As a filmmaker, David Gordon Green has never been a household name. But since directing the 2008 hit Pineapple Express, he’s been steadily working in both film and television in a number of genres ranging from stoner comedies like Your Highness to political satires (Our Brand is Crisis), and now of course, horror remakes. 2018’s Halloween remake was the beginning of a new trilogy, the second entry of which, Halloween Kills, comes out this weekend. The final chapter, Halloween Ends, also directed by Green, is already in the can and slated for 2022, and he’s currently in pre-production for an Exorcist remake and a Hellraiser TV series.

Before going mainstream with Pineapple Express, however, Green made four micro-budget independent dramas – none of which fared particularly well at the box office, but all of which are great underrated gems in their own way. Here’s a look at David Gordon Green’s four early career indie efforts that movie fans should definitely seek out.

George Washington (2000)

Green’s debut feature began its festival run at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2000. It would eventually go on to gross a meager $283,000 worldwide. The film is as “indie” as it gets: made for $42,000 starring non-professional child actors in a small North Carolina town.

The film is a coming of age story tinged with mature and tragic elements. Its evocative tone made it a hit with critics. Despite its nearly non-existent box office performance, it was sufficient to showcase Green’s talents as a director (he was only 24 years old at the time), and attract funding for his sophomore feature.

All the Real Girls (2003)

Green returned to his southern roots for his next film, the excellent 2003 romance drama, All the Real Girls. Paul Schneider stars as a small town playboy who falls in love with his best friend’s sister, played by Zooey Deschanel in one of her first ever starring roles.

Deschanel would become a major name later that year with the release of Elf, but unfortunately, her star power did little to boost this film’s cache. It recouped less than a third of its $2.5 million budget at the box office, and remains mostly unknown to this day. Nonetheless, it’s a superbly written and directed love story that is achingly authentic and beautifully sincere.

Undertow (2004)

A darker entry in Green’s filmography, 2004’s Undertow is a family drama-turned violent chase film starring Josh Lucas, Jamie Bell, and Dermit Mulroney, and featuring a 13-year old Kristen Stewart. Combining gritty depictions of rural poverty with surrealist imagery and an eerie, dreamlike ending, the movie earned mixed reviews from critics.

It did however get a full endorsement from Roger Ebert, who rated the film a perfect 4 stars and included it on his yearly top 10 list – a major boon for a film that grossed a paltry $159,000 at the box office.

Snow Angels (2007)

Arguably the best of these four films, 2007’s Snow Angels boasts two excellent lead performances by Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell as an estranged couple whose daughter goes missing.

Rockwell is at once a menacing yet sympathetic character, a suicidal alcoholic trying – and failing – to put his life back together. His desperation is as palpable as the cold in the air. Compelling scene writing, terrific acting, and a plot that unravels along with the characters’ psyches make Snow Angels a harrowing and constantly entertaining indie drama. It grossed just over $400,000 at the box office, but has since rightfully gained a small following on DVD and streaming.

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