5 Deeply Unsettling Movie Scenes You Can't Un-See

Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee in ‘The Road’/Still © Magnolia Pictures

Editor's Note: Jonathan Moore is a Hawaii-based author whose first novel, Redheads, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. His second novel, Close Reach, is now available. We asked Jonathan to talk to us about the most unsettling movie scenes he's ever seen. Here's what he came up with.

If my second novel, Close Reach, is ever filmed, I'll need to apologize to the lead actresses. Close Reach isn't "The Bunny Game" - no actress would get branded on camera - but it would still require rough, unsettling movie scenes: Close Reach has nearly every form of death that can be dealt out on a boat. Women are kept naked in a cage; the antagonist drops darker hints of other tortures. Then there's the climax, which is brutal.

We're lucky to live in a society without much censorship.

It's theoretically possible to violate an obscenity law by writing a book, but I can't even imagine what that would look like. Films using live actors are more regulated, but for the most part, people are free to make any insane thing they want. The only real censorship is done by distributors or audiences: crossing too many lines may be a recipe for box office disaster.

Because my writing tends to edge into darkness, it makes sense to think about where the lines are. Some films make me blink because they're so real they hurt. I worry I've stumbled onto something I wasn't meant to see. Perhaps pain is private. Death is as intimate as love. But a film makes everything transparent. It shines a light through its characters, and throws them on the wall.

I think there's an unspoken contract between any kind of art and its audience. Art asks: don't look away. The audience says: fine, but remember we're here. Because we can't un-see what you show us.

Here are five films that came to mind as I wrote Close Reach. I liked some more than others, but each has scenes I'll never forget. And each found a different way to manage the balance between the command to watch and the desire to turn away.

"The English Patient" (1996)

Wait a minute - isn't this supposed to be a list of unsettling scenes? And isn't "The English Patient" an Academy Award-winning love story based on a Booker Prize-winning novel by the poet Michael Ondaatje?


But do you remember the thumb scene? I always will. It works so well because it comes at you on every level. It's set up as a flashback, so that you feel tension in two points of time and space: in the film's present, in Italy, and in the film's past, in North Africa. You care about Willem Dafoe's character, so that when the Nazi officer (played perfectly by Jürgen Prochnow) starts talking about cutting, you can't look away. By the time the nurse comes in with a straight razor, you don't have a choice, because this is happening to you.

"The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" (2011)

Here's a movie with a dark chest full of unsettling scenes. Most of them involve terrible things happening to Rooney Mara's character, or to other women. But one scene stands out.

I have never watched a rape in a movie that lasted this long, or went into so much grinding detail, or that made me angrier. For all I know, the scene only lasts twenty seconds. But it feels like ten minutes. At first, I was angry for the character. In the next eight or nine minutes, I was angry at the filmmaker.

Perhaps that was the point: The character didn't have the option of simply cutting away to the next scene. Her only choice was to endure it, so the audience must as well.

But scenes like this make me wonder. If I watch, without turning away, am I becoming a victim of the scene, or am I somehow a participant? Does the director care? Is there a way to make something this gritty and real without being this gritty and real?

"Dead Calm" (1989)

About a third of the way through this movie, Nicole Kidman's character lets Billy Zane's character take her to bed. They're aboard her yacht, in the middle of the Pacific. But she's married, and loves her husband - who happens to be trapped on a sinking boat. And Billy Zane's a psychopath who has kidnapped her and left her husband to die.

This scene is non-violent, but deeply disturbing. Nicole Kidman never gets a voiceover where she says, "And then I did what I had to do, to stay alive. It left scars, of course."

The scene works because it doesn't explain itself, and she never explains it to us. Bereft of context, it would even be erotic. They are on a yacht, and that is Nicole Kidman. But there's nothing consensual or pleasant in this scene, and it's enough to make you look down a moment, and think.

