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15 Great Films That Will Leave You Emotionally Drained

23 January 2014 | Features, Film Lists | by Janiera  Eldridge

Movies always stand to be the fastest and most fun way to get good entertainment, but sometimes you want to delve deep into a film that’s going to leave you with more than just a little bit of hollow satisfaction.

Here are 15 films that will leave you completely drained of all of your emotions because who doesn’t like a taste of emotional devastation every now and then?


15. Talhotblond 

Talhotblond (2009)

This is a documentary that will blow you away after viewing it for only the first 10 minutes, you won’t believe the sordid actions you’re watching.

Talhotblond tells the story of a man who is apparently disappointed with his life and then decides to embark on an affair with a girl online who calls herself Talhotblond. The film becomes highly emotional when a young man gets pulled into the twisted and deranged game between the two and someone, unbelievably, gets murdered. By the end of the film you will have to keep reminding yourself, what you saw was real, that it happened… and there’s a twist ending that will officially rip your heart out and leave it on the floor for you.


14. An American Crime 


This heartbreaking tale of child abuse during a more “innocent” time is hard to watch all the way through, but it’s a story that shouldn’t be ignored.

An American Crime tells the true story of a girl who was sent to live with a stranger she met at church while her parents ran off to join the circus. Seriously, they left her with a complete stranger while they worked at the circus. The woman despises the innocence she sees in the girl and begins to abuse her when a check from her parents comes a little late.

The scenes of abuse are tastefully done, but still no easier to watch. They will manage to make you squirm as you witness the abuse of a completely innocent girl. What will really leave you unable to shake the film once the credits stop rolling, watching other children join in on the abuse.


13. Downfall 


This movie was nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign film category. The movie is based on the memoir written by Traudi Jung, who was a young secretary who served beside Hitler until his final hours. The story describes what it was like being with Hitler trapped in his bunker during the final days of the war.

The movie also displays the chaos going on outside of the bunker on the streets of Germany with unflinching detail. It’s a must see period piece whose emotional power can be felt long after the credits roll.


12. The Bay 

the bay movie

The Bay is an environmental horror story about a small town that is turned inside out (literally) by a mutant parasite determined to make the residents their host. It’s one of the best found footage films ever and it serves as a very smart, adult horror story. Watching the systematic infestation and gory murder of an entire town is extremely emotionally debilitating.


11. American Psycho 


This dark comedy has a strong cult following because of its searing dark satirical look at 1980s culture. Christian Bale gives a star turning performance as Patrick Bateman, a typical 80’s yuppie and escalating Psychopath. Even by today’s standard, the Unrated version is pretty shocking to witness. This film is not for everyone and even if you like it you’re still depressed by the casual violence the main character dishes out and wondering “what the hell did I just sit through?”


10. The Fourth Kind 


A therapist discovers that during her sessions with patients, she has come upon evidence that they all have suffered the fourth level of an alien encounter: Abduction. Different techniques often used in found footage films are used in this movie and executed very well.

The movie continues to grow increasingly disturbing as the patience’s experience with the aliens grow more violent and completely ruin their lives. By the end of the movie you’ll feel just as bewildered as the therapist who doesn’t know whether some incidences are really alien related or big signs of mental illness. The plot line grows darker and darker to the very end and you’re more likely to become sadder and sadder.


9. Dahmer 


This film has been credited with putting actor Jeremy Renner on the acting map and it is not hard to see why. His performance as infamous serial killer Jeffery Dahmer is so chilling that your mood will start to tank in about 15 minutes flat.

It is not unnecessarily gory or shocking for no reason; at times it is very subtle with its horror, although it never tries to sugar coat it. The movie becomes an entirely new emotional experience when you try to wrap your mind around how a seemingly normal person can carry on such despicable violence in a most unassuming way.



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  • Saar Hay

    How didnt you put dear zachary: a letter to a son about his father on that list?

  • UN

    grave of fire flies
    requiem of a dream

    • Mika Apichatsakol


  • UltraModerate

    Not a bad list, but some of these are pretty lightweight when compared to:

    1. Irreversible
    2. Funny Games
    3. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
    4. The Road

    All of which are available for streaming.

