This is such a great exercise in social norms.
So, some web site, MoviesOnline.CA, publishes a very poorly written list of "Top 10 Truly Disturbing Films."
The writer's name is Michael. Michael has some pithy statements prefacing his list: "I am not a fan of gore and I am not a fan of films like HOSTEL which for me are nothing but torture porn. Gore for the sake of gore does nothing for me but movies with intricate stories and truly disturbing content and messages not only resonate with me but leave me truly terrified."
Okay then. His list is supposed to be "Disturbing films that offer enticing stories, great characters, and most of all a truly terrifying experience."
Okay, great. Supposedly he's watched thousands of movies and owns all this horror and all that. The list:
Blindness ("stunningly well done," "shocking and fantastic")
Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door ("disturbing and emotional," "will definitely leave you feeling violated")
Frontieres ("a far superior film to High Tension")
Last House on the Left remake ("brutal," "brutal")
Jack Ketchum's The Lost ("all that more disturbing," "extremely disturbing")
Inside ("With the exception of an extremely flawed ending INSIDE... has an extremely graphic and brutal ending")
Teeth ("Dark and well written its a film you will chuckle at and wince.")
Hard Candy ("intense and dark")
Martyrs ("one of the most intense and intelligent films I have ever seen," "one of the most disturbing and well done films I have ever seen")
Deadgirl ("intelligent and extremely dark film that is both disturbing and entrancing")
Here's the thing about his list. 4 out of 10 (Last House, Teeth, Hard Candy, Deadgirl) are basically rape-revenge movies. Another is straight-up rape (Girl Next Door). Blindness is a crap shoot, somewhere between the two. That's 6. Frontiers teeters on the brink of rape-revenge. That's 7. The Lost, Inside, and Martyrs all feature women being murdered or tortured. I know that everybody's got their own squick factor, but geez. Now that is a homogeneous list.
If we must
go down rape road, at least
do something deeper than psychos + victim = brutality + vengeance, eh? Move beyond the voyeurism and the pathetic attempts at moral cleansing? Get a little introspective, perhaps? Where is Irreversible? Straw Dogs? A Clockwork Orange? Salo? Oh, wait, men are violated in Salo as well, never mind. There's not even a Lars Von Trier in this lot - and Von Trier actually tries to go somewhere new with misogyny. I've seen Blindness and Frontiers. They're both awful. Bloody Awwwful. Blindness is grotesque, but not well-done. Frontiers is not disturbing or
well-done. Both are illogical and annoying. The only two I'd want to see on that list are Inside and Martyrs. Each notable because they feature women torturing women. He also remarks on Girl Next Door that "most films of this nature I would find highly offensive."
Right. He then asks his readers what movies "left you feeling violated."
As one of the commenters said, "Eraserhead??!?" Yes, indeed. Where IS Eraserhead? In fact, David Lynch is nowhere to be found! David Lynch!
Also notably missing is Takashi Miike (!!), or anyone else on the Asia Extreme circuit (Has this guy heard of Ebola? The Guinea Pig series? Oldboy? Battle Royale
?). I suppose Philosophy of the Knife and Cannibal Holocaust are "torture porn" (not enough rape?). Political disturbance is out the window too, apparently, as Triumph of the Will and Birth of a Nation are MIA. Some would also make the case for The Exorcist or Jacob's Ladder. Believe it or not, there are other social norms out there! Humanity's scope of experience does encompass things beyond rape-revenge!
I don't object to depicting violence or sexual violence on screen, on page, on the radio. God knows I don't. In fact, I'm a proponent of showing more
violence, because censorship clearly hasn't gotten us anywhere. Of course it's generally unpleasant to watch a character be tortured. But don't mistake a scene featuring "attractive women being violated by perverse sickos" as an automatic transcendent level of human disturbance. Sexual violence is prevalent in the world, and in history. Violence practically comes standard. What makes a movie or a book or a music video disturbing is not "unflinching brutality" - that stuff you just slough off with water. It's the stuff that happens in between, the stuff it does to you
. Where's the catharsis? What happens next? And let's be honest. You wanna watch another? You feel guilty? You feel scared? What? Why does Last House On The Left, of all things, keep you up at night?
The ultraviolence in Clockwork Orange terrified me, yes. But what scarred me for life was this: my family members laughing during the rape scenes, and the depiction of Alex as some kind of hero. I think our friend Michael was only honest with Teeth ("the next minute you are groaning. Especially if you are a male.")
and Inside ("I have two children and at the time my youngest was only a month old so I could not stomach the idea of watching this film").
At any rate, this notion that rape in and of itself
is the most disturbing, brutal, stay-with-you-for-years-and-haunt-your-d
reams thing that can possibly be shown on celluloid is small-minded and hard to believe and suspicious, quite frankly.
I'm also going to take a moment to point out that the list seems to have been compiled for the sole purpose of putting up classically enticing women-in-peril movie stills. In case we were still in doubt.
So what is this? Personal hang-up? A serious case of an emaciated movie repertoire (and this guy's a movie REVIEWER)? Or an example of a wider psychosis? I'm just gonna leave this here: A Whole Lot of Poor Judgment
And spare me the bullshit.