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tinyfaery's avatar

Have you ever been deeply disturbed by a book/movie/piece of art, etc.

Asked by tinyfaery (43848points) June 15th, 2009

I just saw the movie Martyrs on Saturday. The movie made me weep from despair. I cannot stop thinking about it, envisioning scenes, and evoking the emotions the movie inspired. The movie is considered a horror flick, but in no way was I scared.

I feel a bit ridiculous about it. It was after all, just a movie. I almost want to watch it again so that I can (maybe) intellectualize it a bit, so that the lasting impression is not so visceral.

Has this ever happened to you? What was it? Does it still haunt you? How did you get over it, if you did?
Lots of Q’s. Answer one or all.

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69 Answers

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

The movie Eraserhead disturbed me greatly.

Blondesjon's avatar

The Deer Hunter, when they are forced to play Russian Roulette.

rooeytoo's avatar

I just saw Sampson and Delilah, it is about a couple of young Aboriginal kids, an Aussie film. I don’t know if it is even released in the USA, it did win some accolades at Cannes though. Anyhow, it is the most real and sad and depressing and true to life movie. I hated it and loved it and it keeps playing in my head. I see this stuff happening every day and it is awful but I still was not prepared to see it on the big screen. It is technically a really compelling film, the style of presentation so compliments and complements the story line. I wish I could get it out of my head though.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

The book Atonement is pretty sad. The storyline reminded me a little too much of a certain reality in my life. What happened in the book didn’t happen to me, but the idea of atoning, in one way or another, was too much of a reality for me.

kheredia's avatar

I remember when I was a teenager I read the book “A child called It”. This book stirred up so many emotions in me. I felt angry, sad, helpless. I just could not believe a child actually went through so much pain and abuse coming from his own home. It still hurts me when I think about it. It’s so horrible what some humans are capable of doing. Very, very disturbing.

DarkScribe's avatar

Have you ever been deeply disturbed by a book/movie/piece of art, etc.

The year before last I was dozing in my recliner chair and a painting above me fell off the wall and hit me. Is that the sort of thing you are asking about?

As for literature and movies that I have found to be emotive or disturbing, there have been too many to list.

Bluefreedom's avatar

When I was young, about 12 years old, I saw the movie “The Exorcist” for the first time and it deeply disturbed me for about a week afterwards in the form of having nightmares about what I had seen. It doesn’t haunt me these days but I’ve never watched it a second time because of how creepy, unusual, and disturbing I found it to be the first time around.

rooeytoo's avatar

Sampson and Delilah is in the USA, here is the link:

noelasun's avatar

The movie “the house of sand and fog” really gets me.
But at the same time I love the movie a lot.

and then there is “old boy”, which I hope I’ll forget. someday.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

Has anyone ever read The Outsider, by Albert Camus? Existentialism all within the range of a hundred small pages. Good stuff. But very disturbing, especially when it makes you consider the implications of morality within society and how one really makes meaning in life.

chyna's avatar

Appocolypse Now. I’m sure I misspelled it. I couldn’t sleep for days after watching it.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

The movie Happiness made me retreat to my happy place.

That movie wasn’t happy. That movie wasn’t happy at all!

noelasun's avatar

Oh! and the nudes, where when you see them from far away, they look like food/animals.. .

I can’t seem to find the link, but it left me unable to eat and seriously disturbed for the time I remembered it.

one similar (mild) example :

YARNLADY's avatar

@kheredia He overcame the horrible childhood and has written a self-help book for teens and runs a radio program to help kids with similar problems.

Jeruba's avatar

The first movie that really affected me powerfully in a disturbing way was The Pawnbroker. When the lights came up, the whole theater was silent.

I was young, and my life had been safe and protected. Until then nothing had forced me to think about the tragedies of others as things that happen to real people and not just characters in fiction. Even though the characters in the movie were fictitious, they were so vivid, so human, and so ordinary that their lives seemed real to me.

