Every fortnight, me and a group of friends have a Movie Night. We go to my friend Stephen’s house. He has a large study which he has converted into a “theatre room” over a long period of time. He is also an avid collector of Criterion Collection DVDs (He has 60-something. I have 5.) We’ve been doing this thing for about six months now, going through all his Criterion movies, and last night we watched the Lars von Trier “horror” movie Antichrist.
Stephen and I were the only two present who had seen the film before. Also in attendance was my girlfriend Ashley, and four other mutual friends who had not seen it and had very little idea of what to expect. I told Ashley (who dealt with the on-screen “happenings” rather well, considering…) that it was a sexually-explicit, often mistaken as misogynistic festival of violence and gore. She was at first optimistic, saying she hadn’t seen a good horror movie in ages. The optimism didn’t last once the film reached the third act. She was unable to watch some parts, and I can well understand why.
Antichrist is not the sort of film you want to watch with someone you hold close or even respect. And I can imagine watching it with actual family would be even worse (my mother would vomit, my dad would laugh). So, without further ado, here are ten movies that (I imagine) would be extremely uncomfortable to watch with family, and since I don’t often actually rank lists, I’m going to make this one a count down from ten.
10: Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Darren Aronofsky’s hellish drug drama turns downright terrifying in its drawn-out, brutally punctuated third act. Scenes of Ellen Burstyn being incessantly electrocuted and Jennifer Connelly losing all dignity at a drug-fuelled sex party are enough to make anyone squirm in their seat.
9: Funny Games (1997)
Who really wants to see two men mercilessly break all conventional horror movie rules to draw out torture and eventual murder upon a young couple and their son during the long 100 minutes of this typical Haneke thriller? I know I don’t, and certainly not with family.
8: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990)
In a horrific home-invasion scene brutally replayed on a home video camera, we see two psychopathic killers at their worst, most disgustingly inhumane attitude. And as if that weren’t enough, an overly depressing, nihilistic ending combined with countless scenes of unmotivated violence punctuate a brilliant reality.
7: Man Bites Dog (1992)
In one of the most unconventional horror films ever made (and one of my personal favourites, he-he-hee), a camera crew follow a serial killer around, documenting his rapes and murders (including the sickeningly slow death of an elderly woman from cardiac arrest) and eventually getting involved in them. A horror film which comically delights in some of the most disgusting acts, Man Bites Dog is grotesque but brilliant.
6: Audition (1999)
This one actually happened. I saw Audition at a young age with my Dad, and the next day we decided to play a prank on my mum. We told her it was a romantic comedy about a man who tries to audition the perfect girlfriend. We completely left out the brutal amputation and torture in the third act, and let her discover that herself…
5: A Serbian Film (2009)
One of the most gratuitously graphic films I have ever seen, A Serbian Film has it all. Kids watching porn, graphic oral sex, rape, paedophilia, facial cumshots, implied rape of an infant, and the gouging of eyes with an erect penis, among many other atrocities. Just perfect for a night in with the family, right?
4: Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Two years ago, I broke up with a girlfriend who was a vegetarian when she told me she was in another relationship. I was very angry and immature at the time. I contemplated sending her a downloaded DVD of this disgusting animal snuff film in the mail at one point, though thankfully I refrained from doing so. It’s notorious, repulsive, excessive and bloody. Not for the faint of heart, or anyone with an emotional attachment to turtles.
3: Irreversible (2002)
Gaspar Noe’s 2002 masterpiece may be controversial and filled to the brim with excessive, gratuitous violence but it is nevertheless a serious work of art, as demonstrated in the horrifyingly beautiful final scene. However, that is no reason to watch this with anyone you value in any way.
2: Salo, or: The 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
Pier Paolo Pasolini’s almost unendurable, 2-hour festival of disturbing violence, rape, sex, and general mistreatment of human beings may be a hateful metaphor for fascism, but that certainly doesn’t make it any easier to watch whatsoever.
1: Happiness (1998)
Some will debate this film at the position of number one, but I put it here because, a) it is the most honest of the films on the list, which makes it scarier, and b) it is a disturbing film about family, perfect for a list of movies that are uncomfortable to watch with family. Who wants to see their mum peering curiously at their dad while watching Dylan Baker masturbate to pictures of kids? It’s an awkward, paranoid moment no-one wants to encounter, and makes the movie all the more uncomfortable.
