Indie Film Hidden Gems

5 Indie Film Hidden Gems You MUST Watch

Often, I find myself up at night surfing through trailers and film descriptions on Netflix, Amazon, Fandango, and Vudu – only to look up at the clock and see 90 minutes have passed. Most nights I go to bed wishing there was something to watch. But on occasion, I run into a low budget Indie Film Hidden Gems that tells a great story and keeps me up into the wee hours.

Here are six surprising indie films that not only entertain, but also are an inspiration on how to execute on a low budget with relatively unknown actors and a damn fine script.

The Invitation (2015) / Horror-Thriller

Director: Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body, Aeon Flux)
Writers: Phil Hay and Matt Manfreddi
Estimated Budget: $1,000,000

Watch it Here

Movie in a nutshell: Trojan Horse at a hellish LA dinner party.

Plot Summary: While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.

“Where Sundance Grand Jury and Best Director prize winner Girlfight had a grittiness to match its tough heroine, Aeon Flux bore a slick sci-fi studio sheen, and Jennifer’s Body had the winking glint of a ‘80s comedy-slasher, The Invitation marks a new evolution for Kusama. Set in a modern-day milieu of smartphones and self-help Internet gurus, its cinematic lineage, in part, lies in the simmering domestic thrillers of the 1970s.”
– Jen Yamato, The Daily Beast


Favor (2013) / Thriller

Director / Writer: Paul Osborne (Official Rejection, Ten ‘till Noon)
Estimated Budget: Under $30,000 (Kickstarter)

Watch it Here

Movie in a nutshell: A friend helps you move; a good friend helps you move a body.

Plot summary: Kip’s perfect life is put in jeopardy when the waitress with whom he’s having a casual fling is accidentally killed in their motel room. Desperate, he turns to childhood friend and loser, Marvin, to help get rid of the body. Marvin agrees which begins the unraveling of their friendship and ultimately leads both to murderous acts they never thought themselves capable of.

“Favor is the sort of movie that sticks with you for monthsafterwards; a great example of directing and storytelling. It’s actually the perfect film for a film festival.” – Bears Fonte,


Absentia (2011) / Horror

Director / Writer: Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil)
Estimated Budget: $70,000

Watch it Here

Movie in a nutshell: Pet Sematary, but with a man and a tunnel.

Plot summary: A woman and her sister begin to link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances, including that of her own husband.

“Absentia is a fine example, perhaps one of the best in decades, of what has been labeled quiet horror. This is a tradition which has seen far more success in horror literature than in cinema as it relies on moods, ideas, and implication, all difficult to catch on the screen if not actually “unfilmable.” – Matthew Pridham, Weird Fiction Review


Midnight Son (2011) / Horror

Director / Writer: Scott Leberecht
Estimated Budget: $150,000

Watch it Here

Movie in a nutshell: Boy meets Girl, but loves Blood Bank more.

Plot summary: A man suffering from a rare skin disorder that makes him sensitive to sunlight falls for a pretty bartender while seeking to alleviate his condition with human blood, and becoming the prime suspect in a series of gruesome murders.

“The film uses the vampire motif to evoke the tenderness, heartache and destructiveness of two outsiders’ tormented love. Like Let the Right One In, it is sweet and creepy in just the right amounts. The moody feel, the hazy look and a low-key soundtrack all combine beautifully to conjure Jacob’s strangely detached, dreamlike life in a shadowy, oddly empty LA.” – Virginie Sélavy, Electric Sheep Magazine


Honeymoon (2014) / Horror

Director: Leigh Janiak (first-time director)
Writers: Leigh Janiak / Phil Graziedei
Estimated Budget: $1,000,000

Watch it Here

Movie in a nutshell: If Rod Serling penned The Honeymooners.

Plot summary: A newlywed couple finds their lake-country honeymoon descend into chaos after Paul finds Bea wandering and disoriented in the middle of the night.

“There’s a particularly memorable scene in The Evil Dead where Ash’s girlfriend is possessed by the evil force, though just as Ash is about to kill her, she transforms back into her former self – crying, she insists that Ash put down the gun, and the two young lovers embrace. Honeymoon takes that idea and expands it across 90-minutes, essentially making the film an art-house version of the horror classic.” – John Squires,


About the Author: Bob Heske is a multi-award-winning filmmaker, screenwriter, graphic novelist and indie comic creator. By day he churns out compliance marketing content for financial services; by night he is maniacal at his keyboard – creating characters and dramatic conflicts far more interesting than he. Bob is currently working on an experimental documentary called Afraid of Nothing (you can help support it by clicking here). You can watch his first film BLESSID on Amazon Prime and Vimeo on Demand.

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  1. Kenny on December 7, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Interesting and very informative article but I don´t agree about the guidlines that all of these features are low budget. I can accept up to 150 000 dollars even if that is quite a lot of money. A feature film with a budget of 1 million dollars is from my point of view a pretty decent budget. It naturally depends on the type of story that you´re trying to tell and compared to most blockbusters a low budget but I would call it a decent budget

  2. Mark Stolaroff on October 3, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    You nailed it on this list. Great choices, especially when you’re talking about “overlooked.” I’ve had two of these films as guests in my No Budget Film School class (and tried to get “Absentia” for years, but Mike got too busy. “The Invitation” is one of my favorite films–of any budget–that year. So well done.