This list goes from extreme to insane. An asterisk denotes that I enjoy the movie enough to own it. I am kind of a sadist when it comes to making others squirm to awkward films. Here is a smattering of some of my favorite disturbing movies. Viewer discretion is advised.
Why you won’t like it: Pedophilia, Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s ingenious way of sticking post cards to the wall. The last line of the movie is “I came,” and it is said by a child.
Why I do like it: So many characters with fascinating and intertwining stories. I love Phillip Seymour hoffman. It is a pretty realistic take on people, their problems, and the mundane details of their lives. Todd Solondz is the man. You will see another selection from him later on that is even crazier.
Why you won’t like it: Cat killing, stories of incest and murder, prostitution of the mentally handicapped, the bathtub scene. You might also be insulted if you live in Xenia, OH where the movie takes place.
Why I do like it: Until recently, I always touted this as my favorite movie. Now I might go with something a little more light-hearted. But Gummo has always fascinated me. I believe this is a realistic portrayal of how many struggling in poverty live. It may disturb you, but I think it is hard to deny that people and situations like those depicted in the movie exist in real life. I quite enjoy the kitchen furniture-wrangling scene, and the two kids that scam the neighborhood selling chocolate bars (look for this as a sample in Diplo’s song, “Money Power Respect” on his Florida album. Also Chloe Sevigny’s boobs and the profane little kids at the junkyard. Keep an open mind and give it a try.
3. The Brown Bunny*
Why you won’t like it: Gratutitous oral sex, slow, narcissistic Vincent Gallo.
Why I do like it: Gratuitous oral sex…with Chloe Sevigny and Vincent Gallo! By the end of it, the slowness of the rest of the film makes sense. You have to watch the whole thing or else the true meaning and message behind the film is lost. (As with all movies, I suppose, but especially if you struggle with why things happen the way they do in this film). I like the scenery, the cinematography, and did I mention Chloe Sevigny and Vincent Gallo?
Why you won’t like it: Pedophilia (really, Solondz? Again?), the main character is portrayed by different actresses throughout the film which may bother some people, abortion talk, religious fervor, interesting child cast.
Why I do like it: Another Solondz film, so of course I’m on board. But this isn’t my favorite of his. Still, I think switching up the main actress is an interesting choice that I still don’t quite understand. And it is funny. In the darkest way possible.
Why you won’t like it: Slow, completely confusing and often seemingly senseless, black and white, awkward.
Why I do like it: Because of the above reasons, it’s David Lynch, what’s not to like? The Lady in the Radiator, I always want to discuss the motifs and the reasoning behind everything. Amon Tobin samples this movie in his track, Like Regular Chickens.
Why you won’t like it: Extremely violent, disturbing, misogynistic and arguably gratuitous anal rape scene. Other graphic depictions of violence. Nauseating camera angles and movement.
Why I do like it: If a movie can make you nauseous but isn’t completely tacky and cheap, then it is powerful and deserves recognition. It’s another movie with which you must watch until the end or else the message is lost. The camera angles and cinematography in general is exquisite and ground-breaking.
Why you won’t like it: Misogyny, genital mutilation, Willem Dafoe’s penis a lot (and later not-so-much), woodland masturbation?, animal fetus.
Why I do like it: That cute actress from the Science of Sleep does some ca-razy shit, yo! And a lot of it stems from her writing her thesis. I can relate! (I kid! I kid!) I don’t even know if I do like this movie yet. I can’t tell. I just want to discuss it all the time, which says something, right? And I love Lars von Trier’s other work (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, Breaking the Waves). Maybe you should start with those and work your way to Antichrist.
Honorable Mentions: These films I do not like. I have only been able to view them once. Those are for the hardcore cinephiles who don’t cringe when I mention my love for Gummo. I probably wouldn’t watch them again, but I enjoy telling other people about them. Like I said, I can be kind of a sadist when it comes to film…
8. Cannibal Holocaust
I think a guest on the Rotten Tomatoes Show recommended this, for some godforsaken reason. It contains the worst animal abuse/torture footage I have ever seen. And for entertainment value, nonetheless. Gratuitous nudity and violence abound. Consider this page my confessional at this time, because I really don’t like to admit I have even seen this.
I don’t even really remember this movie, but I know that someone told me it reminded them of me, or that I would like it. I was highly insulted.
10. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom
Holy hell you can buy this movie on Amazon. And you really shouldn’t. I have never seen anything like this, and it holds the title of the Most Disturbing Film Melissa Has Ever Seen. It takes place in fascist Italy, based on a Marquis de Sade tale, it tells the story of tortured teens during 1940’s Nazi reign. The sexual, verbal and physical abuse they go through at the hands of the men and madams is atrocious as soldiers look on in neutral boredom. I, myself, could not finish this one. Director Pasolini “wanted to make a film without hope.” Spot on, Pasolini.
There you have it. Now go out and disturb yourselves with some of these little gems, then forever associate me with their disturbery.