slew of news of the movie world due to COVID-19 and because of the faint marketing, there have been underrated gems released this year. From Never Rarely Sometimes Always to She Dies Tomorrow, the amount there is to find on VOD so far this year has been great. They may not be blockbusters with note-worthy names but the mystique and originality in the stories amass to much more.

Sometimes these films take a story and rework it into a new and vibrant world, like what Behn Zeitlin’s Wendy was trying to achieve. The scope of and return to the Louisiana bayou certainly and the island where they eventually end up. It’s joyful and dark essence along with humility that comes with being a kid is torpedoed through dual perspectives. It’s beauty is matched only by the charm and strength of the child actors.

These films tend to sometimes receive neglect from some of the notoriously big studios, but there are champions with enough distributing power to get it to the proper screens and still see a return. The big companies have subsidies that work in distributing “arthouse” films, but still more selective like Searchlight Pictures who distributed Wendy. This is currently listed as my favorite film of 2020 and its resonating factor is underlined in the memories had with the story of Peter Pan.

And from the mixed bag there have been two other films that have stuck long with me after their releases, She Dies Tomorrow and Swallow.

She Dies Tomorrow reminds me of the subtleties written within films of dread. The overall depressive and mood breaking nature is reminiscent of Lars Von Trier with the oblique use of colors ala Gaspar Noé. It goes to show that it may have been, but not distinguishable influences for a first feature from writer-director Amy Seimetz of Upstream Color and Pet Sematary.

The film centers on Amy, a woman lost in her ways due to an unfortunate situation. She dreads the idea that she will die tomorrow. It’s a sentiment that becomes an entity that actualizes itself a supernatural manifestation of colors. As the film progresses the entity transfers from person to person in a friend circle and shows various means of the phrase.

The deteriorating effect of the current life that the being is entangled in starts to die.


Swallow, on the other hand is a psychological horror as much as 12 Years A Slave or rather, any film with intense sequences of violence on slaves. It shows us the horror of the effects an ennui relationship can eventually transpire into. Hunter is a wife lost and stifled in her emotions, succumbing to Stockholm-like symptoms.

Eventually it transpires into ticks and eventually a psychological disorder known as Pica. Her innate desire to swallow certain objects of unique textures is tired and worn with reasons why. It takes you through a linear timeline where the twists are as subtle as the film’s plot. Hunter’s subconscious becomes a secondary character that is telling us what we are really seeing - beyond the Pica.

Through beautiful cinematography and photo filters, each film takes different and unique paths for a constant idea - death.

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