MacBean's avatar

@kheredia—I was reading that book in public and at one point it actually made me vomit. After that, I read the rest in the relative safety of my own house.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

The book House of Leaves was also pretty odd and disturbing in parts. That one left me trying to decipher exactly what the heck was going on for many days.

kenmc's avatar

Someone posted this short story a while back. It’s pretty fucking disturbing.

Garebo's avatar

Siddhartha, black and white, at the time it was very powerful, helped me cope with loss. Then, as has already been cited “The Dear Hunter”; my son just queued it up – oh no. Which is almost as bad as the “horror” in Apocalypse Now”.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

The Fountain. Just saw this movie for the first time the other day, Just it’s combination of visuals, music and implied emotions is very moving. Here’s a link.

SeventhSense's avatar

When they cut off the water buffalo’s head..or just hacked through his neck. Quite a visual but I bet people down on the farm would not have such an issue with it as much as us gentrified folks.

DominicX's avatar

“Sybil” by Flora Rheta Schreiber. I read that book while I was on vacation at Tahoe. I read the whole thing in a couple of days; I could not put it down. The horror and bizarreness of it intrigued me so. I have never read a book so disturbing.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I’m surprised “Mommie Dearest” hasn’t come up yet.
No more wire hangers! EVER!

MacBean's avatar

After watching The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, I couldn’t review it in any more detail than this: “That was the most depressing thing I have ever fucking seen in my life. There’s been Holocaust NONfiction that’s less goddamn soul-crushing than this.” That didn’t stop me from reading the book, though, which didn’t affect me anywhere near as much.

SeventhSense's avatar

We can’t have those wrinkles in the shoulders!!!

Garebo's avatar

@SeventhSense: then you could probably relate to “Last Tango In Paris”.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@SeventhSense I agree. The “shoulder nipple” look is a no go. That was a bit extreme though.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

wow @boots that was pretty insane… I was hungry a minute ago…

adreamofautumn's avatar

I was deeply, deeply shaken by both “Hotel Rwanda” and “Jesus Camp”. Jesus Camp didn’t upset me because of the content, everyone is free to have their own beliefs, but because the level of indoctrination of young children was so deeply disturbing that I couldn’t cope with it.

kenmc's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 How ‘bout some chitin?

SeventhSense's avatar

No, I think gratuitous violence should never be joined with sex. And the way they are often paired as related is strange to me. One is beautiful and intimate and the other is disturbing.

DominicX's avatar

@adreamofautumn reminded me that I was also pretty disturbed by the documentary on the Westboro Baptist Church. I saw that when I was 2 years younger and it just shocked me how people could be that hateful towards homosexuals, towards me.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

There was a book by Dean Koontz that freaked me out so bad I couldn’t finish it. I don’t even remember the title. I put it down after finishing only the first chapter. And I pride myself on being able to read just about anything.

Garebo's avatar

@seventhsense: neither do I, but yet a very intense movie. I could only relate to the despair.

kenmc's avatar

I’ve heard of a movie called Necromantik

It’s about a couple into necrophilia… I’ve never seen it. It was just described to me by my girlfriend.

Bobbydavid's avatar

Ermmmm the da Vinci code disturbed me no end and mama MIA knocked me for six!

SuperMouse's avatar

When I went to MOMA three years ago, I saw a piece of art that still haunts me. I have no idea why it impacted me so strongly, but it did. It is actually a photograph of the artist pushed up against a wall by a giant wooden plank. His feet are literally six feet off the ground and his upper body is resting on top of the plank. I’m not sure if my description makes sense, but when I saw it I was horrified and it really stuck with me.

Now I’m going to have to find a picture of it online.

I was probably 18 when I first read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, and that really got to me – it still does.

filmfann's avatar

Two movies that upset me to no end:
Sophies Choice
Both movies had me physically ill for days after. Both great movies.
The Tin Drum also upset me, but I would never recommend it. It’s a highly rated foreign film that borderlines child porn.

