Looking for something to watch this Halloween?
While some of us might be spending October 31st donning our fangs and partying until sunrise, an equally appropriate way to spend the night is by dimming the living room lights and putting on a good old scary movie. But if zombies bore you to death and you’ve seen enough slasher movies to be able to outwit a murderer yourself, it can be difficult to find a truly chilling new flick.
But those films are out there if you know where to look... In fact, with horror being an easy genre to make on a budget, there are more creepy films being made now than ever before, and some seriously messed-up ones at that.
There are many ways a movie can disturb us. It can repulse us with extreme visuals. It can play tricks on the mind, psychologically terrifying us. It can horrify us by putting the worst of humanity on screen.
All of these, and more, are effects you may experience when watching the following films. So, if you think you’re up for it, here are fifteen recent movies that could scare you out of your skin this spooky season. And if you get scared, just remember the classic Last House on the Left tagline: “it’s only a movie... it’s only a movie...”
Here are 15 Recent Movies Too Disturbing To Watch.
15 Raw (2016)
The debut feature of French director Julia Ducournau, this "vegetarian cannibal horror" impressed and disturbed cinemagoers when it was released last year.
Raw follows young veggie Justine as she begins her course at a veterinary school. She hasn't been there long before she’s pressured into giving up her meat-free principles in an initiation ritual that involves eating raw rabbit liver. Justine soon discovers a taste for flesh... and not of the animal kind.
Her student lifestyle becomes more debauched than anything in American Pie, with the wild parties and antics coming hand in hand with some grisly scenes of chomping on her classmates. Well, it’s better than instant noodles, right?
Raw is one of the most engaging horrors of recent years, and also, in its unflinching dive into primal hungers, one of the most disturbing.
14 Valhalla Rising (2009)
Because no one did violence quite like the Vikings, this 2009 effort from Nicolas Winding Refn (who went on to direct Drive) is a seriously uncompromising historical gore-fest.
Valhalla Rising stars Mads Mikkesen as One-Eye, an escaped fighting slave who joins a group of Crusaders searching for the Holy Land. But they instead end up in North America, where they’re set upon by some very unhappy locals. With few tools at their disposal to fend off attackers, One-Eye has to resort to biting opponents’ flesh and some even more hands-on approaches. It only gets more disturbing when some supernatural elements are introduced.
By completely eschewing elegance in favour of nasty, muddy combat, Valhalla Rising is an unforgettably tough watch, if a rewarding one.
13 The Green Inferno (2013)
Eli Roth has a reputation for filling his movies with high levels of gore and violence, and The Green Inferno is no exception.
A group of student activists fly to the Amazon rainforest to protest deforestation. The tone is set when their plane crashes and one of them manages to walk into the propeller – but being chopped up is an easy death compared to what’s to come. They’re set upon by a local tribe with a habit of chopping people up and eating them - it only gets more gruesome from there.
Though its questionable racial stereotyping won it few fans, The Green Inferno pleased lovers of the ‘70s and ‘80s horror movies it homages - not least Stephen King, who described it as “bloody, gripping, hard to watch, but you can't look away.”
12 The Snowtown Murders (2012)
From 1992 to 1999, John Bunting and his three accomplices killed twelve victims in South Australia, in what became known as the Snowtown Murders, one of Australia’s most famous true crime cases. And in 2011, director Justin Kurzel (Assassin's Creed) brought that story to the screen.
It’s told from the perspective of Jamie, an abused sixteen year old who falls under the wing of Bunting. Together, they commit the series of gruesome killings, motivated by Jamie’s desire for revenge and John’s hatred of homosexuals, and the film shows us those killings in horrifically unflinching fashion.
What’s most scary about this story, though, is the way the hateful Bunting builds up followers through his manipulative charm. That, and the fact that it all happened for real.
11 Martyrs (2008)
French-Canadian movie Martyrs is not one to be entered into lightly, crossing home invasion slashing with a much more existential form of horror.
Young Lucie escapes from a home where she’s been held captive and tortured. She grows up in an orphanage, but is constantly tormented by a ghoulish old woman. Lucie returns to the home fifteen years later to kill the abusive family, and her friend Anna follows, only to discover that Lucie had indeed been victim to a cult devoted to torturing young girls in order to bring them close enough to death to glimpse the afterlife.
It’s completely messed up, with some truly nasty scenes, not least the one in which a woman is flayed alive. There was a much tamer American remake in 2015, but don’t bother – go straight to the original, if you can handle it.
10 Attack of the Adult Babies (2017)
This British comedy horror, currently playing the film festival circuit, is exactly as messed up as its unusual title suggests.
Attack of the Adult Babies is set in a country house in which politicians, judges, and other rich members of the elite gather for a weekend of serious debauchery, during which they don diapers and pretend to be babies, with poor nurses having to clean up their excrement.
We experience this through the perspective of a family forced to break in and steal documents from the house, only to come into violent confrontation with the vicious matron and the adult babies themselves, who are transforming into pig-like creatures. Oh, and there’s a giant "god of poo" living in the basement.
You might leave this movie having loved it, or maybe having hated it, but one thing’s for sure – it won’t be easy to forget its delirious imagery.
9 Goodnight Mommy (2014)
The creepy child is a staple of the horror genre, but chilling Austrian movie Goodnight Mommy flips that idea on its head, and then flips it right back.
Two young boys, Elias and Lukas, become suspicious when their mother returns from cosmetic surgery with her face wrapped in bandages. Is the woman under the bandages really their mom? When they become increasingly convinced that she isn’t, and the woman becomes violent towards Elias, they tie her up and "test" her to uncover the truth.
