The Most Shocking and Disturbing Movies of the Past Century


Ever itching for the opposite of a feel-good movie?

You know what we mean: sometimes, you don’t want to kick back and laugh. Sometimes, you want to sit back and feel your skin crawl. This is pretty much why we enjoy horror movies so much.

But some films throughout history do more than make your skin crawl. These are movies that make you question your faith in humanity altogether. Which films are we talking about? Keep reading to discover the most shocking and disturbing movies of the past century!

Ichi the Killer

Ichi the Killer is a Japanese movie directed by Takashi Miike. It was adapted from a manga created by Hideo Yamamoto. However, this tale of an unhinged killer and his encounters with the Yakuza is likely more disturbing than manga adaptations (such as popular anime shows) you may have encountered before.

What makes this movie so horrifyingly unforgettable is that it adapts all of the over-the-top kills and torture scenes from the manga into gritty live-action scenes. You’ll see characters get their cheeks sewn through, suffer boiling oil, and get mutilated for the sexual satisfaction of our titular character. Ultimately, this is a movie you may end up having to watch through your fingers, but you won’t be able to look away.


Ari Aster’s Hereditary is a horror movie that works on multiple levels. There is a slow-burn story about demon worship and possession that slowly takes center stage as the film goes on. But more immediately, there is a quietly tragic story of a family torn apart by unspeakable trauma.

Toni Collette infuses scenes with manic gravitas, and Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro play brother and sister with a kind of sibling rivalry almost anyone can relate to. Shapiro has a weird tongue-clicking noise that will haunt you long after the credits roll, and Wolff gives a haunting performance as a young man who discovers there is no basement level to hell as his life continues to unravel.

Green Room

Perhaps the oddest thing about the Green Room is that it brings together old and new Star Trek stars. Patrick Stewart is downright shocking as a neo-Nazi villain that we can’t look away from. And Star Trek reboot star Anton Yelchin is a young punk protagonist fighting the Nazis in one of Yelchin’s last performances.

Beyond the Trek connection, though, this movie stands on its own as a tale of a reluctant punk band who ends up clashing with Nazis and fighting for their lives. What will disturb you most about this movie is that the action and especially the kills mix intimate and even claustrophobic scenes with brutal violence that leaves you cringing on behalf of these characters.

Requiem for a Dream

One topic that horror fans like to debate is whether the things we see are scarier than the things we don’t see. But in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, he rather conclusively proves that nothing is as scary as the invisible monster known as addiction.

Over the course of the movie, we see what drug addiction does to different characters. Addiction to drugs like heroin drives families apart, makes people turn tricks for hits, and even leads to someone losing their arm! As the credits roll, you’ll be forced to ponder who in your own life may be dealing with some of the horrific struggles we see onscreen.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Lynne Ramsey’s movie We Need to Talk About Kevin is a movie that examines a horrific modern phenomenon: the school shooter. In this case, the shooter (or, strictly speaking, bow killer) is played by Ezra Miller. And rather than focus on salacious scenes of violence and murder, the movie focuses on the character’s mother (played by Tilda Swinton) as she looks back in her life for signs that her son was actually a murderous sociopath.

Perhaps the best description for most scenes is quiet dread, with an emphasis on the “quiet.” Long scenes without music force the audience to look into Miller’s dead eyes and confront some nasty realities about modern society. And this movie has become more resonant over time, both due to the growing threat of school shooters around the country as well as Ezra Miller seemingly becoming unhinged and dangerous in real life!


Deadgirl, directed by Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel, tackles a familiar zombie movie trope: that the real threat comes from humanity rather than the undead. But it does so through a very unconventional tale that sheds an unforgiving light on the uncomfortable topic of rape culture.

The basic plot involves boys discovering and then capturing the titular Deadgirl (played by Jenny Spain). From there, some boys and their friends begin having sex with the restrained zombie that has no way to consent to what is happening to her. By the end of the movie, we discover all the different ways these boys’ views of sex, gender, and consent have been warped. And we are left with the uncomfortable thought that while zombies may be visibly dead on the outside, we are surrounded by countless people just as amoral as these boys who are dead on the inside.

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