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16 Great Movies You Don’t Want To Watch Again

18 April 2013 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

GoodThere are two kinds of movies that you only want to watch once: One is terrible movies that you wish you had never saw, let alone watching it twice. The other is good movies that are too sad, too disturbing or too mind-bending to endure them once more. Here’s 16 great movies you need to watch, but once will be enough.


16. Breaking The Waves


Why You Should Watch It: It’s a flabbergasting work of art that portrays a woman’s quest to please God and does so with the complexity and emotional power of a Bergman film. What Emily Watson brings to her first role on the big screen, the naive Scottish girl, offers a clinic on superlative acting that could humble veterans with ten times the experience.

Why You’ll Only Watch It Once: The suffering of both Emily Watson and her character are almost intolerable to watch twice.


15. A Woman Under The Influence


Why You Should Watch It: It’s one of the greatest work in American independent film history, it also features one of the most brilliant female performances(Gena Rowlands as Mabel Longhetti) in cinema history.

Why You’ll Only Watch It Once: The movie has a thin plot, and you will become as hysterical as Mabel if you try to revisit it.


14. The Seventh Seal


Why You Should Watch It: It’s the entry level film of arthouse cinema, also one of the first bunch of films that made us think serious questions.

Why You’ll Only Watch It Once: The theme is too dark and heavy, you wouldn’t want to see the image of death too many times. Also, the more you watch the movie, the more questions will be raised. If you don’t want to think too much when watching a movie, one time will suffice.


13. Make Way For Tomorrow


Why You Should Watch It : It’s a neglected gem from one of the most underrated Hollywood directors – Leo McCarey. It’s also the saddest movie about senior citizens before Michael Haneke’s Amour. As Orson Welles famously said, “That’s the saddest movie ever. It would make a stone cry.”

Why You’ll Only Watch It Once: You will cry everytime you watch it. So if you got the time, why don’t you watch something that’s more lighthearted?

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  • sjhoneywell

    I’ve seen 11 of these, and I agree with the sentiment on most. Breaking the Waves is a 1-timer (and I might add von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark to that), Come and See is one of the most incredible film experiences I’ve had–and I don’t want to repeat that one, either. Same for Requiem for a Dream and Shoah.

    Funny Games is must-see, but brutal. I could watch it again, but I’d choose not to. Salo and Irreversible I’d argue don’t need to be seen even once (but I’ll hear arguments for Irreversible). Satantango is a damn day-long chore and I have better things to do than watch it again.

    Make Way for Tomorrow is a hard watch, but no harder than Tokyo Story. I’d sit through A Woman Under the Influence again for Rowlands’s performance. And The Seventh Seal? I can’t wait to see that one again!

  • Danielle Whitaker Owens

    I haven’t seen most of these. Funny Games was a really f*cked up movie but I think I’d watch it again. I haven’t seen Salo, Irreversible, or Shoah but I’ve been wanting to for sometime now.
    Martyrs is a movie that I saw a couple years ago and I STILL think about that movie. I have only watched it once and again, I’d probably watch it again, but that is one movie that has stuck with me since the credits started rolling.

  • hostrauser

    I, too, have seen at least 6-7 of these. Glad to see “Shoah” at #1. The 9-hour run-time isn’t the tough part, it’s watching all those Holocaust survivors dredge up their most horrible memories and bare their souls to the camera. Quite simply, every human being should devote a weekend to watching this movie at least one time in their lives.

    “Come and See” I could (and have) watched more than once, because it is so beautifully filmed. But I agree, the soul-crushing despair of the movie, and how it drives home just how truly powerless the individual is in a time of war, relegates it to once-every-few-years frequency.

    I would add “House of Sand and Fog” to this list. Ben Kingsley’s performance is a masterpiece, but the movie drags you through an emotional ringer.

  • Alex Strike

    I’ve seen the only movie from this list – Requiem for A Dream. That’s was really difficult. Maybe I will have enough will to watch it once again one day. Thanks to author for such an unusual list!

  • im

    I have seen Blue valentine at least 10 times. breaks my heart every time but thats okay ! its a superb movie and everytime you watch it you will discover something new in it !

  • Not again

    I’ve only seen Requiem of a Dream of the abovementioned, and I really don’t wanna see it again. It is a good movie, but it’s way too dark to see again. I couldn’t help but cry afterwards… Man I felt bad. I really don’t want to see either of the other movies… Not my thing.

  • WoWed

    Grave of the Fireflies….such a great movie, but yeah, it’s far too depressing to watch twice.

  • ZombieDecker

    Hard Candy should be on this list. Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson at their best and the material is intense and crazy and brilliant.

  • Joshua ‘Squire’ Mcdowell

    I really take umbrage to calling martyrs ‘torture porn’ it is far and above thematically more interesting an idea than just simply gore for that sake of it. putting it with the likes of ‘saw’ is degrading to Martyrs

    • Michael

      I completely agree. I’ve watched the film several times specifically because its story merits more consideration than can be given on first viewing which was one of the most intense experiences I’ve had. If it was only ‘torture porn’ it would not have such sustained interest and would have been replaced by some other mediocre effort. Writer/director Pascal Laugier deserves more respect for his accomplishment.

