Each week we highlight the noteworthy titles that have recently hit streaming platforms in the United States. Check out this week’s selections below and past round-ups here.

Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster (Thomas Hamilton)

Straightforward to a fault, Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster crystallizes the horror icon’s enduring legacy. From his complicated childhood to late-career resurrection, director Thomas Hamilton assembles an impressive crew of talking heads to dive into the brilliance of the man born William Henry Pratt in England. – Dan M. (VOD

Gaia (Jaco Bouwer)

Are you a Gabi (Monique Rockman) or a Barend (Carel Nel)? She’s a forest ranger documenting the trees with drones and cameras alongside her boss Winston (Anthony Oseyemi). He’s a survivalist who’s rejected civilization’s propensity for self-destruction by living off-the-grid with his son Stefan (Alex van Dyk). That they collide is hardly a coincidence even if the notion of fate could feasibly enter the equation. Why? Because Barend could have avoided detection. He’s been doing it for years by covering camera lenses with mud and steering clear of intruders. His decision to face-off against Gabi’s drone is therefore intentional. Barend disabling it to then steal it was a conscious choice whether or not his God ultimately steered his hand. So now they commence the battle for Stefan’s soul. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Hulu

In My Room (Ulrich Köhler)

At what point do vaguely-related surface movements form into something resembling a wave? The idea of a so-called “Berlin School” has been doing the rounds for quite a while. However, the creative output of that group of filmmakers in the last few years has been nothing short of astonishing. Christian Petzold led the way with Barbara (2012) and Phoenix (2014) but nothing could have prepared us for Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann rocking Cannes or Valeska Grisebach’s Western doing the same last year. Petzold’s Transit divided audiences (we thought it was great) in Berlin in February and now we encounter this strange, intimate, little science-fiction film. – Rory O. (full review)

Where to Stream: MUBI (free for 30 days)

Lamb (Valdimar Jóhannsson)

While it continues to play in theaters, A24 has dropped Valdimar Jóhannsson’s debut feature Lamb digitally in time for Halloween. Premiering at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year in the Un Certain Regard section, the dark and atmospheric folktale follows the Icelandic couple of María (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason), who live with their herd of sheep on a beautiful but remote farm. When they discover a mysterious newborn on their farmland, they decide to keep it and raise it as their own. This unexpected prospect of a new family brings them much joy, before ultimately destroying them.

Where to Stream: VOD

PVT Chat (Ben Hozie)

It doesn’t get more cynical than the answer Jack (Peter Vack) gives to his own question, “What’s the common thread that connects every relationship you experience?” Scarlet (Julia Fox) nervously laughs when he asks it because she knows it’s rhetorical the moment he finishes. He doesn’t want her opinion. He wants to tell her what he thinks and does exactly that when explaining how we all exist to use others and be used by them. Just because Jack’s insight is overly cynical, however, doesn’t mean he’s wrong. A post-capitalist society built atop the internet that’s been consumed by the transactional ease of technological advances demands exchange, exploitation, and nihilism. Scarlet talks to Jack because he pays her. Jack talks to Scarlet because she fuels his orgasms. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: MUBI (free for 30 days)

There Is No Evil (Mohammad Rasoulof)

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof won Cannes’s Un Certain Regard award in 2017 with his bruising, brilliant drama A Man of Integrity, which explored how an oppressive regime crushes independent thought. On his return to his home nation, he was arrested, thrown in prison for a year, banned from leaving Iran, and forbidden from filmmaking for life. Not that it stopped him. Just three years later, he’s made a major work of recent Iranian cinema. Not since A Short Film About Killing has a filmmaker produced such a thrilling case against capital punishment, an enraging, enthralling, enduring testament to the oppressed. – Ed F. (full review)

Where to Stream: MUBI (free for 30 days)

The Sparks Brothers (Edgar Wright)

There’s something to be said for Wright’s sheer admiration of Sparks. He loves this band, a feeling that has clearly lasted for decades. They hold a place in his heart, and now, they have been memorialized forever on the screen. Long after Ron and Russell Mael leave the music industry––if that ever happens, willingly––this film will be available for new fans, old diehards, and the casual viewer surfing a streaming platform. In that way, Wright has given Sparks something they haven’t had in the past: a larger audience. – Michael F. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

The Spine of Night (Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King)

One thing is certain about The Spine of Night: this is a labor of bone-shattered, triptacular love. The new rotoscope-animated feature—a clearly adoring homage to Ralph Bakshi, Heavy Metal, and 1980s dark fantasy—was created over a span of seven years by a minuscule team of animators digitally painting frame-by-frame with the oversight of directors Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King. It’s a deathly earnest film––like George Lucas-caliber earnest––guts-filled with capital-L lore, grim violence, artful nudity, and portentous monologues––not-always-convincingly delivered by a vocal cast that includes Lucy Lawless and Patton Oswalt––that never dare consciously wink at the intrinsic camp of its culty-retro throwback venue. (The dead-serious opening scene of Lawless’s bare-naked shamaness trudging through an alpine blizzard acts as a solid indicator of tone.) – Eli F. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

The Criterion Channel

Porto of My Childhood
Seance on a Wet Afternoon

MUBI (free for 30 days)

Play It Safe

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