4. Irreversible (2002)
Each of Gaspar Noe’s five films could’ve placed here. Every last one of them is shocking, disturbing, or a real challenge to watch; but Irreversible is his magnum opus. This 2003 film is probably one of the most nihilistic of all time, with Noe’s I Stand Alone coming in close, and you feel the hate for humanity in every scene. It doesn’t help there is an extended sexual assault segment, which is followed up by brutal violence. You will need a long shower after seeing Irreversible.
3. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Cannibal Holocaust is a rite of passage for many film viewer. Not only did it pioneer the found footage genre, but it is the gateway drug for people looking to explore transgressive movies. For decades, the treatment and legend of Cannibal Holocaust made it feel like an urban legend. Real violence, real criminal investigation, and some messed up moments; you either seek this movie or avoid it like the plague.
Fun Fact: FM Editor-in-Chief Gary Collinson credits this as his most shocking film of all time!
2. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
If something offends or shocks you, you will find it in Salo. The source material, a 1785 novel, is painfully adapted with no taboo left untouched and every viewer finding something that upsets them. The plot centers around the systematic torture of teens by rich people that includes sexual violence, incest, and a gang of other things. A film like this to come out in 1975 that pulls no punches in regards to offensive moments; that’s almost as shocking as what happens in the movie.
1. A Serbian Film (2010)
The current reigning shock king, A Serbian Film has quite the legend surrounding it. For many years, people treated this like the “Holy Grail” of poor taste; hardcore film lovers would go extreme lengths just for an uncut copy of A Serbian Film. Something about this film and how it pushes the limits, limits you didn’t know existed, deserves significant praise. Even if the movie is vile, it’s quite the cinematic achievement and easily earns the title of the most shocking film of all time.