It was Nietzsche who said “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” Some people may not understand what that means, but if you watch any of the soul-shattering movies from this list, you will understand it. You WILL feel the black abyss of hopelessness, staring right back at you. Be careful lest you stare too long, like I did. Here are ten films I cannot erase from my mind, but I wish I could.

Straw Dogs 

Between this and Marathon Man, Dustin Hoffman showed he had few equals in film back then.

If you are asking me which of the two I am speaking of, the 1971 classic, or the remake, I guess I can say both.

While not a big fan of remakes, I found it brave to try to bring this film to a new generation, all while applying some more topical situations to it. Truth be told, though, this film asked far too many questions of me I wasn’t prepared to ask myself both times I viewed it, and many of those questions still linger in me. While rape in films is always something that has sickened  me (as it should anyone), it was Straw Dogs that hinted at the most terrible subtext ever put on film, but one that presents itself as a part of the story. Did Amy, the wife who is victimized in this film, enjoy her rape?

Straw Dogs is one of those movies where you find yourself wincing and getting nauseous as the story unfolds. 

I know that sounds like the sickest question ever asked, but it is a question asked of the viewer by the film, it is not a question being asked by me. There is a reason this list is called “five films that shattered my soul”, because that is one of the many soul shattering moments in this film. I just found myself getting truly upset so many times throughout this film, but not so upset that I didn’t need to see what happened next. It was like a burning car wreck I couldn’t look away from, yet I was helpless to save anyone within.

The story of my life.

A Serbian Film

This film is the equivalent of your DVD player raping your eyeballs with a knife.

I have spoken of this film, before in-depth, right here. And I found comfort in the fact that I would never have to watch it or speak of it, ever again. But something odd happened. I started noticing major websites and reviewers who LIKED THE FILM. While I won’t point out specific sites that liked the film on the chance I may one day own them, I will say this. Far more reviewers than there should be are recommending a film where a newborn baby gets raped.

Yes, I really did just say that. I’m sorry.

I did my best to wash my eyeballs after seeing this film, but some things never wash away.

While the director tries to say that everything that happens in this film is a metaphor for how the Serbian people suffer daily, and the whole world turns a blind eye to it, I just can’t swallow that. This is sickness on a whole new level, and it is a film I warn everyone I love away from even contemplating seeing. While some have taken to calling it a black comedy for just how extreme the film gets (Bam, you just got stabbed in your eye with my boner!), the ending to the film is so upsetting, that, unless you are a sadist of the most extreme kind, you will be sitting there, slack-jawed and slightly broken by the time those credits roll.

So are you Remlins starting to notice a trend in what I consider soul-ruining?

Antichrist

Yes, that is the actual poster for the film, and an actual scene IN the film, too.

Make no mistakes about it, Lars Von Trier makes visually stunning films. Some of the shots in this movie are as breathtaking as film can get. But be prepared to be brutalized and made to feel slightly insane but the end of this film. While it begins dark (with extremely graphic real sex and the death of a child, as a result of that sex) it goes from dark to pitch black, cant-see-an-inch-in-front-of-your-face, and it does so without warning.

So I know what you are thinking: What did it, Remy? Was it the Willem Dafoe cock? Yes, that was it. Was it the fact that Charlotte Gainsbourg smashes his balls in with a rock and then jerks him off until he cums blood? Yes, that was it, too. Or was it the scene where she cuts off her clit with the rusty scissors? Jesus, is there an “all the above” option?

But because the visuals were so beautiful to me (the non-genital-mutilation scenes, that is), I couldn’t look away.

Some of the shots  are exquisite, really. I won’t undersell that aspect of it.

If I were to recommend any movie on this list, it would be Antichrist. Yeah, it’s brutal. But oddly, between that brutality, there are bouts of  quiet beauty, and the atmosphere of this film is as unsettling as it is captivating. Just be prepared. Willem Dafoe penis is on full display.

I feel like I can’t warn people enough about that.

Also, Lars Von Trier’s next film, Nymphomaniac, will also feature his clit-cutting muse, Charlotte Gainsbourg, as well as Shia LeBeouf, who will also bare it all, like Dafoe. Wait, Dafoe and LeBeouf have similar names, and are similarly unappealing, and you want us to see both their cocks?! Hey Lars, why do you hate us all so much?

Kidnapped

Ironically, this is how you feel through most of this movie.

