Imagine that you meet someone and they involve you in certain actions. At first, you easily get involved but later you realize that you ended up in an inescapable trap. And that person is evil and diabolical as hell. Then they put you into hell-like situation. They may have reasons or they may not. They may simply do this kind of thing for fun. What would you do?
This list has tried to collect such films where the protagonist is used by an evil person or group for evil reasons. The protagonist then gets humiliated or defeated or killed. That diabolical person or group wins in these films. Here are 15 great films with that kind of villain.
1. Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964)
Some villagers intentionally and forcefully push this film’s protagonist into a Sisyphus-like status and he ended up being almost like Sisyphus. He has come to this village just for an expedition, but villagers make him live in a hut, situated in a dune, where there is a woman.
At first, he thinks that he just lived for one day. But when he wakes up the next day, he realizes he is in a dangerous trap set up deceitfully by the villagers. Even worse, that trap is almost inescapable. He fights tooth and nail to escape but that is of no avail. He has to dig the sand and sell it for a living. He has to do that meaningless work for his whole remaining life.
This film is the ultimate example of a nihilistic allegory. Director Hiroshi Teshigahara has used this film to show our human life and its meaninglessness. As if all of us human beings are that very protagonist, as if that sand is our world, as if we are doing same meaningless work just like that protagonist does digging the sand, as if our whole life is also a trap, as if we can never escape from this trap. The last scene is so meaningful when the protagonist deeply thinks about collecting drops of water to drink while there is a sea some distance away from him.
2. The Addiction (Abel Ferrara, 1995)
How do sad people become happy? By making other people sad and watching their sadness. Vampires are the best example of sad people who suck human blood to live, otherwise they can’t live. Director Abel Ferrara chose this subject and has achieved a great allegory. This film is very under-appreciated, under-praised and under-seen.
In the beginning of the film, our protagonist, who is a female philosophy student, is attacked by a vampire. Then she also ultimately becomes a vampire, living a deathless life full of sorrow, pain, meaninglessness and torturing. She has this certain addiction of human blood that is almost incurable for her. She can never overcome that addiction. She continuously sucks the blood of humans and makes them suffer.
Apart from its fascinating vampire story, the philosophical conversations from this film’s characters are so intriguing and worthy of reflection. Ferrara has successfully put some great philosopher’s views in his characters’ mouths.
3. The Servant (Joseph Losey, 1963)
A servant becomes a master in this film. First he becomes a servant; he has certain negative intentions in mind. Slowly he starts to know a lot of things about his master, especially his master’s psychological and behavioral traits. Then he starts to cross the forbidden lines of the servant. Psychologically, he starts to achieve the success in humiliating and degrading his master.
Actually, the master’s girlfriend is already suspicious of his behavior and activities but she can’t do anything. The master this realizes only after the situation gets worse. This seemingly handsome, intelligent and clever master is slowly knocked down by his own servant. Don’t get furious for brief spoiling because the story is quite irrelevant compared to its characters and their psychology. There are few main characters whose psychological traits are so intriguing.
Director Joseph Losey isn’t much appreciated. He has given us some classics like “Monsieur Klein”, “Accident”, and “The Go-Between”. He has his own style and you know a lot about his film’s characters when you watch this film. Don’t miss this indisputable masterpiece.
4. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975)
You can imagine what a hell looks like and how people behave there after you watch this highly controversial film. The wealthy and corrupt fascist libertines kidnap 18 teenagers (nine male and nine female) and subject them to a series of torture and extremely disgusting activities, that even writing the brief details about them feels painful and disgusting. Its story is based on various themes like sadism, violence, abuse of power, fascism, sexuality and perversion.
Based on the book “The 120 Days of Sodom” by Marquis de Sade, its story is divided into four segments (inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy): the Anteinferno, the Circle of Manias, the Circle of Shit and the Circle of Blood. If you can watch this film, then you are “brave” since a lot of film buffs still haven’t dared to watch it till the end.
5. Eyes Without a Face (Georges Franju, 1960)
Some girls are brutally used by a sort of psychopath surgeon for their beautiful face. The surgeon has a daughter whose face is disfigured in an accident. So, to repair her face, he kidnaps those girls whose face is similar to his daughter’s, then peels off their face in his laboratory and attempts to graft their face onto her face. Some unsuccessful attempts are made. Although these barbarously used girls aren’t necessarily the protagonists of this film, one of them is a major character. You’ll know when you watch it. Anyway, those girls are then killed by him.
This horror film is so intriguing and poetic that it slowly appalls you. Its style and presentation can be compared to that of Jacques Becker and Jean Pierre-Melville. Watching a horror film that has a typical French savor is a great experience.
6. The Vanishing (George Sluizer, 1988)
Its story revolves around a couple who is traveling through France, and the girlfriend vanishes when she goes shopping for awhile. The boyfriend searches for her for years, but to no avail. On the other hand, a suspicious but almost true kidnapper is fully aware of this search. He even invites that boyfriend to tell the truth but he never appears.
After years pass, the boyfriend says on television that he just wants to know what happened to his girlfriend. There comes a time when the boyfriend and kidnapper meet, and the kidnapper doesn’t tell the truth, even though he says everything about the process on how he had kidnapped the girl. He says that it had better if that boy also gets the same experience that the girlfriend had gotten. Then, well, he feels the same experience.
It is one of the most terrifying films ever made. Stanley Kubrick had favored it a lot and thought it is even more terrifying than his “The Shining”. He even called Sluizer to discuss the editing.
7. Martyrs (Pascal Laguier, 2008)
It is the ultimate film of this category. Two female leads are used by a certain specific group to know about the afterlife. So how do they proceed with this “great ambition”? You must have heard about this quotation that, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Yes! You can see the whole process of that quotation.
They are used for good intentions but they are severely, inhumanely, barbarously tortured—to the utmost level possible just to discover about the existence of the otherworld. So they make these young girls martyrs (aka. witness in Greek). They will have proof if there are witnesses in this discovery and that’s why these girls are evilly used.
“Martyrs” is one of the greatest achievements of film history. Director Pascal Laguier has actually depicted the very process and status of how all of us are used by the evil powers of the world. This film is highly philosophical and allegorical and has a deep meaning of human life, in especially this present world.