"Eye of the Needle" (1981)

Based on Ken Follett's sublime World War II spy thriller, the entire last half-hour of this 1981 film is unsettling. It's also impossible to stop watching. Stuck in a cold marriage on a colder island off the coast of Scotland, Lucy (Kate Nelligan) makes a mistake when she sleeps with a German spy who washes ashore after a storm. The spy makes a worse mistake when he thinks Lucy will let him get back to Germany with his secrets. Lucy stops a radio transmission by shorting out the island's electrical system with her bare hand; the final scene, as the German tries to row away and Lucy stands on the beach with a pistol, is perfect. And painful.

"The Road" (2009)

This entire movie hurts to watch. It builds dread the way bricklayers build walls, and it surrounds you with it. Reading Cormac McCarthy's beautiful novel is hard enough - I first read it on a plane, in one sitting, and by the end I felt as if I'd been stuffed into a sack and beaten while listening to my family get killed and eaten somewhere nearby. I was drained for about two weeks. The movie takes that theme and runs with it. It's based on my favorite book, and it's one of my favorite movies. But I've only watched it once.

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  • JH

    Sean Penn in Mystic River. "Is that my daughter in there ?"

    • Ashley Faye

      Mystic River .. for sure. Damn. Now I'm scared.

  • MM

    You obviously haven't seen "Irreversible". There are several scenes in this critically acclaimed movie that could be on this list, including a rape scene much more disturbing than the one in " The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo". Definitely wish I could unsee this one...

    • nathan

      exactly what I was thinking while reading.

    • Matthew Lockhart

      "Irreversible", Yes! Glad someone else pointed this out. What a fantasticly dark, disturbing, yet powerfully moving film. Will never get that one out of my head, for better or worse.

    • Ben Robinson

      Absolutely agree. As rape scenes go there is not a more realistic or unsettling. It is filmed in real time and in full. There is a moment when a couple approach the scene and from a distance decide to turn and walk away, aware only that a couple are having sex and not wishing to intrude.

    • ghost

      thinking the same thing, Irreversible's rape scene actually DOES go for 10 minutes. 10.....long.....minutes

    • AA

      Me too. Irreversible shows rape for what it must be, the most hideous violation. It's not just the visual aspect but also the horrible sound. Once witnessed, it's hard to forget.

  • Leonard Thomas

    If you like unsettling stories check out the books "Cry No More" and "Angels and Fiends", both are available at Smashwords. Don't say I didn't warn you.

  • Danielle

    The rape scene in 'Irreversible,' and also the murder scene earlier (later?) in the movie. Rough, both of them.

  • Braigno

    Pascal laugier's "Martyrs" was deeply deeply unsettling

    • newfiesailor

      You have my vote for Martyrs. Some pretty nasty scenes in that one. I heard about "A Serbian Film", but the subject matter in that film has deterred me away from it. Funny how it appals to the ghoul in me though. I must stay strong...

  • Chad Hall

    Two glaring misses: 1) the tendon severing scene in 127 Hours 2) the rape scene in Irreversible. It's 11 minutes long and terrifying.

    • Cory Heller

      I'm with you, Chad. Irreversible would top my list.

    • DB

      He narrowed it down to a list of five. Your ideas would be worthy, too, but then it would be seven. And then someone else would think of some other movies that they think are worthy of being included, too, and then it would be eight. Or even ten. And then someone else would think of more films.

      They're not "misses" at all. They just weren't included, because they can't ALL be included.

  • robinhj

    I can watch any violence and depravity but the scene that made me turn off a classic film and not return was in Deliverance just after the famous 'Squee little piggy' scene when a man is shot by an arrow.

    We have all seen hundreds of cowboys die this way but this man did not just grunt and fall over or manfully give an inspiring last speech before dieing. He sagged in pain against a tree , unable to move, and watched in shocked disbelief as his lifes blood ran down the shaft and dripped off the end until there was no more to drip. I could feel what it must be like to have a length of wood painfully forced through your chest and out the other side and it seemed so much more realistic than most deaths.