    • Leon Horka

      I agree with you, therefore I replied that I agree with you.

    • UltraModerate

      A few others I forgot to add:

      5. Martyrs
      6. We Need To Talk About Kevin

      • We Need To Talk About Kevin is one of my faves.

      • baba

        we need to talk about kevin is very troubling…very difficult to watch..

    • Gines Velazquez

      Profundo Carmesi or almost anything of Ripstein… Larrain´s Tony Manero, Bennys Video… etc

      • Gines Velazquez

        I forgot Terry Gilliam´s Tideland… shocking end… and I think Brasil has two ending cuts, one is with the last image fading into clouds and his flying dream (the happy ending), but i think i heard there is one cut with where the last image is an endless wall and then the credits in the wall… if that´s the case, that only difference make an opposite ending mood about the film.

  • Iam_Spartacus

    I would put in The Deer Hunter on this list. I know it’s Michael Cimino and he’s permanently damaged his reputation, but regardless the film packs an emotional wallop.

  • Emily

    definitely emotionally draining.

    • killQuin .

      lel.. American Psycho is actually my favorite (or second favorite) dark comedy ever….

  • Danish Rafiq

    I’ve watched around 9 of them, and planning to watch the rest. Good collection of movies.

    US Trending News:

  • i see them all….amazing movies

  • Durrrn

    im sooo surprised to see “The Bay” on here. I think this movie is not in any bit draining beside making me tired. The set up is very catchy and pulls you in, however when it comes to the pay out it falls flat. Scenes are ruined by horrible VFX, lazy acting, and cheap scares that just let you down.

  • Eric Grande

    I really felt bad for the girl in Compliance, not because of what happened to her, but because of how stupid she was.

  • Orgle

    The Bay had radioactive chicken shit as a plot point. The only thing that movie will drain is your IQ.

    • Richard Anderson


  • Blame the Victim

    Netflix leaves me financially drained.

    That’s why I torrent.

  • sage58

    Two more that ABSOLUTELY NEED to be on this list: “Take” w/ J. Renner & M. Driver and “The Woodsman” w/K. Bacon & S. Hedgewick. Both of these will not just leave you an emotional wreck, but the acting, scripts and direction are too good for words. The content was what eliminated both movies from Oscar contention.

  • MrGJG

    American Psycho? I guess it depends on how literal you take it. I agree with UltraM about Funny Games, Henry, and especially The Road, that was brutal.

  • Lean Anthony Avenir

    how ’bout revolutionary road?

    the ending totally broke my heart.

    • Tata Adong

      One of the things going against that movie is that both leads became very big stars that cineastes averted their eyes to maintain their snobbish cred. But revolutionary road is one of the best movie I’ve seen, with the most heartbreaking story ever . Give it another viewing

  • Ebzerg

    Prisoners should definitely be on this list. I didn’t have the capacity to convey emotions after watching that; one of the darkest movies (in terms of cinematography) I’ve ever seen.

  • ELBSeattle

    Do not, do not, DO NOT say, ‘There is a twist ending.’ Because if I watch the movie, I’ll be waiting for the twist. The only way any twist works is if it happens unannounced.

  • Richard McLin

    Some movies for me that left me emotionally drained,
    1: Boys Don’t Cry
    2: Brokeback Mountain
    3: Philadelphia

    • Ana Alice Pereira

      Boys don’t cry is absolutely amazing, yet very hard to sit through. It really deserves a place in this list.

  • Bill Cook

    The Bay might not be as emotionally draining as inplied but at least it’s an entertaining movie. The really puzzling inclusion for me is The Fourth Kind which is an exploitative piece of conspiracy theorist nonsense.

  • Carson

    A lot of these movies aren’t very draining in my opinion, they’re just decent films with dark themes. I think ‘draining’ really requires a feeling of total disregard for the characters’ health on the directors part for the sake of representing whatever topic they’re dealing with realistically.

    I mean, then again, Gummo left me emotionally drained just from being uncomfortable, 2001 because of its pace, etc. It’s purely an immersion thing, how much the film drags you along with it, and I don’t feel a lot of the movies on this list really pulled that off.

  • Unkle Amon

    Haneke is missing.

