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Cover Your Eyes and Peek Through Your Fingers: One And Done Movies

By Mike Roorda | Comment Diversions | August 23, 2013 | Comments ()


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Every now and then a movie comes along that you know isn’t going to be any fun at all to watch, but you feel obligated to watch anyhow, because the message is important and will make you a better person if you can survive the ordeal. I think probably the ultimate example of this would have to be Schindler’s List. Nobody went into the theater to see that while cosplaying Schindler. Yet, people went and saw the movie in droves. I remember when I had to watch it. I say “had to” because I don’t remember particularly wanting to see the movie but my mother thought it was important and, being a teacher, that it would lead to a discussion where we could learn more about a terrible time and horrible tragedy.

The last time I made a movie viewing decision along the same lines was when I watched Hotel Rwanda. I knew going into it that the movie was about a horrible genocide and that it wouldn’t really be a fun experience. I was right. When it was done, I remember turning to a friend and remarking “Well, it was really really well done, but I’m never watching that ever again.” It was, to a certain degree, a traumatic experience that I had willingly embarked upon, one I was grateful for but felt no real need to repeat.

I’ve also skipped watching movies, critically lauded ones even, that I knew would mess me up. Not always because I simply wanted to avoid the bad touch, sometimes simply because I never could put myself in the right mindset to watch them when they were available and now the moment has passed and I don’t really feel the need to play catch up. The last time that I can remember doing this was when everybody was going ape over Precious. People I knew at the time who’d seen it commented that it was “really a great movie” but “difficult to watch at times and disturbing.” I wasn’t in a great place emotionally or mentally when it came out and as such knew that watching something with that tone would add fuel to a fire I was already struggling to keep at bay. Then the moment passed. I feel better now than I did then, but I also have no real strong urge to go back and catch up on all of the horrific abuse that I missed out on the first time.

So what are your “never again” films, and your “I don’t think I could handle it” movies? Will you ever go back to see the ones you missed or the ones you didn’t particularly enjoy?



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Rev. Brandy

    Dear Zachary. Awakenings. Philadelphia. I can rewatch Brokeback Mountain up to a certain part and then must stop it or turn it away.

  • ronniedobbs

    Anyone ever see "And the Band Played On"? I think it was an HBO movie in the 90's, with Matthew Modine. Had to watch it in health class in high school. It's about the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 80's. Ugh. Philadelphia is also in that vein. Million Dollar Baby, which I thought was going to be a movie about a girl boxer. Just recently watched The Whale, and will never watch that again, since I ended up weeping at the end.

  • PerpetualIntern

    Dear Zachary

  • shyestviolet

    Dancer in the Dark. Never, ever again.

  • jlc1967

    Platoon. Walked out of the theater, turned to my friend, said, "That was an amazing film. I am never watching it again."

  • Red Rage

    Hunger with Michael Fassbender. Steve McQueen just seems to make movies that are hard to watch twice i.e Shame

  • EmmyB

    Dear Zachary. Never. Again. Ever. It was a fantastic movie, but I will never put myself through that again.

  • raeraefred

    most of mine have already been covered by others, but i'd add Adaptation, if only because of the circumstances surrounding my viewing of it: a friend of mine was in critical condition after a car crash and other friends in my dorm suggested we watch this to get my mind off the situation.

  • sweetfrancaise

    Never again: Never Let Me Go. There are plenty of other movies I won't watch again because they're terrible, but this one? It killed me. That howl of pain from Andrew Garfield still echoes in my mind.

    Don't think I could handle it: Schindler's List, Happiness, Elephant, Antichrist, Irréversible... you know, anything that involves death/horrific mutilation/rape involving children. Can't do it.

  • Kristopher R

    The only movies I would never watch again are those I think are a waste of time. The toughest movie I watched was "Dancer in the Dark." But I watched it twice. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" was much more effective on me than I thought it would be. "The Impossible" was a recent one I had trouble watching only because one of the kids was my son's age and kept picturing my son.

  • guyminuslife

    You guys are wimps. Watch "Dear Zachary" and then we can talk.

  • Slobby79

    Dear Zachary is an amazing film, a beautiful documentary. a sad, sad story, honestly the last time I cried. Im not saying I want to watch it again as it utterly destroyed me, but I have told many a person about its brilliance as a film. Its a film that should be watched. once is enough youll never forget it. but everyone should see it.

  • Karin

    Mysterious Skin

  • Adam C

    Grave of the Fireflies, House of Sand and Fog, Schindler's List, Chien Andalou, Doctor Zhivago, Requiem for a Dream, A Serbian Film, Irreversible, Martyrs

  • The most recent one I can think of is "Sinister". That movie is just levels of unpleasant. Really scary, really unsettling, and I don't ever need to see it again.

