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Movies That Were Too Disturbing To Finish

Does the sight of blood make your insides turn? Do strange sex acts or domestic abuse send you running towards your theater's exit sign? Maybe you're extra sensitive to necrophilia or bodily mutilation, or maybe too many jump scares make you close Netflix and look for something a little more comfy.

Look, everyone has a weak spot, and there's bound to be a film out there that pushes one or two of your buttons. These movies, on the other hand, push all of them. These movies aren't just hard to watch. They aren't just edgy. They don't just challenge the entire concept of "good taste." They're deeply disturbing on almost every level — and some of them are downright vile. Many people can't manage to finish them, so if you've somehow managed to last through to these films' end credits, then you deserve congratulations of a sort. Either you've got an iron will, or you're indescribably depraved — or both. Seriously. Get help.

Veronica (2017)

Netflix's quick ascent to the top of the entertainment industry goes hand-in-hand with the rise of binge-watching. In fact, the company seems dedicated to trying its best to make sure that you never, ever turn off your television. That's what makes Veronica so surprising. In March 2018, Paco Plaza's Spanish-language horror film made headlines because people were so scared that they couldn't make it through the entire thing — and Netflix couldn't be happier.

Plot-wise, Veronica doesn't break any new ground. The title character misses her deceased father, her friend wants to talk to a dead boyfriend, and so the girls use a Ouija board and a solar eclipse to summon their spirits. As tends to happen when Ouija boards are involved, things don't go according to plan. If you've seen The Exorcist, Paranormal Activity, Ouija, or countless others, you know what to expect.

Or, at least, you think you do. Veronica succeeds where other films fall short through a mixture of real-life terror — Veronica is loosely based on a real-life story, although "loose" is an important part of that description — and pitch-perfect filmmaking. Plaza knows how to push all the right buttons, and that elevates a standard horror flick to what some people are calling the "scariest movie ever." After watching Veronica, some viewers are plagued by nightmares for days. Others can only go to sleep with the lights on after watching — and those are just the people who finished the movie. Many don't make it that far. Life is short, after all. Why spend the rest of it cowering in fear?

Teeth (2007)

According to Forbes, Netflix has said that many of its grosser films will cause viewer dropoff. We're talking flicks like The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, so gross that it was banned in Britain and in Australia. In fact, the copy of Human Centipede 2 on Netflix is the cut and censored edition, meaning this movie is so bad that many people can't even sit through the "tame" cut. If the violence in 2016's Cabin Fever doesn't get you, the rest of the production probably will: it has a shockingly low 0 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Piranha is both gratuitous and campy. The Conjuring is considered one of the best (and scariest) horror films in recent memory.

And yet, even among these shockers, Teeth stands out. In the film, Jess Weixler stars as Dawn O'Keefe, a Christian abstinence advocate who suffers from "vagina dentata" — or, to put it another way, she's got teeth down there. As such, Teeth's sex scenes aren't just uncomfortable. They're intentionally squirm-inducing, especially for the dudes in the audience. Combine that with all of Teeth's various depictions of sexual assault (as you might've guessed, it's a major plot point) and it's no wonder that few viewers last until the credits roll.

mother! (2017)

Darren Aronofsky's mother! isn't a traditional horror movie. It doesn't have any monsters or supernatural threats, and the whole thing is more of a traditional allegory than other, schlockier entries in the genre. That doesn't make the film any less troubling, however. Love it or hate it (many people seem to choose the latter), mother! is successfully disturbing, thanks largely to the brutal and relentless abuse heaped on Jennifer Lawrence's character.

As mother! unfolds, you'll get to see Lawrence's poet husband, played by Javier Bardem, completely ignore his wife and her needs. You'll get a firsthand view as Lawrence fights to defend her home from hordes of her husband's ravenous fans. You'll watch as Bardem takes his newborn baby outside against his wife's wishes, and be forced to look on as the frenzied crowd kills it and eats it. When Lawrence protests, the crowd turns on her and beats her. By the end of the film, she's burned, battered, and dying — and then Bardem rips out her heart and the entire cycle starts again.

