Bleak but beautiful moviesby robert-grimminck | created - 29 Jul 2011 | updated - 08 Sep 2011 | Public
This is a list of the most depressing movies I've ever seen. A lot of these movies disturbed me but I still loved them.
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1. The Orphanage (2007)
R | 105 min | Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.
Votes: 131,987 | Gross: $7.16M
Utterly heartbreaking. I have never really seen a horror movie with this much depth. Hell, not just a horror movie, but for movies in general. This is an outstanding movie, just don't watch it on a date or something.
2. The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
R | 112 min | Drama
A bus crash in a small town brings a lawyer to the town to defend the families, but he discovers that everything is not what it seems.
Votes: 29,024 | Gross: $3.25M
There is a school bus accident in a small town and a lot of the kids of the town are killed. It's sad just explaining the plot line! However, Atom Egoyan makes a beautiful movie about death, despair and moving on.
3. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
R | 102 min | Drama
The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep.
Votes: 661,455 | Gross: $3.64M
Unlike of other movies on the list that are trying to inspire hope, this movie's point is to be as bleak and dark as possible. I'm pretty sure it was Roger Ebert who said this movie shouldn't be rated R because young people should see this movie to see the effects drugs can have on a person.
4. Schindler's List (1993)
R | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History
In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans.
Votes: 1,009,025 | Gross: $96.07M
I almost didn't put this on the list because it's an obvious choice. It is unrelenting in it's horrors and that is the point. The holocaust was a series of atrocities followed by more atrocities.
5. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
R | 136 min | Crime, Drama, Sci-Fi
In the future, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment, but it doesn't go as planned.
I saw this movie 20 years after it was released and as I watched it I kept saying to myself "I can't believe someone actually made a movie about this." I have never wanted to watch it again. It was like Kubrick grabbed reality and wrung all the goodness out of it.
6. American History X (1998)
R | 119 min | Crime, Drama
A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.
Votes: 897,119 | Gross: $6.72M
From start to finish Tony Kay stomps happiness out of this movie. The movie is fascinating with great performances. If you haven't seen this movie yet, stop everything you're doing and watch it now.
7. Let the Right One In (2008)
R | 115 min | Drama, Horror, Romance
Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.
Votes: 188,165 | Gross: $2.12M
A young boy who is bullied at school and has a miserable home life finds a friend in a monster. It's a depressing set up to a sad movie. Is it a happy ending? This movie is as bleak the Swedish weather. (The American remake Let Me In and the original novel are all excellent as well)
8. Oldeuboi (2003)
R | 120 min | Action, Drama, Mystery
After being kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in five days.
Votes: 425,968 | Gross: $0.71M
One of the best movies of all time. It is so depressing and the only reasons there are happy spots is to drop you even further into despair. The movie is brilliant otherwise and a fascinating look at revenge.
9. The Road (I) (2009)
R | 111 min | Adventure, Drama
In a dangerous post-apocalyptic world, an ailing father defends his son as they slowly travel to the sea.
Votes: 197,743 | Gross: $0.06M
A lot of times Dystopian novels/movies try to inspire hope, or they are allegories for something else. The Road on the other hand is straight up depressing. There is little to be happy for throughout the whole story and that the ending has little or no impact. Everything dies.
10. The Lives of Others (2006)
R | 137 min | Drama, Thriller
In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.
Votes: 302,806 | Gross: $11.29M
An incredibly powerful movie about the power of art in culture. Any movie that is set in East Berlin is going to be depressing but this one is messy and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
11. M (1931)
Not Rated | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.
Votes: 118,665 | Gross: $0.03M
I still can't believe they made a movie about a child serial killer in 1931. While no gore is shown, the movie has an amazing amount of tension. Everyone in the movie is uneasy and it makes the viewer feel part of that community. They even show the killer before the audience knows. I want to scream at the people, "there he is!" But last time I did that, people in class told me to shut up.
12. Blade Runner (1982)
R | 117 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller
A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator.
Votes: 585,231 | Gross: $27.00M
How does someone sum up all the bleakness that Blade Runner? Every single aspect, from the script to the cinematography, of this movie is meant to inspire despair and hopelessness.
13. Se7en (1995)
R | 127 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.
Votes: 1,194,441 | Gross: $100.13M
Much like Blade Runner, atmosphere adds so much to this thriller. The story is dark and twisted. It's too bad Brad Pitt almost ruins the whole movie in the last scene. Other than that, the bleakest serial killer movie ever made.
