13 Most Bleak And Disturbing Films Ever

Here’s a bunch of films that will either shock and disturb you today, or have shocked and disturbed in the past. There’s some weird stuff I tell ya.

If you’re a fan of horror, or just plain creepy films, here’s a list to work yourself through on a wet weekend.

1) The Devils – 1971

Disturbing Films - The Devils

The film is an account of the rise and fall of Urbain Grandier, a 17th-century Roman Catholic priest (played by Oliver Reed) executed for witchcraft. In the UK it managed to get banned by 17 local authorities, and attracted scathing reviews all round. Judith Crist called it a “grand fiesta for sadists and perverts”. Sounds right up your street. Here’s a scene that ruffled some feathers at the time:

2) Enter The Void – 2009

Disturbing Films - Enter The Void

This film follows an American drug dealer living in Tokyo who’s betrayed by his best friend and killed in a drug deal gone bad. His soul, observing the repercussions of his death, seeks resurrection. Director Gaspar Noé was no stranger to hallucinogenics in his youth and I think that’s made perfectly clear in this film. It got mixed reviews, but one thing you can’t deny is that it is visually original. Here’s the official trailer:

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3) Lilya 4-Ever – 2002

Disturbing Films - Lilya 4-Ever

This brutal and realistic story covers the downward spiral of Lilja, a girl abandoned in the Soviet Union when her mother moves to the US. Filmed mostly in Estonia, it covers human trafficking and sexual slavery and it’s pretty darned bleak all round. Here’s the trailer:

4) Eraserhead – 1977

Disturbing Films - Eraserhead

This is possibly one of the strangest films ever made. David Lynch at his most surreal and bleak. It was Lynch’s first feature length offering and if you can follow the plot you’re a liar. An industrial soundtrack and a mutant child. That’s your summary. Here’s a clip of the famous nightmare scene:

5) Human Centipede 1 & 2

Disturbing Films - Human Centipede

Well, here’s a couple of films that need no introduction. They had to get on the list though. Such a bleak premise. According to producer Tom Six, the concept of the film arose from a joke he made with friends about punishing a child molester by stitching his mouth to the anus of a “fat truck driver”. Lovely. Here’s the trailer from the first film if you’ve missed it:

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6) Salò, 120 Days of Sodom – 1975

Disturbing Films - Salo

Salò is based on the book The 120 Days of Sodom, written by the Marquis de Sade, the man that gave his name to sadism. In a nutshell, four fascist youths round up 9 teenagers and subject them to 120 days of physical, mental and sexual torture. With a plot like that it was never going to be Disney was it. The British censors completely blocked its release initially and a few days after its first, illegal showing in Soho, the cinema was raided by Police. It’s still banned in some countries to this day. Here’s the trailer:

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7) Antichrist – 2009

Disturbing Films - Antichrist

A grieving couple retreat to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage after the death of their child. The man starts having visions and the woman gets progressively more and more violent. Here’s the trailer:

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8) Cannibal Holocaust – 1980

Disturbing Films - Cannibal Holocaust

Cannibal Holocaust, the classic: A New York University professor returns from a rescue mission to the Amazonian forest with the footage shot by a lost team of documentarians who were making a film about the area’s local cannibal tribes. It caused a right fuss at the time. After the film was shot, people started to believe it was a snuff film i.e. the actors had actually been killed during the shooting of the feature. To make matters worse, the producer had made the actors sign a contract that kept them out of the media for a year after the film was released. He had to break the contract to avoid life in prison! On a lighter note, seven animals were killed during the filming…. you don’t hear that anymore do you?

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9) Un Chien Andalou – 1929

Disturbing Films - Un Chien Andalou

There’s little plot to speak of in this silent short film. Just oodles of darkness and an eye being cut open. Salvidor Dalí was one of the writers so it was never going to make much sense I guess. The film was greeted positively which disappointed Dalí who made it his life’s work to shock. The clip below shows you just how far shock films have come and exactly how to ruin tense and disturbing images with perky French music:

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10) Repulsion – 1965

Disturbing Films - Repulsion

In this film Romanski focuses on a woman left alone in her home whilst her sister goes on vacation. What should have been a nice relaxing time was completely ruined by demons from her past visiting her in gruesome and grizzly manifestations. Repulsion is widely considered a classic of the psychological thriller genre.

11) A Serbian Film – 2010

Disturbing Films - A Serbian Film

An aging porn star is given the chance to escape the industry he has come to hate when he’s invited to make an “art film”. It doesn’t exactly turn out as he’d planned. The film he is forced to star in is a pedophilia and necrophilia themed snuff film. Woops. Thanks to the liberal inclusion of child abuse the film has been banned in Spain, Portugal, France, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore, rejected in Norway, cut for a record of 19 minutes in the United States, and temporarily banned from screening in Brazil.

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12) Caligula – 1979

Disturbing Films - Caligula

Gore Vidal’s screenplay details the erotic and brutal, yet ultimately tragic story of Rome’s most infamous Caesar, Gaius Germanicus Caligula. It was the first film to show big actors in what amounted to pornographic scenes.  It remains one of the most infamous cult films ever made and is still banned in several countries to this day. Critics absolutely hated it, a big critic at the time – Roger Ebert – said it was “sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash”. Rex Reed called Caligula “a trough of rotten swill”. Jay Scott said “Caligula doesn’t really work on any level” and that it was “a boondoggle of landmark proportions”. Boondoggle, hey?

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13) I Spit On Your Grave – 1978

Disturbing Films - I Spit On Your Grave

An aspiring writer is repeatedly gang-raped, humiliated, and left for dead by four men. She decides to take matters into her own hands and tracks them down and brutalises them. A classic revenge film covered in gore. In 2010 the film was named one of Time‘s Top 10 Ridiculously Violent Movies. There was a remake made in 2010 and then I Spit On Your Grave 2 was released at the end of 2013. Neither of which seemed to cause as much fuss as the original.

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The end. Sleep well…


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