Top 20 Most Disturbing Films Ever

by jaymarie-249-509156 | created - 29 Nov 2013 | updated - 26 Mar 2015 | Public

I have seen many and am always on the lookout for more. Not everyone will agree with my top 20, but these are the ones that had the biggest impact in my case. Suggestions welcome!

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1. Valhalla Rising (2009)

Not Rated | 93 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

6.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
61 Metascore

Forced for some time to be a fighting slave, a pagan warrior escapes his captors with a boy and joins a group of Crusaders on their quest to the Holy Land.

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn | Stars: Mads Mikkelsen, Maarten Stevenson, Alexander Morton, Stewart Porter

Votes: 48,243 | Gross: $0.02M

A bleak and tormented journey across the Scottish highlands with very little dialog, violent and bloody imagery from the get-go, and a story that gets darker and darker until it culminates in one of the most unrelentingly twisted scenes out there. It hold my number 1 spot for also being visually stunning, having an amazing soundtrack and possessing a sophistication that most films of this sort lack.

2. Blind Mountain (2007)

95 min | Crime, Drama

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
60 Metascore

A young woman is kidnapped and sold to a villager in the mountains.

Director: Yang Li | Stars: Lu Huang, Youan Yang, Yuling Zhang, Yunle He

Votes: 1,263 | Gross: $0.01M

Not gory or even necessarily violent, Blind Mountain is haunting because it feels gritty, realistic and honest. The knowledge that this sort of thing is still happening today is no comfort.

3. Irreversible (2002)

Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
51 Metascore

Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order as the beautiful Alex is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass.

Director: Gaspar Noé | Stars: Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel, Jo Prestia

Votes: 96,865 | Gross: $0.75M

Arguably the most upsetting thing I have ever or will ever watch. Noe uses the reverse chronological order of scenes to stunning effect, making this a far more painful experience than if events were watched in order from start to finish. Instead, we are forced to witness the unbelievable pain and suffering of these characters in the beginning, and are reminded in every following scene that they don't know what's coming, their happiness is going to be shattered and we are as powerless as they are to stop it.

NOTE: Some scenes in this film are extremely graphic and could be very triggering, especially to survivors of rape. I will add that Irreversible doesn't make the audience feel voyeuristic. It's depictions of violence, though highly realistic, are not fetishized or glamorized, rather allowing for empathy and a window into the suffering of rape victims and their loved ones.

4. Vinyan (2008)

R | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

5.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

A couple are looking for their child who was lost in the tsunami - their search takes them to the dangerous Thai-Burmese waters, and then into the jungle, where they face unknown but horrifying dangers.

Director: Fabrice du Welz | Stars: Emmanuelle Béart, Rufus Sewell, Petch Osathanugrah, Julie Dreyfus

Votes: 4,916

Some people strongly dislike this film and I can see why. Reality and fantasy, life, death and afterlife are skewed throughout and it can be hard to follow or always make sense of. I still enjoyed it a lot though. It's a creepy and fascinating fever dream. Like Blair Witch Project and Cannibal Holocaust had a holiday together in Myanmar.

5. Gummo (1997)

R | 89 min | Comedy, Drama

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
19 Metascore

Lonely residents of a tornado-stricken Ohio town wander the deserted landscape trying to fulfill their boring, nihilistic lives.

Director: Harmony Korine | Stars: Nick Sutton, Jacob Sewell, Lara Tosh, Jacob Reynolds

Votes: 26,879 | Gross: $0.02M

I'm not sure what it was about this movie, but I can't forget it. It twists the knife in so subtly in places you don't realize what you're watching is going to mess with you later, and at other times I felt sickened enough to have to look away. That may be the point.

6. Funny Games (1997)

Not Rated | 108 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
69 Metascore

Two violent young men take a mother, father, and son hostage in their vacation cabin and force them to play sadistic "games" with one another for their own amusement.

Director: Michael Haneke | Stars: Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe, Arno Frisch, Frank Giering

Votes: 50,477

7. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

R | 112 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
68 Metascore

Kevin's mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly dangerous things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined.

Director: Lynne Ramsay | Stars: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller, Jasper Newell

Votes: 111,208 | Gross: $1.74M

8. Lilya 4-Ever (2002)

R | 109 min | Crime, Drama

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
82 Metascore

Sixteen-year-old Lilja and her only friend, the young boy Volodja, live in Estonia, fantasizing about a better life. One day, Lilja falls in love with Andrej, who is going to Sweden, and invites Lilja to come along and start a new life.

Director: Lukas Moodysson | Stars: Oksana Akinshina, Artyom Bogucharskiy, Pavel Ponomaryov, Lyubov Agapova

Votes: 37,980 | Gross: $0.18M

9. Audition (1999)

R | 115 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
69 Metascore

A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all.

Director: Takashi Miike | Stars: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura

Votes: 60,688

10. Martyrs (2008)

R | 99 min | Horror

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A young woman's quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child leads her and a friend, who is also a victim of child abuse, on a terrifying journey into a living hell of depravity.