  • Mrs.P

    Sleepers messed up my world for days. So did Pan's Labyrinth and A Boy and his Dog. I wish I had never seen Kids, I still have scars. Tears of the Sun has some horrific mutiltation scenes with breast feeding mothers, which almost made me break up with my now-husband for asking me see it. El Mariachi broke my heart and cried like a baby, never again!

  • jessb83

    The Deer Hunter. It's brilliant, but sweet baby Jesus, I can't never do that one again. I have never had a more stressful movie watching experience. Just in knots from beginning to end.

  • TheEmpress

    Juno came out about a week after I had an abortion. I'm in a much better place now, but I will probably never watch that movie.

  • KC

    Grave of the Fireflies. Everyone whose watched it said it's absolutely amazing but also incredibly depressing and sad. I don't know if I could ever get around to watching it because I think it would make me so so sad.

  • kodamaiscool

    For me it's "4 months, 3 weeks and two days." It was an incredible film but watching it was such an emotionally harrowing experience that I can't revisit it.

  • go_nelly

    i watched The Color Purple a million times when i was younger, but won't now. same thing with Boyz n the Hood.

    movies i'm not sorry i watched, but once was enough and have no desire to do it again: The Accused, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Butterfly Effect, Antwone Fisher, Bridge to Terabithia, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Black Snake Moan, Precious. there are some documentaries too, like Jesus Camp; i'm sure some others i just can't think of right now.

    movies i don't think i've ever gotten all the way through: Mommy Dearest, The Elephant Man, Monster. oh, and The Dollmaker... omg, to this day i don't think i'm over that little girl getting hit by the train. (i was a kid when i saw it, and it's haunted me ever since.)

    i avoided Backdraft for YEARS, more than a decade, because of my fear of fire. my dad made me go on the "ride" at Universal Studios and i just about pissed my pants.

    would never watch the movie Saw, or anything like it. saw Silence of the Lambs, but never any of the sequels and have no desire to watch the TV show.

    won't watch movies where i know pets are gonna die. absolutely refused to see Marley & Me. my dog died like 6 years ago and i still dream about him sometimes. no thanks.

    and after reading through this thread, i'm surprised that i've never seen (or really even heard about) Requiem for a Dream. guess i feel like i should now.

  • kodamaiscool

    I totally forgot about "The Dollmaker!" That one freaked me out when I was a kid too. I can't even remember much about it aside from the girl and the train.

  • JBolivar92

    Just reading some of the comments triggers "ugh!" feelings, complete with grimaces and shudders (Hel-LO, "Kids" !).

    Among the movies never would watch again; initially watched for "artistic significance" [I know, such pretensions!]:

    "Julian Donkey Boy" jesus-criminey!

    "Naked Lunch" - giant roaches = gorge a-risin'

    "Happiness" - "I do not think it means what you think it means"- I. Montoya
    [seriously, a good movie but you leave feeling so, so empty, so so dirty)

    "Germany, Pale Mother" - beautiful movie, utterly depressing

    "Aguirre, Wrath of God" - Klaus Kinski has a face made for nightmares

    "Un Chien Andalou" - aaaaaagh! RAZORS! AAAaaaaaAAAgh!

    I had to stop and get a drink just compiling this list (we'll just apply a little Tanqueray band-aid, fix'YaRightUp)

    No temptation to ever see:
    A Serbian Film

    Requiem for a Dream
    Into the Wild

    all seemed like they would trigger depression

  • Torgotronic

    "The Rapture" - Mimi's great, but the ending is about as grim as it gets. "Requiem..." - ditto, ditto, ad infinitum. "Slumdog Millionaire" - talk about a bait and switch ad campaign, very disturbing with the brutality towards children. "Downfall" - great movie, but hey, it's Hitler's last days, so you know it's going to be pretty ugly.

  • Littlejon2001

    Requiem For a Dream, definitely. Passion of the Christ is the other obvious one.

  • Big Fish. When I first saw it, my father had recently been very ill, in and out of hospital, surgery etc, so the idea of this guy visiting his father just before he dies really got to me (and is again now, apparently... or maybe it's just my allergies...). Half way through watching it in the cinema, and I was in tears until the end. I loved the film, bought it on DVD as soon as it came out, but to this day I've not watched it again.

  • fauxhawk

    Trouble the Water. I tried so hard not to cry, because I saw it in a theater, but the lady next to me started and then we both blubbered through the rest of the movie. The way people were treated in LA after Katrina is unconscionable.

