uncomfortable film suggestions?
April 6, 2009 5:28 AM   Subscribe

Moviesuggestion-filter: Looking for eerie moody films like Crash (96), The Game, Cat People (82), Possession, The Fury, After Dark My Sweet...

Some of these are neo-noirs, but not all of them. I think I like the slow action, the unobtrusive music, and the overall sense of uneasiness.

I'm already pretty well informed about directors like Polanski, Cronenberg, De Palma, Lynch, and the Coen brothers.
posted by beerbajay to Media & Arts (40 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:29 AM on April 6, 2009

Best answer: Let The Right One In (sadly, the halfassed subtitles on the initial DVD release detract from it a bit -- they're apparently fixing that)
posted by runehog at 5:37 AM on April 6, 2009

Best answer: Dark City

posted by chiefthe at 5:38 AM on April 6, 2009

The Ring
Changeling (the George C Scott one from 1980)
Funny Games
posted by mkultra at 5:41 AM on April 6, 2009

The Grifters
Seconding "Let the Right one In"
The Hunger
posted by degrees_of_freedom at 5:47 AM on April 6, 2009

Wired just had an article on this.
posted by Busmick at 5:48 AM on April 6, 2009

Never been made more uneasy than by Spoorloos. Avoid the American remake, The Vanishing, which is pretty embarrassing to all concerned.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:53 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Probably the next step you can take into the dark side is the works of Guy Maddin.
posted by JJ86 at 5:54 AM on April 6, 2009

The Piano by Jane Campion is magnificently uncomfortable; Tim Roth's unforgettable directorial debut, The War Zone, will make your skin crawl; Vinterberg's The Celebration; von Trier's Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark (though music in the latter is not unobtrusive, the film can quite accurately be called "uncomfortable"); Sean Penn's intense portrait of grief and guilt, The Crossing Guard; Soderbergh's debut sex, lies, and videotape; a couple by Gillian Armstrong, High Tide (awkward and uncomfortable mother-daughter relationship) and Oscar and Lucinda (Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett seem unable to fit into the world around them at all); Mike Nichols' Carnal Knowledge.

This is an interesting question. I'll keep thinking.
posted by cgc373 at 6:01 AM on April 6, 2009

Response by poster: Hmm I've seen most of these. I'll check out Brick, Changeling, Funny Games, Cache, and Flatliners. I've seen everything from the Wired article except Safe or Three Days of the Condor, so I'll see what those have to offer.
posted by beerbajay at 6:04 AM on April 6, 2009

Night of the Hunter
posted by vacapinta at 6:05 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also I'm not sure if Bergman fits the bill. I'm thinking films such as Through a Glass Darkly.
posted by vacapinta at 6:10 AM on April 6, 2009

Mark Romanek's One Hour Photo.
posted by Prospero at 6:36 AM on April 6, 2009

I know you mention Lynch already, but the two movies of his I do recommend above all else are Lost Highway and INLAND EMPIRE. They are my favorites and very oppressive.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:55 AM on April 6, 2009

The Last Wave
Near Dark
posted by Gungho at 6:56 AM on April 6, 2009

How about The Pledge?
posted by cali59 at 6:57 AM on April 6, 2009

The Orphanage an extremely restrained and creepy ghost movie that I can't recommend enough.

Sexy Beast
is a bit mixed but Ben Kingsley is fantastic in it.
Shadow of the Vampire, also mixed but has some great scenes with Malkovich and is a treat if you liked Nosferatu
Being John Malkovich kind of an obvious mention

From an international cinema class, some others that stand out in memory:
Raise the Red Lantern along with the Orphanage, probably the closest to what you're asking for
Memories of Underdevelopment a lingering Cuban film shot in a fragmentary style with a pleasantly repulsive main character
How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman Brazilian historical period piece about colonialism and cannibalism
posted by CheshireCat at 7:04 AM on April 6, 2009

A couple more foreign films (the Europeans, IMO, do the mood you're looking for way better than American directors):
The Others
The Devil's Backbone

Two films you probably already know the endings of even if you haven't seen them, but are still worth checking out:
Jacob's Ladder
The Sixth Sense
posted by mkultra at 7:13 AM on April 6, 2009

Of course I think of more as soon as I've posted.
The Machinist, Memento, and One Hour Photo are all more commercial and have likely already been seen but are generally worth checking out

The one I really came back to recommend was the Norwegian version of Insomnia which is a murder mystery and much better than the American remake. It totally fits the neo-noir criteria and becomes increasingly uncomfortable as it goes on and the criminal investigation deteriorates.
posted by CheshireCat at 7:17 AM on April 6, 2009

A few more suggestions:

The Proposition has a great score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. The unease and heat of the Australian desert as well as Danny Huston's and Ray Winstone's barely contained violence just oozes off the screen.

Ravenous. It's not a very good film, but it has a great feel to it.

