HomeMovies10 Movies Buried by the Pandemic That You Need to Watch

10 Movies Buried by the Pandemic That You Need to Watch

Saint Maud
Photo Courtesy TIFF

Throughout COVID-19’s tight grasp on the world, the entertainment industry has continually felt its impact. With theaters shutting down indefinitely, the entire industry scrambled to figure out how to handle their upcoming releases. While some films were delayed, others became part of different experimental solutions that either opened the film up to new audiences or buried it completely.

Disney released big blockbusters like Mulan and Black Widow through high-cost premium charges on Disney+, while Warner Bros. released its entire 2021 film slate simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. Other studios even made deals with third-party streamers and while things have started to return to normal as people head back to theaters, it doesn’t help the movies that COVID already buried. So, maybe it’s the perfect time to resurrect them.

Before the pandemic, many people–especially fans of indie powerhouse A24–were eager to see the horror flick, Saint Maud. The feature directorial debut of Rose Glass about a young girl’s devotion to God going to sinister lengths had a lot of momentum heading into its April 2020 release, with great buzz coming out of its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and noteworthy appearances at Fantastic Fest and the BFI London Film Festival. Honestly, based on the skin-crawling atmosphere and the killer use of Billie Eilish’s “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” in the first trailer alone, it seemed like it could be one of A24’s strongest horror offerings.

However, once COVID went into full swing, it completely derailed the film’s release. Saint Maud got moved around throughout 2020 before just getting taken off the schedule entirely, leaving many curious when we would ever see it. Months passed and there was no word until we got the disappointing news that not only would Saint Maud get delayed until February 2021, but it would be exclusively released on EPIX—a streaming service mostly known in the UK. So, Saint Maud was simply swept under the rug.

Thankfully, though, Saint Maud can now be seen on more major streaming platforms like Hulu and Paramount+ —which is great because it’s still one of the best horror movies of the year. Glass’s debut is top-tier atmospheric horror and Morfydd Clark gives an astounding lead performance. The slow-build obsession that grows within Maud (Clark) wanting to save the soul of her dying patient Amanda (Jennifer Ehle) leaves you uneasy throughout and questioning what’s really compelling her. Saint Maud is a tantalizing mix of body horror and supernatural scares that comes together through Clark’s horrifying performance. It instantly piques your interest and keeps you hooked on its very personal mystery that’ll leave you shook with its shocking conclusion.

Saint Maud wasn’t the only A24 film that got burned by COVID. John Lee’s divisive False Positive got thrown onto Hulu with barely a peep and many missed out on a very compelling horror flick. After being acquired by Hulu and having its world premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, False Positive got little to no marketing push and Hulu missed out on having a strong horror flick backed by the A24 name under its belt. Sure, it was divisive coming out of Tribeca, but False Positive is one of the most unique horror experiences of the year. It tells the horrifying pregnancy story of Lucy (Ilana Glazer), who questions fertility doctor’s (Pierce Brosnan) intentions. Lee’s direction and the story co-written by him, Glazer, and Alissa Nutting strip away the glamour tropes of pregnancy to deliver a modern take on Rosemary’s Baby, with a different kind of devil. Glazer’s excellent lead performance, Lee’s suspense-building, the story’s theme about how women are treated during pregnancy, and two of the most horrifying twists I’ve ever seen make False Positive a must-watch (you can check it out Hulu).


Far less divisive coming off the festival circuit after a great debut at the last Sundance Film Festival before the pandemic, Charm City Kings was another unfortunate victim of COVID. It was unable to follow up its Sundance debut with a SXSW appearance because the festival was cancelled and then couldn’t even make it to theaters due to the shutdown. Thus, Charm City Kings was sold off to HBO Max and ended up getting minimal attention. Even with notable names attached behind the camera, including being co-written by Moonlight writer-director Barry Jenkins and having Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith as executive producers, it wasn’t enough to get the film noticed by a wider audience. Keep in mind that when it released in October 2020 on HBO Max, the platform had only existed a few month. Not to mention, this was also before HBO Max had the same day theatrical/streaming release, so it missed out on that benefit as well.

Still exclusively on HBO Max, Charm City Kings is a coming-of-age story worth watching, as it features strong performances, writing, and direction from Angel Manuel Soto. Based on the documentary 12 O’Clock Boys by Lofty Nathan, the film takes viewers into Baltimore’s motorbike culture that fascinated fourteen-year-old Mouse (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) and his struggles to become a part of it. The energy and meaning of Baltimore’s motorbike culture can be felt throughout and it’s an experience that feels like you’re getting a small, undiscovered slice of life akin to fellow Sundance favorite, Concrete Cowboy. Mouse’s coming of age story maintains a deeply personal feel that’s constantly elevated through a breakout performance from Winston and two strong mentor-type performances from William Catlett and rapper Meek Mill. It’s equal parts gripping and emotional and Soto is actually a director people should get to know given that his next films currently include an untitled Transformers film and DC’s Blue Beetle, and Charm City Kings is the perfect way of doing so. 12 O’Clock Boys can be seen on STARZ or Hulu.

