Emotional Films with Disturbed Realities

Sometimes it’s not the goriest film that leaves you queasy… here’s five emotional films that’ll leave you feeling disturbed.

Synecdoche New York


I walked out of the cinema reeling after first viewing this tremendous movie. When Charlie Kaufman tried to envisage his version of a horror film, he realised there was nothing more terrifying than real life and so decided to make a film based on this concept.  The film therefore is confusing, frustrating and often one of the more emotional films of recent times. With time passing far quicker than makes sense.  We watch as theatre director Caden Cotard spends his life attempting to re-recreate life as a full-size, immensely detailed play and the absurdity of his trying to re-create life through art instead of living it in the moment.

Requiem for a Dream


One of the ultimate “one watch is enough” films, Darren Aronofsky’s intense exploration of drug addiction is a tortuous watch. Following three heroin addicts, we watch the protagonist’s collective and individual experiences as their lives spiral down into sickness, imprisonment and prostitution. Not only do we see these three twenty-somethings lives collapse, we also get the heart breaking tale of Ellen Burstyn’s elderly widow, whose addiction to weight loss amphetamine pills eventually drives her to psychosis. Once you’ve watched this film, you’ll see why it’s in a list of emotional films.

Don’t Look Now


It’s unfortunate that this film is mainly remembered for the passionate sex scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie that set tongues wagging. Nicolas Roeg’s masterpiece is a melancholic slow-burn horror film. The film opens with a tragic accident that leads the story to the spooky winter river ways of Venice. From here it remains subtly unnerving with it’s unique visual style, haunting music and flashes of crimson red. The ending is one of the strangest and most shocking I’ve seen.

The Act of Killing


This documentary detailing the horrific mass killings perpetrated by Indonesian “gangsters” upon their own people is a terrifying vision. What makes it even more disturbing is the unique way in which this is conveyed.  Director Joshua Oppenheimer convinces the murderers to recreate key moments in their lives as if they are scenes from their favourite movies and what follows is both chilling and bizarre. The murderers’ retelling of their own history is twisted and tough to watch, but the results it yields are insightful and revealing.



In a list of emotional films, this is a slight cheat as the film has it’s fair share of gore, but the slow build-up is what makes it so disturbing.  I first watched this film when I came upon it by accident on late night television and didn’t realise it was a horror film for quite some time, which is why it’s so effective. Takashi Miike’s slow burn horror follows a lonely film producer’s attempts to find a new companion after the death of his wife. On the advice of his friend, he sets up auditions for a fake film to screen the potential spouses, but he couldn’t have made a worse choice when he falls for the seemingly shy and innocent Asami.  The film then becomes increasingly nightmarish, with a chilling climax involving acupuncture needles…

Create Awesome Films

There are so many emotional films out there ready to freak us out, it’d be rude not to share what you think is a disturbing film below in the comments…