6 VOD Films to Watch NOW

A great way to support theaters and see great movies

In this time of trial, our theaters have darkened their screens. In lieu of showing up in person to see great cinema, patrons can take advantage of Video on Demand to screen fantastic films from the comfort of their homes.

To be clear, this is not streaming. This is movie rental, so we’re not talking about something put up on Netflix. This more like buying a movie ticket. Think Trolls World Tour. Or, maybe don’t think about that. Bottom line is that this is a great way to support local theaters like AFS Cinema.

This weekend, take one of these movies for a ride. You won’t regret it.


Rent here, benefiting Austin Film Society.

Texans take note. This will show you a side of our state you might not be familiar with: African-American rodeo culture. Set outside of Houston, Bull takes two worlds and sees how their collision can create pain and healing.

Abe (Rob Morgan) and Kris (newcomer Amber Havard) become an unlikely pair after the latter’s teen delinquency goes wrong. He’s full of aged pain, while she’s all aimlessness and promise. Bull’s depiction of the lives of the working poor is too often missing onscreen. Here’s it’s not only honestly portrayed but used as a canvas for an affecting story with complex characters.


Rent here, benefiting Austin Film Society.

This is a dark film. Not in subject matter (but that, too) but in simple aesthetics. It’s also slow film. It demands a break from the hurriedness of everyday life in a way that we don’t often get at home. While this would have been an amazing movie to see in a theater, that same experience can be had for a few dollars and some purposeful intention.

Vitalina Varela tells the story of a woman who returns to her Portuguese village after the the death of her husband. Not much more needs to be said from there. The lead actress plays a version of herself, but the realism is overshadowed by the stark beauty on screen. This is the best kind of escape that cinema can provide.


Rent here, supporting independent theaters.

This was the last movie I saw before the closening, and a good one at that.

Think of it as an Irish What We Do in the Shadows. Horror, but definitely funny. Clever, even, with charming actors and a heartfelt plot. And the American (Will Forte) doesn’t screw it up. This is the feel good movie of the scare-llennium.


Rent here, benefiting Austin Film Society.

Following in the footsteps of his previous work Neighboring Sounds and Aquarius (both available on Kanopy), director Kleber Mendonça Filho takes us out of Brazil’s cities and out to its countryside, where class warfare gets real. Mixing genres and sociopolitical commentary, Bacurau is societal exploration one minute, and gorey action the next. It’s quite a ride.


Rent here, benefiting Austin Film Society.

From our 2019 SXSW write up:

After a string of amazing shorts at SXSW, directors Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan returned to Florida for a feature that captures everything they do well in the genre. Highlighting a rural town in the Everglades over a tumultuous year, Pahokee follows four high schoolers as they head toward graduation. This is “slice of life” documentary filmmaking done right, casting an eye on a population that usually goes unseen.


Rent here, benefiting Austin Film Society.

Set in a pre-COVID Wuhan, The Wild Goose Lake is part action movie, part character-driven drama. Setting its sights on the mundane parts of the city, the grit and grime feel real, while the damaged main characters are a little too easy to root for. There are some scene that are shocking in their violence, but they don’t drag this film down to dismissible farce.

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