    I was in a hospital bed late at night and filled with all sorts of drugs so maybe that somehow accentuated its effect on me but I have never attempted that film again.

  • Thiru

    How about 'The Mist'...? That was truly shocking..

  • Cory Heller

    Good list. I concur. The only difference, or addition, I would make is that I would probably top off my list with the rape scene from Gaspar Noe's Irreversable. Seeing Monica Bellucci sodomized and beaten in real time is almost too much to bear.

  • James Woods

    Just thinking about that scene gives me goosebumps. Very good direction.

  • Mark

    Reservoir Dogs, ear scene (Tarantino). Every time I hear the song "Stuck in the Middle with You" this scene comes to mind.

  • Lesley Ann

    Two deeply disturbing English films and both starring people with the surname of Winstone are: Nil By Mouth and Donkey Punch.

  • Gina Slusher

    Perfect. I agree with every word and Cormac McCarthy is also my very favorite.

  • TJ

    Shindler's List when they are burning the bodies and the Nazi soldier turns around screaming. He had completely lost his mind.

  • TS

    The entire movie "Precious" was also very unsettling.
    Also the fight scene in which the character played by Edward Norton is arrested for in "American History X".
    Movies and scenes such as these and the ones listed in this article are definitely, maybe impossible, to watch more than once because they are so traumatic to the soul.

    • gypsie_j

      I agree "Precious" was a rough movie for me to watch. "Human Centipede" was gross but I also found it a bit boring (horrible film I wish I didn't see). "Pan's Labyrinth", when the girl gets shot upset me and so did the ending of "The Mist".

  • Caroline

    Hard Candy castration scene 100% awful. Also Mystic River.

    • Diane

      ^ THIS. Omg, talk about movies you can't unsee. Ellen Page (Juno) and castration.

  • THS

    Panic in Needle Park....the entire film.

  • lucas

    You've obviously never seen Irreversible.

  • wz

    The rape scene from " The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"? Obviously you haven't seen "Irreversible".

  • TD

    What about "Dancer in the Dark" - waiting the trapdoor to open for Selma is excruciating.

    • http://Irreversible. ct

      Irreversible has, hands down, the two most disturbing scenes of all time. The murder and the rape. No other film has topped it in "unsee-ability". What's done is done. I can't unsee it. I was hesitant to watch it to begin... I've seen Martyrs.... Very moving film and the only one which approaches Irreversible in it's shocking value + depth. Let's not forget both of those movies are not mere torture porn films. They truly disturb due to the themes and the foundation of the film. We are truly fallen, and no other films can show this the way gaspar does.

      Requiem for a Dream also is on my list. A truly beautiful movie.

    • CLD

      I agree. Dancer in the Dark is probably at the top of my unsettling movies list. First, the scene where Selma commits her crime is horrible to watch, but her punishment is forever engrained in my psyche. I have never sobbed watching anything else. I love Von Trier deeply, and it's one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen, but I will never watch DITD again. It crushed me.

  • mr d

    Requiem for a dream! Come on!

  • Eric Robert Wilkinson

    Just watch IRREVERSIBLE (or at least the first half hour or so) and tell me then if THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is so bad to be on this list...

  • diesel

    I guess nobody has seen Antichrist or Enter The Void.

    • Chad Hall

      Oh yes. Antichrist. The final scenes definitely qualify, though that movie was so pointless, I wish that I could un-see the entire thing.

      I also agree with bringing in Gaspar Noé, though I though the rape scene in Irreversible was more brutal than all of Enter The Void.

  • JT

    'Blindness': a film about walking around barefoot in your own shit while bartering for food with rape. If this doesn't make the list, nothing else should.

  • RMK

    How about the last 20 minutes of Requiem For A Dream, directors cut?

  • conner

    What about requiem for a dream.

  • tonygreene113

    I've seen all of these movies and each one of the author's descriptions are spot on except for one. The Road was a film that didn't have very many seems that were unsettling to me.

