Movies don’t have to feature frightening boogeymen and eldritch rituals in order to elicit fear from their audience – in fact, some of the most disturbing movies comes from outside of the horror genre. Though the horror genre (and its many sub-genres) have long been the go-to for big-screen scares, plenty of movies from other genres offer similar experiences. Horror stories are crafted with the specific intention of building an atmosphere of dread or tension, but that doesn’t mean that other genres aren’t capable of doing so, too.
Fear can come from even the most unlikely of places. Some movies revel in turning real-life situations into plausible nightmares, while others take the fantastical and examine its darker implications and applications. Often, the horror genre is considered too far removed from reality, making way for the more grounded stories of other genres to provide equally upsetting or disturbing narratives.
Sometimes, these films are so unexpectedly disturbing that they become all the more memorable for it. While they may not all be considered frightening, as such, they are all deeply disturbing in one way or another. With that in mind, here are eight of the most disturbing non-horror movies.
8. Parasite (2019)
Bong Joon-ho’s excellently crafted Parasite became the first ever non-English-language Best Picture Oscar winner in 2019, and for good reason. Not only are its story and characters expertly written, but the tension that it builds is unparalleled, making it one of the most stressful films of all time to watch. The deeply dark and powerful aspects of its story make Parasite a truly unforgettable experience – something relatively unexpected for such a grounded and artistic drama.
Not only does Parasite contain a number of especially tense and unnerving scenes, but it also features a few key moments of brutal violence. However, its human drama is the driving force behind its story, and its characters’ choices and the resulting escalating situation is ultimately what makes it such an unsettling watch. Parasite‘s tension simply increases throughout, hardly letting up for a single second throughout the latter half of the movie.
Though it may not be a horror movie, Parasite elicits such strong emotions that it is widely considered a deeply disturbing and unsettling movie. The stress and anxiety it naturally induces in its audience is something that cannot be understated, particularly because it’s such a carefully and perfectly crafted film. Parasite is an excellent movie, but it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.