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Haley Bennett is one of the best young blonde actresses working right now. She might not be in the same league as Margot Robbie, Florence Pugh, or Saoirse Ronan, but she’s quietly built a strong career. Whether it’s big-canvas ensemble dramas or indie films like Swallow, she brings something unique to her roles. Here’s a look at some of the highlights of her filmography.

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1. Music & Lyrics (2007)

Music and Lyrics is a sweet romcom with a refreshing approach to the genre. It prioritizes honesty and authenticity between its love interests rather than relying on clumsy miscommunications as many romcoms do. Its catchy original soundtrack, witty dialogue and charming performances by Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore make this pelispedia movie a winner.

Hugh Grant plays Alex Fletcher, a former teen idol who now sings at amusement parks and dinner parties to survive. His agent (Brad Garrett) lands him a gig with Cora Corman, a Britney-style teenybopper superstar who wants Alex to write her a new song for her next album and concert tour. 

2. College (2007)

While films with college as the setting often deal with themes of romance, comedy, and general mishaps, they also have to contend with problematic aspects of the student experience. One of those is ragging, where seniors bully juniors into submitting to various humiliating tasks. College romanticism is the practice, ignoring its physical and mental harm on students.

Fortunately, for Haley Bennett, her next film Swallow proved to be more of a breakout success. She is the movie’s lead, a spaced-out upstate New York housewife who develops pica disorder (an obsession with eating non-food items). The film is funny and subversive while still maintaining a shiver of body horror. It also marks a belated career breakthrough for Bennett.

3. The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008)

A teen girl with a troubled past enrolls in a private prep school where she’s beset by hallucinations, nightmares and nosebleeds. Molly Hartley (Haley Bennett) is plagued by memories of her psychotic mother who attempted to kill her with a pair of sewing scissors. Her dad (Jake Weber) keeps a close eye on her. Her new classmates, the rebellious Leah and the angelically evangelical Alexis, try to pull her into their different social circles. Molly also attracts the attention of Joseph, a handsome young man who wants to help her.

4. The Hole (2009)

After moving into a new suburban home, teen Dane and his brother Lucas discover what appears to be a bottomless hole in their basement. When they open it, the hole unleashes their darkest fears.

While a few of these fears are silly (Lucas’ fear of clowns, for example), the rest are surprisingly disturbing. A homicidal clown puppet and a ghost girl are among the many abominations that wreak havoc on our kids’ psyches. Thankfully, the movie never resorts to gratuitous violence, but it does effectively use gore and body horror to scare its target audience.

5. After the Fall (2014)

Unlike other Netflix prestige flicks that overstay their welcome, this one keeps the action tight and to the point. After the Fall, an action-packed shooter, is all about a series of happily violent set pieces. It’s a great showcase for the talents of Bennett and her co-stars.

In the film, she plays a woman who develops pica, an eating disorder characterized by craving everyday objects. The film was released in 2010 and received mixed reviews.

6. Hardcore Henry (2015)

Like the video games it takes inspiration from, Hardcore Henry tries to appeal to gamers with its fast-paced action. However, there are a few problems with this film that keep it from being great. First of all, the film’s plot isn’t very good. The story follows game logic and there’s a lot of repetition, like when Henry is given instructions by his wife or when he is told to shoot someone. Also, some of the action is pretty unrealistic and not very exciting.

7. The Magnificent Seven (2016)

An energetic remake with style to spare, The Magnificent Seven offers a rousing update of a 1960 classic. Boiled down to its essentials this film depicts a town terrorized by corporate greedy villains and a courageous band of good guys. It also sends a strong message about helping others even when it comes with no monetary reward.

The main villain here is the ruthless Bartholomew Bogue who owns the Rose Creek gold mine and is trying to drive out honest homesteaders. Angry widow Emma Cullen hires the lightning-fast Sam Chisolm to help defend her village. Chisolm is joined by lovable rogue Josh (Chris Pratt), the stoic former confederate soldier Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), the beard-wearing frontiersman Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), the knife-throwing Comanche warrior Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and the young Haley Bennett who brings a mix of toughness and vulnerability to her role.

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