I love Keanu Reeves. There, I said it. I’m what the people nowadays call a “Keanu Stan”.
We all know Keanu Reeves as the complete badass in the John Wick movie franchise, but did you know he’s been in a fair number of horror/thriller films? Some have been critically acclaimed, like Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). Others have been lambasted and torn apart. Out of the ones that have been lambasted and torn apart, I’ve selected five of Keanu’s most underappreciated horror/thriller films.
Without further ado…the list!
5. The Watcher (2000)
The Watcher holds a score of 10% on Rotten Tomatoes and one reviewer, Jay Boyar, said it “has ‘direct to video’ stamped all over it.” The Watcher has Keanu playing a serial killer stalker by the name of David Griffin, who holds an odd rapport with FBI Special Agent Joel Campbell, played by James Spader (Secretary). David ends up following Joel to Chicago, where he starts a game of cat and mouse with Joel. David sends Joel pictures of young women–one picture at a time–and tells Joel he has 24 hours to find the women before he murders her.
It is bizarre to me that this movie is so critically panned. The tension built up between David and Joel via the brilliant performances of both Keanu Reeves and James Spader kept me glued to the screen. Keanu is excellent at playing a man who is devilishly charming on the surface while holding dark secrets behind his charming facade. In the case of The Watcher, this is one movie where you need to look past the scores and the bad reviews and give it a shot.
4. A Scanner Darkly (2006)
A Scanner Darkly runs middle of the road on Rotten Tomatoes, with a score of 67%. A reviewer, Roger Moore states “Linklater’s willingness to experiment … is laudable. But I’m not sure he’s reinventing animation here, or even adequately serving that older-than-children animation audience.” The movie is based on the novel written by Philip K. Dick and is written and directed by Richard Linklater. It’s set in a future dystopic America, where police surveillance constantly intrudes on the lives of Americans in the aftermath of the loss of the war on drugs. Keanu Reeves plays Bob Arctor, an undercover agent determined to infiltrate the drug world and break the supply chain. The hot new drug? Substance D, which he ends up becoming addicted to. Sadly, Substance D ends up altering his entire brain chemistry.
What makes A Scanner Darkly unique is the comic-book style. The movie was shot digitally and then animated using a technique called interpolated rotoscope. Keanu just…fits in this dystopic world like he belongs there. Couple that with the fact he plays the part of a confused man whose brain hemispheres now at war with each other because of Substance D, and it makes for an oddball movie that’s worth seeing at least once.
3. The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
This is another movie that runs middle of the road on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 67%, and it was also said by some critics, Roger Ebert in particular, that “The movie never fully engaged me; my mind raced ahead of the plot, and the John Grisham stuff clashed with the Exorcist stuff.” Keanu Reeves plays a slick Florida defense attorney by the name of Kevin Lomax, who’s never lost a case. A firm by the name of Milton, Chadwick, and Waters has taken notice and invites him and his wife to New York. The head of the law firm, John Milton, offers Kevin a job. It seems great at first, but it turns out that the law firm, and John Milton, are more than what they seem.
The Devil’s Advocate is a movie I’ve loved since its release. It definitely has Faustian undertones, which as a lover of old literature, I absolutely adore. And the rapport between Keanu and Al Pacino (The Godfather), who brilliantly plays John Milton, had me open-mouthed at some parts and laughing at other parts. This is a movie that’s never boring and a movie that keeps you thoroughly entertained.
2. The Gift (2000)
The setting: the town of Brixton, Georgia. A small town, where everybody knows everybody, and where things like murders don’t happen. But it did, to a young woman named Jessica King. Local fortune teller and psychic Annie Wilson receives visions of Jessica’s corpse in a pond. Keanu Reeves plays Donnie Barksdale, who is a suspect in Jessica’s murder. But did he do it?
With a score of 57% on Rotten Tomatoes, and with critic reviews such as Glenn Lovell’s: “Unfortunately, [Sam] Raimi and [Billy Bob] Thornton — who collaborated as director and star on the genuinely creepy A Simple Plan — have only enough material this time to sustain half a movie”, it might be easy to overlook this movie. But with Keanu alongside a powerhouse cast, this is one movie you should not overlook.
God and Lucifer are in the ultimate poker game. The wager? The souls of humankind.
This movie stars Keanu Reeves as John Constantine, a man who has terminal lung cancer. He is also a chain smoker and, because he tried to commit suicide as a teenager, can see half-breed angels and demons on the earthly plane. He has dedicated his time to making sure half-breed demons who infest humans are sent back to hell, so John can earn forgiveness from God and enter Heaven.
Constantine is based on the comic book from DC titled Hellblazer. A score of 46% on Rotten Tomatoes and reviews like the one from Andrew Sarris: “I deeply loathe the Heaven-and-Hell genre to which this cinematic comic-book spectacular belongs” doesn’t take away from the fact this movie is a perfect example of taking comic book material and bringing it correctly to life on the big screen. Keanu does an excellent job as the cynic who, even with what he does, is at times a bit of a nonbeliever. Bring me more of Constantine and demon exorcisms!
There you have it! Five underrated Keanu horror/thriller films deserved of your Keanu obsessing! What other underrated Keanu films belonged on this list? Let us know on Twitter, Reddit, and in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook group!