The 16 Most Disturbing Movie Moments of 2017

A Mother’s Worst Nightmare (mother!)

While we’re on the topic of mother!, how can this list not include a ritualistic baby sacrifice? Jennifer Lawrence’s brutal on-camera beating is undeniably repugnant, but the ripping-and-tearing apart of a newborn child for consumption purposes takes the honor of being Darren Aronofsky’s leading atrocity this year. There’s nothing else that needs explaining. Javier Bardem serves his offspring to a bloodthirsty congregation on a silver platter and they savor every last bite of the wee lil’ morsel. Congratulations mother! – you’ve earned your provocateur’s status.

A Haunted House That Goes Too Far (Haunters: The Art Of The Scare)

Scares come in all shapes and sizes, tailored to preference and experience, but documentarian Jon Schnitzer uncovers one haunted house with a universal “terror” policy. Run by Russ McKamey, McKamey Manor has no safe word. Mr. McKamey intends, without restraint, to horrifically traumatize and deconstruct the psyche of those “courageous” enough to sign his waiver. Whatever your phobia is, he’ll exploit it. Yet the one image forever seared into my nightmares is McKamey force-feeding vomit back into the mouth of a restrained patron who’s regurgitated whatever it was McKamey’s thugs first massaged down the poor bastard’s throat. All while Russ directs from behind a video camera, recording and laughing like he’s getting off on his hostage’s visible discomfort.

Frankly, I’m surprised one of McKamey’s infamous YouTube “walkthroughs” haven’t been classified as snuff film evidence after an unfortunate accident by now.

The S.S. Georgie’s Final Voyage (It)

“Ugh, didn’t you hear that It isn’t a horror movie?” I did, laughed, expressed my disagreement in written form (here at /Film) and then once again recalled my gasp when Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise lunged out and tore Georgie’s arm off. The screaming child left crawling from Pennywise’s sewer opening, blood draining back toward the outreaching hand now inching closer to finish the job. That movie – that moment – is what horror is all about. A natural predator caring not about the small, vulnerable child whose life is about to be cut tragically short (shark imagery and all). Full-on fear engagement.

The Superest, Darkest Times (Super Dark Times)

Kevin Phillips’ Super Dark Times is the unsuspecting gut-punch of 2017. A testosterone riddled ’90s coming-of-age story, a criminal cover-up and a serial killer starter kit all rolled into one crushing afterschool special. The soundtrack is aces and the tone so brutally perfect, which makes the death of “outcast” teen Daryl (played by Max Talisman) such a devastating backyard accident. It’s a cautionary tale that dares to depict the worst possible outcome of kids being kids – but Daryl’s death is a fabrication of fantasy there’s no coming back from. No other movie this year left me emotionless and dead like Super Dark Times accomplished (which, oddly, is a compliment).

Hunters On The Prowl (Hounds Of Love)

Ben Young’s Hounds Of Love is one of the fiercest debut features I’ve ever taken in, made possible by lead actors Emma Booth and Stephen Curry. A serial killer and his love-struck accomplice; one manipulated by romance while the other preys on underage girls who fulfill his dominant fantasies. Their interactions make for some of the year’s best trainwreck chemistry, especially when Ashleigh Cummings’ victim finds herself tied to the couple’s guest bed. Curry’s abusive, debasing enjoyment, Cummings’ pleading and begging, Booth’s hypnotized devotion – all coming together in a hurricane of gutted hopes and illicit dreams. Also, without question, one of the year’s most harrowing designs by way of romantic trauma and destructive moral breakdowns.

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