5 Disturbing Films to Watch at Least Once

While film is a medium that is all about escapism, there are at times when film portrays a gritty, darker version of our reality. The viewer watches acts of violence, content in the safety of their viewing seat that it might never happen to them (fingers crossed). Yet, these following films will sear into your mind and may never leave.

Please note that what follows may contain descriptions of graphic violence, taboo and other potentially upsetting scenes. Here are five disturbing films to watch at least once, at your own risk.

Straw Dogs 1971

A young American man David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman), and his English wife, Amy (Susan George) move to her home town in rural England, and face vicious harassment from the locals. Sounds simple, it is far from it. What ensues is a case of hostilities, jealousy and male, misogynist chauvinism. What is disturbing about this film is the prolonged rape scene of Amy, by her ex-boyfriend which she seems to enjoy, followed by a more brutal encounter with another man, which she clearly does not enjoy. The senseless violence that follows is alarming, as David, a pacifist unaware of his feelings and potential for violence that were the same feelings he abhorred in society. This has since been remade in 2011, starring James Marsden and Kate Bosworth as the Sumner couple.

Solaris 1972

Psychologist Kris Kelvin is being sent on an interstellar journey to evaluate whether a decades-old space station should continue to study the oceanic planet Solaris. Sounds simple? After hearing reports of strange sightings from the pilot, and of an exploratory team, his skillset is required. He is ignored by the remaining scientists at his arrival, and further to this, he finds his late wife in his sleeping quarters. Dead wife? This is one film that I am still trying to get my head around. Maybe I should watch the Hollywood treatment, the 2002 remake with George Clooney as Kelvin and Natacha McEllone as his troubled ‘wife’.

The Machinist 2004

Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) is the titular machinist, he hasn’t slept in a year and it is causing him to lose a lot of weight. He also suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as he makes notes for himself specifically about his weight. Because of his emaciated state, he is alienated by his work colleagues, and things get worse after he caused an accident after seeing a ‘phantom’ employee, leaving a work-mate with a severed arm. After being relieved of his job, Reznik enters a spiral of guilt, paranoia and delusion. It is definitely a slow burner, but worth the patience. Once seen, it can’t be unseen. It is to be noted that Christian Bale lost a significant 63 pounds to play the role.

Requiem for a Dream 2000

This film observes four people affected by drug addiction, and how it has affected their emotional state and lives. The film is sad, draining and makes for some uncomfortable viewing. We follow these people before they enter their respective drug labyrinth, where they have hopes and dreams, so it makes it harder to watch when you see those dreams slowly fading away. I have watched this more than once, but with years in between, because it is very draining.

Audition 1999

Is it a revenge film? Is it torture porn? Whatever it is, it is highly disturbing. A widower, Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi)is encouraged by his son to remarry. The widower’s film producer friend suggests a ‘fake’ audition for the former to find a wife. Once Shigeharu decides that he likes the young, and mysterious Asami (Eihi Shiina), he starts to date her despite being warned that something is not quite right with her. This is a very visceral film, and not for the squeamish. To me, this film denotes misogyny and feminism, even though I don’t agree with some actions.

So, there we have it. Five films that have seared themselves into my consciousness. Have you seen any of these films? Would you consider watching them at least once? Share with me in the comment section below!

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