We’ve all heard of the feel-good movie – those heart-warming films that uplift our very souls and have us leaving the cinema grinning from ear to ear feeling all warm and fuzzy about life.
Then there’s feel-bad movies, which basically have the exact opposite effect of a feel-good film. Movies brimming with pathos and hard-hitting subject matter that leave us feeling uncomfortable, upset and in need of a good hug.
There’s the question of why we’d choose to watch an upsetting film over an uplifting one – why pick up a Ken Loach kitchen sink drama over something like an uncomplicated comedy? Maybe a feel-bad movie is more realistic than a relentlessly twee film or maybe we’re just gluttons for punishment. Whatever the reason, there’s something undeniably cathartic about the experience of watching a film that makes you feel like utter crap.
So, we bring to you a compilation of some of the most depressing and upsetting films in recent cinema history. Prepare yourself for a barrage of nasty stuff including but by no means limited to drug abuse, sexual slavery, murder, apocalypses, racism and transphobia. Get your Prozac at the ready.
Has indie director Todd Solondz ever made a film that isn’t
miserable and misanthropic? Often featuring a cast of unlikeable misfit
characters and exposing the grim underbelly of seemingly perfect suburbia, his
movies don’t exactly make for comfortable viewing. Happiness, his third and
most controversial film, is no different so don’t let its misleading title fool
Focusing on the lives of three sisters, it’s a portrait of family life at its most dysfunctional. Eldest sister and suburban soccer mom Trish is supposedly happily married to successful psychiatrist Bill, who is actually a paedophile that has taken to raping his son Billy’s friends but assures Billy he would never molest him – he’d just ‘jerk off instead’.
Middle sister and writer Helen is outwardly successful but ultimately dissatisfied with life while youngest sister Joy is caught up in a string of crappy jobs and even crappier relationships. They’re also surrounded by a cornucopia of characters – their separating parents Mona and Lenny, obscene phone caller Allen and sleazy Russian taxi driver Vlad – who are all equally dysfunctional too.
Bet Christmas dinner round theirs is a riot.