So, those’re my picks. Let me know, was there anything I missed out?
Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.
There are a lot of really disturbing movies out there, but I’ve been able to formulate a list of ten I’ll never be able to watch again. Some of them are just because they’re bad. Others are brilliant films that are just difficult to watch. Either way, these aren’t on my queue any time soon.
In no particular order:
A Serbian Film (2010)
Though I didn’t hate this movie, it’s certainly not good. Borderline pornography with explicit sex and violence, a lot of it seems wasted and pointless. The continuous references to paedophilia is more than unnerving… it’s disgusting. I’m not the kind of person who gets angry over those sort of things being in movies, but this is really sickening. 5/10. And that’s being very kind.
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Again, not the kind of person who gets angry with violence, explicit sex or anything nastily gratuitous, but this is awful. I’m not an animal rights person, and I realize that the animals that died in this film will probably have died anyway at the hands of those natives, but I didn’t want to see it on camera. It was a complete waste of my time. And I usually love handheld camera movies. 3/10.
Salo, or: The 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
“All’s good if it’s excessive.” The line is scary enough, and what follows is horrifying. Pasolini’s “poem” about his hateful vision of Fascism got him killed, but despite its graphic and excessive content, it is a “beautiful” movie (don’t take that the wrong way, I mean the cinematography was beautiful) that leaves a pondering thought in my head every time it is discussed. I wish I could watch this again, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. 6/10.
This is a tricky one because I actually LOVE this movie. Gaspar Noé is a fantastic director. His swooping and sweeping camera will probably make you sick, and then there’s the infamous rape scene, which is the main reason it’s on this list. I might actually watch this movie again, but I think I’ll skip past the rape. 9/10. (The reason this film has such a high rating is for its final scene, so perfect it almost made me cry. Almost.)
The Idiots (1998)
I love Lars von Trier. Which makes my dislike of this movie all the more confusing to me. It’s filmed as one of his famed Dogme 95 (read my article on this fascinating genre here) but, surprisingly, that only makes the strange effect of the film seem even more shitty. I mean, did we really need unsimulated group sex? Seriously? Von Trier has a point he wants to make, but he makes it better with movies like Dogville and Antichrist. 4/10.
Funny Games (1997)
One of Michael Haneke’s most affecting movies, this is an essay on the pointlessness and insanity of violence, and how often, a lot of it is completely unmotivated. While we’re searching for the Why?, Haneke doesn’t care and relentlessly continues to push the What in our faces. It’s a tactic that works, though it’s difficult to watch. Once is enough. 8/10.
The Human Centipede: First Sequence (2009)
The premise is disgusting enough without the movie, which is surprisingly not as graphic as you might expect. But it is shitty. Really shitty. Which makes Daniel Tosh’s spoiler even funnier. An awful movie by all respects, even if this was halfway decent, the plot itself is enough to help you to decide which crowd you are in. Torture-porn lovers, eat your heart out. No, on second thought, don’t even try. This is too awful even for you. 2/10.
Pink Flamingos (1972)
Ah, John Waters. He has to make the list somewhere. And considering this is the only film of his I’ve seen (and I think it’s the only film I need to see), I can easily say that I have no desire to see Divine eating a dog turd again. Seeing it once is one time too many. It’s a fun movie, in its own disgusting cult way, and many an absurd, awkward laugh is likely to strike a few times throughout. 5/10.
The Last House on the Left (1972)
The most disturbing of all horror master Wes Craven’s films is not only a blatant insult (don’t call it a tribute, or a remake) to Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, it’s also gratuitous, annoyingly excessive and a waste of time. I didn’t feel sorry for the victims in this movie, but The Virgin Spring… now that was a movie that affected me, in a good way. 4/10.
This is the only film on this list I have actually seen twice, and once was when I was a kid. It scared the shit out of me, and when I rewatched it four years ago, I discovered it still retained that power. A film that wouldn’t normally horrify me, this is a smart, intelligent work of horrific cinema that continues to impress, please, and disgust. 8/10.
What do you think? What are some movies you could never watch again? Have you seen any of my choices? Whaddaya think? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading.