We are a strange group, we dedicated movie watchers. I think back on the literally thousands of films I’ve probably seen, and the sad truth is, only a small minority of been truly great. A few more have been good. A solid number have been decent, or at least watchable. And most of them have been absolute shit.
But this is not about those movies. There exists a small corner in the back of my brain where the terrible lies. The images from films that left me trembling and haunted and that I almost regret seeing. Movies that will make you cringe and shiver. Not because they’re scary (though sometimes they are), or because they’re gross (though they can be that too), but because they just affected me. That corner of my brain is reserved for the things that I’ve tried to slam the door on and melt the key into slag. The sights I simply want out of my head.
I’ve decided (after being inspired by a comment from reader Poultice) to briefly unlock that room.
Here are some of the movies that I wish I could scrub from my brain. Sometimes it’s not even the whole movie, but a single scene or image that will stay with you, blotting out the rest of it. There are just certain scenes that I’ve always regretted sitting through — I particularly have a problem watching rape scenes, but there are other kinds of scenes that have disturbed or unnerved me so much that I just want them gone from my memories. Regardless of how good the film may be, the damage from that scene is done, seared into your hippocampus, and sometimes, late at night, you’ll find yourself trapped with them all over again.
To borrow a phrase from “MST3K,” they are nightmare fuel. These are the ones that I wish I could unsee.
Irreversible (2002, directed by Gaspar Noé)
Calvaire (2004, directed by Fabrice Du Welz)
Martyrs (2008, directed by Pascal Laugier)
Last House on the Left (1972, directed by Wes Craven)
Antichrist (2009, directed by Lars Von Trier)
Requiem for a Dream (2000, directed by Darren Aronofsky)
I Spit on Your Grave / Day of the Woman (1978, directed by Meir Zarchi)
Cannibal Holocaust (1980, directed by Ruggero Deodato)
Ichi the Killer (2001, directed by Takashi Miike)
Norbit (2007, directed by Brian Robbins)