Sexy Beast got mentioned earlier and I heartily recommend it and would suggest you follow up with Birth, Glazer's follow up with a deliberately Kubrickian feel to it. (Which reminds me: you have seen Eyes Wide Shut and The Shining already, right?)
posted by slimepuppy at 7:20 AM on April 6, 2009

Oh, also

Songs from the Second Floor
posted by vacapinta at 7:25 AM on April 6, 2009

I'm surprised that the first movie I thought of when I read your question hasn't been recommended yet: Buffalo '66.
posted by General Malaise at 7:43 AM on April 6, 2009

Eden lake

I had to stop watching after 30 minutes, but my partner says the movie made him cringe right until the very end.
posted by Sijeka at 7:54 AM on April 6, 2009

Another one that's maybe a bit out of left field: Perfect Blue.
posted by Prospero at 8:02 AM on April 6, 2009

Well, everything by Michael Haneke, not just Caché and Funny Games (either version.) Definitely The Piano Teacher.

You may also enjoy François Ozon's films, particularly Sea the Sea, Under the Sand, and Swimming Pool.

Claude Chabrol! 50 years of films which usually fall at least loosely into the category of psychological thrillers. Try La Cérémonie to get you started.

While I'm going on about the French, perhaps Le Samourai, by Jean-Pierre Melville.

Seconding The Proposition and the Devil's Backbone, too.
posted by desuetude at 8:27 AM on April 6, 2009

Have you seen Angel Heart?
posted by nola at 9:01 AM on April 6, 2009

The Conversation. After the Wedding (though the end gets treacly). The Limey. Timecrimes is an interesting one, a Spanish film. Don't bother with Flatliners. That movie was cute 19 years ago, but doesn't really hold. Yes, Flatliners came out 19 years ago.
posted by incessant at 9:13 AM on April 6, 2009

the most unsettling film I've ever seen was ERASEREAD... A year later, I still feel uncomfortable thinking about it. ::shudder::
posted by changeling at 9:52 AM on April 6, 2009

The Cook the thief his wife and her lover

Let me ponder this one, I know I've got to have others.
posted by 8dot3 at 10:48 AM on April 6, 2009

The Last Seduction

Romeo is Bleeding


Saw (just the first one)

Killing Zoe
posted by K.P. at 11:09 AM on April 6, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions thus far! I don't know if I'll get any more, but to narrow down the range, based on some films I've already seen:

More like "Let the right one in" than "Dark City"
More like "The Grifters" than "Magnolia"
More like "The Devil's Backbone" than "The Ring"
More like "The Proposition" than "Dancer in the Dark"
Less "Killing Zoe" or "Eraserhead" or "Pi" or "Seven"

I realize now that my choice of examples might skew towards the supernatural/explicitly weird, but I was thinking also of films like "No Country for Old Men" where there's nothing supernatural, just a quiet but unsettling mood throughout.
posted by beerbajay at 11:37 AM on April 6, 2009

Dead Man, Jim Jarmusch
The Element of Crime, Lars von Trier
Cure, Kiyoshi Kurosawa
posted by Dean King at 12:17 PM on April 6, 2009

how about Vanilla Sky?
posted by Redhush at 2:46 PM on April 6, 2009

I got back on to recommend L'Enfer ('94) and I'm happy to see that someone else said Claude Chabrol as well.

The R. Crumb Terry Zwigoff documentary
My Dinner with Andre (not really dark but it's got a certain tension)
Delicatessen (too obvious to have been mentioned yet?)
The Ice Storm, Imaginary Heroes, Rachel Getting Married (character movies - yes/no?)
Kids or Bully
La Haine
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Belle De Jour
Oxygen ('99, if you're not expecting much and you liked Crash...)
Last Year at Marienbad (maybe better as a party background movie)
Grey Gardens (documentary - dark + delightful)
Theremin: An Electric Odyssey (not explicitely dark, rather sweet)
The Young Poisoner's Handbook
posted by degrees_of_freedom at 3:19 PM on April 6, 2009

Exotica is what you're looking for. I rented it thinking it would be something like a low-budget Showgirls. I was very very happily wrong.

Stay is in the mold of The Machinist or Jacob's Ladder.

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai had that feeling too, I seem to remember.
posted by cereselle at 4:08 PM on April 6, 2009

I knew as soon as I posted, I'd think of another one. Try Equilibrium. It's got action, but there's definitely an overall atmospheric feel, and some good use of color.
posted by cereselle at 4:12 PM on April 6, 2009

OMG, Punishment Park! (It's on Youtube)
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 6:33 PM on April 6, 2009

In lieu of Eden Lake (which is similar in plot/theme) or The Strangers (which is essentially a complete rip-off), see Ils (Them). It makes for extremely uncomfortable viewing.
posted by macdara at 1:55 AM on April 7, 2009

Love this question! My recommendations w/varying degrees of discomfort:

Pola X
My Little Eye
The Last Winter
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
posted by lucyleaf at 7:06 AM on April 7, 2009

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