Geek, gamer, writer, graphic artist. KL Yong's favorite shows and adventures are those that allow him to enjoy the world from his bedroom.
1. Funny Games
This was the first movie that came to my mind when preparing for this list of disturbing movies. Both the 1997 European original and the 2007 American remake.
What clutches my throat about this film is that there is simply no rationalization possible. The innocent get brutalized for no reason. The perps then get away scots free.
Worst of all, Funny Games openly violates the sanctity of the family unit – the very concept most sane people take refuge in. Call me a naïve idealist but I escape into the cinematic world to savor imaginary justice. This movie simply cuts a little too close to reality. I know I risk hating life utterly just by watching it.
2. Man Behind the Sun
Believe it or not, an ex-teacher of mine encouraged me to watch Man Behind the Sun when it was screened in cinemas in the 80s, that being part of his campaign to spread awareness about Japanese brutality during World War II.
The unbearable human torture scenes aside, Man Behind the Sun was also notorious for a hellish scene of animal cruelty, the latter believed by many viewers to have been filmed using an actual cat. Again, call me a naïve idealist, but cruelty to animals is a big no-no for me in film-making, no matter the movie’s intention.
At the same time, I also feel it is sheer hypocrisy to demonstrate wartime violence by showcasing more violence. Surely there are better ways to present the message?
3. Ebola Syndrome
Personally, I regard Hong Kong showbiz veteran Anthony Wong as one of the former colony’s most accomplished and devoted actors. For that reason, I also wouldn’t consider even a peep at his most notorious work, knowing far too well how extreme he could be in his performances.
To say this Hong Kong exploitation movie from the 90s revels in gore and disgust is an understatement, and just by looking at the poster, you’d know it’s going to be one hellish ride from start to end. Unless you have a really strong stomach, I strongly suggest you do not even read the synopsis or hunt for screenshots of this outrageous movie.
If you do intend to watch, then it is probably a good idea not to have food beforehand. I have friends who skipped meals for the rest of the day, and the day thereafter, after one uninformed viewing.
4. United 93
What keeps me away from United 93 is not the inevitable ending. Nor is it because I believe any of the many conspiracy theories about 9/11.
Instead, it is how the repercussions of that catastrophe continue to strangle the world today. The very name of this movie reminds me how mankind remains firmly divided by ideological and political differences. And in many cases, how people simply choose not to reconcile.
In other words, I watch films to feel better about the world, never to find more reasons to hate it for. This might come across as being escapist, but so as not to lose sleep for days and weeks, I will continue to stay away from United 93. As well as other disturbing movies on the same subject.
I confess. I have the VCD for Elephant and I’ve peeped at different parts of it over the years. That’s why I know I wouldn’t be able to survive any viewing unscathed.
Gus Van Sant’s serene, near lyrical approach to the horrific social phenomenon of school shootings is incredibly unnerving, particularly his emphatic message that murderous sociopaths are more often than not, not glaring signboards you could identify from a mile away.
That his leads border on being angelic in appearance further adds to the distressing potency of this disturbing movie. In short, the grim reality that Gus Van Sant paints is way too much for me to bear. I can only pray I never have to face any such horrific tragedy in real life.
© 2017 Yong Kuan Leong
Yong Kuan Leong (author) from Singapore on March 06, 2017:
Hey Cheeky. I've been thinking since publishing this. Maybe it's not a bad idea to sit thru any of these. ESPECIALLY ON A BAD DAY. It's like, one is likely to feel better about whatever happened over the day after seeing any of these. Reverse psych of sorts.
Cheeky Kid from Milky Way on March 05, 2017:
Now you've got me all curious and interested. Perhaps I will open Pandora's Box and watch these movies.
Yong Kuan Leong (author) from Singapore on February 19, 2017:
Hi Pat, thanks for your comment and suggestions. Looks like I really have to give United 93 a watch. Perhaps I'd approach it with the objective of honouring the sacrifice of heroes on that fateful flight...
As for your recommendations, I've watched Boys Don't Cry a couple of years ago. It was disturbing, and plenty of food for thought, but I curiously managed to stomach it. I can't really explain why beyond, there was an explanation behind each tragedy? Sort of. Most of the ones I listed here are involve baffling violence without any true provocation. That's something I find extremely hard to face.
Pat Mills from East Chicago, Indiana on February 19, 2017:
The only one of these films I have seen is United 93. It isn't easy to watch, but it is well done. Unfortunately, the world will always have leaders who will impose their views on people, either directly or indirectly. Political parties, especially in the US, seem to walk in lockstep when it comes to issues, no matter how ludicrous they find the point of view. I hope you'll at least change your mind about this film.
Other films that I think would fit into your article are Blue Velvet and Boys Don't Cry. Strong acting can be found in both pictures (and Hillary Swank win an Oscar for Boys), but there is some graphic violence in both films.
Yong Kuan Leong (author) from Singapore on January 27, 2017:
I really ought to check out United 93, as a lot of people tell me. Problem is, I sink very easily into a story. I actually pride myself on that. I just know I'm going to start mentally enacting how the passengers felt during those moments after watching. That might just be too much for me to withstand.
Yong Kuan Leong (author) from Singapore on January 27, 2017:
Hey Greensleeves, thanks for your detailed comment!
I do like slasher movies; I'm a big Jason fan. But that's only because I "know" Jason and likewise are always going to get bumped in the end. For that reason I can't stand movies in which the villain gets away. Wolf Creek is one of those. That has been sitting on my shelf for 10 years now.
Thanks for highlighting about United 93 too. To be honest, I've considered watching it several times, but it was just too disturbing. I might just give it a try based on your comments. Will definitely check out your review too.
Greensleeves Hubs from Essex, UK on January 27, 2017:
I've only seen one of these films Cedric, but from the way you describe them I suspect we have similar tastes. I too like movies which make me feel good, and usually with reasonably happy endings as I like to be entertained, and not depressed. My particular dislike is those horror/slasher films which glory in the slaughter of total innocents in the most graphic and gory way possible.
There's just one individual scene in a movie I can think of which I really can't watch, and that is in the otherwise fairly enjoyable thriller 'Cliffhanger'. The reason? My only phobia is heights, and there's a mountain scene early on when a young, innocent woman is screaming in terror as she hangs by a thread over a chasm. I can't watch!
However, the one film you mention which I have seen is United 93, and I echo Martine's comment. I can understand your feelings, and why you can't watch it, but as a film it has a documentary feel to it, not at all sensationalist and very respectfully acted. I actually once wrote a hub about it because it's one of my 100 favourite films - despite the ending. Cheers, Alun
Martine Andersen on January 27, 2017:
United 93 is a great movie despite the content. Good actors and an important message.
Yong Kuan Leong (author) from Singapore on January 26, 2017:
Argg. I read the synopsis for Ebola online, and half of it was enough to put me off.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on January 26, 2017:
I've not heard of any of these films to be honest, but not sure I'd want to see Ebola Syndrome. The picture looks a little scary!