The 25 Most Disturbing Horror Movies of All Time

18. In My Skin (2002)

In My Skin

This is a French horror film that is about a woman who becomes severely addicted to self-mutilation after an injury to her leg. Her fascination and obsession with her injury leads to her cutting off more parts of her skin, further increasing the level of self-destructive behavior.

While this can be considered a fascinating character study into the psychology of addiction, it is also highly disturbing because of the fact that the violence is being self-inflicted. Anyone who has a light stomach or fear of being injured will definitely cringe as she cuts off pieces of her own flesh.


19. Murder-Set-Pieces (2004)


“Prepare yourself for the first American NC-17 horror film” [17]. A German photographer spends his days doing erotic photo shoots, while at night he roams the streets of Las Vegas looking to rape, torture, and kill prostitutes.

It is a sort of weird cousin to the likes of American Psycho and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, except it features far more graphic depictions of nudity, violent sexual situations, blood, torture, and death. There is also a little bit of cannibalism and necrophilia thrown in for all of the sick and twisted horror fans.

The editing is high paced and appears to be deliberate attempts at making things feel more jarring and adding to the psychological problems of the character. This does affect the narrative as the story just quickly jumps from one scene to the other.

Three horror icons make small appearances, which includes Gunnar Hansen, Cerina Vincent, and Tony Todd. There are two versions of the film, the NC-17 cut and an R rated theatrical version that had 22 minutes removed. It was also banned in the United Kingdom.


20. Snuff 102 (2007)


“Dare To See More …” [18]. This Argentinean horror picture is about a journalist researching an article regarding snuff films after the capture of a brutal serial killer, only to be kidnapped as part of a trio of women who are going to be the stars in an actual snuff film.

This has a little bit of everything to shock and disturb the audience; real crime scene photos and videos of animal murders, rape, torture, mutilation, gore, blood, and the killer being sexually aroused by torture and death.

It uses a combination of 8mm black and white silent film, a low resolution black and white footage that was most likely on video, and video camera footage used for the snuff films. The music mostly consists of random pulsating and pounding noise that at times almost sounds like techno.

It does try to tell a story about the psychology of a person who is addicted to murdering and watching snuff type films and how this new era of internet technology may actually be creating new monsters, because the concept of morality ends once you’re in the privacy of your own home.

The director is currently in pre-production on Snuff 102.2.


21. Martyrs (2008)


“They did not finish to be alive…” [19]. This is part of the new wave of French horror that came out during this time period and features extreme violence and gore. The story involves two women who are kidnapped and tortured by a secret society that believes that their suffering will lead to a transcendental experience, providing insight into the afterlife and what is beyond this physical world.

It is highly graphic and could be labeled as torture porn, as the majority of the picture involves both of them being put through an increasing level of painful acts of unspeakable torture. It could be compared to sitting through The Passion of the Christ, with the amount of disturbing violence that they are put through. It is highly divisive and is definitely not for fans of extreme gore. An American remake was released on January 22, 2016.


22. The Angels’ Melancholia AKA Melancholie der Engel (2009)


You just may be a slightly tortured soul if you can completely make it through this German produced horror film, which some have labeled as the most notorious and hardcore German movie. Katze is expecting to die soon and reunites with his old friend Brauth in order to relive their glory days of pleasures and depravities, bringing three women and two other acquaintances to an old home for a mixture of horrific activities.

Often described as having beautiful cinematography and being an art house style movie, it suffers from a bloated running time of 165 minutes and a very weak narrative.

Most of the shots appear to be completely random and sometimes unnecessary, bordering on a more experimental style than fitting the standard mode of storytelling. They lay on the disturbing imagery with animal and bug mutilations, full nudity, pornographic sexual sequences, rape, decayed skeletons, gore, vomit, masochism, coprophilia, and so much more.

If you’re offended by animal torture and murder put on screen, then you should definitely avoid this one. There is a large amount of animal cruelty that is depicted in this.

In the end, you’ll have to make your own personal judgments about whether the filmmakers where trying to actually explore deeper themes or if they were just attempting to shock the audience.


23. Grotesque (2009)


“King of Japanese Grotesque Movie” [20]. It may very well be the most disturbing and grotesque feature to come out of Japan from director Koji Shiraishi, who has made a career out of making extremely grotesque and horrifying pictures.

