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Best cult movies on Netflix: classic cult films revealed

Take a step away from the mainstream with these cult Netflix movies.

Best cult movies on Netflix: classic cult films revealed
22 January 2021

Netflix isn’t just the name of a popular streaming service. It’s entered the vernacular as a byword for relaxing in front of the TV with a glossy box set or a blockbuster movie from yesteryear. Yes, there are lots of prime time viewing on the service, but our best cult movies of Netflix list showcases movies beneath the fold.

UPDATED:We have added the fantastic Babylon to our best cult movies on Netflix list. Controversial when first released in 1980, the movie is a brilliant look at London at the turn of the '80s and the political and racial wars that were happening.

What tends to fall in between the cracks (often courtesy of the service’s less than helpful browsing experience) is all those films that might not have raked in millions or filled column inches over the years, but which still have something special going for them.

We’re talking about films that have built up a cult following, or have simply been forgotten over the years.

Here, then, are 15 top cult classic films that are available to stream right now on Netflix. Watch them now before they get lost in the scramble to ‘Netflix and chill’.

Which of these is your favourite? Upvote to send them to the top of the chart.Next, find out about the best horror films on Netflix

Best cult movies on Netflix

If all you know Robert Pattinson from is the Twilight series and the recent news that he’s set to don the Batman cowl, we urge you to check out Good Time. The handsome young English actor is almost unrecognisable as a desperate low-level criminal scrambling from one poor decision to the next. The whole film has a unique nervous energy to it, backed by a suitably skittish score from Oneohtrix Point Never. But it all hangs on Pattinson’s pitiable, reprehensible Connie Nikas.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

2. Nightcrawler

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Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this brilliantly dark take-down of the modern news media. He plays Louis Bloom, a troublingly ambitious video journalist who starts selling crime footage to a local LA TV network. Riz Ahmed plays the hapless sidekick who is slowly dragged into Bloom’s increasingly amoral world. As the lines between fact and fiction start to blur and these recorders of the news start to make it, things take a turn for the grim.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

3. Prisoners

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Before he did a marvelous job with the Blade Runner sequel and started to piece together Frank Herbert’s epic novel collection Dune, Denis Villeneuve made this cult classic that’s a lesson on suspense. The stars and the acting are A List, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman on board but the story of a missing girl is anything but mainstream. Masterful stuff.

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If you count yourself an action movie buff and you haven’t yet seen The Raid, we’re going to have to ask to see your credentials. It’s one of the finest and most brutal films of its kind. Set in Indonesia but helmed by Welsh director Gareth Evans, this is a lean tale of an elite police unit storming crime-ridden tower block. Iko Uwais takes the lead as a virtuous officer well versed in the acrobatic martial art of Pencak Silat.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

5. Infernal Affairs

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Ignore the groan-inducing title - Infernal Affairs is a serious piece of filmmaking that combines tense crime thriller, police drama and thrilling action elements. Andrew Lau’s 2002 Hong Kong classic tells the parallel stories of a police office and his opposing triad number, who both go undercover in one another’s organisations. If that premise sounds at all familiar, it’s because Martin Scorsese remade the film as The Departed four years later. For our money, the original’s better.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

6. Annihilation

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Devs may have cemented Alex Garland as the king of sci-fi but you can see the blueprint for the who in his previous work Ex Machina (which is also on Netflix) and Annihilation. The latter was a Netflix exclusive (when it was frowned upon to go straight to Netflix) and is a brutal, beautiful look at monsters and environmental concerns. The cast is sublime, with Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson all starring. But it is its almost wordless, Kubrickian ending that will stay in your brain the most - even if it is all confusing as hell.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

7. Lifeforce

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Lifeforce is not the movie we would have expected from the director of The Chainsaw Massacre and the writer of Alien, but it is a wonderfully barmy movie about space vampires that invade London. A word of warning: this is a very 80s movie. The space girl, played by Mathilda May, is naked a lot of time, for no discernable reason, there’s a ton of violence and the acting and FX are ropey in places. But it’s one of those midnight movies that need to be seen at least once - oh, and it stars, among other theatre stars, none other than Patrick Stewart.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

8. Blue Ruin

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Jeremy Saulnier is one of the most underrated directors around. His movie Green Room is more well known and is a blistering, violent tale of revenge. But another blistering, violent tale of revenge is Blue Ruin - where Macon Blair’s Dwight heads back to his hometown to exact some revenge. It’s a slow, intense film, but one that rewards the viewer with a nice dollop of tension.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

9. Would You Rather

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Would You Rather is a delicious horror movie and one that’s criminally underseen. Much like the recent Ready or Not, this is about rich people playing deadly games with the poor - in this instance, it’s a bloody and horrific game of Would You Rather. It’s an inventive and surprisingly funny chiller but don’t watch if you are squeamish about eyes!

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Best cult movies on Netflix

10. Under The Shadow

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This is one of the best horror movies of recent years. Writer/Director Babak Anvari sets the movie in wartorn 80s Tehran and focuses on a mother and daughter who are spooked by ghostly goings-on in their small apartment. It relies heavily on atmosphere for most of its scares, which means that your heart will be in your mouth for most of it. While the movie is a grim analogy of the horrors of war, it is also punctuated by some beautiful and sweet moments between the mother and daughter, gracefully played by Narges Rashidi and Avin Manshadi.

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Creep is a no-budget horror movie that was made by one of the kings of mumblecore, Mark Duplass, alongside director Patrick Brice. Duplass is a mysterious client who asks a documentary filmmaker (played by Brice) to film videos of him for his unborn son Buddy. What ensues is a, well, creepy horror where nothing is as it seems, with the whole thing pieced together from found footage. Its sequel is equally as good.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

12. Babylon

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Backed by a fantastic reggae soundtrack, Babylon is one of the best movies about London. Released in 1980 it is a burst of politics and racial tension, fantastically acted and a film that has lost none of its controversy some 40 years on.

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13. Sorry To Bother You

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Don't be fooled thinking this is a typical Hollywood movie, what Boots Riley has created is a nightmarish, Gilliam-esque parable about race and climbing the corporate ladder. It starts of steady and, like all good cult movies, transports you to somewhere you never thought you would end up.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

14. The Call

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The Call is a new, Netflix-made thriller and it's an absolute blast. This Korean serial killer saga is a time travelling twisty tale that goes way beyond where you expect it, too. The plot is great: a phone in a house is reconnected and it soon becomes apparent that the women on the other end lived in the house som 20 years ago.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

15. The Guilty

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This brilliantly taut 2018 Danish thriller takes place in a single claustrophobic location - a Copenhagen police call centre. Despite this inherent limitation, The Guilty manages to put you through a whole range of emotions as you follow officer Asger Holm through the final hours of a shift. It soon becomes apparent that all is not as it seems in this low budget masterpiece. It’s no wonder Hollywood quickly came calling, with a remake in the works starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

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