15 Movies That Traumatize Everyone Who Watches Them

Movies have the power to transport us to different worlds, evoke strong emotions, and provoke thought. However, some films go beyond mere entertainment, leaving a lasting impact that is not always pleasant.

There are movies that are so intense, so disturbing, that they leave viewers shaken long after the credits roll. These films delve into the darkest corners of human experience—exploring themes of horror, despair, and the grotesque to a degree that can be genuinely traumatizing.

1. “Requiem for a Dream”

Requiem for a Dream.
Image Credit:
Artisan Entertainment.


Directed by Darren Aronofsky, this film is often cited as one of the most disturbing movies ever made. It unflinchingly portrays the descent into addiction of four interconnected individuals.

The relentless pace and intense visual style contribute to a viewing experience that can leave audiences feeling devastated. Its graphic content and bleak outcome ensure that the film stays with viewers long after it ends, often serving as a stark warning against drug abuse.

2. “The Exorcist”

The Exorcist (1973).
Image Credit: Warner Bros.


This classic horror film from 1973 directed by William Friedkin set a new standard for horror movies with its shocking and graphic depiction of demonic possession. The story follows a young girl named Regan and the horrifying transformation she undergoes, leading to some of the most unforgettable scenes in cinema history.

The realistic portrayal of her possession, combined with the helplessness of those around her, creates a palpable tension that unsettles viewers. The film’s impact is so profound that many report feeling a sense of unease even thinking about it years later.

3. “A Clockwork Orange”

Clockwork Orange
Image Credit:
Warner Bros.


Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s novel presents a dystopian future where a young delinquent undergoes an experimental treatment to cure him of his violent impulses.

The film’s explicit content, disturbing themes, and moral questions about free will and conditioning make it a deeply unsettling experience. The use of unsettling classical music and stark visual imagery adds to the discomfort, leaving the audience to ponder the implications of enforced rehabilitation.

4. “Schindler’s List”

Schindler's List.
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.


Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film about the Holocaust is harrowing yet essential viewing. It tells the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved over a thousand Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories.

The stark black-and-white cinematography adds a timeless quality to the film, enhancing its emotional impact. The scenes depicting the brutal treatment of Jews are particularly traumatic, serving as a powerful reminder of the horrors of genocide.

5. “Hereditary”

Hereditary (2018).
Image Credit: PalmStar Media.


Ari Aster’s debut feature film, released in 2018, has been described as a new generation’s “Exorcist.” The film delves into the grief and horrors that befall a family after the death of a secretive grandmother.

The unsettling atmosphere is amplified by the stellar performance of Toni Collette, whose portrayal of a mother in the throes of despair is both compelling and disturbing. The shocking visual scenes combined with the themes of fate and inherited trauma make “Hereditary” a profoundly unsettling experience.

6. “Irreversible”

Image Credit:
120 Films.


Gaspar Noé’s film is notorious for its narrative structure, which unfolds in reverse chronological order, and its unflinchingly graphic depiction of violence and sexual assault. The movie’s most disturbing scenes are almost impossible to watch and have sparked significant controversy and walkouts during screenings.

This film challenges the viewer’s endurance and ethics, questioning the very nature of storytelling and the consumption of violence in media.

7. “Martyrs”

Image Credit: Wild Bunch.

This French-Canadian horror film, released in 2008, is part of the New French Extremity movement, known for its explicit horror and transgressive themes. “Martyrs” starts as a revenge story but quickly descends into a terrifying exploration of pain and suffering.

The film’s graphic depiction of torture and its philosophical inquiry into the afterlife make it a particularly challenging watch. It’s renowned for leaving viewers feeling disturbed and introspective about the limits of human endurance and the nature of suffering.

8. “Come and See”

Come and See.
Image Credit: Belarusfilm.


This 1985 Soviet war drama film directed by Elem Klimov is often regarded as one of the most powerful anti-war movies ever created. It follows a young Belarusian boy who witnesses the horrors committed during the Nazi occupation.

The film’s portrayal of the brutal impact of war on innocent civilians and its unflinching depiction of violence make it deeply distressing. “Come and See” remains a seminal work for its raw, visceral depiction of the atrocities of war, often leaving viewers profoundly affected.

9. “The Road”

The Road.
Image Credit: Dimension Films.


Based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, this post-apocalyptic tale portrays the grim journey of a father and his young son as they traverse a desolate America. The bleak landscapes and the constant threat of death from starvation or by other survivors make “The Road” an emotionally exhausting experience.

Its exploration of survival, despair, and the bonds of love between a father and son can evoke a deep sense of dread and sorrow in the audience. The film starkly examines the fragility of civilization and the human spirit in the face of overwhelming despair.

10. “Precious”

Image Credit:
Lionsgate Films.


Directed by Lee Daniels and based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire, this 2009 film dives into the harsh realities of abuse, incest, and poverty. It follows the story of Precious, a teenage girl in Harlem struggling to escape her abusive mother and a life filled with pain.

The film’s intense subject matter and raw performances, particularly by Mo’Nique and Gabourey Sidibe, deliver a gut-wrenching look at the cycle of abuse. “Precious” is celebrated for its powerful storytelling and impactful performances but is also known for leaving audiences emotionally drained.

11. “Antichrist”

Antichrist (2009).
Image Credit: Zentropa.


Directed by Lars von Trier, this film is notorious for its graphic content and disturbing themes. It centers on a couple who retreat to a cabin in the woods to grieve the loss of their child but are soon engulfed by nature’s most sinister aspects.

The film combines elements of psychological horror with explicit scenes that challenge even the most hardened viewers. “Antichrist” is often debated for its artistic merit versus its shock value, making it a polarizing yet unforgettable cinematic experience.

12. “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom”

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom.
Image Credit:
Produzioni Europee Associate (PEA).


Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1975 film is perhaps one of the most controversial films ever made, based on the book by Marquis de Sade. Set in fascist Italy, it depicts the physical, mental, and sexual torture of a group of young people at the hands of corrupt aristocrats.

Its explicit scenes intended to critique the abuses of power are so extreme that the film has been banned in several countries. Viewers often find “Salò” to be a profoundly upsetting experience that pushes the boundaries of film as a form of social commentary.

13. “Threads”

Image Credit: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).


This 1984 British television film is one of the most harrowing depictions of nuclear war and its aftermath. It not only shows the immediate effects of the bombs but also delves deeply into the long-term impacts on society and the environment.

The stark, realistic portrayal makes it all too easy for viewers to imagine themselves in the survivors’ shoes, struggling to cope with the collapse of civilization. “Threads” leaves a lingering sense of dread, emphasizing the utter devastation that nuclear war would bring to humanity.

14. “Funny Games”

Funny Games.
Image Credit: Filmfonds Wien.


Michael Haneke’s 1997 film, which he remade in 2007 for English-speaking audiences, is an unsettling critique of media violence. The film features two young men who take a family hostage and torment them with sadistic games.

Haneke’s direct address to the audience, forcing them to confront their own voyeurism, makes the experience particularly disturbing. The deliberate pacing and lack of music heighten the tension, making “Funny Games” a deeply uncomfortable but thought-provoking watch.

15. “The Witch”

The Witch.
Image Credit: A24.


Robert Eggers’ 2015 debut film is a chilling portrayal of a Puritan family’s unraveling due to paranoia, religious fervor, and isolation. Set in the 1630s New England, the film’s authentic dialogue and meticulous attention to historical detail create an immersive and oppressive atmosphere.

The slow build-up of tension leads to a horrifying climax that questions the nature of evil and the frailty of family bonds. “The Witch” is celebrated for its craftsmanship and ability to instill profound unease.

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