lucie in Martyrs (2008)

7 Most Disturbing Horror Movies

Do you wanna be disturbed?
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Every genre has disturbing movies, even kids’ movies have undertones that only adults will notice. Though horror as a genre is famously known to disturb even the biggest fans, there are many films, such as 2010’s A Serbian Film, that are infamous for how grotesque, disturbing, and some would say vile the film’s events are. It takes several steps over what many would say is the line. 

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Then there’s horror like The Last House on the Left (1978) which is just continuous tragedy and suffering for two teenage girls. While not remotely on the same level as A Serbian Film (2010), believe me, it may be considered incredibly disturbing to someone else. It’s usually about what we can individually stomach as viewers/horror fans. 

Naturally horror fans that are lovers of gore, weirdness, and the macabre will seek out movies that may or may not test their limits. It doesn’t make you a horrendous person for consuming said content. It might just be curiosity inching you towards a movie. The following list may be too disturbing. Truth be told, there’s some movies I haven’t touched yet that didn’t make this list. 

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

jennifer in I Spit on Your Grave
(The Jerry Gross Organization)

To this day, I Spit on Your Grave (1978) is a rape revenge horror film that’s considered incredibly controversial. And the film earns the description due to the graphic violence as well as the drawn out depictions of gang rape. The plot follows Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton), a New York based fiction writer who goes on a request of revenge against the four men who gang raped her and left her for dead. In no shape or form is this film to be watched lightly. And there doesn’t need to be an explanation on why it’s disturbing. The plot alone should let you know the disturbing content that unfolds. Rape revenge horror can be empowering to some survivors of sexual violence, or it can be deeply triggering. Proceed with caution.

Martyrs (2008)

anna in Martyrs (2008)
(Wild Bunch)

New French Extremity horror is still talked about to this day. And anybody who dismisses foreign horror is missing out. Martyrs (2008) is one of those films that practically every horror fan needs to watch at least once … unless they are absolutely sure they can’t handle it. The film follows Lucie (Mylène Jampanoï) and Anna (Morjana Alaoui), who are survivors of abuse, down a sinister path when Lucie seeks revenge against the people who kidnapped and tortured her 15 years prior. The disturbing aspects of this movie aren’t solely the gore and violence that occurs. It’s the fact that these two women of color are plagued by pain, loss of childhood, and abuse. And nothing gets better for them. Both women don’t make it out of their respective nightmares. Anna in particular loses her chance at life at the hands of a secret society (the same society that tortured Lucie). 

Antichrist (2009)

he and she in Antichrist (2009)
(Nordisk Film Distribution)

This is a psychological horror movie that’ll leave you at a loss for words. At first you’ll think you understand the film, only for tidbits to be revealed as the film progresses and suddenly characters aren’t who they seem. Interestingly enough, the characters have no names and just go by their pronouns. The film follows a couple (played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) who stay in a cabin after the accidental death of their son. From there the man (Willem Dafoe) experiences weird visions and the woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg) manifests violent sexual behavior as well as sadomasochism. If you don’t like self inflicted mutilation, violent sexual behaviors, and very strange psychological moments then this won’t be a film for you. And it definitely won’t be because there’s literal genital mutilation near the end. 

The Last House on the Left (2009)

mari in The Last House on the Left remake
(Universal Pictures)

You might be asking why I’m not including the original on this list. Well, it’s because this remake isn’t mentioned nearly enough. Certainly not when it’s better than the original (there I said it). The plot focuses on Mari Collingwood (Sara Paxton)’s parents, who take revenge against an escaped convict, Krug (Garret Dillahunt) and his group for what happened to their daughter. The violence Mari and her friend experience is very graphic (the original was no better in this regard) and the rape scene may very well trigger folks who have survived sexual violence. There’s something about how the scene is shot that makes it feel almost too real. To me, it’s not the parent’s revenge that’s the disturbing part of the film. It’s everything Mari suffers through and all because she wanted to have fun with her friend.

Megan Is Missing (2011)

megan and amy in Megan is Missing
(Anchor Bay Films)

Child abduction happens every single day, and this movie highlights the dangers of young girls at the hands of online predators. The plot revolves around the days that lead up to the disappearance of Megan Stewart (Rachel Quinn) and the investigation her best friend, Amy Herman (Amber Perkins) launches to find her. Where the movie becomes especially disturbing is when pictures of Megan are found on a fetish website. Soon, Amy is captured by the same man that kidnapped Megan and it’s all downhill from there. Quite literally it’s a full blown nightmare and Amy’s fate is so sickening because she pleads for her life. This is a tough one.

House with 100 Eyes (2013)

crystal in House of 100 Eyes
(Artsploitation Films)

There’s much that’s wrong with this film on a technical aspect, but it achieves what it needs to. It disturbs its audience and grosses people out. House with 100 Eyes (2013) doesn’t do anything fresh per se, it just barely manages to be a decent film. The plot follows a suburban couple, Ed (Jim Roof) and Susan (Shannon Malone) who seem like a regular couple who just happen to be serial killers and film snuff films of their victims, even going so far as keeping one as a pet. The film is styled as found footage, which gives it that realistic edge it needs to be effective. Their last 3 victims cause everything to unravel in the most batshit way possible. There’s plenty to find disturbing about the premise alone and the torture scenes are just…gross. 

(featured image: Wild Bunch)

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Vanessa Maki
Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.