    Maybe this is all simply subjective.

  • Travis

    The last 10 minutes of Salo. It really is being I'm hell

  • Gerald

    I generally have no interest in watching movies like this because they are TOO true to life... can (and do) happen. I thought I was safe watching a sci-fi show, but Torchwood: Children of Earth was incredibly unsettling. It had the normal humor of the show, but put forth the idea of sacrificing a quarter of the Earth's young children in order to save every one else. I was messed up and having nightmares for days after watching this.

    I want to watch it again, but I'm actually kind of afraid to.

    • Copper Horsewoman

      Oh, yeah. Children of Earth. Like a baseball bat to the solar plexus.

    • Rose

      Torchwood Children of Earth was extremely hard get over. Honestly, they didn't even really show gratuitous violence. It was all emotion, the emotion of sacrificing your children, your grandchildren, etc. It was so emotional that I wasn't sure I wanted to continue watching.

  • JS

    I'm still haunted by a scene from Hannibal when the guy's brain is being eaten while he is still alive. Shudder.

  • Joe.L

    Requiem for a Dream

  • Kim

    The book, The Road, left me with waaaay more awful images than the film ever could. Also, the scene from Sophie's Choice has forever left a scar.

    • KNP

      The mere thought of Sophie's Choice is unbearable even after all these years.

  • BLW

    The Mist(remake) - final scene
    Misery -
    Bad Boy Bubby - intro

    the list goes on

    • julie ferguson

      Bad Boy Bubby is a trip and half.

      The ending of The Mist completely caught me unawares. Have read the short story and loved it's ending but that was something else.

  • Billy Barule

    Lars von Trier's "Antichrist" is probably the most unsettling movie I've ever seen. I almost turned it off three times, but like a car wreck, i had to keep watching.

    Aronofsky's "Requiem For A Dream" is also on my hard-to-watch list.

  • ec

    Monster with Charlize Theron. That entire movie needs to be un-seen. SO dark.. darkest movie I've ever seen. No laughter, just chaos. Very good nevertheless.

  • george

    i agree on irreversible, though maybe its not on the list because it's not based on a book, i think the list is about films based on novels

  • Rodney

    There was a movie from 1994 called The Getaway starring Alec Baldwin in which Jennifer Tilly and her husband are kidnapped and taken on the run. She eventually becomes attracted to the kidnapper and willingly has sex with him in front of her tied up husband. He ends up hanging himself in a bathroom and she doesn't even care. That storyline always creeped me out.

    • Bonafide

      That bit disturbs the hell out of me. One of the most disgusting sex scenes ever put on film. They had the same scene in the 1972 original only not quite as graphic and it was rated PG!

  • Liz

    "The Road" is one of my favorite novels and, therefore, I cannot see the movie. Kudos to you for having the courage. I can't explain why I am so drawn to that book and I can't tell you how many times I've read it. The movie would surely ruin the book for me.

    • julie ferguson

      Good comment.

      If the movie hadn't of got the reviews it did I definitely wouldn't have watched it either. It was perfect in my head but it's a very good movie. I'm not sorry I watched it.

    • Maryam

      The movie is not at all as good as the book. I loved the book as well and wish I never saw the movie.

    • katie

      This movie shouldn't ruin the book for you. I watched this movie the day I finished the book, and it was unbelievably wonderful. It stays very close to the book, sometimes word-for-word. And the scenes were beautiful and eerie all at the same time. I definitely recommend it.

  • Miguel

    If anyone has the stomach or is curious, and wants to see a whole movie of deeply upsetting stuff. Try and find the uncut version of "A Serbian Film". You won't think straight for at least a week... You can actually probably just read the wikipedia synopsis and feel scarred.

    • Nele

      That's exactly what i did and I'm sure I never want to see that movie!

    • Steve

      Seen it, couldn't get it out of my head for a long time. Horrible shit!

    • Abe

      Never, ever, ever, see this movie. PERIOD!