Taken all together, it's kind of a lot. Too much, in fact. Some critics found mother!'s graphic depictions of infanticide, cannibalism, and both physical and emotional abuse supremely distasteful. Audiences agreed. People flocked to the exits during mother!'s theatrical screenings, and we can't say we blame 'em. When a movie relies on a picture of a battered woman to get attention? That's a warning sign that you'd better not ignore.

Raw (2016)

Maybe you didn't complete a film because you decided to turn it off. Maybe you're simply too grossed out to stay in the theater. Sometimes, however, you don't have a choice. People didn't just walk out of Raw, Julia Ducournau's cannibal thriller. They found the movie so disturbing that they passed out in the theater. Try finishing a movie while you're unconscious!

As far as Raw is concerned, it only takes a single scene to get everyone's stomachs a-heaving. When Raw begins, veterinary student Justine is a lifelong vegetarian, but she's forced to consume meat as part of a hazing ritual. As a result, she's consumed by a very specific hunger. A hamburger doesn't do the trick. Neither does raw chicken. It's only after Justine's sister, Alexia, accidentally cuts off her own finger and passes out that Justine finds the answer. Justine picks up Alexia's severed appendage and, after a few moments of hesitation, eats it.

For a couple of viewers at the Toronto International Film Festival, that was enough. At least two people passed out, forcing the festival to call an ambulance. Others fled to prevent vomiting. They weren't alone. When Raw screened at Cannes, a friend of director Julia Ducournau lost consciousness, while a row full of elderly patrons beat feet when Justine's odd case of the munchies took a dark turn. And that's just the beginning, too — Justine's cannibalism doesn't end with just a finger, and it's probably best for everyone that the more sensitive members of the audience didn't stick around to see just how depraved things get.

Caligula (1979)

According to the stories, Caligula, who served as Emperor of the Roman Empire from AD 37 to AD 41, wasn't a nice guy. He started famines on purpose. He slept with other men's wives and bragged about it later. He had an affair with one of his sisters and prostituted out the others. He threw orgies, spent money on bizarre and frivolous pursuits while his subjects starved, fed criminals to wild animals and had suspected political rivals humiliated or outright killed, depending on his mood at the time.

Sounds like a great subject for a movie, right? Bob Guccione, who founded the hardcore men's magazine Penthouse, certainly thought so. In 1979, Guccione released Penthouse's one and only feature film: Caligula, a historical epic featuring Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole, unsimulated sex scenes, and all different kinds of bodily fluids. Guccione might argue that Caligula is art, but everyone else seems to dismiss it as little more than a big-budget porno.

It's not just that Caligula is as depraved as its subject matter (trust us — Caligula has pretty much everything). It's also that there's just too much of it. With a runtime that borders on three hours, Caligula requires a major time investment, and all of that debauchery gets exhausting fast. Acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert couldn't sit through it, and that guy's seen almost everything. We doubt you'll fare much better.

The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael (2005)

You could watch The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael all the way through, but why? By all accounts, the film is thoroughly unpleasant. According to Variety, its second gang rape — yeah, there's more than one — "make[s] A Clockwork Orange look like a Britney Spears video." When the sexual assault appeared onscreen, audiences had had enough. When the film screened at Cannes, the scene prompted a mass walkout. Given that one critic called The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael's climax "a sequence excruciating beyond any in memory," we're going to bet that the Cannes showing wasn't the only time everyone bailed.

Not that the rest of The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael is particularly easy to watch, of course. Even before young Mr. Carmichael goes full-on Alex DeLarge, he's not a likable character. By the time Robert becomes an ecstasy dealer (the title is a pun — get it?), he's more or less beyond redemption.

Oh, and by the way: the whole thing is supposed to be a statement on the Iraq war. During the first rape scene, which occurs offscreen, Robert is watching war footage on the local news. During the second assault, the film includes images of guns and bombings among the attack. That's how director Thomas Clay justifies Robert Carmichael's brutality: rape is used as a weapon in places like Iraq and Bosnia, he says, and he wanted the audience to feel "shocked and disgusted." Well, mission accomplished — but clumsy political commentary doesn't make The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael any more tolerable. If anything, it just makes it even worse.