14. Man Bites Dog (1992)
NC-17 | 95 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
A film crew follows a ruthless thief and heartless killer as he goes about his daily routine. But complications set in when the film crew lose their objectivity and begin lending a hand.
Votes: 31,746 | Gross: $0.21M
This movie is straight up ugly. I don't know if I enjoyed it or not. I think they could have done more with the premise but even then there are some shocking moments.
15. 21 Grams (2003)
R | 124 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A freak accident brings together a critically ill mathematician, a grieving mother, and a born-again ex-con.
Votes: 205,404 | Gross: $16.25M
This is a really tumultuous film with the ending that is satisfying because it's not too sad. It's not a happy ending. It simply is the least heartbreaking part of the movie. Now that's bleak!
16. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
R | 111 min | Drama, Romance
Ben Sanderson, a Hollywood screenwriter who lost everything because of his alcoholism, arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets and forms an uneasy friendship and non-interference pact with prostitute Sera.
Votes: 101,943 | Gross: $31.97M
A man tries to drink himself to death. How, in any way can this be upbeat? Luckily Nicholas Cage pulls it off and the movie is fascinating to watch...even if you feel hung over and ashamed after watching it.
17. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)
R | 117 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
When two brothers organize the robbery of their parent's jewelry store the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that sends them, their father and one brother's wife hurtling towards a shattering climax.
Votes: 87,521 | Gross: $7.08M
This one is a bit different than the other ones whereas its not as depressing, it is unsettlingly dark. I've never seen a crime movie like this before and needed to have a shower after watching it.
18. Taxi Driver (1976)
R | 114 min | Crime, Drama
A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action, while attempting to liberate a twelve-year-old prostitute.
Votes: 594,481 | Gross: $28.26M
How could I not include this on the list? Does anyone else have a sense of uneasiness while they watch this movie? De Niro is simply amazing and makes Travis Bickle that guy you feel you need to shake after a few minutes of conversation.
19. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Unrated | 83 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
Henry, a drifter, commits a series of brutal murders, supposedly operating with impunity.
Votes: 26,464 | Gross: $0.61M
While some of the gore comes across as cheap, it's the whole atmophere of the film that makes this one of the bleakest. None of the characters crack a smile (unless they are slaughtering people). From start to finish, this movie is deadly serious.
20. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
R | 134 min | Drama, Romance
The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years.
Votes: 285,684 | Gross: $83.04M
Like other movies on this least, it's not constantly bleak, but it only wants you to be happy so the losses can be even more devastating.
21. Double Indemnity (1944)
Passed | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions.
Votes: 118,472 | Gross: $5.72M
While this may not be the bleakest by today's standards, no one wanted to make this movie at the time because it was so dark. It is hard to make a film where the criminals are the main characters during the Hayes Code era but the movie is original and clips along at a good pace.
22. Irreversible (2002)
Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
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.
Votes: 99,035 | Gross: $0.75M
I was torn putting this on the list because I do not recommend it in any form. I hated this movie. It is vile and ugly but of course, all that makes it one of the bleakest movies I've ever seen.
23. Wolf Creek (2005)
R | 99 min | Horror, Thriller
Three backpackers stranded in the Australian outback are plunged in a hellish nightmare of insufferable torture by a sadistic psychopathic local.
Votes: 60,948 | Gross: $16.19M
I didn't really find this movie really that innovative but it is brutal. I can't think of a better way to describe it...it doesn't have a darker or meaner edge to it, it's just more brutal than other recent horrors.
24. WALL·E (2008)
G | 98 min | Animation, Adventure, Family
In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.
Votes: 845,145 | Gross: $223.81M
Didn't anyone else find this movie unbelievably depressing? From WALL-E alone on trash yard that was once earth. Now humans are all just fat slops. Yes, WALL-E and EVE is a cute story line...but it's not enough.
25. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
R | 133 min | Drama
A criminal pleads insanity after getting into trouble again and once in the mental institution rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.
Votes: 779,611 | Gross: $112.00M
This was another one I wasn't sure if I want to put on. Sure, it's bleak but isn't it also meant to be ultimately uplifting? And there are spots of happiness in this one, more than anything else on the list and that's what makes this such a great movie. So this is why it gets the 25th spot.