The Most Violent, Graphic And Disturbing "R-Rated" Movies Of The Past 20 Years


We all love a bit of gore, don’t we?

For whatever reason we can’t resist a good fright or blood-fest, which is fortunate really when you consider the amount of messed up films there’s been over the years.

2018 looks set to be another great year for the genre, with the likes of A Quiet Place and Slender Man set for release, but in case you can’t wait until for them, why not take a look at some of the most violent, graphic and disturbing ’18-rated’ films of the past 20 years.

Using Metacritic’s extensive list of the best ‘R-Rated’ movies of each year, I picked out the ones that I enjoyed and stuck out in my mind. Needless to say, there were quite a few, so I also went to the trouble of including some other worthy mentions.

Enjoy you sick, sick people.

1998 – Pi

Darren Aronofsky’s surrealist psychological thriller is a disturbing tale about a numbers whiz whose obsession with mathematics and number theory cause him to suffer from debilitating headaches and delusion of paranoia. Profoundly creepy and intense.

Honourable mentions: American History X, Blade, Bride Of Chucky

1999 – Fight Club

Violent and nihilistic, Fight Club follows a depressed man (Edward Norton) who suffers from insomnia and meets a strange man named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), where the two form an underground fight club. It’s highly original, thought-provoking, cynical and ultra explicit in equal measure, with the final twist acting as a mind-battering conclusion.

Honourable mentions: The Blair Witch Project, The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, Stigmata. Audition, however, deserves a special shout-out for one of the most gruesome torture scenes in movie history.

2000 – Requiem for a Dream

Another gem from director Darren Aronofsky, Requiem for a Dream is a bleak and depressing psychedelic trip into the world of drug addiction as the lines between reality and delusion become increasingly blurred. As I say, it’s unapologetic about its portrayal of a decidedly grim and hopeless subject and it’s one of those films that will stick with you for ages after.

Honourable mentions: Memento, What Lies Beneath, American Psycho, Final Destination, The Beach

2001 – Mulholland Drive

I’ve never watched a film that genuinely perturbed me as much as Mulholland Drive. Master of the surreal, David Lynch’s neo-noir mystery tells the story of an aspiring actress named Betty Elms (Watts), newly arrived in Los Angeles, who meets and befriends an amnesiac woman (Harring) as they attempt to get to the bottom of the woman’s identity. It’s the subject of numerous interpretations, but almost everyone is in agreement that the dreamy commentary on Hollywood’s vacuous culture is a beautifully dark and cryptic masterpiece.

Honourable mentions: Hannibal, Donnie Darko, The Others, Jeepers Creepers

2002 – 28 Days Later

This post-apocalyptic horror film by Danny Boyle is responsible for reinvigorating the zombie genre, replacing hordes and hordes of the bloodthirsty un-dead with haunting themes of the consequence of global epidemics and the catastrophic affects of medical research while weaving in various political allusions.

It’s frighteningly believable, which makes it all the more disturbing.

Honourable mentions: Insomnia, Panic Room, Red Dragon, Resident Evil

2003 – Oldboy

The original South Korean version, Oldboy, is directed by Park Chan-wook and spins a wonderfully gruesome web of conspiracy and violence. Not for the faint-hearted, it’s a squeamish and brutal tale of revenge that’s consistently ranked as one of the greatest pieces of modern Asian cinema.

It’ll gross you out, but in a way that’s conceptually and visually enthralling.

Honourable mentions: Kill Bill Vol. 1, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Tale Of Two Sisters, Dead End

2004 – The Machinist

For all his standout roles throughout his career, it’s Christian Bale’s performance in The Machinist which I think is his most staggering. Playing a paranoid and delusional machinist whose insomnia and psychological problems lead to him being fired after injuring a co-worker, Bale lost 28 kg for the role in what is a terribly dark and desperate film.

Honourable mentions: The Passion Of The Christ, , Kill Bill Vol. 2, Saw, Dawn Of The Dead, The Grudge, The Village, Creep

2005 – Hostel

Hostel tells the story of two college students traveling across Europe, who find themselves preyed upon by a mysterious group that tortures and kills kidnapped victims. Some of the torture scenes are torturous themselves, with severed limbs, corpses and dangling eyes a plenty. A word of warning: don’t plan on watching it if you’re intending to go inter-railing.

Honourable mentions: Saw II, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, House Of Wax, The Skeleton Key, Hide and Seek

2006 – Slither

In what has since become a cult film, Slither is a weirdly creepy yet funny movie that is almost so bad it’s good. A small town is taken over by an alien plague, turning residents into zombies and all forms of disgusting mutants who threaten to devour the Earth. Properly weird but undoubtedly entertaining.

