5. Requiem for a Dream (2000), directed by Darren Aronofsky
Starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans, “Requiem for a Dream” is the second feature film in Darren Aronofsky’s career and was even more disturbing than his first one, “Pi”, from 1998.
“Requiem for a Dream” follows the story of Sara Goldfarb (Burstyn), a widow who lives in a small apartment and watches television all day long while dreaming of one day being a guest on the show she loves. Harry (Leto) is her junkie son who wants to make it big as a drug dealer with his friend Tyrone (Wayans). In this spiral of drug use, Sara becomes addicted to popping trying to lose weight, something that makes her mental state very unstable and Harry’s girlfriend, Marion (Connelly), also becomes as addicted to drugs as her boyfriend. This could only lead to a horrific ending.
As usual in Aronofsky’s films, “Requiem for a Dream” has great camera work and leaves the audience the normal shocking impact to be expected in a film by the director – just check his new feature film, “mother!” (2017). With great performances by Burstyn, Wayans, Connelly and Leto, “Requiem for a Dream” is a mandatory film from the beginning of this millennium to be watched by every cinephile, but still is a very difficult movie to be watched more than once.
4. Irreversible (2002), directed by Gaspar Noé
Gaspar Noé has always been a filmmaker that tests the limits of violence in his films. But in this case, he went even further in depicting brutality in a very explicit way.
With a story told in reverse-chronological order, “Irreversible” tells the story of a woman who is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger after leaving a party. From that moment on, her boyfriend and her ex-lover go through the streets of Paris trying to find this rapist seeking revenge.
With great camera work that seems to move uncontrollably in many long shots, “Irreversible” is a film that, from its theme to its visual conception, has an effect on the audience that messes with our senses by showing extreme brutality.
From the very long and brutal rape scene to the moment where a man is killed with a fire extinguisher, “Irreversible” is a controversial movie that, despite having its qualities, is a piece of work that’s very, very hard to watch.
3. Antichrist (2009), directed by Lars von Trier
Lars von Trier is one of the most acclaimed and controversial filmmakers working today. Not running away from dark themes and almost always showing grim situations in his movies, an article like this would probably not be complete without a movie directed by him.
In “Antichrist”, a couple travels to a cabin in the woods after their child died in an accident. Trying to get over their grief and to repair the problems in their marriage, scene after scene this story starts to point in a direction that could only get even more somber in its course.
With amazing performances by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe, “Antichrist” is a great film that demands a lot from the audience to handle its grim atmosphere. Without a doubt worth watching and one of the greatest films in von Trier’s career – and the start to his great Depression Trilogy – but a movie that you will probably not want to watch again.
2. Audition (1999), directed by Takashi Miike
Director Takashi Miike is known for the extreme use of violence in his films. Movies like “Ichi – The Killer” and “Visitor Q” are great examples of how he is able to use scenes of intense brutality to shock his audience in his works.
In “Audition”, it is no different. Based on the novel by Ryû Murakami and with a screenplay by Daisuke Tengan, the movie follows the story of Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), a widower who organizes a fake audition to cast a leading actress in a film that does not exist, in order to meet women. He than falls in love with Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina), a mysterious woman capable of terrible things.
With an atmosphere that might seem to start a little bit slow paced, leading to a horrific and very violent ending, “Audition” is one of the best movies in Miike’s career – and that means a lot because the man has directed around 100 films and has many brilliant works in his career.
For its construction of suspense and the great performance by Shiina, “Audition” is number two on this list of great films you will probably not want to watch more than once.
1. Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
This masterpiece directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, and the last work of his career before being murdered in 1975, is an adaptation of the famous work “The 120 Days of Sodom”, written by Marquis de Sade.
Showing abominable situations lived by the teenagers under the power of this members of the government, “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom” is one of the most shocking films ever made and probably the best in Pasolini’s career.
Being the last movie made by one of Italy’s greatest filmmakers, “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom” is definitely worth watching by any cinephile, and its extreme violence also puts it on the top of this list of great films you will (probably) never want to watch again.
Author bio: Vítor Guima is a filmmaker, writer and musician from São Paulo, Brazil. Every day he watches a movie, reads a few pages from a book, listens to an album and freaks out with the feeling of not having enough time to see everything. You can follow him on Instagram on @ovitorguima.