    • UltraModerate

      I agree. I haven’t seen any of Haneke’s stuff other than Funny Games, but that alone is hopeless enough to put him on my list. I’ve heard that his other stuff is pretty hard to sit through, too.

      • Unkle Amon

        Try The Seventh Continent.

        • Dmac

          The Seventh Continent destroyed me completely. I didn`t go to work the day after. This masterpiece should be in this list.

    • annalee

      Agreed. And a master of the emotional drain, Lars Von Trier.

  • someahole

    Any movie by Todd Solondz would make a good addition to this list, especially: “Welcome to the Dollhouse”, “Happiness”, and “Palindromes”.

    • UltraModerate

      I actually find Happiness to be extremely funny in a terrible sort of way. The father-son conversations are so awkward and wrong that I just can’t hold back laughter.

  • Cinema270

    The comment about Gibson was unnecessary, but that and grammatical errors aside this list was pretty sub-par.
    I’d add ‘Shame’ and ‘Le Feu Follet (A Fire Within)’ to the list as well.

  • Sandra Angulo Hernández

    There are movies missing in this list. For example:
    – Dancer in the dark
    – Requiem for a dream

  • RockyJohan

    i found this article very hard to sit trough.
    Mostly becuse of the snobbishnes of the writer that moralises over the films and expects us all to feel the same.
    Bad writer! Bad!

  • Debayan Roy

    Where is the Apu trilogy???????? Cant blv this!

    • James Do

      I think you seriously need to calm down. Obviously you’re a major admirer of Satyajit Ray but people are going to either disagree with or neglect what you love. That’s life.

  • niecey1015

    Omg….I will totally agree with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas as the number one emotionally draining movie on Netflix. I watched the movie and it DEVASTATED me, I have NEVER cried that hard so fast. It wasn’t
    a gradual thing hit me like a ton of bricks at the very end of the movie. The very last scene and I cried like a baby for at least 10 minutes. A great movie to watch, extremely powerful.

  • Marcus Helius

    Martyrs is probably the most emotionally ravaging film I have ever watched, spent a long time trying to forget everything that happens in that film.

  • Emma Turpin

    Flowers of war? What about that little peach?

  • I’m surprised no one mentioned “Lilja 4-ever” or “I Stand Alone”

  • And yet, not a single Lars von Trier film in here… Or “Love, Liza”. That movie leaves you feeling you got kicked in the chest and left in a wet gutter to ache.

    • Lars is known for his heavy ‘people are shit, and always will be’ stance.

  • Vince Duggan

    Original version of The Vanishing.

  • Cayque Sales

    I would add or even change a few like:
    12 Years a Slave
    The Hunt
    Breaking The Waves

  • Bryton Cherrier

    That is all.

    • nekromistress

      The Australian movie?

      • Bryton Cherrier

        No, the 2011 film.

  • ladyofargonne

    FYI the surviving sister from An American Crime was the lady who disappeared with her husband after visiting a casino recently. They were later found in the desert. He didn’t make it. Last I heard she was not well. Tragic life.

  • RiSky RahmaLia Sofyan

    You should see ‘All about Lily Chouchou’ and ‘Nobody Knows’ from Japan. And clearly any of Bergman’s work should’ve been mentioned here.

  • Fallon Bechtel

    no Schindler’s List? I have to take time between viewings because it’s so draining.

  • rossinfl

    Bully n kids

  • Lucy Beth

    Very lightweight list, nothing that I would say fits the title.
    Really only need to suggest one film: Haneke’s The Seventh Continent.
    Will drain you for days. And days. And days…

    Others though:
    Lilya 4ever (Moodysson)
    Breaking the Waves (Von Trier)
    Dancer in the Dark (Von Trier)
    Requiem (Schmid)
    Requiem for a Dream (Aranofsky)
    Martyrs (Laugier)
    I Stand Alone (Noe)
    Tyrannosaur (Considine)

    • Margarida Serralheiro

      Almost any Haneke movie will drain us forever. The one that crushed me is exactly that one: The Seventh Continent. Also the White Ribbon and even Cashe.

  • Requiem for a dream and Black Swan.

