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The Ten Most Disturbing Films I Have Ever Seen

10 Memorable Instances of Characters Breaking The Fourth Wall in Movies

Nothing’s more cheeky, in-your-face and startling than when a character addresses the audience. It’s commonplace now, but it wasn’t always that way. This is called breaking the fourth wall. Sometimes it works, but other times it doesn’t. Here are ten examples of breaking the fourth wall in movies. In no particular order:

1: Funny Games (1997 or 2007), TV Remote Rewind and Blinking Scenes:

Michael Haneke is great at (and relishes in) fucking with the audience. It’s a lot of what makes his movies great. And none personifies this more than in the remote rewind scene. Picture it: two young men are holding a family hostage. A woman manages to grab a gun and shoots one of them dead. The other then frantically searches for a television remote. He finds it, presses the Rewind button, and in front of our horrified eyes, the scene is rewound and repeated; this time the woman is stopped before she can take her shot. Unfortunately, I can only find a video from the remake, but the scene is essentially the same:

2: Blazing Saddles (1974), The French Mistake:

The fourth wall is broken many, many times in this brilliant Mel Brooks movie which I daresay is the funniest film of all time. But perhaps the most memorable example is in a Hollywood studio in which Dom DeLuise is directing a musical only to have the entire cast of Blazing Saddles interrupt them.

3: Annie Hall (1977), Marshall McLuhan:

In one of countless scenes which catch the audience off guard in Woody Allen’s romantic comedy hit, Allen is bothered by a talkative man in front of him in a theatre line. If you’re familiar with the movie, you’ll know what happens.

4: Europa (1991), Opening Narration:

At the beginning of this excellent film by Lars von Trier, Max von Sydow hypnotises the audience with casual sternness, while a shot of train tracks (which would have an obvious influence on David Lynch in Lost Highway) helps guide the audience deeper into relaxation. Now you are in Europa…

5: Inland Empire (2006), Various Points of Unconventional Cinematography:

There is no exact moment of fourth wall-breaking in David Lynch’s epic masterpiece. But there are different occurances, such as visible equipment, a complete disregard for the 180-degree rule, and of course the memorable scene in which Laura Dern and Justin Theroux consecutively walk into the camera, or when Laura Dern runs at the camera, screaming.

6: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), You’re Still Here?

After the end credits to this 80s high school classic have run, Matthew Broderick approaches the camera and declares…

7: The Holy Mountain (1973), Real Life Awaits Us

At the end of this confusing and tiring Jodorowsky epic, the camera crew is shown and we are addressed with the spookily relevant line, “Real life awaits us.” No video clip available.

8: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Rude Interruption:

As we begin to question how this hilarious film can possibly end, it is rudely interrupted by policemen who seize the cameramen and order the production to be stopped. It’s like the protagonist of a movie being suddenly interrupted by doctors, put in a straitjacket and being dragged to a mental hospital where we were unaware they’d escaped. It’s unexpected, it’s shockingly quick and it’s very funny. Skip to about 6:30 for the scene.

9: Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979), Always Look on the Bright Side of Life:

Eric Idle happily sings and chats away to the audience after being crucified. There’s really not much more to say.

10: Persona (1966), Technical Malfunction:

At one of the most exciting points in Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece, the camera abruptly stops, flickers and the film burns away. One of many reminders that what we’re watching is a film, and Bergman’s secret wink at the audience. I can’t find a clip at the moment, but it is a startling scene indeed.

That’s my list. Anything you’d like to add? Leave a comment below.

10 Movies That Are Extremely Uncomfortable to Watch with Family

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.

Top 10 Silent Movies

Silent movies. The words leave a fresh echo in my ear and a lasting image in my head. They were the first real ‘movies’ and when they evolved into sound, we were no doubt excited, but there was a tinge of sadness. That great feel of watching a silent movie would never be felt again. Here’s a list of the top ten silent films (in my opinion) ever made during that glorious era.

10: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

One of the most original, provocative, thought-provoking thrillers of its era, Wiene’s famous film, it’s spooky characters and excellent twist are almost impossible to forget, and amazing to watch. And by the way, what happened to that word… somnambulist… bring it back, I say!

9: The Birth of a Nation (1915)

Yeah, I know, I know, it’s racist, blah-blah-blah. I’m not denying it, it is definitely oriented toward a viewpoint of hatred toward African Americans, and that’s wrong, but just think about it, if Griffith had never made this film, we wouldn’t have half of the moviemaking techniques we have today. Awful to watch, astonishingly beautiful to look at.

8: The General (1926)

Keaton scoffs in the face of those “talkies,” sticking to his same, hilarious, risky slapstick even as the age of his art was crippling and slowly dying. The man deserves respect for this and countless other reasons. He is a true genius, and The General proves it.

7: Napoleon (1927)

The life-lasting tale of the famous leader that Stanley Kubrick was desperate to remake but never got the chance to, Abel Gance’s fantastic ‘epic’ is entertaining, gripping and long-lasting, everything a decent silent should be.

6: Nosferatu (1922)

Murnau’s unageing horror movie, perhaps the first vampire movie of all time (considering Les Vampires is apparently not about vampires), is one of the only horror movies that has deeply scared me. Watching it at age seven, I had nightmares for a week, and although it is never said in a real voice, “Your wife has a pretty neck” is a hauntingly recognizable line.

5: Un Chien Andalou (1929)

A collaboration of the artistic mind of Salvador Dali and the visionary film view of Luis Buñuel, this surreal 16-minute drama (thriller, comedy?) which seems to tell a strange, can-you-say-Lynchian story that is almost indecipherable. But who’d want to decode it? It’s there for us to enjoy, and what a treasure it is.

4: Metropolis (1927)

Fritz Lang’s futuristic thriller laid the path for a legion of movies, from terrific to terrible, and was tragically snubbed for Best Picture in the first ever year of the Oscars! An entertaining thrillride with an effect on its audience to this day, it’s a memorable movie that sadly marked the end of an era.

3: Intolerance (1916)

D.W. Griffith’s apology for the intolerably racist yet still powerfully affecting on the film industry The Birth of a Nation is a fantastic movie which definitely wins him back into our hearts. Presenting the fragile Lillian Gish as a symbol of innocence, he weaves a magnificent tale spanning all time.

2: Greed (1924)

With several different length versions in existence, you could come across any number of copies of Greed if you search hard enough. I’ve only seen the normal version, the easiest to find, but it blew my mind. I’ve never had so much fun watching a film sans sound.

1: The Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Perhaps the greatest silent film of all time is Sergei Eisenstein’s fantastic true tale of a famous riot. Fantastic imagery and tons of memorable moments make this a revolutionary, EVOLUTIONARY step forward for film, and not only the best silent film, but one of the best movies altogether.

So that’s my Top Ten? What are silent films you love, or consider to be influential? Your feedback is what I crave, so leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading.