What makes you uncomfortable? Chances are your answer will be distinctly personal and quite different from the next person's. For instance, while some people faint at the slightest drop of blood, nurses and doctors have to look at the stuff everyday without batting an eye or becoming weak in the knees. Maybe movie gore doesn’t affect you in the slightest, but watching a high school comedy where the awkward teenager struggles to ask his crush to prom will have you squirming in your seat.
We’ve already taken a look at the most uncomfortable movies to sit through, but for this list will be zeroing in on the specific scenes that had us averting our eyes. These scenes might not be the most shocking or the most graphic to watch, but there’s still something about them that feels a little too real… and not in a good way. While many of these movies are wildly different -- ranging anywhere from World War II epic to teenage comedy -- they all have something in common: they remind us all too well of the harsh realities of being alive.
While everybody has their own spectrum of discomfort, we’re sure that even the most brazen cinephile will have trouble stomaching these movie moments. Here are the 15 Most Uncomfortable Scenes To Sit Through.
15 Arm Amputation - 127 Hours
This entry is kind of a no-brainer considering that many theater goers famously passed out and threw-up during the climatic scene of 127 Hours. What’s so impressive about this scene is that everyone knew the movie was leading up to the main character cutting his arm off, yet we still weren't fully prepared for the stomach-churning intensity that this scene offers up.
James Franco portrays real-life outdoorsman Aron Ralston, who wrote a book about being pinned in a canyon for five days before deciding to self-amputate his right forearm. Even though the movie goes to great lengths to make the decision seem like the only remaining option for Aron, the scene is still unbelievably uncomfortable to sit through, especially the moments when Aron is trying to severe the nerve in his forearm with his dull pocket knife.
14 Awkward First Date - Taxi Driver
If you land a date with an attractive and successful young woman that you’re trying to impress, one of the last places you’d want to take her on a first date would be an adult movie theater. But in Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film Taxi Driver, lonely U.S. Marine veteran Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) decides to do just that.
Suffering from insomnia, Travis decides to work the night shifts as a New York City cab driver. During the days, he attempts to court Betsy, a young and politically active campaign volunteer whom Travis has become infatuated with. After chatting over a cup of coffee, Betsy finds Travis odd but also flattering, and agrees to accompany him on a date. Little does she know that Travis is a ticking-time bomb with limited understanding of societal norms.
For their first real date Travis takes Betsy to watch a foreign sex-ed/porno film in one of the seedy theaters that he often frequents. The scene is doubly uncomfortable since we feel awkward for Betsy, who is visibly squirming in the scene, and for Travis, who continues to slide further into his own distorted perception of reality.
13 Singin’ in the Rain - A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange has a number of scenes that are hard to get through without averting your eyes (a courtesy that the film’s main character is prohibited of when his own eyes are pried open and he’s forced to watch equally disturbing footage). But the most unforgettable scene by far is the notorious “Singin’ in the Rain” sequence.
After Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) and his gang of "droogs" break into a married couple's house, Alex begins to brutally beat the husband and wife, all while dancing and singing to the titular tune of the 1952 Gene Kelly musical. The scene grows even more painful to watch when Alex begins to cut the clothes off the wife piece by piece with a pair of scissors while he makes the husband watch.
It’s one thing to watch something horrific unfold on screen, but it’s another thing entirely when the characters get so much joy out of their horrific actions.
12 Slimy Seduction - Wild at Heart
Willem Dafoe has played so many slimy and unsettling characters that it’s easy to forget that the actor is just as skilled at playing the good guy, as he’s proven in American Psycho and, more recently, John Wick. Of course, his most famous villain may be the actor's turn as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in Spider-Man, but that performance pales in comparison to the creepiness of Dafoe’s character in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart.
Here, Dafoe plays Bobby Peru, a greasy gangster who sneaks into the motel room of Lula Fortune (Laura Dern) and forces himself upon her. Dafoe has always been able to pull off one of the creepiest smiles in existence, which is only accentuated here with the character’s grotesque mouthpiece. The scene drags on and on as Bobby relentlessly tries to “seduce” Lula into having sex with him, and we’re forced to watch the whole thing in one unsettling close up after the next.
11 Web Cam Striptease - American Pie
As we’ve already said, different things make different people uncomfortable. Maybe watching a man cut off his own arm is a walk in the park for you. After all, it’s an unlikely scenario that none of us will probably ever have to face. But unfortunately, when it comes to the awkwardness of high school and navigating the opposite sex, few of use remain unscathed.
This is on full display in American Pie, where a group of high school guys make a pact to get laid by Homecoming. All of the guys have their hang-ups when it comes to seducing women, but Jim Levenstien’s awkwardness is by far the hardest to watch.
When Jim (Jason Biggs) offers to help foreign exchange student, Nadia, study for a history test, the session quickly turns steamy, but not in the way that Jim would have hopped. He’s forced to strip down and dance for Nadia while the entire school watches via webcam. As if the dancing wasn’t bad enough, Jim prematurely ejaculates after the slightest contact with the flirtatious Nadia. Then he can’t help but do it again while everyone watches in horror.
10 Castration Scene - Hard Candy
Even if you haven’t scene this movie, you can probably guess that this particular scene is much more uncomfortable for males to sit through, rather than females. That being said, Hard Candy is a tough movie to swallow no matter your gender or threshold for discomfort.
The film revolves around a crafty teenager named Hayley (Ellen Page) who torments a much older man who she suspects of being a pedophile. Patrick Wilson plays Jeff Kohlver, who finds himself drugged and strapped to a chair, then a table in his own house where Hayley reveals that she plans to castrate him.
Though the scene keeps the graphic imagery to a bare minimum, the whole ordeal unfolds in real-time with the sounds alone of the surgical procedure enough to make anyone queasy-- even though the audience is fairly certain at this point that Jeff is indeed the predator Hayley accuses him of being.
9 Belly Wound - Saving Private Ryan
With Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg directed some of the most harrowing war scenes ever captured on film. While the opening D-Day landing is full of horrific imagery, it’s actually the scene where one of the American soldiers is shot in the belly that has us squirming in our seats.
After taking fire from a Nazi outpost, the group’s medic (Giovanni Ribisi) is horribly wounded and his fellow soldiers must try to desperately to stop the bleeding. They douse anti-septic on the wounds and apply pressure, but it quickly becomes clear that their medic is beyond saving and the soldiers ultimately decided to give their medic a lethal dose of morphine so they can end his suffering.
The entire four minute scene is both sickening and heartbreaking to we watch, as we’re forced to face the realities of war in gruesome detail.
8 Nazi Dentist - Marathon Man
Unless you’re like Bill Murray’s character from Little Shop of Horrors, you probably don’t enjoy going to the dentist. After all, there’s nothing worse than sitting through a half hour cleaning only to discover that you have a cavity and will have to come back in a week for even more discomfort.
These dental phobias are taken to the extreme in the 1976 thriller Marathon Man, when Babe Levy (Dustin Hoffman) finds himself being interrogated by Dr. Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier). Drawing from real-life Nazi Josef Mengele, the character of Dr. Szell is a former Nazi dentist who once tortured Jews imprisoned in concentration camps.
When Dr. Szell needs answers out of Babe, he has him strapped to a chair and goes to work inside Babe’s mouth. The interrogation ends with the doctor firing up an electric drill and boring a hole through a healthy nerve, only to discover that he’s been torturing the wrong man the entire time.
7 Motel Hostages - The Devil’s Rejects
For a sequel to House of 1,000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects surprisingly abandoned most of the horror from the first film in exchange for an extremely gritty character study about a deranged family of murderers. There’s still plenty of blood and guts in Rejects, but it’s without a doubt the non-bloody motel scene that’s the hardest to stomach.
The scene involves a few members of the murderous Firefly family taunting the members of a country music band inside the group’s motel room. At one point, Otis Driftwood (Bill Mosley) even demands that one of the women strip down in front of everyone before Otis slides his pistol into her underwear.
The scene is filthy, tense, and extremely uncomfortable to sit through. In multiple interviews, Mosley said he struggled to get through the scene, especially after a number of the female crew members became visibly upset while shooting. In order to receive an R-Rating, Rob Zombie even had to cut two minutes out of the scene for the film’s theatrical release.
6 “Where’s my bourbon!” - Blue Velvet
David Lynch’s 1986 masterpiece Blue Velvet starts off as a campy murder mystery that quickly descends into an exploration of human depravity. Kyle MacLachlan plays Jeffrey Beaumont, a college student who returns home to visit his sick father, only to stumble upon a severed human ear laying in a field on his walk home from the hospital. The ear eventually leads him to the house of Dorthy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), a nightclub singer who’s husband and son have recently been kidnapped by a man named Frank Booth. Dennis Hopper plays the violent sociopath Frank, and he gives one of the most memorable and horrifying performances during the character’s debut scene.
