The Top Ten Movies That Disturbed Me The Most


Ah, to be young, a horror movie fan, and to finally, after three years of reading about all of these tantalisingly foul movies, be able to garner access to such movies online that were whispered about in hushed tones in the dark corners of the Internet. That was the situation I found myself in several years ago, and I went for gusto, or as much my limited resources would allow. Then I asked the question of why I wanted to consign myself to a lifetime of watching severely messed up movies, so I smartly avoided the worst of them. But I still enjoy reading about them, and could sadly rattle off dozens of movies that are probably more vile and offensive than a majority of the movies in this list.

This is still my list, and it will be different from anyone else’s list. Particular things hit particular people hard, and everyone has things they can’t stomach. I no longer go out of my way to watch things primarily described as ‘disturbing’, but sometimes you just happen across them.

A few notes, although I haven’t seen much in movies, I won’t count any animal killings as a sole reason for inclusion, mainly because I always skip them in any movie I watch, and this list certainly won’t have primarily gory movies, as they are either extremely boring or extremely entertaining, rather than disturbing. True gore ‘compilations’, I don’t consider movies.

#1 – The Girl Next Door

I’ve done a more in depth review of this at my other blog, but this movie is one hundred percent fucked. The story of a vibrant young teenage girl being physically, mentally and emotionally destroyed over the space of a few days by a jealous single mother and her three barely pubescent sons pretty much annihilated me. It’s a remarkably well made movie in this way; everything seems to be geared towards crushing the viewer into a scarred pulp. I won’t go into details, but I was literally shaking by the end of this. I think if I’d known that this was based on a TRUE STORY, I wouldn’t have ever recovered. Lucky for me, I went on holiday pretty much straight after finishing this, so I wiped it from my mind. But, despite not showing a hell of a lot of gore, this has stayed with me, and will do for a while to come.

#2 – Ring

Don’t laugh, there’s a backstory. When I caught the first half of this late one night on tv, I’d maybe seen five horror movies, and the scariest was something like Freddy vs Jason. So, I jumped from “Freddy killed some guy! That’s creepy” to “A close up of an eye, people crawling backwards down a mountain, squiggly Japanese letters, what the fuck, now there’s a creepy guy pointing with something over his face, what does this mean, what the fuck?!?”. It scared the shit out of the young me, and I didn’t watch the end until a few years later, and as most people know, the end is still bizarre as hell. I’ve seen it a few times now, and know Ring is a masterful display of atmosphere and suspense, but it still creeped me out no end as a youngster.

#3 – Funny Games

I obviously mean the original Austrian one. I haven’t seen too many Haneke movies, but he seems to enjoy making them as frustratingly good as possible. Without spoiling too much, two young guys hold a family hostage in their summer house. The tension is almost unbearable, but two things make Funny Games stand out. Firstly, the pair’s arrival as the villains makes an earlier scene insanely creepy in hindsight, and secondly, without ruining anything, the bullshit moment that everyone complains about plainly shows that Haneke just wants to mess with you in the worst way possible.

#4 – Africa Addios

Look, I understand that there is animal killing in this. A lot of animal killing. But as far as I am aware, this movie is a hundred percent real, being a documentary of sorts about parts of Africa in the 60s. While the animal killings are shocking, the real disturbing part for me as the human side of it. One part has shots from a plane flying low over fields strewn with dead bodies, the only piece of media ever taken of the Zanzibar massacre of Arabs, and in fact they couldn’t land because they saw everyone in the plane in front of them murdered on sight after landing. Another scene has the crew pulled out of their cars by warlords, lined up against the wall, and nearly gunned down, because the warlords thought they were French, only to be saved because someone recognised their accents. It’s just so powerful.

#5 – The War Zone

The first and only movie Tim Roth has directed, The War Zone is a stunning look into sexual perversion within a family unit. The only actor in this I’d heard of is Tilda Swinton, but everyone does a fantastic job, especially Lara Belmont, who had to endure several repulsive scenes. It’s definitely a slow burner, but why this film is so unknown considering how good it is and having two marketable people attached is beyond me. It could be the fact that people don’t like watching movies about incest!

#6 – Cannibal Holocaust

Well, the fact that director Ruggerto Deodato went on trial in his home country of Italy for charges of obscenity for making a ‘snuff film’ says it all. There is also a decent amount of animal killings on screen, but at least the tribes of Amazonians ate them afterwards. Cannibal Holocaust is a remarkably powerful movie that turns the focus onto Western ‘civilised’ society, showing how barbaric we can be, and how we are truly no better than those groups we consider primitive.

#7 – Come and See

A terrifying account of a barely teenage boy’s journey through a war-stained Ukraine, Come and See is a beautifully excruciating experience. Just look at that face at the top of the page, the look of complete shock, having escaped a flaming barn filled with people burnt by the Nazis, before having a gun put to his head, for the sole purpose of providing a photo opportunity for the smiling Germans. That isn’t even close to what this young boy has to go through during the course of the movie, and the ending is perhaps the most overwhelming I have ever seen. The film itself is exquisite to look at, which just makes the acts of violence worse.

# 8 – Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

I could honestly put any number of David Lynch’s films in here (and I thought long and hard about whether to include this or Inland Empire), but FWWM goes in for personal reasons. To start, I think the White Lodge talking style incredibly disconcerting, and mix that with the other weird shit that happens in there and the other people from there, I’m already disturbed. But as a whole, the movie just pervades a sinister quality. Some people like to call this movie “Twin Peaks: Laura Palmer gets shit on for an hour and a half”, which is accurate, if not literally (thank god). The start of the movie is only tenuously related to the rest, but is still just as bad, especially David Bowie’s character’s story, and the squalor of Deer Meadow. All of the balance from the tv series is sucked out, leaving only the unpleasant and deviancy.

# 9 – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

I shouldn’t have to say it, but yes, the original 1974, and no, it didn’t actually happen in real life. TCM almost looks like a found footage movie; it’s just so grimy, dusty and intense. It travels quickly, shocks unexpectantly, and wisely holds onto an air of mystery that future sequels ruined. It isn’t particularly graphic, but it doesn’t need to be to be effective. And for some reason, the last shot always stays with me, it is just that striking.

#10 – Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom

Many people write Salo off as just being a fucked movie just for the sake of it, but the plot and message behind it push Salo from being just random depraved scenes of shit eating, tongue cutting and copious bodily fluids into a forceful artistic film about the corruption of the elite and how the average person is manipulated by these elites into doing their bidding. There are no heroes rising to save these tortured kids, nothing has changed by the end, and nothing ever will. It’s like a subtle version of 1984, and it’s all the more frightening because it is happening now.

There are a few movies I remember as being messed up, including the Guinea Pig series, Men Behind the Sun, Red Room 1 & 2, In a Glass Cage, and Muzan E, but I watched those so long ago, I can’t remember to much about them, except they were disturbing, so they weren’t included.