Hereditary (2018)

Writer-director Ari Aster describes Hereditary, his critically acclaimed haunted house film, as a personal project. "I had gone through some stuff with my family," Aster said during a Q&A session. "I took my sickness and now put it inside all of you." Aster didn't elaborate further, but whatever the issue was, it must've been messed up. Hereditary isn't just the strongest debut from a horror director since Get Out, it's one of the most terrifying films to come along in years — if you can manage to sit through the whole thing.

Not everyone can. While Hereditary received rave reviews when it screened at Sundance (at the time of this writing, it's got a whopping 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes), it was also scary enough to drive many viewers from the theater. Even people who stayed for the whole thing didn't really want to. "I was tensely perched in my seat the entire time," Vulture's critic wrote, "ready to pick fight or flight just as soon as I could figure out what the threat was."

People who managed to catch Hereditary at Sundance are keeping the film's big twists a secret, but by all accounts, the film isn't unsettling because of its jump scares or supernatural creatures, although it sounds like it's got plenty of those. It's hard to watch because the characters' pain is so real. In Hereditary, Toni Collette plays an artist, Annie, who just lost her borderline-abusive mother to cancer. Meanwhile, her relationships with her husband, her son, and her daughter are slowly deteriorating. That's enough to make Hereditary uncomfortable from the start. When the scares start dropping, it becomes unbearable.

The Wild Bunch (1969)

Sam Peckinpah's grim and gritty western The Wild Bunch might be considered a classic now — critics have compared it to no less than Citizen Kane — but during its initial run, the movie's hardcore violence was too much for late '60s moviegoers. Preview audiences lambasted the film, calling it "wasted insanity." After launch, cowboy king John Wayne complained that The Wild Bunch's blood-soaked action "destroyed the myth of the Old West."

Even by modern standards, The Wild Bunch is still grotesquely violent. In the '90s, Warner Bros. tried to release a director's cut with 10 extra minutes of footage. None of that new stuff was particularly gory. Still, the MPAA took the opportunity to change The Wild Bunch's rating from an R to an NC-17, keeping the film out of theaters for an extra two years.

The Wild Bunch is a movie that shows bullets puncturing human bodies in slow motion, features the deaths of hordes of innocent civilians, and includes a young child shooting an attacker in the back. It's brutal and uncompromising and, at the time, was too much for many theater attendees, some of whom walked out 20 minutes into the film. Just because The Wild Bunch is a classic doesn't mean that it's easy to watch. Even today, all of that bloody ultra-violence means that you might have to step away. Don't be ashamed. You'd hardly be the first one.

The Green Inferno (2013)

Director Eli Roth is no stranger to movies that are hard to sit through. His 2006 horror hit Hostel more or less invented the phrase "torture porn." With The Green Inferno, however, Roth pushes things further than ever before — and unless you're a seasoned gorehound, chances are you won't make it to the end. In the grand tradition of the video nasties of the '70s and '80s, Inferno tells the tale of a group college-aged activists who head to the Amazon to protest a logging operation. They find cannibals instead.

You can probably imagine the non-stop stream of sadism, gore, and misery that follows, and if you can't last through the whole movie, well, that's kind of the point. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Roth said, "If I've really done my job as a director, nobody can actually watch your movie." He means it, too. "You don't want people walking out of a movie; you want them running out of the theater screaming," Roth elaborated. "When that happens, that's like a standing ovation for me."

Like Cannibal Holocaust before it, The Green Inferno achieves its unsettling dread by shooting on location in Peru, utilizing physical special effects, and casting members of the Amazon's native population in key roles. That's led some critics to (fairly) accuse Inferno of cultural appropriation, but Roth doesn't seem to mind. The amateur actors were all paid fairly he's insisted, and while they didn't have much experience in front of the camera, "they got it right away and loved it."

Martyrs (2008)

Don't confuse Martyrs, the 2008 French thriller, with its 2015 American remake. Both movies have roughly the same plot, but there's one big difference: for a story about child abuse, the English language version is remarkably tame. That's by design, writer Mark L. Smith told Creative Screenwriting. "I'm not a lover of violence," Smith said. "I tried to stay away from all the violence and keep it offscreen, which was kind of the polar opposite of the original."

