The Six Most Disturbing Non-Horror Films I Have Ever Seen


When we sit down to watch a horror film, it is understandable that we can walk away from that disturbed. Often times, disturbing the audience  can be a crucial element when trying to pull them in right from the beginning (think the decapitated head at the beginning of High Tension for example, or the backseat baby scene from Descent, and you have a good idea what  I am talking about). But when we sit down to watch a drama or an action film, we often don’t expect to walk away just as disturbed (if not moreso) than after having watched a horror film. But in the cases of these six films, that is just what happened to me.

Now I understand the term “horror film” can be very subjective, so if these movies are “horror” to you, I respect that, but not so much to  me, so I hope you can respect that. True horror? Yes. Truly horrifying in many aspects? Yes. But horror films by the purest sense of the term, no, not to me. Careful, though. We are going to breach some tough subject matter here. If you are weak of heart or stomach,  might be smart of you to read this instead.

Sleeping Beauty

I had a feeling going into this movie that it had the potential to go down some dark roads, but rarely do I expect a film to blindside me quite the way Sleeping Beauty did.

Sleepy Beauty stars the stunning Emily Browning as a young woman in need of some money and an overall life change. It almost felt like a female Fight Club thing was going on (not the Fight Club, literally, but her character almost being at the same place in her life as Jack was the start of that film) but instead of going to Cancer meetings or inventing an alter ego, she decides she will sleep with old men for money. No sex involved, but actually sleeping there, next to them, to take away some of their loneliness.  The thing is, they drug her everytime before she falls to sleep. And, well, not all of her clients are seeking her out for comfort. Some are just creepy old men. One in particular. *Shudders.

The sleeping part of the title is accurate. And the beauty part of the title is accurate. But this is NO fairy tale.

Oh, and I haven’t even told you about how she’s in love with an alcoholic who is dying, and how once she gets the money to pay her way out of debt, she lights it on fire. Yhea, I’ve told you nothing. I simply said the words ‘creepy old man” and I pray that is enough to keep you away from this film. Want an idea of what I am talking about? Image search the movie with safe search turned off. IF YOU DARE.

I Stand Alone

I talked about this film more in depth on my Ten Movies That Ruined Me list, but I feel like I need to talk about it some more. Gaspar Noe is a twisted, brilliant filmmaker, and to pick between this and Irreversible, it was really quite difficult for me to choose which one messed me up more. Although Irreversible is a soul-ruining film, I Stand Alone seems to be a much more intimate glance into one man’s world as he spirals into a darkness most of us would never even be able to fathom. And in I Stand Alone, we are force-fed that. In huge, heaping bites. By a man called “The Butcher”.

You don’t EVER feel like you are watching a film or performance. It all feels sickeningly real.

What makes this film so utterly palpable is that this happens to people, all the time. They lose their mind for a moment, and then allow that darkness to bleed into their everything and consume them. I Stand Alone is a unblinking eye into the mind of a man who takes us down a path we can only pray we never relate to. You don’t just watch a Gaspar Noe film, you experience it. In most cases, that means you walk away from it exhausted and feeling victimized. But you also walking away knowing this man has a gift for telling stories in a way no other director can.


Understand, just because these films may have disturbed me, that doesn’t mean I won’t watch them again, or didn’t enjoy them. While I will never watch I Stand Alone again, I would watch Detachment again. The film was brilliant, and beautiful, but also quite disturbing. Not disturbing in the same sense as the last two entries on the list, but disturbing in the sense that the life we see in this movie is not an unfamiliar life to us.

A man, unable to make attachments for various reasons, going through life in a series of events that can best be described as utterly tragic.

When not being the white Snoop Dogg, Adrien Brody has a tendency to pull off some very powerful performances. 

Detachment is about a man who is coping with various things in his life, all while seeking to begin a new one, and having no idea how to take that first step. Once you spend an hour with him, it is easy to see why. The world he lives in, which  is a world WE ALL live in, is inhabited by ones he loves, getting sick and dying. It is inhabited by children who sell their bodies to survive. It is inhabited by world full of people just as scared to make a genuine connection as the rest of us. So, in a sense, Detachment is a glimpse into the most honest and nihilistic aspects of daily life. The aspects none of us ever want to talk about, but most of us know first hand. The aspect of how life sometimes sucks.

And a genuine WOW to the film’s ending. Powerful stuff.

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  1. Agreed, Happiness was brutal and oh so disturbing. I felt horrible after seeing that movie. I do enjoy Gaspar Noe’s films though, well, enjoy isn’t the best word, but I keep watching them. I haven’t seen Detachment or Sleeping Beauty, didn’t even know either one existed. Will have to see them now. No interest in seeing Baise-Moi or Visitor Q (although I have seen almost all of Miike’s other films).

  2. Loved Happiness, as well as most-if-not-all of Todd Solondz films. Well, I Happiness’ sequal Life During Wartime wasn’t as good, but it was well made. Welcome to the Dollhouse is very good, though, Palindromes is more of a taste thing, it’s odd, but I did like it.

  3. I googled those images. The Sleeping Beauty ones were very infrequent and not that bad.

    The Visitor Q ones made me laugh. “It’s not a mystery of life, it’s shit” is pure Python.

  4. I just wanted to say that you have convinced me enough of your taste in films that I’m just skimming through these articles and putting everything I haven’t seen yet on my to-do list.

  5. @Barrett, Yeah, true story, too, which makes it even more messed up.
    @LieparDestin, yeah, Gummo for sure. I own the accordion from that film, just so I could take some of my soul back I lost from watching that movie.
    @Lemm, thanks, man. I take that as a pretty big compliment.

  6. Enough with the movies to ruin my day. Post a list of movies that will make me feel nice and warm and fuzzy.

    Bonus points for leaving anything out by Disney/Pixar.

  7. Out of all the lists I’ve read from Unreality, I haven’t watched any of the movies that you’ve listed! Except for the ones I hadn’t seen before I read the list. I don’t know why, you always make me want to watch them but somewhere along the line, I forget. I wanted to see Sleeping Beauty when it came out, and believe it or not, your description has not deterred me in the least. I love these lists. Keep ’em coming.

  8. Well… I guess Silence of the Lambs has been deprecated to the drama section. It’s amazing how hard boiled we’ve all become. It takes something like Human Centipede 2: full sequence to make me cringe now.

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