Over the years, running this blog and beforehand, I have stumbled across, sometimes sort out and watched some pretty messed up examples of modern cinema. The world as we know it can be pretty freaky and strange, and the movie industry is a place where some directors like to explore the darker realms of story-telling. Below are just a few of the most powerfully disturbing movies I have seen, some of which have had a lingering affect on me as a movie fan. So take a trip with me into the heart of darkness and into some movies that are certainly not for everyone … simply put, approach these with a great amount of caution.
Takeshi Miik’s simple story (on the surface) of a world weary film maker in search of his ideal bride; jaded from the usual dating scene he chooses to hold a series of auditions for a role that does not exist. Suffice to say the seemingly gentile woman he finds hides a much more sadistic side to her personality.
Most disturbing moment: the man in the cloth sack.
The Untold Story
Based apparently on a true story of a restaurant owner who murders his family then serves them up as ingredients in his pork buns – is one of the most notorious Category III movies in Hong Kong. Anthony Wong, no stranger to powerful roles plays the main character and is in some of the most graphically violent scenes I’ve ever seen. Most shocking is the slightly comical tone, which makes events all the more difficult to tolerate.
Most disturbing moment: a family gets massacred.
Clever in structure it may be, as it is told in reverse, starting with the end credits before proceeding to a nightclub murder and leading up to (or flashing back to…) a brutally drawn out rape scene. Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci headline the cast in this stylish but utterly harrowing story of revenge.
Most disturbing moment: death by fire extinguisher.
Alan Clark’s unflinching take on British boys borstal life made a name out of a teenage Ray Winston, but it’s no holds barred tone and graphic violence makes it notorious. In some ways it can be seen as a cool hard-core brit flick, but has a horrible warning message for young offenders everywhere.
Most disturbing moment: rape in a greenhouse.
A British horror in an unconventional sense has a young couple visiting their favourite secret getaway by a secluded lake – until a group of delinquent youths choose to crash the party. Harrowing because from a British point of view, these type of youths exist on housing estates, in run down districts etc … and it’s a scary thought that if coming into their territory you may just be fighting for survival. Violent and shockingly believable.
Most disturbing moment: setting the boy on fire.
I have spoken about this notorious French horror before, but it remains one of the most difficult to sit through movies of all time. Two girls seeking revenge stumble upon a cult hell bent on discovering evidence of the after life, by pushing their victims to near death through prolonged torture and martyrdom.
Most disturbing moment: discovering the tortured woman.
A woman (Emily Browning) struggling to pay her way through college takes a job as a hostess at an exclusive gentleman’s club. However when she is there she is told she will be drugged and go to sleep in a bed, and when she wakes the morning after, she will be paid … but isn’t aloud to ask what happens in between. Weird, freaky and utterly unpleasant.
Most disturbing moment: the old man shouting obscenities to an unconscious, naked girl.
Sympathy for Mr Vengeance
The first part of Park Chan-wook’s acclaimed vengeance trilogy, this tells the story of a deaf and dumb guy trying to raise money for his sister’s kidney operation. However his terrorist girlfriend talks him into kidnapping a wealthy business man’s daughter in order to get a ransom. Things go from bad to worse and well, vengeance is seeked not just from the business man but also the deaf guy in a movie of powerful acting and even more powerful violence.
Most disturbing moment: torture by electricity.
A family’s idyllic holiday is interrupted by two seemingly nice guys who stop by to borrow a cup of sugar – then subject the family to a series of humiliating and cruel ‘games’ at gunpoint. Director Michael Haneke’s powerful movie was remade under the same name in America and starred Naomi Watts.
Most disturbing moment: breaking the fourth wall.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Made a name for it’s star Michael Rooker and is a powerful interpretation of the real life crimes of killer Henry Lee Lucas. Along with his friend Otis, Henry goes on a series of murders, until after a while their fun is interrupted by the arrival of Otis’ trailer-trash sister. Suffice to say this serial killing duo don’t take too kind to company. Brutal, very realistic and all the more disturbing for it.
Most disturbing moment: home invasion on VHS.
So there you have it. Movies that span the gamut of shocking, violent and powerful. Some are classic examples of extreme cinema at it’s best (Martyrs, Sympathy…) and some are just plain horrible (Sleeping Beauty). I would say if you are at all squeamish or some movies can play on your mind, then avoid the list above … but if like me you like to test yourself, see what is out there, then, still with a degree of caution … the movies above leave their mark regardless of your bravery. You have been warned.