The year is 2020, and Australia is in its first lockdown. Glued to our computers, my friends and I — dotted around various parts, from Melbourne to Tasmania to Ashfield — all log on to discord and decide to watch a movie. Having stumbled upon a website simply titled Tubi, I suggest we browse their collection. Little did we know, this would send us down a rabbit hole we could never escape from.
Tubi is a free subscription service sprung out of the U.S., hosting an abundance of independent films and television series from around the world. Anyone can upload a piece of media that they have worked tirelessly on, and the website makes a profit from advertising revenue (which can easily be blocked by Chrome extensions).
The website is fascinating, and since users are able to upload anything they want, it becomes an insane collection of prestige films rubbing shoulders with absolute dog crap. Whole sections and categories of the website are dedicated to award-winning films, your typical crime, sci-fi, and fantasy fare, along with independent cinema, and even religious flicks, kids shows and straight-up pornography.
If you were to click shuffle on its recommendations, it is purely up to fate whether you get We Need to Talk about Kevin or Attack of the 50 Foot Camgirl.
After discovering this modern day Library of Alexandria, we began our “Mobie Nights” — a weekly discord call that consisted of us getting drunk and watching bad movies, the deliberate misspelling of “movie” adding to the humour of it all.
Our ritual included sifting through the website’s vast collection, and after rolling a die and picking a film, we’d have our winner. As we sat and watched, we’d critique, mock and berate the film, with discussion afterwards if we’re not too tired or inebriated.
Since the commencement of Mobie Nights, I have watched around 77 movies from Tubi’s vast collection. For those brave enough to venture into its dark digital caverns, I’ve reflected on the best and the worst pieces of trashy so-bad-it’s-good media to watch.
For those looking for cheesy action, the website hosts gems like Jasper and Night Driver — vanity projects that depict their writer, director and stars as incredible fighters and irresistible to women.
Trite attempts at comedy that fall flat on their face and make you cringe? Look no further than Epic Movie, Loqueesha, You Hittin Dat???, and the vast collection of Jeff Dunham stand up specials.
Kids movies that are absolutely baffling and miss their target audience completely? Try out Baby Geniuses and the Space Baby, Zapped, Pants on Fire, Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars, Home Alone 4 and A Meowy Halloween.
Religious, right wing zealotism, with a hint of conspiracy theories? The Badge, the Bible and Bigfoot, The Freedom of Silence, 2025: The World Enslaved by a Virus, The Coming, Treasure Blind and Turbines will have you covered.
As lockdowns have become a distant memory, though, and as our personal lives have blossomed beyond the screen, Mobie Nights have become more irregular.
However, we still call occasionally, and recently we finally met in person after all these years. Being able to hug my friends and show them around Sydney, there was no screen inhibiting our conversation, and we chatted like everything was normal. It made me reflect on our Mobie Nights, and my time studying film at USyd. When watching a film, it is important to sit with it, to analyse, critique and even mock it. But without that other person, the receiver to whom we express these thoughts and feelings, and who can bounce off with even greater ideas, where else can these thoughts go?