With no real streaming service of their own, Sony went to Netflix with a deal to have certain films stream exclusively on their service, but it didn’t necessarily work out in their favor. It’s no surprise that Netflix struggled to market the three animated films they were given since their film lineup is so bloated that their service is filled with gems no one’s aware of, but man, they really messed up with the trio of gems Sony gave them. The Mitchells Vs. the Machines, from the Into the Spider-Verse team, is one of the most ambitious and heartwarmingly comical animated movies in recent time and Sony and Netflix are lucky that the film is getting rightful attention now for the Best Animated Feature Oscar—which it had better win or we riot.

The same, unfortunately, can’t be said about the other two films Sony threw to Netflix, Wish Dragon and Vivo. Wish Dragon faced  plenty of delays throughout 2019 and 2020 only to eventually drop on Netflix with minimal marketing. It’s a shame since the film features a great voice cast with talent like Jimmy Wong, Constance Wu, and John Cho leading the charge and has some charming animation that tells a story akin to Aladdin. Meanwhile, Vivo, an animated musical starring and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda was originally supposed to hit theaters, but then had most of its theater release spots taken away and was thrown to Netflix in a clear panic move by Sony. Thus, Vivo‘s strong music and animation would go unheard and unseen and it’s still mind-blowing how Netflix let this one go given its good reviews and having Miranda and even Gloria Estefan backing the music. Sony had two strong, culturally-specific animated flicks on their hands and Netflix did nothing with them and anyone with a Netflix account should put Wish Dragon, Vivo, and The Mitchells vs. the Machines on their watchlist ASAP.

If we want to talk about movies whose moment was completely killed by COVID completely killed, Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor must be mentioned. Possessor was a big talk of the town after premiering at Sundance and when NEON acquired the film, it felt like it could’ve been a big film for them. I mean, with the originality of the film’s premise of an assassin possessing people’s bodies, great performances, Cronenberg’s excellent direction and trippy body horror that would make his father, the legendary David Cronenberg, immensely proud, Possessor could’ve been a big awards contender and mainstream hit. Unfortunately, Possessor was just chucked to a cluttered VOD market where it was overshadowed by bigger studios’ VOD offerings. Now, its very cheap rental price-point and availability on Hulu makes Possessor a total steal of a watch.

Universal and Paramount also had no streaming platform of their own when the pandemic started, so their plan for their releases wasn’t exactly consumer friendly. Pretty much any of their supposed theatrical releases were slapped with a $20 rental price, making their strategy an understandable, but tone-deaf decision. Sure, like Disney with their premium charge method, they were trying to make their money back, but it didn’t take into account that many were struggling with finances because of the pandemic so most of their movies that came out like this didn’t stand a good chance of being seen. Thus, they each had a film that was among the best of 2020 but didn’t reach its potential.

Paramount’s Love and Monsters showed great potential to gain the same kind of following as something like Zombieland, as it follows a timid survivor named Joel (Dylan O’Brien) traversing an apocalyptic wasteland filled with giant monstrous insects to reunite with his girlfriend, Aimee (Jessica Henwick). It’s comical, action-packed, and heartwarming mainly because of O’Brien’s great lead performance and the strong story from Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson. It’s easy to see that there’s a real vision for the film with some great visual effects that earned Love and Monsters a surprising but deserved Oscar nomination and some strong direction from Michael Matthews that evokes some Fallout vibes. However, its high rental price point kept it as an undiscovered gem by audiences and now that it’s available on wider streaming platforms, including Hulu and Paramount+, Love and Monsters is a must-watch for anyone looking for a heart-warming and comedic adventure.

Universal’s big blunder with this release strategy unfortunately hindered Freaky, the latest from Happy Death Day director Christopher Landon, as its high price point wasn’t the only mistake made in just sending it out in a panic. Freaky was released in theaters in November 2020, way before anyone was really ready to head back to theaters, and completely missed its potential to be a big breakout hit. With this past summer being a horror haven, I can’t even imagine how massive Freaky’s reception would’ve been if it had released this year instead. However, it didn’t, and this absolutely amazing modern slasher didn’t get the attention it deserved. Freaky is Freaky Friday with a horror twist, as a high school teenager body swaps with a serial killer. The kills are jaw-droppingly epic, Kathryn Newton’s performance is killer, with Vince Vaughn being an excellent comedic opposite, and there’s a very personal and touching story of empowerment that’s well-executed. Overall, Freaky is an incredibly fun horror flick that all Hulu and HBO Max subscribers should watch for a perfect Halloween viewing.

Even as the pandemic begins to wind down, it’s worth seeking out the movies it buried. Just because COVID came and forced these movies to be a part of botched, experimental deals doesn’t mean they deserve to stay forgotten. They are legitimately great and could’ve been huge hits. So why let them stay that way? Since being initially buried, these movies have moved onto wider platforms and/or are available at cheaper prices, leaving no reason to pretend they don’t exist. Thus, it’s time to take out our shovels, unearth some awesome movies and give them a long overdue watch.

Tom Moore
Tom Moorehttps://mooreviews.com/
Tom is always ready to see and review everything horrifying and hilarious that hits theaters, television, and video games...sometimes. You can check out his other reviews and articles on his blog, Mooreviews.


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