  • Anon

    Blue Valentine! I know it's not as horrible as some of the ones being mentioned but it just hit way too close to home for me. I'd drink Michelle Williams bath water any day but I will never watch that movie again.

  • Bewegung

    Million Dollar Cry-fest.

  • Ioana Liliana

    Never again: The Wall or Requiem. Never ever EVER: Salo and Cannibal Holocaust.

  • Sassy Rouge

    No Man's Land. The ending still sneaks up on my sometimes. And Watcher in the Woods. A childhood trauma that I may never get over.

  • trixie

    Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan and Pan's Labyrinth. All of those movies were just too intense for me to ever watch again. I watched Private Ryan with a date who had just come back from Kosovo and I cried all the way through it. He manfully waited until the end and then bolted for the bathroom. NEVER again.

  • the dude

    I loce watching Requiem for a Dream, it doesn't really affect me that much, but it is fucking tense and it gives me a massiv rush. ironically, it's like a drug.

  • cgthegeek

    I think if I ever see Fruitvale Station (which I'm still not sure I'm ready to see) it'll make this list.

    Until then, it's Precious. I used to teach, have seen some horrible CPS cases, and I've heard plenty of equally terrible stories from my friends and family in social work. But seeing that kind of abuse on-screen was just ::shudder:: I did not need to know all the atrocious things some people do to their own children.

  • Kristobel

    I Spit on Your Grave. I thought it was going to be a cheesy 70s horror flick. I was wrong. Horrible, horrible, horrible. If we're talking about good movies though, Requiem for a Dream. Oh and Audition. SO CREEPY.

  • Aidan Harr

    Fruitvale Station. I live in San Francisco and the ending absolutely ripped out my heart.

  • Bea Pants

    Cannibal Holocaust. It's shockingly realistic and left me fucked up for days. Human Centipede and a Serbian Film on my never watch list.

  • Ofir Fishkin

    for me its children of men. this movie is so realistic its watching a documentary.

  • Colleeeeeeeen

    The Wind that Shakes the Barley

  • LMo

    I'll never watch requiem for a dream again. I barely remember it cause i was young when i saw it but i remember the intensity. I'll also never watch shame again. That was an extremely hard movie to watch, it was an excellent film in my opinion, but something about the characters desperation just stuck with me. Never saw saving private Ryan, or most of these movies mention and most likely never will. Clearly the less realism in my movies the better (I'm looking at you Wreck it Ralph). Think that's a problem? Like seriously I like my books that way too. Gah someone call Dr. Phil

  • sourbob

    Happiness (by Todd Solondz) is one of the best movies i have ever seen, but it's been a decade or so and I still can't bring myself to watch it again.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I absolutely agree.

  • Dennis Albert Ramirez

    Requiem For A Dream. Not even about the drug abuse, but during the climax there's a quick flashback with Marlon Wayans and his mother when he was still an innocent child, and in context it absolutely broke my heart.

  • Jifaner

    Saving Private Ryan.

  • Bethers

    Trainspotting...dead baby...had to go hug my husband....great movie tho

  • McSquish

    Dancer in the Dark. That movie destroyed me. I went to dinner with my husband after seeing it and sobbed into my plate all night. He was completely flabbergasted that a movie starring Bjork could do that to me.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Most of the usual suspects have been covered in the comments, but I would add a Lasse Hallström movie with Richard Gere named Hachi: A Dog's Tale. It made me ugly cry at times, something which I do not do often. If you check it out and love animals, have some Kleenex ready.

  • googergieger

    How in the fucking world did a movie make you a better person?

  • loo shag brolley

    LOL I know, right? I guess that one time I watched The Expendables I thought "Wow, it sucks being old, but maybe not if I'm RIPPED haha LOL," but then I was like, "Wait what am I doing thinking during a MOVIE LOL that's not what's supposed to happen!" And then I left the movie and went home and got PISSED because my tivo missed the latest ep of Dance Moms and threw my tv out the window and then was all, "LOL DANCE MOMS IS ON DEMAND YOU FOOL!" OOPS! Need a new tv now LOL!!!

  • googergieger

    Na yeah I mean I do see their point though. "Before I saw Schindler's List, not only didn't I have an opinion one way or the other about the holocaust, I didn't even know what it was! Now I know about it, I hate it, and I'm a better person for it!". I mean hell of a point there, right?

  • inigo montoya

    I do not think that movie means what you think it means.

  • googergieger

    WOOSH.

  • John G.