    • Lo

      I saw A Serbian Film 2 years ago and it still haunts me. I was legitimately mad at my friends for showing it to me. Take everything that's already been mentioned and have it done to a child.... puke.

  • CheeseDog

    Dammit I'm having one of those moments now. I also read The Road in one sitting, flying back to London from Heathrow with my 23 month old son asleep on my lap for a good part of it. Glad I'm not alone in being deeply affected by the experience.

  • Tyson Hawkins

    The Road crushed me when I read it. The last 30 pages or so, I'd read a few sentences, have to pull away, take a deep breath and regroup, then a few more sentences. After i finished it (also in one sitting), it was like a dark cloud settled over me for a week. I was haunted, thoughts of the story and characters never more than a few seconds from my mind. McCarthy is brilliant. His Pretty Horses series has a prison scene with the "cuchillero" (cutter) that gave me nightmares of knifefights for weeks as well.

  • Philippe

    Try to See "irréversible", a very good french movie, with a rape scene You wont forget.

    • Jeff

      That was a tough one to watch. The reverse chronological order of the story also made it a little trippy to watch.

  • Marisa Sullivan

    I concur with The Road...and I will never forget how I felt reading that book!

  • chill41tx

    The Road was the hardest movie I EVER watched. The acting was outstanding . However I have never felt such an emotional drain that this movie was able to put me thru. at the end the complete sense of hopelessness, and dispair was and still is undescribable. EVERY single person I heve ever spoke with knows this movie and feels the same way. Great movie but I wil NEVER watch again.

  • Anne

    Also, the gang rape scene in Blindness. It went on long enough that people got fed up and walked out of the theater. My face was burning hot, and when I looked over, my bf was rigid and completely flushed - beet red. Aside from being dreadful to watch, the whole scene seemed terribly overwrought and desperately provocative in the context of the film.

  • Km

    How about Gone Baby Gone: a Boston crime film that not only takes but practically embraces each twist after dark twist.

  • tornpapernapkin

    Different scenes obviously will affect different people, but one that I could never get out of my mind was the little boy's death scene from the film George Washington. For reference, I've scene the other films mentioned in this list so it's not that I'm so sheltered, just something about that drawn out confusion while his friends watch not knowing what to do...

    got to me.

  • craig porzondek

    You forgot about the scene in "The Pacific" where the soldier is throwing stones into the half skull of an enemy solider...

  • Bonafide

    The beating of Jessica Alba in The Killer Inside Me, felt like it was going on forever.

  • Paul Keller

    I'm not even a fan of the show, but the first episode in Season 5 of Sons of Anarchy had one of the most disturbing scenes I've ever seen in any form of visual media.

  • Abe

    There are a few scenes in movies that I can't bear to watch again. I've revisited "Sophie's Choice" but when I get to "the choice" I have to fast forward. It's the most disturbing scene I've ever watched. As an honorable mention the rape scene in "Lipstick" starring the Hemingway sisters.

  • Jeff

    I agree totally about The Road. It is in my top 5 favorite books. It's also one of the best instances I have encountered where the movie conjured up the same or higher levels of emotion as the book. I do think the book did a better job of dealing with the mother's death and allowing the reader to understand fully why it was so. Like the author of the article I have only seen the movie once.

  • planb

    The Snowtown Murders

  • CMitchell

    Ummmm... how about the man in the bear costume going down on the guy or the naked old lady in The Shining?

    Also, I thought "The Road" was hilarious... Papa?...

  • Reality Chuck

    The final scene of "Osama" is the most unsettling, horrific, and tragic scenes in cinema. And yet, out of context and on the surface it's one of the most mundane -- which is why it is so unsettling.

  • Jonny K

    The arm-cutting scene in 127 Hours.

  • Trickshot McGee

    Where is A Serbian Film?

  • Gaddy

    American History X. With his mouth on the curb I could feel the cement on MY teeth, It got more intense from there. The final act just shot through my whole body.

