Movies about rape or sexual assault are never easy to make. Filmmakers have a very thin margin of error. If they don’t pay careful attention to the presentation of the story, the film could easily end up offending many. After all, filming rape scenes in mainstream movies in never easy. That’s why we have seen so few great movies made on this subject. With the conversation around #MeToo gaining ground and become an integral part of our current socio-political milieu, we thought that it would be relevant to put together a list of movies that addresses the topic of sexual assault head-on. Some movies on this list do it directly, while others are more of an indirect commentary on the misuse of power. With that said, here is the list of 8 eye opening and disturbing movies about sexual abuse and violence.
8. I Spit On Your Grave (1978)
‘I Spit On Your Grave’ is a rare exploitation movie that has spawned sequels and a series now, which started with the remake in 2010. The series of films revolve around rape victims that exact revenge on their assailants and in the process flashing ridiculous amount of violence. The movies are a sorry excuse for portraying the atrocities a victim goes through as it indulges so much in violence, it forgets to convey its message and feels like a shallow inspiration of Wes Craven’s ‘Last House on the Left’. Nonetheless, the revenge flicks are still a suggestion for gorediggers, especially ones from the current generation.
7. Straw Dogs (1971)
Straw Dogs is a fairly underrated film, though countless filmmakers have cited the Sam Peckinpah classic as an inspiration. How many times have we heard from women that their husbands don’t stand up for them. This movie is about David Summer (Dustin Hoffman) a mathematician who has never stood up for anything in his life but when the time comes to defend his new house, boy he does that in style. Within this premise is a backstory of his wife Amy, whose ex boyfriend lives in the same town. The scene that repulses the viewer the most is when he barges into David’s house and has forcible sex with Amy. A disturbing film that takes time to grow on you.
6. Last House on The Left (1972)
Wes Craven’s directorial venture is heavily borrowed from The Virgin Spring (1960) in its narrative of rape and revenge. Mai and Phyllis, two best friends are heading out in the city for a concert and on the way they encounter a gang of perverted thugs. The thugs take them out in the forest and force them to do things that are not commonplace. Mari is told to pee in her pants and then forced to strip just to end up performing sexual acts with Phyllis. This might sound like just another exploitation film, but it is still considered by critics as a great film in a way that it defined and almost gave birth to a whole new genre of movies.
5. 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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4. 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, rape, 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.
3. Last Tango In Paris (1972)
The film’s story is simple enough, as a middle-aged widower, Paul (Marlon Brando) falls in love with a Parisian woman, Jeanne (Maria Schneider). The most notable scene in the film is the rape scene where Paul uses butter as lubricant to anally rape Jeanne. As much disgusting as the scene is, it is important to note that Maria Schneider came out saying that she was under age when the scene was shot and was not informed about the scene beforehand by Brando or Bertolucci.
2. Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
The film chronicles the story of the sickening pleasures of the lords and how they exploit 18 young men and women in devious manners. The tale is narrated in an unflinching manner, making it highly intense. The brutal murders, rape for fun and sadism make it one of the most difficult films to watch. It is gory and hurts the viewer almost physically every time it is watched. Some of the scenes are so disturbing that it becomes a nightmare. The torture is unapologetic but poetic justice is served in the end. Unsurprisingly, ‘Salò’ is banned in several countries for its graphic content and violent portrayal of rape, torture and murder.
Gasper Noé’s sophomore feature, ‘Irreversible’ is one of the most powerful cinematic experiences of the century, a movie that could irreparably scar you for life. Noe borrows the reverse chronology narrative from Nolan’s ‘Memento’ and inventively uses the technique to portray the brutality of pain and suffering and the nihilism around us. It remains, to this day, the most controversial disturbing movie ever made on the subject of sexual assault. The scenes of graphic violence and the uncomfortably long and brutal rape scene featuring Monica Bellucci are near impossible to watch. Noé’s disorienting cinematography is nauseating and perfectly complements the movie’s nihilist atmosphere and tone. In the end, the film is an incredibly powerful experience.
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