    I've watched Schindler's List at least 20 times. It's one of the only Spielberg films that isn't hopelessly schlocky, doesn't solve a father/son relationship problem with a disaster, and while it does contain some of the usual cartoonish Spielberg cheese, the severity of the real-life situation reigns him in more than usual. He's still using his tedious mid-shot, dead-center, square framing on everything, but using black and white, for Spielberg, is almost avant-garde and revolutionary.

    Yes, it's maudlin, but it's hardly one of those movies you can only watch once. It's still a Spielberg film, so there's no depth or realism to latch onto, only heroes and villains and simple plots.

  • Lillimae

    The first 10 minutes of "Up" - I can NEVER watch that again. It is totally brutal.

  • kinoumenthe

    I do watch it (I just adore UP), but I'm usually bawling my eyes out at that 10 minutes mark.

  • Leigh

    Yes!!! Agree.

  • Malin

    Breaking the Waves. Which also showed me that I can never watch anything else Lars von Trier has ever made, as most of the films he made after this are said to be even more gut-wrenching. I still feel traumatized when I think about that film - and try not to do it too often.

  • sanity fair

    Audition, the Japanese horror flick. Well-done, but I needed a shower after the end. I just can't handle anything resembling "torture porn."

  • Ignoscemihi

    4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days. When the movie ended, I turned to my husband and said "We need to watch something less depressing. How about Schindler's List?"

  • Hillbilly

    Once were Warriors or The War Zone

  • $65530708

    + 1 The War Zone.

  • jeannebean

    I'd love Tim Roth to direct another film, just maybe one that doesn't make me dry-heave?

  • Bistro

    The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. Asia Argento's directing debut. It was very well made, but after watching it (really not knowing what to expect going in) I felt like my soul needed scrubbed clean. I don't think I've ever felt quite so ... I don't know - "gross" doesn't seem a strong enough word - after a movie.

  • Pitry

    Pan's Labyrinth. It's a fantastic movie... I'm just not going to watch it ever again. It really didn't help that I also have eyes issues.

    Also, Apocalypse now. Not even for that trippy last hour (yes, I've watched the director's cut; yes, it was getting too much somewhere around the throwing around of heads). It's everything that's leading to that hour. I love the uber realism of the 70s/80s movies, but that + the topic + the fact it's just a really incredibly good movie... yup, too much. I was making distressed noises for a week afterwards. :(

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    Can't do "Schindler's List" "The Pianist" or "Saving Private Ryan" again.

    Have never seen (and will not see) "Mississippi Burning" or "Precious"

  • Jebus

    Is it wrong that my initial response is Land Before Time and All Dogs Go to Heaven? Then again I got choked up at a clip of Harry and the Hendersons on 30 Rock the other day

  • Chucktastic

    Lilya 4-Ever - horribly depressing with a sad, f'd up ending.

    Germany, Year Zero - horribly depressing with a sad, f'd up ending, plus it was made in 1948 making it one of the founders of sad, f'd up films.
    Dear Zachery: A Letter to a Son About His Father - horribly depressing with a sad, f'd up ending, plus it's motherf*#king real!!!

    I'm going to go lie down now and eat some ice cream.

  • Berry

    I've tried to work up the courage to see Lilya 4-Ever for years, but so far, no dice. I just know it'll put me under a black cloud of depression and impotent anger for days, and there's almost never a good time for that.

  • JaB

    I Padrone is even more depressing than Germany Year Zero.

  • hippyherb

    Never watch again-Sybil, Frances, Sophie's Choice, and Sommersby.

  • misslucyjane

    Never again: Grave of the Fireflies. It wrecked me.

    Can't watch: frankly, anything that depicts the crucifixion of Jesus in detail. I say this is as lapsed Christian; I can't handle reading about it or talking about it (which made Easter fun!) and I certainly can't handle watching it.

  • Manly Bowler

    Million Dollar Baby for the Thing That Happened In That Fight And What Happened After. Seriously, that movie messed me up so much that I had problems looking at the DVD cover when I went to a video rental a couple years back.
    Recently it was Cloud Atlas. I actually liked it a lot but pretty much every scene in Neo Seoul made me cringe and the one on the ship made me so physically ill that I had to pause and go someplace else for a while.

  • Archie Leach

    I own the discs of almost every film mentioned in the article and by commenters!. I'm must either a) have a strong stomach or b) be a sadist or c) be a masochist or d) be a pretentious cineaste!

  • Anniescam

    Definitely Requiem for a Dream.

  • Samantha Schltr

    All these comments has done is give me a long list of movies to watch. Any movie that can make people actually feel something has got to go on my must watch list

    ...(except for A Serbian Film, that I just will not watch, along with the Human Centipede).