  • Allister Cooper

    The Boost
    The Road
    Field of Honor
    Match Point
    The Exorcist – if you watch it for the first time.

  • RedRinger

    Great suggestions, I’m going to look into at least 4 of them. Although, my eyes are now bleeding from reading this poorly written misspelled trash. If the movies are worth watching, which they are, then the article is worth a spell check. Just saying.

  • Susan F

    I must have missed something. You said great movies, not good to middling movies. I don’t see any great movies on this list.

  • Arnaldo Fernandez

    “Mary and Max”…what a great movie!

  • Jared Passante


    Mel Gibson is a recovering alcoholic and he has owned his mistakes. Watch his interview with Diane Sawyer from right after his last DUI event occurred.

    Alcohol doesn’t bring out “who you really are”, it plays on your weaknesses and brings them out as if they define you every day.

    I say this as an alcoholic. If all the things I did and said when I was on the bottle were to be held against me, were defining me today, I wouldn’t have any reason to be here, to be alive. I am sure you wouldn’t want your mistakes to define who you are, would you?

    Your words in this article, “This film could have set Mel Gibson up for life as a legendary filmmaker if he hadn’t made clear what a despicable human being he was and all..” These are the words of someone who obviously has never struggled in their life and can just throw their anger around on a 2nd tier movie critic site. Have a heart and don’t be ignorant. It isn’t a pretty look on you.

    Mel Gibson will never be forgiven and it is a shame because he made a mistake. He is profoundly talented in front and behind a camera and will be prevented from truly realizing that talent again. Instead society and people like you allow people like Kanye West to act like fools. In fact, that is all they do and that is why they are famous, not because of talent, god knows that.

    And Mel Gibson has to be crucified because people like you throw out your judgments without all the facts or even a decent perspective.

    I would publicly apologize for your unkind words If I was you. Go learn a little, maybe change up your taste in films as well. This list is awful.


  • damnarama

    Normally I don’t bitch about grammar, but seriously, “the patience’s”??

  • Nayeema Haye

    The Pianist requires a great deal of emotional real estate. Never let me go is also very draining and quite beautiful

  • El Mariachi

    Most redundant list I’ve seen lately.
    Many major movies are missing and most of the enlisted are not very well made.

  • Dorothy Hall

    We need to talk about Kevin

  • Angus

    where are the other 8?

  • Psychonaut23

    I would add Let Me In to the list. I avoided seeing it for years as I loved Let the Right One In but just the other day I bought it cheap off Amazon video and it had me in tears several times.

  • José Pablo Hernández Hidalgo

    seven pounds

  • Melinda

    There are a couple on this list which are far from “great”, with that said: anything by Lynch or Trier.

  • lilyboosh

    Leaving Las Vegas. Great movie, but an emotional tour de force.

  • Richard Anderson

    Once Were Warriors

  • Whitney Collins

    Children of Men :'( :'( :'(
    when I wasn’t crying I was having a panic attack. I was so drained by the end all I could do was stare at the credits.

  • “Incendies” human torment across dialects and geographics !

  • Gines Velazquez

    Can someone tell me if this is right?: I heard Brazil has two ending cuts, one is with the last image fading into clouds and his flying dream (the happy ending made for the american distribution), but there is one alternative ending (may be the original one) where the last image is an endless wall instead the clouds and then the credits in the wall… if that´s the case, that only difference make an opposite ending mood about the film and a good example how to change a film concept.

  • Eri Taide

    While i agree on Blue Valentine, i didn’t found this list to be totally accurate, i mean “American Pshyco” was a darkly hilarious flim for me, it didn’t affected me half as “Requiem for a dream”, “Irreversible”,”Into the Void”,”Dancer in the Dark”,”Antichrist”, “Revolutionary Road” or ,heck, even “Blue is the Warmest Colour”(i know this one isn’t that draining but you get my point).

  • Michael Woodier

    Fear of the number 13…….only film since ET to make me well up…. Brilliant documentary

  • BK207

    Downfall leaves you emotionally drained if you’re a Nazi

  • Lightninbolt

    #15 is a good vomit inducer. People who have their head buried their far up their own *ss should be humanely put down.

  • Carl Edgar Consiglio

    Straw dogs