  • philip marshall

    In the Getaway 1994 when Jennifer Tilly's husband catches her F-ing Michael Madsen. I'll tell you, maybe it was because I was a little kid when I saw that but that made me feel horrible. Also, in superman III when that one mean lady gets subsumed by the supercomputer. That was horrible. Oh and in Troll when that guy was transformed into that weird pupa-like thing. no me gustó nada! Fueron horrible!

  • d

    I watched most all of these...yeah, the sadness stays with you, lingers on, for some time after the movie is over...

  • julie ferguson

    I agree with The Road. One of my very, very favourite books. I also read the book the first time in one sitting and didn't stop thinking about it for a long time after. I bought the movie of course but have only been able to watch it the once.

    I've also read the Millennium series, I honestly don't think I could stomach watching Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

  • Tre’

    Serbian Film, AntiChrist, Salo, A Time To Kill, Un Chien Andalou....just killed this list

  • Jim

    I hear your last comment for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I understand that a sense of realism is necessary but is that is that 'sense' not enough.
    Who do you think's got the answer?

  • CC

    The Road was especially tough for me because at the time I read the book and saw the film my son was close to the age of the young boy. I could not quit thinking of the main characters as both him and I.

  • Maryam

    I am glad someone else mentioned Deliverance. The basement scene in Pulp Fiction creeped me the heck out also. The Road was unsettling but not nearly as much as the book. The House of Sand and Fog is also a deeply dark movie. I could not watch that in one sitting. I had to keep coming back to it. As a book, Hannibal disturbed me quite a bit.

  • katie

    I completely agree about The Road. This is one of the best books I have ever read... and the movie was wonderful. Definitely one of my favorite movies. But it still haunts me to think about this story! It was beautifully told and extremely believable, which is why I think its so unsettling. Cormac Mccarthy only gives you enough details to leave the rest to your imagination.

  • Mark

    *MM with Nick Cage was one I came out of wishing I could erase all I had scene - it involves snuff films.

  • Matt

    The original Old Boy. The end of that messed me up for days.

  • MH

    Don't forget Cutting Moments. Talk about things you can't unsee!

  • K

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned the human centipede. I haven't seen the movie but I've read what happens and it is deeply disturbing. I kinda want to see it but I think it's something I'll never get over.

  • no name

    The 1995 movie "Kids". Especially the last scene of the movie at the party... Need I say more...

  • jamie walker

    Hasn't been made into a movie...yet...but the entirety of the novel 13 Reasons Why probably one of the most fcaked uped read i've read in awhile and its a YA novel which is odd

  • Brian

    "Hannibal Rising" - when they made soup out of his 4 y/o little sister. Quite disturbing.

  • Kev

    I've gotta add "Seven" to this discussion. The part where Pitt opens the box with his wife's head in it really disturbed me.

  • Brandon

    How about the rape scene in the French film Irreversible? Now that was too long of a scene to digest.

  • pinkshock

    The scene where the mother is masterbating and then calls for her daughter to come perform oral sex on her!!!!!!! The MOST DISTURBING thing I've ever wished I could "unsee"

  • AK

    Dogville (with Nicole Kidman) is one I'd add to this list. I don't think many people saw it, but it was hard to watch her being held captive and manipulated and abused.

  • http://wordandfilm Chehairazode Rodney

    The most awful rape scene ever is from the Original I Spit on Your Grave.... It still haunts me.....

  • Lana

    The "newborn porn" scene in A Serbian Film. I have never seen anything as messed up. And I have a strong stomach when it comes to violence In films.

  • AmericanDreamer

    The Road is better enjoyed as a novel than a movie which kept confusing the story line with pointless back stories and flash backs.

  • Brucester

    The end scene of "The Audition" one of the most disturbing scenes I have ever seen, the way she is humming to herself as she sticks all these long needles in his body, then takes a wire saw and starts slowly sawing off his feet at the ankles, the whole time he is paralyzed from a drug she had given him, I finally had to turn it off.
    Also, the "tattoo" rape scene is worse in the original Swedish version of it.