  • Berry

    If you really want to feel a movie down to your very bones, then I honestly recommend Come and See. Plus it would be neat if more people were familiar with at least some Russian WWII films. They've made some amazing ones.

  • carrie thompson

    There's a movie I saw when I was a kid, black and white movie, about a family during WWI (or WWII, I can't remember). The father rides the train to and from work and every day his four sons would climb a water tower along the tracks to wave to him. Anyway, all four boys enlist (against their father's objection, I think?) and get killed in action. So the last shot of this movie is the dad on the train, waving to the empty water tower. I have no idea what this movie is called, what it's really about, but that last final image is burned into my brain and can bring me to tears in 5 seconds flat.
    Movies I can remember but won't see again:

    Blindness (walked out of the theater)
    Irreversible
    Hard Candy
    Schindler's List
    Sometime in April/Hotel Rwanda
    Flowers in the Attic

  • Walt Jr

    I too, get emotionally invested in some films to this degree. Thought I was the only one. For me, it's "Jacob's Ladder"- even though I love Tim Robbins

  • Danar the Barbarian

    Ooh, I so will never see Jacob's Ladder again that it never even came to mind when thinking about things to post. Nein nein nyet.

  • lowercase_see

    I swear by Requiem for a Dream I will never do drugs.

  • Welldressed

    I needed drugs to recover from Requiem for a Dream.

  • freetickles

    I hear that the sequel to Hotel Rwanda that is in production is going to be a light-hearted action flick. The working title is Hotel Rwanda 2: Checkout Time.

  • onanon

    "Breaking the Waves" and "Dancer in the Dark" both by Lars von Trier. Seeing the heroines go through their tragedies was...difficult. I don't want to see them again and it's put me off seeing anything else by him.

  • loo shag brolley

    For some "light" Von Trier viewing, try "Idioterne," featuring grown-ass sane adults engaging in graphic sex (doubled by porn actors and yes, SHOWN) whilst pretending to be mentally retarded. It's neat.

  • Mr. E

    Funny Games, Irreversible, Elephant, The Descent (not the horror movie Descent), and Antichrist.

  • Martin Blank

    Saving Private Ryan. The first fifteen minutes, while beautifully choreographed, were just too real and painful to watch ever again.

  • Holly Martins

    The Pianist... It's the only movie I almost walked out of because I couldn't handle it.

    Amour. I don't know whether I could watch it again. It's a masterpiece and absolutely gut-wrenching.
    The Human centipede. I despise the brain that thought up this disgusting piece of "historically meaningful" torture porn.

  • e jerry powell

    Oh, honey.

    That idea didn't enter Tom Six's head just the once. It went in there THREE TIMES. The nightmare will not end anytime soon.

    Almost completely unsurprisingly, Eric Roberts has been dragged into it. He must not have refinanced his mortgage.

    Now, had it been Julia Roberts, well, I still wouldn't watch it, but it would feel like sweet justice all the same.

  • Holly Martins

    But why? We already have 2 Girls One Cup... Does our gag reflex really need more?

  • e jerry powell

    Who knows. Tom Six is probably just a sadistic son of a bitch who mistakenly thinks the world gives a shit (no pun intended. Maybe).

  • DominaNefret

    I actually thought AAmour was totally bbeautiful aand romantic and kind of hopeful.. It wass definitely iintensee aand ssuper ssad, bbut thaat wwas oovershadowedd bby tthis ffeeeling of beeaauuty ffor me.

    MY KEYYBOARD WWHACKED OUT..

  • Holly Martins

    Oh it is beautiful, one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever seen. At the end of the film, the audience just sat in silence, and nobody left the theater before the end credits had finished. I think it shows the ultimate act of love, and that is what is so heartbreaking.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Oh, thank God, I thought you were having a stroke.

  • JaB

    +1 the Pianist. Even worse, Polanski said it was based on childhood memories- think about that.

  • BWeaves

    United 93.

    Actually, this is on my "Never See, Can't Handle" list, for fear I'll have nightmares for days.

  • Allijo

    I will never watch The Hurt Locker again. Maybe I shouldn't have gone to see it when my brother was in Afghanistan. Maybe it would have helped if the first character killed didn't have the same last name as our family. But I'm truly amazed I made it out of that movie without vomiting from nerves.

  • jess

    Brokeback Mountain. I actually own the DVD, never watched it anywhere but in the theater.

  • e jerry powell

    I own the DVD too. Still unopened. Milk as well. My attitude thus far has been: "I'm already gay (and tragic) enough," but eventually I will have to open them so that I won't have wasted money.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    I watch this over and over and over.

  • tracey8051

    Dear Zachary and Citizen X

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