      • paulfny

        Completely agree. If anything, it’s anti-torture porn, as the director has essentially intended and described it. It’s intentionally harrowing, you’re not supposed to enjoy it, you’re supposed to care about the victims. I’ve watched it twice and it’s affected me the same both times. I’d watch it again. It has quite a lot to say about human nature, film audience’s attitudes and reactions to violence and the role of empathy in a horror film. Borderline genius. The fact that those that watch and enjoy on a popcorn level, films like Hostel and the Saw series (and I like some of these movies), yet hate Martyrs, says all it needs to about how people view the victim in a horror/violent film and misunderstand their own reaction to Martyrs.

  • fp123

    A Serbian Film needs to be on this list. It’s by far the most disturbing movie I’ve ever seen you can’t watch the movie without flinching or looking away. Its a great movie in a really dark and twisted way but I guarantee you’ll only be able to watch it once.

    • Michael

      Disagree. A huge disappointment after all the hype. It desperately wanted to be shocking and as a consequence went for the surface while ignoring more potent nuance and subtlety. I knew it had no chance of success when, after the baby rape scene, the character yelled out “newborn porn, newborn porn.” It was supposed to be grotesque but sounds like the punchline to a joke.

  • Keyser Soze

    “A Woman Under The Influence”

    Jesus Christ. A friend convinced me to watch that movie once and i felt like suing her for emotional harassment afterwards

  • mat5452

    Martyrs for sure, it was brutal, I don’t think I could do that to myself again. I was left scarred. Irreversible was so intense I actually had to fast forward the rape scene, i stopped in the middle of it and realized the subtitles were still going and was even more distrubed knowing he was harrassing her verbally as well. It can never be unseen and I can never watch it again, but it was a great film.

  • Ness Lockhart

    Cannibal Holocaust should be on here…

    • Bodeanicus

      The movies on this list are good movies. CH is garbage.

  • Troy Tette

    Ken Russell’s The Devils!

  • Timothy Young

    I’d add Taxi Driver to this list. A friend asked me what I thought after I saw it, and I told her ‘it was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, and I never want to see it again.’

    • Kevyn Knox

      I have seen Taxi Driver at least a dozen times now, including (upon my wife’s very first viewing) projected on the big screen. I have never understood why someone would not want to watch a film they loved, over and over again.

      • Timothy Young

        I didn’t say I loved it. I said it was one of the best movies I’d ever seen. It was incredibly powerful, and incredibly disturbing, and I have no desire to see it again. There are other movies I’ve watched countless times, like Army of Darkness, that are far from ‘best movie ever’ status, but so enjoyable that I can watch them again and again. To each his or her respective own, I guess.

        • Kevyn Knox

          I know what ya mean. My wife refuses to ever watch Requiem for a Dream again, even though she found it to be quite brilliant. I just have never had that problem. Then again, I do not find Taxi Driver especially disturbing.

  • daniel

    Jacob’s Ladder….

  • Kelsey Upward


  • Laura Cowan

    We Need To Talk About Kevin should make this list. It brilliant, beautiful, shocking, and ultimately devastating. A very different subject matter, but like Breaking The Waves the use of silence, isolation, desperation and destruction drive the story to what you know already will be a horrific conclusion.

  • MeriMakr8298

    Grave Of The Fireflies is one of those movies that once it was over I wanted my psyche back. As depressing and fatalistic as they come; this movie is like watching kittens being blenderized, in slow motion, as reasonable and unreasonable people look on with bland indifference. Hideous.

    I would add Pan’s Labyrinth – which many loved but I found highly disturbing because the outcome was telegraphed from the opening.

  • David Morgan-Brown

    y’all a bunch of pussies for only wanting to watch a fantastic, yet disturbing film once

  • Aroreiel

    United 93.

  • Kevyn Knox

    I’ve never been bothered enough by a film to not watch it again. I’ve watched most of these films at least twice, one of them three times, and one of them about ten or so.

  • Heather Moore

    Irreversible is brutal and harrowing. I have only seen it once and I urge anyone to watch it who hasn’t seen it. The fire extinguisher scene is the first scene where I’ve had to turn away from watching something on television. The rape scene is not sexualised in anyway unlike Hollywood films containing rape. It is cold, detached and matter of fact. You don’t know why it’s so violent at first until it works back to earlier. Brilliant and utterly depressing.

    Another utterly depressing film is Betty Blue – enough to only watch it once too.

  • Richard Harney

    The only movie I’ve seen on this list is Requiem for a Dream and I see a LOT of movies only once. I’ve actually seen Requiem 3 times.

  • RupesNotSupes

    Audition should be on this list. That film was messed up. It’s in the column on the right saying that it will leave you messed up for days. It’s been years since I seen that film, it’s horrible.

  • huntermc

    There’s very few movies that I would watch twice, simply because I don’t have enough time to watch all the movies that I want to once.

  • TichoB

    How is The Road not on this list?

  • Chris M.

    Two for me are Boys Don’t Cry and The Elephant Man

  • Michelle Bryer

    We need to talk about Kevin should be on this list.