So if you've got a low tolerance for abuse, watch that one. On the other hand, if you want to test your mettle, go for the original. With graphic depictions of child abuse, suicide, and murder, Martyrs isn't for the faint of heart. When it screened at Cannes, audiences left the theaters in droves. Producer Bob Weinstein, who's responsible for bringing movies like True Romance and Pulp Fiction to the masses, couldn't finish it — and his company bought the movie.

From the plot, which hinges on a series of girls who are kept locked up and tortured in an old slaughterhouse, to the film's climax, in which a young woman is flayed alive, it's easy to understand why. Sure, Martyrs is also a nuanced story about guilt and friendship, and Smith is right when he says that there's more to it than mere gore. But the gore is a big part of it. Like the New York Times wrote, this isn't one for amateurs. "When horror fans dare other horror fans to watch a movie," the grey lady opined, "it's Martyrs."

Irreversible (2002)

You won't find everything that makes Irreversible hard to watch onscreen. Don't get us wrong: Emotionally, the movie is absolutely brutal, thanks in large part to the 10-minute rape scene — one of two in the movie — and the frank depictions and discussions of incest, abuse, and murder. It's bad enough that even its star, Monica Bellucci, can't sit through it, even though she hardened herself on a diet of The Accused and Deliverance before filming (understandably, her father found it pretty hard to watch too).

But that's not the only reason over 250 people fled the film's Cannes premiere, with many fainting and seeking medical treatment. The sound played a big role, too. See, Irreversible uses infrasound, or low-frequency sound waves, to augment its unsettling visuals. You can't actually hear the sound, but your body registers it anyway, leading to feelings of anxiety, unease, distress, and depression, in addition to the shivers and, sometimes, nausea.

It's a trick that many modern horror films use, including Paranormal Activity, and while infrasound doesn't affect every member of the audience in the same way, it's credited as one of the reasons why Irreversible makes many members of its audience feel sick. In fact, many people who watch don't even make it to the film's infamous assault. Thanks to the soundtrack, a mere half hour of Irreversible is more than enough for many viewers, forcing them to turn the film off before its most horrific action even truly begins.

The Woman (2011)

The best endorsement of The Woman comes from an anonymous audience member at the Sundance film festival, who left the theater while the movie was still running, and whose scathing review of Lucky McKee's horror movie happened to be caught on camera. "This is not humane," the man said. "This film ought to be confiscated, burned. There's no value in showing this to everyone."

An extreme view, maybe, but he's not alone. When The Woman made its Sundance debut, many people left the theater. Others simply wished they had. By all indications, that's exactly the type of reaction McKee was hoping for. The plot, which centers on a dysfunctional family's attempt to "civilize" a wild woman by locking her in the basement and torturing her, is explicitly designed to push every misogynistic and toxically masculine button. Heck, The Woman's distribution company sent out screeners of the movie packed in barf bags. Everyone involved knows exactly what they're doing.

Oddly, it's also a thoughtful and nuanced film, at least once you get past its surface shocks. It's not all gore and gloom. The Woman has something to say. It also has a pretty decent Rotten Tomatoes score, especially for this kind of thing. There's a rewarding experience lurking underneath the discomfiting chills — you just have to last through the whole movie to find it. Good luck.

The Angel's Melancholy (2009)

Is Cannibal Ferox too tame for you? Is Human Centipede a walk in the park? Audition is no big deal, and I Spit on Your Grave just another walk in the park? If so, we've got good news for you. There's a new contender for the crown of the single most vile movie ever made. It's called Melancholie der Engel, or The Angel's Melancholy, and even if you've got a stomach made of iron and a will of steel, you may not make it through this one. If you're smart, you won't even try.

As for plot? The Angel's Melancholy doesn't need one. Oh, sure, there's some philosophical nonsense in there about a man who's decided that his life is winding down and wants to go out with a flourish — doing lots of drugs, raping teenage girls, killing animals, and indulging pretty much every sexual, scatological, masochistic, and beastialogical impulse you can possibly imagine, plus a few more.

Some nice cinematography aside, critics seem to agree that the main reason to watch The Angel's Melancholy's is seeing whether or not you can last through it. "It is a depraved, perverse and nihilistic endurance test," Severed Cinema said in its positive review. "If anyone can sit through it all... I think that's pretty impressive by any standards," Cinema-Extreme's critic wrote. The Northern Light compared The Angel's Melancholy to sticking your face in a fire. "It will hurt all the time, it's just a matter of how much you enjoy the pain," it warned. "Stay away, stay far away."