While Jeffrey hides in the closet of Dorthy’s apartment, he watches Frank enter and verbally berate the singer. He drinks bourbon and huffs amyl nitrite before he beats and sexual assaults Dorthy on the living room floor. Much like Jeffrey, the audiences feels trapped, having to watch the horrific acts unfold but feeling helpless to do anything about them. Blue Velvet has its fair share of uncomfortable scenes that follow, but none even come close to Frank’s debut.
5 Make-Shift C-Section - Inside
As if giving birth wasn’t already scary enough, this 2007 French horror film makes the possibility of having an emergency cesarian section a thousand times worse.
Months after surviving the car accident that killed her husband, Sarah Scarangelo (Alysson Paradis) is making the final preparations to give birth to her child. That is, until a mysterious female stalker invades Sarah’s home with the plan of taking the baby for herself. While Sarah sleeps, the woman attempt to cut the baby out of Sarah, but she quickly awakens and fights the attacker off.
An intense and bloody game of cat and mouse ensues, along with a few shocking plot twists, and the audience is almost certain that the filmmakers wouldn’t dare let the stalker win out and continue with the c-section. But she does... using a pair of household scissors. It’s just as disturbing to watch as you can imagine.
4 Kentucky Fried Fellatio - Killer Joe
In one of his most underrated performances, Matthew McConaughey plays Joe Cooper, a slimy police detective who also happens to moonlight as a hitman. Joe becomes tangled up with Chris (Emile Hirsch), who hires the cop to knock off his mother so he can collect her life insurance. But when Chris isn’t able to pay for the job outright, Joe takes his younger sister Dottie as a retainer.
This unsettling scene comes at the film’s climax, when Joe becomes fed up with waiting on his money and decides to humiliate the red-neck family in exchange. He beats Chris’s mother and forcers her to perform oral sex on a fried chicken drumstick while the rest of the family watches. Suffice it to say, this scene is extremely bizarre and no doubt hard to watch. Though it contains no actual nudity, the scene still ended up earning Killer Joe an NC-17 rating.
3 Real Animal Killings - Cannibal Holocaust
When you’re watching a movie that makes you feel terrified, nauseous, or uncomfortable, at least you can always tell yourself that what you’re watching is fake; that it’s the result of convincing acting or impressive special effects. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with Cannibal Holocaust.
This film is pretty unbearable from start to finish, and there are a number of scenes where humans are brutally tortured and murderer. But while those moments are indeed make believe, the scenes where animals are being killed are all too real.
Director Ruggero Deodato went on to regret the animal killings, citing that he was young and extremely foolish at the time. However, that doesn’t undo the unforgettable footage that so many of us have ended up sitting through. There are a total of six animals killed on screen, and many of the deaths are far from clean or humane.
In fact, on some versions of the DVD release there’s even the option to skip over these scene if you’d rather not try to stomach them at all, and we won't think any less of you if you do.
2 The Birds and the Bees - Happiness
Don’t let the title of this movie fool you -- if you’re able to sit through this entire two-hour cringe fest known as Happiness, you definitely won’t be smiling by the time the credits start to roll. This 1998 dark (and we mean dark) comedy doesn’t shy away from some of the most taboo subjects of all time, particularly pedophilia.
The film intertwines a number of stories about terribly flawed characters, but the most uncomfortable by far is the story of Bill Maplewood (Dylan Baker); a father, husband, clinical psychiatrist, and despicable pedophile.
This particular scene comes after the police discovers that Bill has abused a number of boys within the town, and Bill’s 11-year old son questions his father about whether or not the accusations are true. Bill not only admits to being a pedophile, but he also tells his son how much he enjoyed it and would do it again if given the chance.
This is clearly not the kind of “sex talk” that parents are expected to give to their children.
1 Real-Time Rape Scene - Irreversible
Since audiences are condition to sympathize and identify with the characters on screen, there’s nothing more uncomfortable than having to sit through a film’s rape scene. While the scenes in Deliverance and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are no doubt hard to watch, nothing can quite match the discomfort of sitting through the rape scene in the 2002 French film Irreversible.
What makes this scene worse than the rest? For starters, it’s ten minutes long, as the filmmakers deciding to fully capture the horrifying act from start to finish without ever cutting away. The scene is also shot in a single take, and as the minutes drag on interminably you even start to feel bad for the actress, Monica Bellucci, who had to be pretend to act this suffering out.
Not surprisingly, Irreversible divided both audiences and critics alike, with some calling it a bold exploration of depravity and revenge, while others called it simply unwatchable.
So which movie scenes leave you feeling extremely uncomfortable? Let us know in the comments!
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