Honourable mentions: The Omen, The Hills Have Eyes, Silent Hill, The Host

2007 – 1408

A sinister thriller that relies more on psychological terror than any real in-your-face horror, 1408 follows an author who investigates allegedly haunted houses until visiting room 1408 at a New York City hotel. Though sceptical of the paranormal, he is soon trapped in the room where he experiences some pretty bizarre events.

Honourable mentions: Zodiac, Disturbia, Paranormal Activity, 30 Days Of Night, Planet Terror, Grindhouse, 28 Weeks Later, The Mist

2008 – The Strangers

The Strangers follows a young couple who are terrorized by three masked assailants over the course of an evening at a remote summer home. Many critics praised its atmosphere and tension, with a sequel coming out this year.

Honourable mentions: Cloverfield, Martyrs, Splinter

2009 – The Human Centipede

One of the more infamous films on the list, The Human Centipede was pretty groundbreaking when it was released due to its graphic nature. I’m sure you know, but it’s about a German surgeon who kidnaps three tourists and joins them surgically, mouth to anus, forming a “human centipede”, a conjoined triplet. Two sequels have also been released.

Honourable mentions: Inglorious Basterds, Orphan, Drag Me To Hell, The Disappearance Of Alice Creed

2010 – Black Swan

A psychological horror film, Black Swan is a dark and unsettling film about a ballerina who is tasked with playing the innocent and fragile White Swan, as well as the sensual Black Swan as she finds herself competing for the part, causing her to lose her tenuous grip on reality and descend into a living nightmare. It’s supposedly a commentary on artistic perfection and also explores the theme of doppelgangers.

Honourable mentions: Shutter Island, Insidious, I Saw The Devil, The Crazies, Devil

2011 – The Cabin In The Woods

Produced by Joss Wheden, The Cabin in the Woods follows a group of college students who retreat to a remote forest cabin where they fall victim to backwoods zombies and the two technicians who manipulate the ongoing events from an underground facility. Puzzling, strange and scary, it’s been described as an attempt to “revitalize” the slasher film genre and a critical satire on torture porn.

Honourable mentions: Drive, The Human Centipede 2, You’re Next

2012 – Excision

2012’s Excision sees an outcast teenager (AnnaLynne McCord) practise surgical skills while harbouring weird, and increasingly violent, psychosexual fantasies. It’s twisted, gross and disturbing all in one, shocking audiences when it was first released. Not advisable for those with an easily nauseated disposition.

Honourable mentions: Prometheus, Sinister, The Woman In Black

2013 – The Conjuring

This American supernatural horror film follows two paranormal investigators and demonologists who are summoned to a house with a macabre history, where a supernatural force terrorises the Perron family and their five children. A genuinely well-made film with compelling performances from its cast and a smart plot, The Conjuring is one of the highest-grossing horror films of all time.

Honourable mentions: Prisoners, The Purge, Mama, Carrie, Evil Dead

2014 – The Babadook

The Babadook holds a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s not hard to see why. When a disturbing storybook called ‘The Babadook‘ turns up at their house,a young boy is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he’s been dreaming about. As his hallucinations spiral out of control, becoming more and more unpredictable, his mother realises he might be telling the truth…

Honourable mentions: Gone Girl, Annabelle, It Follows

2015 – Green Room

Green Room is one of those films that might have slipped under your radar, but for hotror fans, it’s a must-see. It focuses on a punk band who find themselves attacked by neo-Nazi skinheads after witnessing a murder at a remote club, and is edge-of-your-seat viewing.  It appeared on many critics’ lists as one of the best films of 2016 and received a 2017 Empire Award nomination for Best Horror.

Honourable Mentions: Ex Machina, The Witch, Crimson Peak, The Gift

2016 – Don’t Breathe

This intelligent, tension-packed movie was a real stand out of 2016 and appeared on many critics’ end of year lists. It tells the story of three thieves who break into the home of a blind veteran, only to find themselves trapped inside where they must fight for their lives after making a shocking discovery about the supposedly fragile old man. With smart twists and and a chilling plot, it makes for a truly gripping watch.

Honourable Mentions: Hush, The Conjuring 2, Lights Out, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Split

2017 – Raw

2017 was a great year for the horror genre, but one film in particular that haunted me for it’s strong themes of violence and sexuality was Raw. Raw is a properly disturbing film about vegetarian Justine who gets a taste for raw meat before descending into the depraved and sickening world of cannibalism, fulfilling her addiction through a series of erotic fantasies. Utterly terrifying.

Honourable Mention: Get Out, It, Jigsaw, Mother!, Annabelle: Creation, Gerald’s Game

2018- over to you.

Images via Blumhouse Productions / Universal Pictures / Paramount Pictures

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