Top 50 Feel Bad Films Part 3: 40-36
Hello, and welcome to part two of my countdown of the 50 most ‘feel bad’ films in history. No introductions needed, let’s continue on with the countdown!
Don’t Look Now (1973)
Director: Nic Roeg
Plot synopsis: A married couple (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) grieving the recent death of their young daughter in Venice encounter two elderly sisters, one of whom is psychic and brings a warning from beyond.
Why it’s feel bad: The film starts as it means to go on, with the drowning of a little girl, and goes on to show what is essentially the breakdown of a married couple, all in the dark, ominous backgrounds of Venice.
Happy ending? John follows the red coat that he believes is his dead daughter, only to find it is a dwarf, the serial killer of the film, in the same red coat, who turns around and murders him.
Dead Ringers (1988)
Director: David Cronenberg
Plot synopsis: Twin gynaecologists Elliott and Beverly take full advantage of the fact that nobody can tell them apart, until their relationship begins to deteriorate over a woman.
Why it’s feel bad: First, Beverly becomes incredibly depressed, addicted to drugs and delusional about “mutant women”. Then, Elliott begins taking the same amount of drugs to “synchronise” himself with his brother. Then, Beverly gets off the drugs while Elliott gets further addicted. Both men reach rock bottom throughout the course of the film.
Happy ending? In order to “separate the twins”, Beverly murders his twin brother before dying himself.
Director: Lee Daniels
Plot synopsis: In New York City’s Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
Why it’s feel bad: Precious faces abuse from every direction, with a grotesque, monstrous mother who verbally and physically assaults those around her, torment from local teens on the street and an unseen father who has a long and disturbing history of abusing Precious.
Happy ending? Though Precious severs all ties with her mother and resolves to get a high school diploma, she also finds out she is HIV positive, leaving the film with only the vaguest sense of hope.
Killer Joe (2012)
Director: William Friedkin
Plot synopsis: When a debt puts a young man’s life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance, using a strange and enigmatic hitman.
Why it’s feel bad: One of the most notoriously brutal films of its year, Killer Joe is a non-stop orgy of bloody beatings (mostly dished out by Joe), misogyny (the now infamous chicken scene) and a general sense of scuzzy, grimy backwards America.
Happy ending? Severely-in-debt Chris gets shot and killed by sister Dottie. Dad Ansel gets shot and injured by daughter Dottie. Joe, soon to be a first time father, ends the film about to be shot by girlfriend Dottie. It’s an ending as insane as the rest of the film.
Plot synopsis: A mentally-disturbed man takes residence in a halfway house. His mind gradually slips back into the realm created by his illness, where he replays a key part of his childhood.
Why it’s feel bad: Slipping between real life and his confused past, Spider witnesses numerous atrocities, namely his Dad having seedy bridge encounters with the ‘tarts’ from the local pub, and his Dad and his new mistress coldly killing his beloved mother.
Happy ending? Finally losing all connection with the real world, Spider tries to kill his landlady, before being carted back to the asylum.
Thanks for reading, and join me again for part four of my top 50 feel bad films!
By Harry Ford