Meet the Feebles (1989)

If you're bored, try this: invite some friends over, make sure they're relaxed, and then put on Meet the Feebles. Don't tell them what's coming. Don't reveal that what starts as a low-budget Muppet knockoff quickly transforms into a puppet snuff film. Let your buddies discover that for themselves, and see how long it takes before everyone decides to shut it off.

Anyone who grew up with the Muppets will either find Meet the Feebles darkly hilarious or deeply disturbing. In our experience, there's no in between. Watching off-brand versions of Jim Henson's classic characters do drugs, film pornos, and deal with paternity lawsuits can be really funny. Sticking with the Feebles as they roofie each other, push through PTSD-fueled Vietnam flashbacks (including a Russian roulette scene taken straight from The Deer Hunter), and go on mass shooting sprees, on the other hand, is easier said than done.

Oh, and did we mention that Meet the Feebles was directed by Peter Jackson, the man who brought Middle-earth to the big screen and was responsible for the creation of Weta Workshop, the effects company that helped bring all of Tolkien's hobbits and orcs and elves to life? Yup, that's right. At some point, someone saw Meet the Feebles and thought, "Yes, these are the people we're going to give nearly $300 million and trust to make the one of the most ambitious films of all time." Meet the Feebles may be too disturbing for many viewers to finish, but for Peter Jackson, it worked out very well indeed.

Revenge (2017)

Filmgoers at the Toronto International Film Festival should've known what they were in for. After all, its late-night "Midnight Madness" programming block has its name for a reason: anything goes. Unfortunately, not everyone got the memo, and one film fan found Coralie Fargeat's Revenge so intense that he had a seizure right in the middle of the theater.

Reportedly, it was a scene in which a man is forced to remove a giant piece of glass from his foot that did it. "We started to hear someone say, 'hello, hello,' from the audience," Fargeat tells IndieWire. "I didn't know if it was someone making [a joke] in the room, then I see the paramedics in the cinema." Thankfully, the audience member was fine. He was in good company, too. Revenge lead Matilda Lutz admitted that the scene made her feel "weird" too. "And I shot it," she added, "so I can only imagine."

If that scene doesn't get you, the rest of Revenge very will might. Starring Lutz as a woman out for vengeance who's raped and left for dead by her lover and her friends — all of which is shown onscreen, naturally — Revenge is a lean, brutal, and extremely well-reviewed thriller that's just as thrilling as it is disturbing. Just don't take it lightly. If someone is willing to have a medical emergency rather than watch until the end credits, things must get pretty intense.

The House that Jack Built (2018)

Lars von Trier's been down this road before. In 2009, the director rolled into Cannes with Antichrist, a film that probably deserves its own entry on this list. It's wildly misogynistic, contains multiple acts of genital mutilation, and is relentlessly bleak, and people walked out when it screened. It also scored lead actress Charlotte Gainsbourg a best actress trophy.

A decade later, von Trier did it again. After doling out a multi-year ban to von Trier after the director said he sympathized with Adolf Hitler, Cannes authorities decided to let the filmmaker exhibit his latest picture at the 2018 festival. Well, surprise! The House that Jack Built is even more difficult to stomach than its predecessor. In the movie, Matt Dillon plays a serial killer on a 12-year murder spree. Along the way, he shoots two children in the head, gives a duckling an amputation with a pair of pliers, and engages in all other kinds of nastiness.

When The House that Jack Built screened, people left. Not just one or two, either. Reportedly, over 100 festival guests decided to leave the theater rather than finish watching Jack build his figurative abode. In the aftermath, attendees turned to Twitter to express their disgust, calling von Trier's movie "vomitive" and claiming that it "should not have been made." Fair criticisms, but they should've expected it. The House that Jack Built is so gross that it wasn't allowed to compete for the Palme d'Or, Cannes' top prize. Instead, it screened outside of competition in order to avoid any Antichrist-like controversies.