    • LB

      The foot amputation scene in "Audition" totally haunts me. Wish I had brain bleach for that one.

  • kt

    You left out Dancer in the Dark. That entire film hurt! I had to stop half way thru to take a breather. And I can never watch the dude who was the landlord in anything ever again.

  • Laura

    Pan's Labyrinth got to me. When the nazis catch the two locals hunting and beat (i think it was the father) to death in front of the other with the edge of a bottle to the face, then realize they really were just hunting, not spies. And of course the end.

  • Darko

    A Serbian Film has got to be the worst! The whole thing you wish you could erase from memory!

  • Alejandro Berrios

    I thought the ending to "looking for mr goodbar" was unsettling.

    • Raynor

      I agree about "Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Saw it many years ago but is still memorable and unsettling.

      Also the brutal rape scene in "Girls Don't Cry".

  • LB

    If we're talking disturbing scenes based on books, Gage in "Pet Semetary" with the scalpel. Child serial killer. Very, very disturbing.

  • RJ Jennings

    Saving Private Ryan.
    WAR and it's reality are the most unsettling to me.
    Is RAPE more unsettling than DEATH?

    • JBaker

      The death in Saving Private Ryan that sticks with me is the knife fight with the German and the American soldier. The stuff on the beach landing was visually disturbing but the close quarters and the begging and the slow descent of the knife was way more unsettling to me.

    • Jeff

      Yes, because a person has to remember and live with the emotional damage caused by the rape, not to mention any permanent physical injuries. Once the dying is over, it's just done. When the actual physical rape is over the emotional part of the rape just begins. Speak to anyone who has been a victim of rape and they will tell you that time does NOT heal ALL wounds.

  • Todd

    Why was Requiem For A Dream not in this post?

  • Frank Bega

    How about Trainspotting? I think you all know the scene I'm talking about very disturbing and sad I was mad at the filmmaker for doing that and will never watch that film again.

    • Jeanette Smith

      I watched Trainspotting recently and he drug scenes were brutal.

  • Rob WIlliamson

    I watched the movie....."The Road" Much like the reviewer spoke of being beaten and needing two weeks to recover, at a 100% level of sympathy and understanding, I too fell victim to this movies uncanny realistic depression. for a few days after watching the movie at home by myself, on a Sunday no less. I felt as if I had been run over by an emotionally runaway train.

    The movie itself is incredibly well made and acted by everyone in it. However watching the characters fall completely apart and go through the process of what would be the most absolute horrific human event in the history of mankind, you are left with a huge void of human compassion and distain for what has been left of mankind.

    In fact the movie is so well done, and so well acted, there were times my tears were uncontrollable and my stomach ached for the terror and horror bestowed upon what is left of society. In reality the two week recovery point is just the first stage, because this movie is one that mentally imprints its imagery inside of you forever.
    I have always wanted to watch it again, it's been 3 years since I saw it, and just the picture alone put all ideas of watching it again aside.

    It is beautifully painful and difficult to watch, it is tense and stressful from beginning to end, it is a movie with a shadow of hope so weakly imparted in the background that you can't turn away until the last scene is over. It will rip apart your heart and soul and force you to piece it back together because the possibility of this movies vision is sadly and more importantly very real.

    I'm not a movie expert, nor are there any professional critical review talents to share with you on my part, there are only raw, deeply impressible acutely shared emotions that will scare your mind chronically for the rest of your life and for it you'll be a better person if the message it was meant to deliver is received and understood.

    If I had it all to do over again, I'd watch it a million times because of its level of movie artistry and its ability to transcend human walls of subjective imagination and set it at your feet as an objective cerebral work of art.

    Who may so ever watch this movie, just know that those with the ability to be unconditionally sympathetic and to reach out with arms that know you'll need a hug, will be there in spirit, as alone as you will feel watching this piece of movie magic, know that others have been there before you and share in your pain.

