Five Disturbing Films, Plus Five More For Good Measure
I'm going to the unrated remake of I Spit On Your Grave next week. The original, I should point out, was rated "R", though I still doubt the new one will pack the same punch the first one did back in 1978 (Roger Ebert described sitting through it as "one of the most depressing experiences of my life.").
I've seen a lot of unpleasant movies this year, for some reason. Chalk it up to a combination of friends with similar unhealthy tastes and my being on the screener lists for a lot of horror studios. Honestly, I didn't want to admit how much those kind of flicks had permeated my subconscious until I was writing this week's Glee recap. So, just in time for Halloween, I decided to share my list of (some of) the films I have personally found disturbing.
Now, these aren't films that use "gotcha" shots and sudden dramatic orchestral cues to elicit scares, like...say, most of the American horror movies released in the last 20 years. To be truly disturbing, a movie has to hang around, returning unbidden to your consciousness while you're doing normal things, sometimes not even knowing how you've triggered an unwelcome flashback.They stick with you.
Bullshit, you say? Whatever. Don't blame me for ruining date night.
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Pre-Blair Witch Project, Ruggero Deodato caused a stir with his "is it or isn't it" documentary about a group of missing filmmakers who meet a grisly fate in the Amazon rainforest. Italian authorities believed Deodato had made an honest-to-tortoise snuff film and charged him with murder until he proved the actors were still alive. Even then, the movie continued to be widely banned for its depictions of actual animal butchery. 30 years later, it's still not for the faint of heart. And what the hell, here's the whole movie. Merry Christmas.
Or You Could Watch: Jaws (1975) -- If the definition of "disturbing" is "something that sticks with you," then I think a movie that made me afraid of taking a bath for several years certainly qualifies.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
It's easy to look at the relative lack of gore, the Z-level production values, and the John Larroquette voiceover and snicker behind your black painted nails. Try to bear in mind, however, that this scene came before Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, and even that stupid shark.
Or You Could Watch: I Spit On Your Grave (1978)
Rape exploitation? Female empowerment fantasy? Opinions vary, but all agree: that bathtub scene is some fucked up shit.
I'm not one of these people who "doesn't walk out of movies." Life's too short for me to sit through, for example, the entirety of Date Night and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. That said, I didn't walk out of Irreversible, thought it was a near thing. The underpass scene is...tough, I won't lie, but many people forget about the arguably more intense scene in the gay bar at the beginning of the film. Fun fact: director Gaspar Noé included a low-frequency background noise to induce nausea during the first act. Like it was necessary.
Or You Could Watch: Funny Games (1997)
Director Michael Haneke twists the traditional horror narrative around and breaks the fourth wall to bring us a nasty little flick that leaves you equal parts depressed and pissed off. I haven't seen the 2007 version (also by Haneke), but I understand it's pretty much a shot-by-shot remake. And it might be easier to find.