David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was many things; it was a brilliantly filmed, exceptionally scored, and fairly faithful take on the 2009 Swedish original, which itself was based on the trilogy of novels penned by Stieg Larson. It was also a dark, twisted piece of storytelling that featured more than its fair share of rape, murder, and overall downer moments. And as we sat in our screening, crouched in the fetal position and begging for our favorite blankets, we got to thinking; what other movies had tested the limits of both our minds and stomachs? Here are the seven we were able to write down before the sickness overwhelmed us.

Seven Days

Also known as The Seven Days of Retaliation, this Canadian thriller tells the story of Bruno Hamel, a father overcome with the thirst for revenge in the wake of his pre-teen daughter’s rape and murder. After outsmarting the police and capturing the man responsible with relative ease, Bruno enacts a plan to torture the killer for seven days, at the end of which he will turn himself into the proper authorities. Brutal and unflinching, Seven Days features extended scenes of gut-wrenching torture. But don’t be confused, this is not your typical “torture porn” affair. It's a multilayered tale depicting the effects of violence on both the victim and the inflictor, and a fantastic piece of indie filmmaking.

Megan is Missing

If you were too watch the first hour or so of this Michael Goi directed, handheld style drama/thriller, you would likely think it was a pointless, plodding story of two teenage girls. And you wouldn’t be that far off. The first two acts of this one (if you can even call them that) amount to little more than a series of video diaries and chat sessions between a young coke whore and her stereotypically virginal friend. But the last 25 minutes, you guys, the last 25 minutes. It isn’t often that we see a found footage film switch perspective to that of the killer, but this film makes it work in the worst way possible. Parents, show this one to your kids if you want to scare them from using the Internet, like, ever again.


The only movie on the list starring someone you may actually recognize, Antichrist is a recent effort of infamous shock-director Lars Von Trier. Pardon the sacrilege, but God damn will this one mess you up. As if opening with an unsimulated sex scene between its stars, Charlotte Gainsbourg (not bad) and Willam Dafoe (dear Lord) wasn’t bad enough, Von Trier decides to have the couple’s infant son Nick fall out a window to his death as the lovemaking is occuring. From there, Antichrist doles out animal pseudo-abortions, genital mutilation, and serious psychological warfare like candy at the Macy’s Day Parade. By the end of it, you’ll be wishing you were little Nick, if only because it would spare you from sitting through this disheartening, albeit beautifully shot film.


Who would’ve thought that those peaceful, wine loving French folks would become known for crafting some of the most brutal, blood-soaked films of all time in the age of Hostel? Yes, the same country that spawned such gorefests as Inside, Frontiers, and High Tension really went over the top when they brought us Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs back in 2008. Telling the story of a woman hell bent on enacting revenge against those who tortured her as a child, Martyrs quickly spirals into a nightmare of torture that comes across as little more than a well shot snuff film. And just when we’re about to write it off, the film turns disgust into disbelief, apprehension into epiphany, ending on an uplifting cadence that is nothing short of beautiful. Not a film for the weak willed, but definitely worth it for fans of foreign and extreme cinema.

Cannibal Holocaust

If you’ve ever forayed into such hand-held fright fests as The Blair Witch Project, The Last Exorcism, or the fantastic Spanish PA series [REC], then you have undoubtedly heard of the 1980 exploitation flick that started them all. Coming under fire for both its graphic (not to mention unsimulated) acts of violence toward animals and incredibly realistic special effects, Cannibal Holocaust’s premiere caused such a frenzy that director Ruggero Deodato was arrested shortly thereafter under suspicions that he had murdered the actors involved. To make matters worse, in an effort to make the “found footage” aspect of the film appear more genuine, Deodato had forced the cast to sign contracts forbidding them from appearing in the media for a year following the film. This contract was eventually broken to keep Deodato out of prison, but the film remains banned in several countries to this day.

The Girl Next Door

No, not the 2004 film featuring the beautiful Elisha Cuthbert, we’re talking about the 2004 film based on one of the novels of famous Splatterpunk author Jack Ketchum. The story is loosely based on the 1966 story of Sylvia Likens, an orphaned Indiana teenager who was tortured and murder by her foster mother, Gertrude Baniszewski. The Girl Next Door outlines the methodical and horrendous acts carried out against Sylvia by not only Gertrude, but by several local teenagers whom Baniszewski invited into her home on a regular basis to assist her. If you’re feeling up to it, Wikipedia Baniszewski’s page and try to hold down your lunch.

And that leads us into possibly the most disturbing piece of cinema ever made…

A Serbian Film

“Newborn porn”

We’re going to let that phrase settle in for a couple seconds, because that is all you need to know about this film to understand its placement on this list. Though A Serbian Film can best be described as a venture into the darkest corners of the human mind, it aims to tell the tale of Serbia’s most famous retired porn star, called back into action for one last “art film.” Necrophilia, self mutilation, and the aforementioned phrase we dare not speak again sprinkle the narrative path of this film like Hansel’s breadcrumbs. But you want to know the craziest thing about A Serbian Film? How about the fact that it features a “who’s who” of Serbian acting talent in its starring roles? It would be like if Brad Pitt chose to star in a film adaptation of “The Aristocrats” joke. Specifically, Bob Saget’s version.

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