  • Isia

    Interesting. I read The Road in one sitting while on a plane as well. I genuinely didn't give a damn if that plane had crashed while landing, I was so empty and exhausted I just sat and stared at the seat back. The novels aura hung over me like the fumes of some rotten dead thing at the bottom of a well for weeks.

    And it is one of my favorite books, and movies, still.

    I might need to pick up Close Reach just for that element of synchronicity.

  • Jay

    Im truly surprised no one mentioned Seven. Two scenes truly are scarred in my mind...when the guy is forced to wear a giant sword on his penis and then have sex with his gf. and the end scene where Brad pitt finds his pregnant wives severed head in the box.

  • Jay

    The Hell/rape scene in Event Horizon....good god I wish I could have unseen that.

  • Sixto Melendez

    What about "Irreversible" where the audience is forced to watch a 9 minute rape scene? When interviewed the director justified it just as the article here guessed, because rape is a horrible experience that the victim is forced to endure and seems never ending, the director forces the audience to endure it to give a sense of what it's like.

  • AH

    The scene in Sophie's Choice in which, upon arriving at Auschwitz, Sophie is forced to choose which one of her two children would be sent to the gas chamber and which would be sent to a labor camp. Meryl Streep's acting is unsurpassed and the scene is heartbreaking and chilling. As great as that movie is, I could never watch it again.

  • Lisa

    "Paris Trout". Read the book and saw the movie years ago (1991) and will never forget that particular story as long as I live. The murder and "the bottle scene" were beyond disturbing...

  • Jeanette Smith

    Holly Hunter getting her fingers chopped off in The Piano, the whipping of the female slave in Twelve Years a Slave, and the baby alien emergence from the abdomen of John Hurt in Alien. And definitely Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Requiem for a Dream.

  • Clara

    How does Antichrist NOT make this list, W&F?

    And I don't know if it was because I had previously watched the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but Fincher's version, including the rape scene, was underwhelming.

  • JE

    "Come and See" - Soviet film about a Jewish kid who loses his family and joins the resistance. There's a scene where SS are posing with him for a photo, with a gun to his head, while Jews are screaming from the burning church they'd been locked in. Incredibly tense scene.

    "Das Boot" - the big depth charge attack in the Strait of Gibraltar.

    "V/H/S" - the succubus and the haunted house. Awesome.

  • Leo

    Jonathan Moore - "I have never watched a rape in a movie that lasted this long, or went into so much grinding detail... Well, I suggest "Irréversible" to expand your narrow universe.

  • Schmitty

    Ugh, I hate list-based articles on the internet cause they're so lazy and take zero writing talent. I hate list-based articles that fail to even live up to being a list.

    You save 5 "SCENES" that are hard to watch, and then for the entry for The Road you pretty much just say "Yea........ it's all kinda tough to watch!"

    Fail! Was it really that hard to just pick a scene from the movie without resorting to "all of it" as an entry?

  • Jeff

    I agree with the comments below. The rape scene in Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is horrible, but doesn't even come close to the horrifying disturbing rape scene in Irreversible. The camera remains immoble and unflinching in one single 10 to 12 minute scene (I mean one single scene with no cuts) that was so real I honestly questioned if this was somehow a real rape in a fictional movie. The film is shown in reverse chronological order so the beginning of the movie starts with the retribution for the rape (another extremely disturbing scene involving a fire extinguisher) followed by the rape scene and subsequent horribly brutal beating the rapist gives the girl, then shows the day leading up to these violent assaults in which the people are happy and not yet aware of the horror yet to come. Also, I found out that the first 30 minutes of the movie has some sort of almost inaudible low frequency 28 hz sound in the background that causes nausea, anxiety, and vertigo in humans (as if the scenes are not disturbing enough on there own). Watching these two scenes is honestly a real test of will. I would go so far to say watch at your own risk because I promise you, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO UN-SEE THE SCENES AND THEY ***WILL*** STICK WITH YOU.

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