Goodbye Uncle Tom (1971)

Goodbye Uncle Tom (also known as Farewell Uncle Tom, just in case you're crazy enough to seek this one out) has a legitimately interesting premise. In the film, an Italian documentary crew travels back in time to document the horrors of slavery firsthand. Despite directors Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi's background in schlocky "mondo" films — a.k.a. "Shockumentaries" — Goodbye Uncle Tom is supposed to be a serious anti-racist statement. Its terrors are even based on real historical documents, giving the whole enterprise a veneer of respectability.

But it's just a veneer. Goodbye Uncle Tom is just as exploitative as Jacopetti and Prosperi's other work, and the real-life subject matter makes watching it more uncomfortable. Over its two-hour runtime, it bombards viewers with images of naked slaves being mistreated, beaten, raped, and sold. At one point, a 13-year-old sex slave tries to seduce one of the documentarians. He accepts her advances and has sex with her while the camera rolls. On top of it all, occasionally the movie slows down and gives its abused subjects brief moments of humanity. It's nigh-unbearable.

Goodbye Uncle Tom's behind-the-scenes history doesn't help, either. Jacopetti and Prosperi worked hand-in-hand with Haitian dictator "Papa Doc" Duvalier, and were treated like his special guests. During filming, hundreds of anonymous Haitian extras were forced to suffer the same indignities as real-life slaves. It's cruel, shameless, and unabashedly racist, and it's been condemned by everyone from the Italian government to Roger Ebert to KKK leader David Duke. It's also hard to make it through the whole picture, although it's even harder to imagine why you'd ever even want to.

Bite (2015)

When horror fans entered the theater to see Bite at Fantasia Fest 2015, they received special Bite-branded barf bags. It wasn't a joke. As Fantasia Fest co-director Mitch Davis posted on Facebook, during the screening, at least two people passed out. One hit his head on the stairs. Another started puking. By the time the film wrapped, an ambulance was on site, treating various members of the audience for illness.

That's a pretty strong reaction, but on the other hand, Bite is a particularly gross movie. The horror begins in Costa Rica, where a bride-to-be receives a mysterious insect bite while celebrating her bachelorette party. Not that Casey has time to worry about it, of course. She's already struggling with her upcoming wedding, her domineering soon-to-be mother-in-law, and her fiancé's child-filled plans for their future. Like Bite's audience, however, Casey underestimates the severity of her situation. Before long she's puking up pus, laying egg sacks around her apartment, raising a hive of carnivorous monsters, and watching as her body decomposes, revealing the insectoid form underneath.

In other words, Bite quickly goes from a middling character drama into full-on body horror, and as Fantasia Fest proves, it's not an easy movie to finish. First to Know said Bite explicitly "challenge[s] some brave souls to test their endurance." If that sounds like you, make sure you know what you're getting into first. Or, to put it another way: when a filmmaker says their movie is going to make you vomit, believe them. It's far, far better than the alternative.

The Bunny Game (2010)

Many of the most disturbing movies have a similar setup: a man captures a woman, keeps her locked up in a remote location, and tortures her for the length of a feature film. From that perspective, there's nothing particularly unique about The Bunny Game. Behind the scenes, though, it's another story. While the movie was entirely improvised, star Radleen Getsic really was abducted and raped, and the movie is based on her actual experiences. Even worse? Aside from the drug use, everything that happens onscreen is totally, unflinchingly real.

That means that, when Getsic shows up on screen fully emaciated, she really is starving: the actress fasted for 40 days before shooting began. When her captor brands her with a red-hot iron, her screams are genuine. Gestic still sports the scars to prove it. During filming, Gestic was spit on, beaten, shaved, bound, gagged, and brutalized. Gestic was a consensual participant in the horror, but as a result, The Bunny Game toes the line between horror movie and actual snuff film, and it's not clear which side it ultimately falls on.

Accordingly, it's not an easy movie to finish. In a review, one blogger notes that she couldn't finish the movie in a single sitting. The Underground Film Journal trots out the old "endurance test" line, but it means it. The Horror Society calls the movie "unwatchable," and says "you will finish it or you won't" — and that's in a positive review. Nobody's quite sure who Getsic director Adam Rehmeier made The Bunny Game for, but it's clear who it's not for: the faint of heart, and anyone with even a smidge of good taste.