I officially know ZERO people who have seen this movie. It is a Spanish thriller about a home invasion. Wait, did I just call it a “thriller”? I meant a soul-gouging film that will leave you almost as broken as the people in the actual movie by the time it is all said and done. I mean, all you have to do is look at that movie poster to know, this is not going to be a cute film. I am not telling you anything about these movies on purpose, for fear of striking the match of curiosity in you, in fear you may want to actually see these.

Don’t, just don’t.

There are moments in this film that are incredibly misleading, and that is all I will say about that.

The things that happen to the daughter in this family are so inexplicably terrible, you would not wish them on your worst enemy. You think you are sitting down to a “f*ck with the whole family” home invasion movie, when in  actuality, you quickly realize all the shit pours directly into the youngest member of this family, and it is hard to stomach.

Also, don’t get lulled into a false sense of security like I did, or the last ten seconds of this film will pick you up and break you over its knee, like it did me.

I Stand Alone 

“The Butcher” in this movie is a character that forever tainted my once-innocent-soul.

 Picking one Gaspar Noe film for this list was really difficult for me. I knew it would come down to this movie, and Irreversible, which is almost as unsettling, but lacks the incest.  Again, yes, I just typed that. Sorry.

I Stand Alone is a film very few people have seen, and with good reason. Outside of A Serbian Film, this maybe the most nihilistic movie on the list, which, on this list, is really saying something. I Stand Alone is about one man’s descent  into Hell. I really cannot find a better way to describe this film than that. It all feels very frank and candid,. and disgusting. The sickness contained in the film breaks free at some point, and you start feeling poisoned before it ends.

The violence is uncomfortably realistic throughout I Stand Alone.

Seems like every time I shut off a Gaspar Noe film, I feel like a part of me died. Sad thing is, that’s just what he wants., and he is damn good at doing it. Irreversible is just as depressing and hopeless (with a sickening nine-minute rape scene) but we side with the victims. In this film, our lead, our main character, is this terrible, terrible man, and we are never allowed to leave his side. After a ninety minutes, that begins to take its toll.

Combat Shock

Even though it is over twenty-five years old, I only discovered this movie a few years ago, and almost wish I hadn’t.

To me, this film feels like a precursor to all these other nihilist films on this list. When people find out Combat Shock is a TROMA movie (famous for The Toxic Avenger), people laugh and seem to think this is going to be some tongue in cheek movie, and in some ways, it is. But really, if you watch a movie like Combat Shock, and then you watch a movie like I Stand Alone, you will realize these films are related. Movies about people who descend into madness, and let that madness get the best of them.

While it may look “80′s” and “cheesy” by some of the standards set by some of these other films, Combat Shock is just as grim a story. As if you can’t tell from the name of the film, Combat Shock is about a man who comes home from Vietnam, and the stresses of everyday life, mixed with his PTSD from the war, result in him pulling a “Falling Down” and just sorta killing everyone.

He even kills his mutant baby (Erasherhead flashbacks!)

Even though the film is low-budget (I mean, look at that mutant baby. Looks like a slimy Muppet), there is still something so unsettling about the movie when it all ends. Although, when the guy finally put the gun to his head, you almost feel for him.

Almost.

Still, one helluva messed up ride to take, willingly.

(Dis) Honorable Mentions:

Men Behind the Sun:

Don’t, just don’t. Between the real killing of a cat on film, to the footage of a real autopsy, this movie about the atrocities of World War 1 are sickening.  And please don’t comment that the cat “wasn’t actually killed”.  Anyone who watches the film can tell, those are REAL rats tearing that cat apart. Terrible stuff. So upsetting.

Salo (120 Days of Sodom):

Like above, when it comes to kids and animals, it is just not OK. I never made it through this film, and anyone who tells me they do, I tend to look at a little bit differently.

Funny Games:

I can’t really put this movie in the main list, because, as messed up as it is, it is one of the most powerful films I have ever seen. For me, Funny Games was life changing cinema, because, as the viewer, you go from a passive role of watching the film, to feeling like a third-party, an accomplice in the horror. This is the film that shows the viewer we ARE an accomplice.  We are CHOOSING to watch this, and Funny Games will remind you of that, every time you forget.

Funny Games is so powerful, the director remade his own movie for American audiences. Seriously.

Gummo: This movie is so messed up, and was so unsettling to me, I needed to own a piece of it. Which I do.

Now presenting: The accordion from Gummo and my wall of records. They are not related.

Make a mental note of the accordion.

See, I am a real person and not a robo111001010001010010110101110010100010