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17 Darkest Movies of All Time

June 18, 2017
11 min read

There are all kind of dark movies. Most of the dark films that deal with themes of sex, violence, torture or incest. Whether it is the darkness in pleasure or the darkness of pleasure, pleasing viewers by depicting the darkest of their desires hasn’t been easy. Filmmakers have tried flattering the cinemagoers with some cult classics as well as with some inferior sub-par content next to only pornography.

Darkness in films have explored intents of incest, adultery, sodomy, masochism, polyamory, rapes, tortures and other similar acts. Acts which are more inclined towards pleasure rather than the objective of causing harm, but the co-existence couldn’t be denied regardless. Here’s a list of the movies where the filmmakers have tried the balancing act between pleasure and pain, sorrow and fulfillment, increasingly in that order. Though there are many contradictory notions of darkness and some of them are extremely disturbing and utterly depressing, here is the list of the top dark movies, in case you enjoy such kind of movies. You can some of these dark movies on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime.

17. Moebius (2013)

A story of incest, adultery and involving scenes of castration, Moebius is spot on for a disturbing genre of revenge and sorrow combined, with an Asian flavour to it. A mother who is rather troubled by her husband’s affair is headed to castrate him, only to castrate her son instead and ends up eating his phallus. The ridiculous events that follow, involving the father looking for increasing his son’s libido without the organ, while the wife-mother roams the streets, Moebius will keep you wondering the reason why it was made.

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16. Hostel Series (2005/2007/2011)

Not for the faint of heart and guts, ‘Hostel’ is filled with severed body parts in almost every frame. Involving a demented game of torture and horrendously filmed gore, Hostel will startle you at some places whereas otherwise, it could make your guts turn upside down. Regardless, the performances are fantastic and Hostel I/II are quite fulfilling to their promises of the desperation and the delectation involved therein.

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15. Lolita (1997)

A middle-aged professor and a paedophile, Humbert, finds it difficult to let go of his fetish towards young girls, because he lost someone dear to him, while he was young. He marries a teenage girl’s mother, in order to be close to the girl. He nicknames her “Lolita” in his memoirs and they both commence on an endless journey comprising a weird stepfather -daughter relationship, bordering with incest and muffled with lies. All to the means of losing her in the end.

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14. Fifty Shades of Grey series (2015/2017)

A movie that neatly portrays the “grey” shades of one Mr Christian Grey, who, though being a billionaire, doesn’t carry the legacy and ingenuity of the likes of Tony Stark, except for one thing. Though it’s difficult to ponder over the tools and techniques he uses or the disturbing apathetic nature he has towards objectifying women, regardless, his methods are outrageous and upsetting at several times.

Anastasia Steele confronts her inner desires for sex and her attraction towards the dominance of Mr Grey before she finds herself lost between love, lust and submission. If not for Mr Grey’s billionaire status, there’s a very thin invisible line between ’50 Shades of Grey’ and torture porn.

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13. The Piano Teacher (2001)

Self-denial and masochism are the words that could wholly summarise this movie. Even though in her forties, a piano teacher constantly indulges in self-mutilation, pornography and paraphilia. She later gets attracted to one of her students, with her desires giving in to his innuendos resulting in an aftermath she’d not expected out of her fetishes.

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12. Secretary (2002)

‘Secretary’ aggravates the common notion of a ubiquitous boss-secretary relationship manifolds. Incidentally, the protagonist who is named Mr Grey and is a lawyer by profession gives in to Lee’s sadomasochism. On the other hand, Lee starts falling for Mr Grey, which has never been her desire. Replete with sexual acts of dominance, self-infliction and denial, ‘Secretary’ is the story of a mentally destitute secretary who steadily comes to know of her submissive frailties from a person of her opposing nature. A decent balancing attempt, I’d say.

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11. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

A Darren Aronofsky masterpiece, perhaps his best effort so far, ‘Requiem for a Dream’ surrounds the deep, dark and disturbing lives of four drug junkies and addicts Harry, Tyrone, Harry’s mother Sara and his girlfriend Marion. The connect made between all four, their individual obsessions, suppressed due to their dependency on drugs and the deplorable paths they take on to overcome their problems is thought-provoking. With scenes depicting oral sex, drug addictions and pedications, ‘Requiem for a Dream’ explores all possible avenues of addictive pleasure and pain, portrays them in a forlorn way and rouses deep empathetic emotions in between, all within a span of 90 minutes.

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10. Belle de Jour  (1967)

‘Belle de Jour’ is the story of a married woman Séverine, who daydreams of BDSM, avoids sexual intimacy with her doctor-husband and breaks free into prostitution at a glorified brothel to satiate herself and others, while her husband is away for work. Things go awry when her husband bears the brunt from one of her customers. A story consisting mostly of fantasies, few of which backfire horribly.

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9. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

One of the weirdly relevant movies in this list, ‘Perfume’ is the story of a man with an odd superpower of enhanced olfactory senses. Born and brought up in neglect, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille could recognise and remember the smell of almost anything – from leaves to wood, everyday things, animals and also, humans. In his quest to create and capture all the thirteen possible essences, he murders and enfleurages women to extract their scents. A movie for the tolerant few, ‘Perfume’ is uncannily disturbing with its cruel ways of extraction and has a scene depicting non-sexual mass debauchery, probably the only one of its kind in mainstream cinema.

