5 Movies to Watch Instead of SIDE EFFECTS

A few of us had a chance to see an advanced screening of Side Effects, starring Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum. Overall, we weren’t too impressed. I think I was the most forgiving out of myself, fellow contributor Michael O’Brien and co-founder Kristal Bailey. Some of my comments about the film may be a little murky, so please check out Michael’s formal review HERE. What makes the film worth a rental or Netflix viewing is Jude Law. There’s something about English actors that amazes me every time, and if this had been a great movie, he would have gotten Oscar consideration. But alas, it’s not a great movie. So watch these 5 instead:

Rear Window (1954)

Matt: There is more suspense in 10 minutes of Rear Window than the entirety of Side Effects. Alfred Hitchockcreates tension with what might be happening, and what you think will happen. And conversely, so much happens in Soderbergh’s finale that you aren’t exactly sure what to grab onto. He essentially tells you how to feel and when to feel it rather than letting it flow naturally. The pace was too fast–perhaps cutting a few less important scenes and slowing/extending more important ones would see a better result. A big comparison can be made between the two films as both feature a male lead that is struggling to uncover the truth. James Stewart is at his best, and he only needs one leg.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Kristal: The movie that put the mental asylums on the map. Featuring amazing performances from Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher, there’s a reason this remains a must-watch in film classes. Side Effects borrows a few things, but doesn’t comes close to matching the tension and unsettling themes present in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Traffic (2000)

Kristal: See Steven Soderbergh at his best with Traffic. Tackling drugs in an entirely different way than in Side Effects, he manages to create real tension throughout both storylines of the father’s war against drugs and his daughter’s own addiction. While Side Effects goes after the perils of prescription drugs, a very timely issue as it is, Traffic’s release in early 2001 was during the frenzy of Bush’s war on drugs.

The Machinist (2004)

Never miss a chance to watch anything with Christian Bale that isn’t Batman–but also watch him as Batman. When you call a film “psychological thriller,” it implies that reality for the protagonist  is uncertain. That was never really the case in Side Effects. In The Machinist, Bale plays Trevor, an extremely underweight industrial worker who hasn’t slept in years. Trevor experiences paranoia, and he begins to think every odd encounter is a plot to drive him further into insanity. For me, this is a must-watch that not enough people have seen.

Shutter Island (2010)

Matt: I’ve yet to see Side Effects twice–but I’ve seen Shutter Island a number of times and it’s quite interesting to view from a perspective of knowing the ending. Side Effects, I can only presume, would be much more dull. Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio team up again for one of the best psychological thrillers in recent memory. In fact, much like Side Effects, Shutter Island has a faux plot. At first viewing, you might mistake Shutter Island to be about Teddy Daniels searching for Patient 67, instead–it becomes a struggle for escape and survival. Soderbergh, though, doesn’t distinguish the pivots in plot nearly as well. First you want to know what the hell is up with Rooney Mara‘s character, then you aren’t sure why no one will just listen to Jude Law‘s character.

What are your favorite psychological thrillers? Tell us below, and please follow @MattBenincasa, @KristalBailey, and @ScreenInvasion on Twitter!

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The Author

Matt Benincasa

Matt Benincasa

Matt is an actor and writer from NYC, attending Fordham University with a Major in Communications and Minor in Theatre.