5 Disturbing Movies I Can’t Bring Myself to Watch

Updated on October 15, 2018
CYong74 profile image

Geek, gamer, writer, graphic artist. Yong’s favourite movies and games are those that allow him to enjoy the world from his bedroom.

1. Funny Games

The original 1997 Austrian version of Funny Games. The American version in 2007 is a shot-for-shot remake.
The original 1997 Austrian version of Funny Games. The American version in 2007 is a shot-for-shot remake.

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 movie is that there is simply no rationalization possible. The innocent gets brutalized for no reason. The perps then get away scots free. Worst of all, it openly violates the sanctity of the family unit, that very concept most sane people take refuge in. Call me a naïve idealist, but I escape into movies to savor imaginary justice. This movie cuts a little too close to reality. I know I would hate life even more if I were to watch it.

Man Behind the Sun

One of the tamer posters Man Behind the Sun, a frequent name on any list of disturbing movies.
One of the tamer posters Man Behind the Sun, a frequent name on any list of disturbing movies.

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 torture scenes aside, Man Behind the Sun was infamous for scenes of animal cruelty. Again, call me a naïve idealist, but cruelty to animals is a big no-no for me in film-making. At the same time, I also feel it is sheer hypocrisy to exemplify violence during wartime through the performance of more violence. Surely there are better ways to present the message?

3. Ebola Syndrome

Hong Kong produced several shocking "Cat III" disturbing movies over the years. Ebola Syndrome is easily one of the vilest.
Hong Kong produced several shocking "Cat III" disturbing movies over the years. Ebola Syndrome is easily one of the vilest.

I consider Hong Kong showbiz veteran Anthony Wong one of the former colony’s most accomplished actors. Because of this, I wouldn’t even consider a peep at his most notorious movie, knowing far too well how extreme he could be in his performances. To say this exploitative 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 unfortunate viewing.

4. United 93

For the record, I have only the deepest respect for the actual passengers who died on United 93.
For the record, I have only the deepest respect for the actual passengers who died on 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 how in many cases, people simply choose not to reconcile. To put it in another way, I watch movies 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 and other disturbing movies on the same subject.

5. Elephant

The great tragedy is, the story of Elephant continues to recur with frightful frequency.
The great tragedy is, the story of Elephant continues to recur with frightful frequency.

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 identity from a mile away. That his leads border on being angelic in appearance further adds to the distressing potency of this movie. In short, the grim reality 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.

If you haven't, which of these disturbing movies would you consider watching?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Kuan Leong Yong

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      • CYong74 profile imageAUTHOR

        Kuan Leong Yong 

        20 months ago from Singapore

        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.

        LOL.

      • Cheeky Kid profile image

        Cheeky Kid 

        20 months ago from Milky Way

        Now you've got me all curious and interested. Perhaps I will open Pandora's Box and watch these movies.

      • CYong74 profile imageAUTHOR

        Kuan Leong Yong 

        21 months ago from Singapore

        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.

      • profile image

        Pat Mills 

        21 months ago from East Chicago, Indiana

        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.

      • CYong74 profile imageAUTHOR

        Kuan Leong Yong 

        22 months ago from Singapore

        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.

      • CYong74 profile imageAUTHOR

        Kuan Leong Yong 

        22 months ago from Singapore

        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 profile image

        Greensleeves Hubs 

        22 months ago from Essex, UK

        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

      • profile image

        Martine Andersen 

        22 months ago

        United 93 is a great movie despite the content. Good actors and an important message.

      • CYong74 profile imageAUTHOR

        Kuan Leong Yong 

        22 months ago from Singapore

        Argg. I read the synopsis for Ebola online, and half of it was enough to put me off.

      • Coffeequeeen profile image

        Louise Powles 

        22 months ago from Norfolk, England

        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!

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