Director: Pascal Laugier | Stars: Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Bégin, Robert Toupin

Votes: 67,309

11. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Unrated | 95 min | Adventure, Horror

6.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

During a rescue mission into the Amazon rainforest, a professor stumbles across lost film shot by a missing documentary crew.

Director: Ruggero Deodato | Stars: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen, Luca Barbareschi

Votes: 42,968

12. The Woman (I) (2011)

R | 101 min | Horror

6.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
58 Metascore

When a successful country lawyer captures and attempts to "civilize" the last remaining member of a violent clan that has roamed the Northeast coast for decades, he puts the lives of his family in jeopardy.

Director: Lucky McKee | Stars: Pollyanna McIntosh, Brandon Gerald Fuller, Lauren Ashley Carter, Chris Krzykowski

Votes: 18,819

It's not for everyone. The premise is absurd. But if you can see past that, this movie is genuinely upsetting and thought provoking, and Sean Spillane's soundtrack casts everything in a weird, too real light.

13. 5150 rue des Ormes (2009)

110 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

5150 ELM'S WAY is located at the end of a quiet street in a small town. When Yannick fell off his bike, he knocked at the door of the Beaulieu residence so he could clean the blood off his ... See full summary »

Director: Éric Tessier | Stars: Marc-André Grondin, Normand D'Amour, Sonia Vachon, Mylène St-Sauveur

Votes: 2,811

14. Kim Bok-nam salinsageonui jeonmal (2010)

Not Rated | 115 min | Action, Crime, Drama

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A woman subject to mental, physical, and sexual abuse on a remote island seeks a way out.

Director: Cheol-soo Jang | Stars: Yeong-hie Seo, Seong-won Ji, Min-ho Hwang, Min Je

Votes: 10,366

15. August Underground (2001 Video)

Unrated | 70 min | Horror

3.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.8/10 X  

Two serial killers go on a murdering rampage as one films the outcome from behind a video camera.

Director: Fred Vogel | Stars: Kyle Dealman, Casey Eganey, Dan Friedman, Alexa Iris

Votes: 2,276

16. The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael (2005)

96 min | Crime, Drama

5.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5/10 X  

Robert Carmichael, is a talented cello player in the town of Newhaven. He becomes associated with several other unsavory teenagers, and he is soon tempted into the use of hard drugs like cocaine and ecstasy.

Director: Thomas Clay | Stars: Nikki Albon, Zoey Campbell, Stephanie de Whalley, Phil Deguara

Votes: 1,097

17. Calvaire (2004)

Not Rated | 88 min | Horror

6.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
52 Metascore

Marc, a traveling entertainer, is on his way home for Christmas when his van brakes in the middle of a jerkwater town with some strange inhabitans.

Director: Fabrice du Welz | Stars: Laurent Lucas, Brigitte Lahaie, Gigi Coursigny, Jean-Luc Couchard

Votes: 10,229 | Gross: $0.00M

Any experimental horror/exploitation fan worth their salt is doing themselves a disservice by not watching Calvaire. If you can track it down, do yourself a favor and let it totally ruin your day.

18. Hei tai yang 731 (1988)

Not Rated | 105 min | Drama, History, Horror

6.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Japanese troops round up Chinese and Russian prisoners of war and take them to a place called Squadron 731, where they are grotesquely tortured and experimented on to test new biological weapons.

Director: Tun Fei Mou | Stars: Jianxin Chen, Hsu Gou, Linjie Hao, Haizhe Jin

Votes: 4,903

19. Dans ma peau (2002)

Unrated | 93 min | Drama, Horror

6.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
68 Metascore

A woman grows increasingly fascinated with her body after suffering a disfiguring accident.

Director: Marina de Van | Stars: Marina de Van, Laurent Lucas, Léa Drucker, Thibault de Montalembert

Votes: 4,332 | Gross: $0.03M

20. The Girl Next Door (2007)

R | 91 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
29 Metascore

Based on the Jack Ketchum novel of the same name, The Girl Next Door follows the unspeakable torture and abuses committed on a teenage girl in the care of her aunt...and the boys who witness and fail to report the crime.

Director: Gregory Wilson | Stars: William Atherton, Blythe Auffarth, Blanche Baker, Kevin Chamberlin

Votes: 20,036

21. Begotten (1990)

Unrated | 72 min | Fantasy, Horror

5.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

This gory and entirely visual film tells the surreal tale of the death and rebirth of gods.

Director: E. Elias Merhige | Stars: Brian Salzberg, Donna Dempsey, Stephen Charles Barry, James Gandia

Votes: 8,257

An honorable mention must go to this experimental horror, with it's bizarre and uncompromising depictions of human suffering in the way of disembowelment, necrophilia, torture, death by burning, resurrection, rape, murder, dismemberment, myriad bodily fluids being used for various rites, and symbols that will resonate even if they are difficult to discern.