10 Emotionally Gutting Films That Wrecked Their Audiences

These unflinching, gut-wrenching stories will stick with you more than any regular blockbuster.

Silence Liam Neeson
Paramount Pictures

The common cinema audience is very well accustomed to the big name blockbusters that appear on the silver screen each year; whenever you go into a Marvel Cinematic Universe production, you know exactly what you're getting. But the underlying creativity coming out of the movie business can't be overstated. In amongst the big names, we've seen bold, often uncomfortable stories make their way to theatres.

Often they aren't nearly as financially successful, but they make their mark by leaving audiences with a thought-provoking or harrowing tale that sticks in the mind long after watching. This is often down to their more adult-oriented tone and content. Some films on this list are historical adaptations, whilst others are original stories developed for the silver screen. What they all have in common is an ability to make a deep, unflinching impact on their audiences.

Whether they were controversial, highly emotive or simply refused to pull their punches, these productions made a lasting, often unforgettable impression upon their release. In no particular order, here are ten powerful films that left audiences utterly flabbergasted upon viewing.

10. Cast Away

Silence Liam Neeson

First up on our list is Cast Away, an early 2000s flick mostly revolving around one character. It begins fairly straightforward at first, with FedEx employee Chuck Noland, played by Tom Hanks, well accustomed to travelling the world and conducting systems analysis, sometimes at the expense of his long term relationship. All of that changes when his latest flight crashes in the Pacific ocean, leaving him the only survivor. He finds himself marooned on an uninhabited island with no way of returning home; this single setting plays host to a simple yet vastly effective story.

From here, we focus solely on Noland's perspective, as he struggles with survival, loneliness, and failed attempts at escape. Lost at sea for years, Cast Away's gut-wrenching power stems from Tom Hanks' superb performance and incredibly moving final act. The distance he spends from his loved ones and the ultimate outcome delivers its emotional gut-punch. Aspects of the film may stand out as corny to some, but it's difficult to deny the lasting effect it had on audiences, even almost twenty years after its release. It was certainly a large success at the time, grossing a high amount and earning an Academy Award nomination for best actor.

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A tough but fair writer and critic broadly covering games, movies and just about every type of entertainment media. Spent a good part of the last seven years blogging and more recently, making amateur videos under "The Cainage Critique". You can follow my work on my website https://robc25.wixsite.com/thecainagecritique and my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCftJ6WcozDaECFfjvORDk3w