5. The Misandrists (2017)
This film is one that tries so desperately to get a point across yet ends up failing miserably by the extent of the astonishingly weird visuals it tries to convey. With The Misandrists, director Bruce LaBruce tried to make a film that criticised earlier feminism for being transphobic, however he ends up completely missing the point with his extreme visuals and lack of any semblance of subtlety.
The film features scenes that seem to completely miss the mark and end up leaving you astonished. One scene featured two of the female characters sat on a sofa watching uncensored gay pornography whilst the characters talk about how much they hate men. There are also lesbian orgies involved which include a rather uncomfortable moment with a hardboiled egg and the inclusion of a scene which is stock footage of a castration operation.
It feels as if LaBruce is trying so desperately to make his own Salò (1975) yet lacking the right vision to make his film feel unique and intelligent. It falls flat like so many other political movies due to its often preachy nature and outrageous scenes that feel misplaced and forced.
Because of this forced nature, the film goes from being thought provoking and interesting thematically, to astonishment that numbs your mind, leaving you questioning exactly what the director is trying to convey with each scene and not being able to answer that question.
4. Raw (2016)
Raw is another one of those films that feels shocking just for the sake of being shocking. The premise revolves around a vegetarian who enters a university for vets which turns out to be full of crazy people who make the first years do crazy initiations such as eating disgusting raw parts of an animal. The film has an abundance of disgusting imagery, from people putting their hands inside a cow’s anus to cannibalism.
As the film continues, the main character Justine turns from a vegetarian into a full-fledged cannibal, eating her sister’s severed finger and partaking in other such nastiness. The film is plagued with this feeling of insincerity, it all feels so forced like the director just wants to sicken an audience. The transformation into a cannibal feels contrived and doesn’t make narrative sense in the way in which it’s presented.
If the film took more of a Lynchian experimental approach in the vain of movies like Eraserhead (1977), it would come across more interesting and would be a lot more captivating. However, it is hard to take seriously when it’s filmed and structured quite conventionally, making it very hard to suspend your disbelief like you can with more nightmarish experimental movies.
It is also perplexing how it deals with homosexuality within the confines of this movie. At the start of the film, it is established that Justine’s roommate Adrien is gay, however towards the end he is seduced by Justine and ends up having sex with her (before she eats him to literal death).
This really doesn’t make any narrative sense when on several occasions Adrien explicitly states that he is gay. This comes across as incredibly insensitive. The reason this film is on this list is due to the fact that it seems to disgust an audience without anything really interesting thematically.
3. Irreversible (2002)
Gaspar Noé has always been a controversial director who has often been described more as a porn director than a film director by many film critics. This is due to his often graphic portrayal of sex in his films, however none are as sickeningly graphic as the movie irreversible. Irreversible includes arguably one of the hardest to watch scenes in all of cinema.
The scene in question involves a man brutally assaulting a woman and anally raping her from a fixed camera position for several minutes of uncensored screen time, followed by the man beating her unconscious afterwards. The scene was so shocking that many people who viewed it in film festivals and cinemas had to walk out of the theatre in disgust.
Rape scenes always spark controversy and are usually among the most sickening scenes in all of cinema, but it’s hard to argue that there is one as horrible as the one displayed in Irreversible. This is not the only reason the film appears on this list, it also came under fire from critics such as David Edelstein who stated “Irreversible might be the most homophobic movie ever made.” This is hard to refute when the character who rapes the woman in this scene is himself a homosexual.
With all these in mind, Irreversible is one of the most shocking movies ever made and it is one whose message of nihilism is overshadowed by the disturbing nature seen in some of the scenes.
2. Human Centipede (2009)
It is no surprise that this films funding was attributed to deception. When Human Centipede was originally pitched to investors, the fact that the mouths were stitched to the anus was not explained to the investors, so they only knew after the film’s release. The whole premise of this movie is entirely messed up. This idea of three people being kidnapped by an evil scientist and stitched together is extraordinarily foul and acts as nothing more than simple body horror.
This idea of body horror has been explored fantastically by writers and film makers with great short stories such as Kafka’s Metamorphosis (1915) with its critique on society and alienation, and movies like The Fly (1986) remake by David Cronenberg which acts as a cautionary tale against humanities rapid technological development.
However, Human Centipede doesn’t seem to incorporate any of these clever themes and just seems to be purely a spectacle of foul absurdity. Due to how messed up the movie was, it only racked up $352,161 according to www.the-numbers.com which is a significant loss in profit considering the film cost an estimate of 1.5 million euros to make. This shows us that a film needs to have more than just a shocking or disgusting premise to do well at the box office.
1. A Serbian Film (2010)
This film feels like the most ambiguous inclusion on this list. This is due to the fact that you can argue that this movie includes a solid thematic premise. The director, when asked why the film is so violent, replied with “This is a diary of our own molestation by the Serbian government… It’s about the monolithic power of leaders who hypnotize you to do things you don’t want to do. You have to feel the violence to know what it’s about.” Other critics have speculated that the film criticises how desensitized we are to violence in media and acts as a reminder to how shocking and awful violence can be.
However, the reason why this film is included on the list is due to how this meaning seems to be completely lost when you view the film. It feels like this message is utterly overshadowed by the images on screen, when people mention the film, be it the public or media outlets, they hardly ever muse on the films themes and ideas and instead focus on the more disturbing aspects of the film. This is understandable when so many scenes are among the sickest seen in cinema, often causing the film to be dubbed ‘The most disturbing film of all time’.
Some of these infamous scenes include the rape of a new born baby, a woman having her teeth pulled out and murdered by forced oral sex and also a dad raping his son. Just knowing scenes like these exist is enough to put you off your dinner, so it is entirely understandable why the film’s graphic nature often overshadows the meaning the director was trying to convey.