Ford On Film

Chronicles of a silver screen addict

Top 50 ‘feel bad’ films Part 8: The Top Ten

It’s finally here: The top ten most feel bad films of all time! It’s been a long and exhausting process to chronicle, but finally, we can comprehensively rank the ten most depressing films of all time. Just as an aside, I’d like to add in a few films I’ve seen since making the list that could easily slot into the list:

  • The Machinist
  • Apt Pupil
  • Open Water
  • W Delta Z
  • The Road
  • A Serbian Film

Without further ado then, here is my official top ten most feel bad films of all time!



Eden Lake (2008)


Director: James Watkins

Plot synopsis: Refusing to let anything spoil their romantic weekend break, Jenny (Kelly Reilly) and Steve (Michael Fassbender) confront a gang of loutish youths with terrifyingly brutal consequences.

Why it’s feel bad: After stealing his phone and car, Steve confronts the teens, leading to a horrific revenge attack. Steve is brutally tortured, Jenny is forced to hide in the woods as the gang try to kill her, and an innocent young boy is burnt alive. Finally, Steve dies, and Jenny just about manages to get away.

Happy ending? Jenny finds a house for shelter, but soon discovers the house belongs to the parents of the teenagers, and as the parents discover her identity, all we hear are screams as they attack her.



The Human Centipede (2009)


Director: Tom Six

Plot synopsis: A mad scientist (Dieter Laser) kidnaps and mutilates a trio of tourists in order to reassemble them into a new “pet”– a human centipede, created by stitching their mouths to each others’ rectums.

Why it’s feel bad: Have you read the plot? A scientist takes three innocent tourists and STITCHES THEM MOUTH TO ANUS. It is one of the most unpleasant concepts devised for the screen, and the film’s only real talking point is this grotesque sequence of events. I am informed the second film is even more explicit/depressing than the first, hence why I have so far avoided viewing it.

Happy ending? The film ends with the front and back of the centipede dying, leaving the middle girl stranded alone between two corpses. No happy endings to be found here.



The Living and the Dead (2006)


Director: Simon Rumley

Plot synopsis: An elderly aristocrat (Roger Lloyd Pack) leaves his country house to tend to his family’s money problems, leaving his schizophrenic son (Leo Bill) to take care of his terminally ill wife.

Why it’s feel bad: The son slowly loses his mind, and has a full on breakdown as he turns away his mothers carers and shuts off the house from the rest of the world.

Happy ending? Son James, in a fit of rage, stabs his Mother to death, and seeing a vision of her at her funeral, stabs himself to death, leading to his Dad losing his own mind and ending the film being taken away by police.



Funny Games US (2007)


Director: Michael Haneke

Plot synopsis: Two psychopathic young men (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbett) take a family hostage in their cabin, and bet them that they won’t survive for 24 hours.

Why it’s feel bad: The boys mentally and physically torture the family, including breaking the Dad (Tim Roth)’s knee and shooting their little boy.

Happy ending? After getting close to surviving the ordeal, mother Ann (Naomi Watts) is pushed from a sailboat and left to drown, while the two young men begin their routine by knocking at the next door.



Grave of the Fireflies (1988)


Plot synopsis: Teenager Seita and his little sister Setsuko struggle to survive in Japan when World War II breaks out.

Why it’s feel bad: The entire film sees two young siblings trying to survive through radiation poisoning, starvation and endless bombs. Often commended as one of the most powerful war films, the film is non-stop in its sadness. Both their parents die (their mother through burns during an explosion), they slowly run out of food and Setusko struggles to even move.

Happy ending? Seita tries to feed a badly malnourished Setsuko, but it is too late, and she dies. A short time later, Seita also dies of starvation, and the two reunite as spirits among the fireflies.



Se7en (1995)


Plot synopsis: Two detectives, a rookie (Brad Pitt) and a veteran (Morgan Freeman), hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his inspiration for stylishly gruesome murders.

Why it’s feel bad: In possibly the darkest twist in a major production ever, killer John Doe (Kevin Spacey) reveals that in order to create the sin of wrath, he has murdered Detective Mills’ wife and had her head sent in a box to him.

Happy ending? Mills shoots Doe and ends the film being taken away in a police car, his career probably over, and leaving partner Somerset to question the ways of the world.



Oldboy (2003)


Director: Park Chan-wook

Plot synopsis: After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-ik) is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days.

Why it’s feel bad: Though the film is horribly violent (especially the infamous hammer scene), it is all about the twist ending that makes Oldboy one of the most unpleasant films of all time.

Happy ending? Oh Dae-Su’s captor turns out to be Woo-jin Lee, a boy Dae-Su spread a rumour about in high school, triggering a series of events that lead to Lee’s sister committing suicide. Lee then  reveals that Mi-do, Dae-Su’s love interest throughout the film, is actually his own long lost daughter, and he has orchestrated the events as revenge on Dae-Su. On swearing silence to what has happened, Dae-Su even cuts off his own tongue, but we later discover no amount of hypnosis can make him forget what he has done.



Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)


Director: David Lynch

Plot synopsis: A prequel to cult television series Twin Peaks, Fire Walk With Me follows high school girl Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) during the last week of her life.

Why it’s feel bad: The main revelation of the film is that demonic creature who has regularly abused Laura from a young age lives in her father. That’s right; her father is the monster in her life. That, combined with murder, substance abuse and prostitution makes Fire Walk With Me a true horror showcase.

Happy ending? Well, after Laura is stabbed to death by her possessed father, she meets an angel in the afterlife. That’s about all for any redemption.



Requiem For A Dream (2000)


Director: Darren Aronofsky

Plot synopsis: The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island individuals are shattered when their addictions become stronger.

Why it’s feel bad: Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), determined to fit in her old red dress for a gameshow appearance, gets hooked on diet pills and begins to hallucinate her house coming to life. Harry (Jared Leto), Marion (Jennifer Connolly) and Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) are heroin addicts who lose their drug money to post bail, prostitute Marion for extra cash, and eventually get arrested.

Happy ending? A four way unhappy ending, as Sara is committed to a sanitarium and loses her mind through electroshock therapy, Tyrone is bullied by racist prison guards, Marion puts on sex shows to fund her habit and Harry has his arm amputated and spends his time in jail.



Martyrs (2008)


Director: Pascal Laugier

Plot synopsis:  A young woman (Mylène Jampanoï)’s quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child leads her and a friend (Morjana Alaoui), who is also a victim of child abuse, on a terrifying journey into a living hell of depravity and torture.

Why it’s feel bad: When is Martyrs feel good? Quite simply, Martyrs is one of the toughest films to put yourself through there has ever been. It starts with a young girl escaping abuse, leads into the main plot with the slaughter of a family, and then goes into a horrible nightmare exploring the limits of pain and suffering, not to mention brutal gore, actresses put through all levels of emotional hell and some of the most disturbing methods of torture on screen.

Happy ending? Absolutely not. Lucie, the main victim of abuse, kills herself while imagining a torture victim is committing the atrocity, while innocent girl Anna ends up flayed alive and seeing heaven.

So, there you have it, finally, the top 50 most feel bad films of all time. Thank you for joining me, and I hope to hear the choices you agree or disagree with. Thanks for reading!

By Harry Ford




    1. The Ford Five: Best Torture FIlms | Ford On Film
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