This one involves a sadistic doctor who kidnaps a young couple and puts them through a series of psychological and physical tortures, playing a series of games to further mentally torture them.

This one has a bit of everything for a great romantic date night flick; it features vomit, urination, full nudity, forced sexual stimulation, castration, a dreaded eye scene, and some extremely graphic blood and gore sequences. The camera work is nicely done on this one and there are some great shadows picked up in his torture location.

The score uses a decent amount of classical music, which creates a good juxtaposition between the beauty of the music and the terror of his actions.

It was rejected for UK DVD release by the BBFC because of its extreme content and then subsequently pulled from Amazon Japan. It was released in the United States in 2010 on DVD and Blu-ray by Media Blaster. Shiraishi has mixed it up in his career between heavy gore and paranormal themes, scaring many with his Blair Witch style demon film Noroi from 2005.

So far he’s made 14 horror movies since 2004 and there are no signs of him stopping, especially with the highly anticipated Sadako v Kayako, in which the characters from the Ring and Grudge series battle it out like Freddy did against Jason.


24. A Serbian Film (2010)


“Not all films have a happy ending” [21]. This is a Serbian produced motion picture that has been banned in over 46 countries and received a record 19 minutes of cuts in the United States in order obtain an NC-17 rating.

It is about an aging porn star who signs on to perform in what he is led to believe is an artistic pornography film, but ends up being a part of very sadistic plan for a snuff film that involves torture, murder, necrophilia, and pedophilia.

It is highly graphic in its depictions of nudity, sexual sequences, gore, violence, and some dark themes. Despite all of this, it is produced and filmed rather well. The score is good and the lead actor gives a superb performance.

It comes off as a highly disturbing artistic gore movie with a Shakespearean style tragic ending. There is as much of a statement or message about the nation of Serbia layered within this, as opposed to simply being a platform to shock the audience.


25. Atroz (2016)


Atroz proclaims to be the most graphic and goriest film to have been made in Mexico. It definitely lives up to that assertion, joining the dark and gruesome likes of Cannibal Holocaust, Martyrs, A Serbian Film, Wolf Creek, Martyrs, and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

If you liked and were able to stomach those, then you should enjoy this tale about a police investigation that takes place in Mexico after a woman is killed from being struck by a car. The chief detective discovers a video camera with footage from a brutal murder, which eventually leads to the discovery of even more tapes detailing this serial killer’s past crimes.

It essentially falls within the found footage subgenre of horror, with some traditional camerawork peppered in for the story. It could also be considered part of the torture porn subgenre, because of the large amount of grotesque violence and imagery that really pushes the limits of man’s depravity. This includes blood, gore, vomit, feces, mutilation and torture, nudity, sex, necrophilia, rape, and incest.

While the brutality and extreme situations in this may only appear to be included so as to satiate fans of torture porn, I would suggest that they were somewhat necessary for the plot. These scenes were used to create a three dimensional characterization of the sociopathic individual in this picture, and explain how physical and psychological events from his teenage years shaped his desires lust for murder.

I believe that the director was also trying to make a statement regarding the large amount of unsolved murders that occur in Mexico, as well as rampant police corruption and their terrorist style questioning procedures.

It was noted at the beginning of the movie that almost 98% of murders in Mexico go unsolved, a statistic that was reported in 2013 by Mexico’s central statistics bureau (INEGI). Much like some of the previous movies listed, this one serves as a telling alarm to the dangers for people within that country.

It is a low budget feature, so the largest element is the use of found footage. So there is a large amount of shaky camera movements that are common within the subgenre. If you’re not a fan of these, then you should probably stay away from this.

The video footage was reminiscent of some of the scenes from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and I liked how the sound and video would cut in and out at times to replicate damage to the tapes.

While similar in various ways to the motion pictures that have already been listed, this one is not as well crafted and acted as the others. This is mainly a symptom of the budgetary restraints, which was estimated at around $7,000 on IMDB.

All the works cited can be found here.

Author Bio: Raul J. Vantassle is a jazz musician whose key strokes move about the page creating an explosion of formlessness to form, or just total bullshit. His heroes include John Waters, Robert Crumb, Charles Bukowski, and the Cobra Commander. His Knowledge of film goes across the board but he specializes in Asian and cult cinema. He may be the filthiest person alive. You can visit his blog here.