Mainstream comedies and dramas are great. In an increasingly complicated world, cinema as a form of escapism is a valid move, and transporting an audience to a different world to make them laugh or cry is a noble endeavor in 2018. Plus, the people who claim to not enjoy being entertained by Marvel’s huge blockbusters like Black Panther or Avengers: Infinity War are liars. But cinema is an all-encompassing monster, full of strange nooks and deep crevices filled with the most disturbing movies you could think of.
Horror is one of the most escapist genres we’ve invented. The most shocking movies are those that lean into a premise that’s either impossible or more hyperbolic than can be found in our own world. The specific sub-genre of disturbing movies, in particular—with their extended, realistic scenes of extreme violence, anxiety-inducing edits, torture, and total disregard for human life—offer a wholly different kind of escape. The terrifying movies on this list come with mental scarring and potential for years of nightmares, but trust me: there are people who love that kind of stuff.
If a movie can make you squirm, scream, or threaten to throw up your lunch, then it’s done its job. The movies on this list prove that a movie can still be considered artsy or significant, even if it’s on the extreme end of the violent spectrum. If you’re looking to find out what exactly we mean by the most disturbing horror movies, browse this list, choose wisely, and have some comedies queued up to cleanse your palate afterward. You don’t have to enter the Deep Web for these shocking movies; some of the most disturbing movies can be found on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. It’s that easy, so make sure you’re really ready before you press “play.”