It’s not the most gory movie on our list, but the moments of physical terror, such as the boys supergluing the woman’s mouth shut, really hit hard because of the clever shifts in perspective that mean you never know whose side to be on. The shocking ending really seals this as an unnerving must-see.
8 Under the Skin (2013)
Though it’s more of a science fiction movie than a horror, Under the Skin nevertheless has a very creepy atmosphere that makes it get, well, under your skin.
Scarlett Johansson’s character drives around Glasgow picking up men, then taking them back to her place for... well, not what you’d expect. The men end up in a strange black void, submerged to their seeming deaths. As the film goes on, we begin to understand that Johansson’s character is not from this planet.
It’s a very strange film, and its slow pace will not be to everyone’s tastes, but the ethereal image of Johansson’s extraterrestrial seductions lingers long in the mind.
Intriguingly, many of the pickup scenes were unscripted, with the men being members of the public unaware that they were being filmed or who they were talking to.
7 A Field In England (2013)
Another slice of British weirdness... Ben Wheatley’s Satanists and hitmen thriller Kill List very nearly made this list, but the director’s most disturbing film has to be A Field in England.
Set in the mid-17th century, it follows a group of English Civil War soldiers who, after deserting battle, end up captured by a sinister alchemist who forces them to eat hallucinogenic mushrooms in order to become obedient, and then to search for buried treasure for him. Naturally, things go south, and the characters all end up turning on each other in a very grisly fashion.
Wheatley used the hallucinogenic properties of the ‘shrooms the guys eat as a cue for how he should direct the film, bombarding us with surreal imagery and intense conflict. It’s about as shocking as a film made in one field can get.
6 The Bunny Game (2012)
Sexualized violence in horror films is always controversial – and for good reason. Some films use it as the starting point for a cathartic revenge tale, or to make a point about society’s problems. Others just revel in the grotesquery. The Bunny Game is one of those ones.
When drug-addicted prostitute Bunny propositions a truck driver, she’s kidnapped by him and subjected to a series of "game", all of which revolve around her suffering extreme physical and sexual abuse. And there’s little in the way of pauses to catch your breath, as these games take up most of the film’s running time.
Though it may be stylishly shot, The Bunny Game is little more than exploitation, and it’s hard to blame the British Board of Film Classification for banning it. It's not for the faint hearted.
5 Baskin (2015)
Since its release a couple of years ago, Turkish horror Baskin – which means "police raid" – has gained quite some notoriety.
Five cops are shirking their responsibilities during a night patrol, taking the time to have a drink, when they receive a call for backup from a backwater town. Entering a derelict building, they find themselves prey to a mysterious religious cult, and fall through a doorway to Hell. And then, like true horror movie morons, they split up, and are all tormented by increasingly surreal nightmares.
"Nightmare" is really the best way to describe Baskin, which jumps from one horrific situation to the next with the lack of cohesion but intensity of terror you’d experience of your most harrowing night’s sleep. Watch it, but not immediately before bed.
4 A Serbian Film (2010)
There are certain things that, once you’ve seen them, you can’t unsee, and just about all of those things are in A Serbian Film. Srđan Spasojević’s snuff-themed exploitation flick is unbearable in its graphic horror.
The story follows down on his luck adult film actor Miloš, who, desperate for money, takes on a job starring in what’s described to him as an "art film". But his new employers seriously stretch the definitions of art, forcing Miloš into degrading and horrifically violent acts that cross all moral lines.
The director claims that the crimes are a metaphor for the Serbian governments injustices against its people. These disgusting acts have all been filmed way too realistically to be comfortable, and you won’t be surprised to learn that A Serbian Film has been banned in several countries.
3 The Human Centipede III (2015)
When it first hit the horror movie circuit in 2009, The Human Centipede repulsed audiences with its nasty tale of a deranged doctor who attaches three people together, mouth to anus, as a horrific experiment.
Its first sequel gave us a twelve-person centipede, but it’s the third installment that really ups the stakes. It follows sadistic prison warden Bill Boss and his accountant Dwight. After watching the first two Human Centipede films, Bill and Dwight decide to turn the prison population into a 500-person centipede.
Full of absurdly gruesome details – the "human caterpillar" made from life sentence inmates – The Human Centipede III really has to be seen to be believed. Or you could, alternatively, watch anything else instead.
2 Antichrist (2009)
One of the most wonderfully twisted films there is, Antichrist could only have come from the mind of Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier.
The story follows a married couple who, trying to come to terms with the death of their son, head out into an isolated woodland cabin. Now, heading to an isolated woodland cabin is rarely a good idea in a movie, but it goes even more horrifically badly than you could imagine.
Rather than healing their wounds, this environment draws the worst out of the couple, causing them to commit brutal acts against themselves and each other, all against a backdrop of Satanism, witchcraft, and some seriously screwed-up woodland creatures.
This isn’t a film content to keep you awake at night merely with gore; rather, its bleak, horrific take on life itself will inescapably plague your mind.
1 The Act of Killing (2012)
This is the only documentary on our list, but that doesn’t stop The Act of Killing from being a disturbing watch – in fact, the reality of the acts it depicts only makes it all the more horrible.
Joshua Oppenheimer’s film focuses on the Indonesian massacres of 1965 to ‘66, in which almost a million communist sympathizers were brutally killed. The star of the film is Anwar Congo, the gangster who personally led the death squad. Yes, the actual killer. Anwar not only talks directly to the camera about his experiences as a mass murderer, but acts in reconstructions of the murders, shot in the style of various film genres.
The way Oppenheimer both lets Congo tell his story and forces him to consider his actions from the victims’ perspective leads to some shocking insights into the mind of a killer. It’s very uncomfortable but very powerful viewing.
Have we missed out your favourite recent disturbing releases? Let us know in the comments!
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