RedPowerLady's avatar

“Once Were Warriors” deeply disturbed me. The absolute utter realness of the movie bothered me significantly.

I recently watched “Revolutionary Road”. It didn’t deeply disturb me but it did bother me. I have lost a child though so I was a bit bothered. I thought they could have made their point a little less brutal.

I also believe that art or literature could affect me in this way.

augustlan's avatar


Natural Born Killers
Faces of Death (What the hell was I thinking? Eh, I was young. And stupid.)
I know there are more recent ones, but I can’t think of them right now.


Just one. Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. It’s the only book I’ve ever had to read while peeking through my hands! I read it all the way through, though.


The Scream. I don’t know why, but it does disturb me. And I don’t know if this counts, but: any number of photojournalism pics, like Tienanmen Square, images from Vietnam and the Holocaust.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

oh Yeah, the Faces of Death movies I’ve seen still haunt me. Why can’t I forget that crap?

I’ve seen photos from my WW2 studies that haunt me pretty bad, especially the one with the five year old Jewish boy digging his own grave just before they shot him and his family. He was looking right into the camera.

Garebo's avatar

“Once Were Warriors” sounds like one for me, it’s in the que.

adreamofautumn's avatar

@SuperMouse The Lottery shook me up pretty badly when I first read it, i’ve resisted any and all school assignments since then to read it again.

@Evelyns_Pet_Zebra I took Gender, War and Genocide last year in school and the photos from that class gave me night terrors. I literally couldn’t do my homework at night any more because I was so upset by them. My mental health was hit hard by class that semester, I am in no way cut out to be a Holocaust/Genocide Studies student. I freak out too badly.

I also forgot that there is a movie, I couldn’t tell you the name of it, but it was playing on Lifetime or something when I was a kid (maybe about 9 or 10) and I caught bits and pieces of it when I was running around the house and it was on in the living room. It was about child molestation and it scarred me for life to this DAY I can vaguely see it in my head and i’m still made ill by the thought of it. I had nightmares for weeks about a topic I barely understood or could comprehend. Horrible experience.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Garebo Good luck if you’ve ever been around any type of violence or abuse or cultural anger. ;) That movie is something else in it’s reality, IMO.

Edit to add: Is that an odd place to put a smiley? I just put it there to lighten things up, lol.

Garebo's avatar

Thanks, I won’t.

kenmc's avatar

That website is pretty disturbing…

YARNLADY's avatar

Warning, these pictures of starving children and babies born with Harlequins disease are as disturbing as they are real.

DominicX's avatar


Wow, that ichthyosis picture made the whole right side of my body tingle and it’s still tingling (I googled it).


Want something disturbing? Google image search “tree man” at your own risk. “Tree man” is the worst thing in the world. I will never ever search that again. It disturbed me that much. After searching that, my entire body was tingling for like an hour afterward.

MacBean's avatar

@SuperMouseThe Lottery is one of my favorite stories of all time. I read it at absolutely the perfect time. I was in 6th grade—eleven years old—so even though I was reading at a really advanced level for my age, I still hadn’t exactly been around the literary block too many times, so I didn’t see the end coming. I was shocked and thrilled and disturbed all at once. I still go back to it for re-reads on a pretty regular basis, and I even have a couple of audio versions of it because I love being read to.

A couple of other short stories that have seriously grabbed me in that same sort of way, and occasionally pop into my head at random moments:
The Gospel According to Mark by Jorge Luis Borges
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. LeGuin
Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff

Skippy's avatar

I was reading a book years ago that bothere me so bad I couldn’t finish it. I had it at the doctors office, and after I left I stopped for gas. I threw it away at the gas station.

I believe it was callled Black & Blue. About a cop who abused his wife. It scared the hell outta me! I just couldn’t believe someone could be so vile.

janbb's avatar

“Boys Don’t Cry’ with Hillary Swank was one of the most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen. It’s about a transgender male (correct terminology?) who is abused by rednecks. It was very powerful.