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8. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Despite all the misinterpretations, I’d rather call ‘A Clockwork Orange’ a gem of the genius of Stanley Kubrick. A serial sex offender and pugnacious murderer Alex traverses from one place to another with his cohorts, raping women and hatching new plans for his delusional ventures. Caught by police and imprisoned thereafter, he is supposedly treated in the prison by a prototypic Ludovico Technique involving an eye-clamper and force-watching a couple of vicious movies a day. Post his treatment, Alex gives in when he pays for the crimes he committed. He’s tortured by his own cohorts after landing up at the same very places where he committed those crimes.

‘A Clockwork Orange’ is a mix of hysteria and the induced pain and suffering triggered by a particular action, the Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, sex and violence in the present case.

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7. Oldboy (2003)

A movie that features on the “must-watch” list of every Korean movies’ enthusiast, Oldboy is a captivating story of a revenge-stricken man who had been imprisoned by unknown people from the past fifteen years. Dae-Su, who’s been in pain due to the loss of his family members, who has embraced loneliness, has five days to figure the reason for his torment, else he risks losing much more than he thinks. ‘Oldboy’ is also a classic example of being one of the most diverse movies covering the entire pleasure-pain paradox, comprising of incestuous sex, cringeworthy scenes like eating of live squids, suicides, tortures, hypnotism, self-infliction and hallucinations. ‘Oldboy’, in its genre, is a cornerstone of world cinema. And no, that’s not pun-intended.

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6. Enter the Void (2009)

A Gasper Noe’s flick, ‘Enter the Void’ is a first person’s rendering of the delusions and nightmares mostly faced by Oscar, a drug dealer who lives in Tokyo with his younger sister Linda. After getting killed by cops in a raid, Oscar’s point of view, sees the world after and before him, including the horrific car crash that killed his parents and his sister’s ventures. If not for the video-game kind of a setting, fantasies, glowy and flashy colours, voyeurism on people having sex with fluorescent genitals, and bodily fluids, ‘Enter the Void’ could be worth a watch.

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5. Antichrist (2009)

Another sadistic attempt by Lars Von Trier, ‘Antichrist’ boasts of the scenes of sympathetic misogynistic lovemaking, combined with the sorrow of losing one’s child. Comprising only of two people throughout the length of the movie, She finds refuge in rough sex and infliction of wounds, followed by deeply disturbing scenes of genital crushing, drilling holes in body parts, female circumcision and masturbation. Almost every frame of ‘Antichrist’ sparing a few, is filled with disturbing scenes and you probably wouldn’t dare watch it another time. ‘Antichrist’ is worth every ounce of its name.

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4. Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

Perhaps there can’t be a more sickening and disturbing movie on misanthropy than ‘Salò’, which even surpasses the greatest extreme pornographic acts of sodomy, coprophagia and orgies combined.  While flaying, leashing, anal intercourses, fondling, victimisation and objectification of men and women is ubiquitous in the movie, what is extremely disturbing is the questionable sanity of the filmmakers or the conjurers of ‘Salò’. How could a rational person even think of this? Nevertheless, watching a group of nine young men and women sodomised, mutilated, forced-fed with faeces, humiliated, tortured and killed is next to impossible. So don’t, and thank me later.

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3. A Serbian Film (2010)

The film opens with a kid accidentally watching a porno movie starring none other than his father. An ex-porn star by profession, Milos agrees to perform in an art film and signs the contract. His nightmares come alive when, as opposed to his expectations, he’s to indulge in sexual acts with prostitutes in front of kids. To meet an even horrifying end, his wife is raped in front of him, while Alex himself performs paedophilic acts before an ensuing gory rampage of killing people. ‘A Serbian Film’ is basically porn with a crazy plotline.

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2. The Human Centipede Trilogy (2009/2011/2015)

This has to be the only trilogy which isn’t worthy of being called one. As sickening and depressing as it sounds like, the trailing two movies derive their inspiration from the first instalment. Dr Heiter, a surgeon known to separate conjoint twins, fantasises creating a human centipede by creating a mouth-to-anus connection between three different people after sewing them together. He captures two females and a male tourist to accomplish his purpose. While the very idea of it is gut-wrenching, he further plans to keep the “triplet” as a pet. The vicious and bilious thoughts of Dr Heiter combined with his inhumane intent is utterly disgusting. Something one should avoid watching unless turning pale due to vomiting and nausea is the only impetus.

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1. Nymphomaniac: Vol. I & II (2013)

Joe, a chronic nymphomaniac narrates her story of sexual encounters, going from pole to post, meeting and satiating herself with a countless number of men. The very fact that she’s never too content with her inner desires and her inability to withhold herself from her urges makes her severely dependent and misogynistic.

The Vol. II continues with Joe’s narrative, where Joe describing her experiences with Jerôme, who now lives with the young Joe. Joe seems losing her sexuality and the pleasure involved therein, yet she continues taking new avenues like rehabilitation by inflicting damage (compared with crucifixion), insertion and performing sadistic mutilation on her own.

As disturbing as it may seem, both the movies deliver raw forms of sadomasochism, self-inflicted abortions, hallucinations, objectification and torturous form of sex – everything to incite pleasure and pain. ‘Nymphomaniac’ shows the sorrows of a nymph, something that has to be fulfilled by copious amounts of hedonism.

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