Ford On Film

Chronicles of a silver screen addict

Top 50 ‘feel bad’ films part 6: 25-21

Hello, and welcome to part 6 of the 50 most feel bad, or depressing, films of all time. Due to this feature taking far more time than I had expected, I will be including ten films in the next two parts. Without further ado, here are numbers 25 to 21 on the list:



Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)


Director: Sidney Lumet

Plot synopsis: When two brothers, Andy and Hank (Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke) organize the robbery of their parents’ jewellery store the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that sends them, their father and one brother’s wife hurtling towards a shattering climax.

Why it’s feel bad: Hiring a thief to help with the job, all hell breaks loose when the boys’ mother turns out to be the one looking after the shop, and she is shot and killed, as well as the thief.  The two brothers then try to get out of debt by robbing a dealer, which ends in more carnage and death, as well as Andy receiving a gunshot wound.

Happy ending? The boys’ father (Albert Finney), who was suspicious of them the whole time, finds Andy in hospital, and suffocates him to death as revenge for his wife’s death.



The Descent (2005)


Director: Neil Marshall

Plot synopsis: A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.

Why it’s feel bad: Starting as it means to go on, The Descent begins with one of the explorers, Juno (Natalie Mendoza),’s husband and daughter being killed in a car crash. Also, about halfway through the film, the predators, horrific humanoid creations, attack and maim most of the women, whilst a few end up accidentally killing each other.

Happy ending? It depends if you live in the USA or not. In the US ending, leading character Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) escapes the cave and reaches her car, where she speeds away. In the far crueller UK ending, however, this is revealed to be a hallucination, as Sarah imagines seeing her daughter while the creatures get closer.



Angel Heart (1987)


Director: Alan Parker

Plot synopsis: Small time private detective Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is summoned by client Louis Cypher (Robert De Niro) and learns that a popular pre-war crooner, Johnny Favorite, had a contract with Cypher and vanished; Cypher offers a large amount for him to seek out Johnny. Through a series of strange characters and creepy incidents, he discovers the true fate of Johnny Favorite.

Why it’s feel bad: After a series of murders connected to the witnesses Harry interviews, Angel discovers the truth; Johnny Favorite was a powerful magician who murdered a soldier named Harry Angel and took over his body, to renege on a pact with the devil. Louis Cypher, the devil (Lucifer, get it?), tells Angel he knew who he was from the start, and forced him to murder all his witnesses.

Happy ending? Angel is to be executed, and the Devil can finally claim his soul.



The Horseman (2009)


Director: Steven Kastrissios

Plot synopsis: Christian (Peter Marshall) grieves over the complicated death of his daughter. When a video arrives anonymously in the mail, featuring his daughter heavily intoxicated and mistreated, Christian sets out on a reckless journey to find answers. Fuelled by rage and sorrow, the death toll quickly rises as he uncovers an ugly truth.

Why it’s feel bad: The film is almost non-stop violence and emotional pain, as the furiously angry father tortures and kills anybody who was involved in his daughter’s death, all while trying to help a young wayward  hitchhiker, Alice (Caroline Marohasy).

Happy ending? Captured by a sleazy porn baron, Christian is tortured, but manages to fight his way out, and rescue Alice while bleeding to death.



The Escapist (2008)


Director: Rupert Wyatt

Plot synopsis: Frank Perry (Brian Cox) is an institutionalized convict fourteen years into a life sentence without parole. When his estranged daughter falls ill, he is determined to make peace with her before it’s too late. He develops an ingenious escape plan, and recruits a dysfunctional band of escapists – misfits with unique skills required for their daring plan and united by desire to escape their hell hole of an existence.

Why it’s feel bad: Throughout the film, we see the escape, as numerous members of the crew are killed in the underground tunnels of London, leaving only Frank and young cellmate James (Dominic Cooper) alive and free. That is, until it is revealed that Frank offered his life to powerful inmate Rizza (Damien Lewis) in return for James’ life, and he is slowly dying from a stab wound.

Happy ending? Though Frank’s daughter has died and Frank himself will soon die, James escapes and avoids certain death, leaving the film with a sense of redemption.

Thanks for reading, and join me next week for numbers 20 to 11 in my list of the 50 most feel bad films of all time!

By Harry Ford


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