MacBean's avatar

@janbb: ”(correct terminology?)” Yes. Target gender is the correct one. Thanks for caring if you got it right. <3

SuperMouse's avatar

@DominicX there was an episode of Nip/Tuck where they had a patient based on the tree man. I lasted about half of one scene with that character.

janbb's avatar

@MacBean Thanks. So in the movie’s case, the correct term for Brandon Teena would be “target gender male”?

jonsblond's avatar

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

adreamofautumn's avatar

@janbb I have a really hard time with that one too. After the first time I watched it I could never bring myself to sit through it again. My college GLBTA screened it and despite being an active member at the time, I still skipped the screening because I just couldn’t bear to sit through it again.

prude's avatar

the mimic movies disturb me, but I still watch them

YARNLADY's avatar

I was very disturbed by the ending of the original movie “The Fly” Help me, Help me

TitsMcGhee's avatar

Audition and Monster both gave me goosebumps.

There was also a Dali sculpture that I saw in Barcelona when I was 9 or 10 that freaked me out a lot. It gave me an anti-Dali attitude for a very, very long time.

casheroo's avatar

@MacBean I read this thread from the bottom up (bad habit) and your “vomit in public” comment…I knew instantly what book you were referring to. I was young when I read that, and felt literally sick.

MacBean's avatar

@casheroo: That book is seriously intense. I read/watch some sick shit sometimes. The story that @boots posted cracks me up. I love Poppy Z. Brite’s early stuff, which occasionally includes graphic necrophilia. I’m a big splatterpunk fan. I find all those gross-out websites fascinating rather than disgusting. But I’ve re-read A Child Called It a couple of times and I haven’t actually thrown up since that first time, but that’s only because I know what’s coming. It still makes me gag every single time.

Judi's avatar

most Joan Miró paintings creep me out.

shrubbery's avatar

This guy and his art disturb me but I find it fascinating at the same time.

Clair's avatar

the harlequin disease is awful and the tree man is kinda weird. some movies freak people out to no end while i’m entranced by it. it’s not that i want to be like them or anything like that, i guess i just try to see what they’re thinking. i’m not sure if i’ve ever been ‘deeply disturbed’ by anything other than a life experience. i’ve most certainly been influenced though.
the only things in movies or art that i really don’t want to have anything to do with is anything with child abuse, rape and the 1977 Amityville Horror.

bright_eyes00's avatar

When i read “The Giver” by Lowis Lowry in middle school i was pretty traumatized. The whole euthanizing old people and killing babies thing…i cant even look at the book without remembering the nightmares I had after reading that.

noodle_poodle's avatar

that kids book where the woman eats a fly then eats a spider to eat the fly ect ect is deeply disturbing on so many levels…for one the idea that things can live on after you eat them…two..the fact that a human could stretch to fit an entire horse inside is just wrong…and why would she swallow the horse to eat something? horses are vegetarian…and that line…i dont know why she swallowed a fly. perhaps she’ll die….its like wtf no one bothered shes eating your pets and might die from it? just comes over like perhaps she’ll die…is the same as…perhaps i will have marmalade on my toast tmr…as if its so very trivial

derekpaperscissors's avatar

I’ve watched a handful of disturbing films. Off the top of my head, Brazil pops out.
A Clockwork Orange as a film was also quite shocking, with all the ultra-violence going on screen. Similar to Brazil, it features another dystopian future.
@bright_eyes00 The Giver is one of my favorite books. It was actually a recommended reading for my freshman year in high school and it reminded me of subplots of a lot of movies that came up during that time, and even today as well.
Actually, most disturbing films are dystopian by nature…
I’ll add more when I go over my movie collection.

For sequential art, The Walking Dead had enough plot twists and FTW’s to keep you wanting to read more and more. And the first time I came upon Wanted and the Fight Club novel and film were also notable although not as disturbing in hindsight.

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