8 films that shocked viewers during the screening

Ah, movies – the perfect way to unwind from the stresses of reality and enjoy some popcorn…well, at least that’s the case for some. The shock factor is a well-distributed technique used in film to force reactions from viewers, but some films are stunned with scenes a little too much, causing viewers to react to what they were forced to watch, rather than what they got chosen to see.

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Some movies are an acquired taste, and some just require an iron stomach for all things real, farcical, and controversial. Such movies as Jthe passion of Christ Where Swiss army man, has sparked uproar, awkward silences and even cinema releases due to taboo scenes that break boundaries, exploit the vilest parts of humanity and make viewers violently sick. Be warned, the movies listed below are probably not suitable for a snack-filled movie night with your parents.

The passion of Christ (2004)

Arguably the most famous biblical film, by Mel Gibson The passion of Christ embeds Christianity’s most important theological event with an intense and intimate brutality that shocked viewers to their core. The film follows Jesus’ (Jim Caviezel) last hours as he demonstrates divinity and sacrifice when Judas (Luca Lionello) betrays him to the Roman Empire, leading to his bloody torment and eventual crucifixion.

The whipped skin, the dripping blood and the horrific sight of nails driven into Jesus’ hands and feet – the film does not avoid violence. Its centrality to the Christian religious event of death and resurrection makes it heartbreaking and significant in the teaching of Jesus, and for non-religious viewers it is a bloody film of suffering. Instead of elevating spiritually, The passion of Christ viewers left distressed by the violent depictions of the New Testament.

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Monsters (1932)

Monsters is an American horror drama made in 1932, which caused great controversy and even had to be censored for its grotesque views and alleged exploitation of the disabled. The film follows the money-hungry trapeze artist Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova) and his plan to seduce the wealthy circus artist Hans (Harry Earls) – a man with dwarfism. When the other members of the circus discover Cleopatra’s plan, they work together to create the ultimate revenge. Hans, Frida (Marguerite Earles), Half-boy (johnny eck), conjoined twins (Daisy and Violet Hilton), and Schlitzie (like himself) all had physical disabilities that allowed them to star in the film, which at the time upset viewers.

Although unsuccessful upon release, after further analysis of the cultural context of the time, Monsters was hailed as a demanding film that humanizes those who are often dehumanized in society for their appearance. It was this reassessment of the film that marked it as a cult classic, with significant commentary on the treatment of people with disabilities, class issues, and the Great Depression.

The Exorcist (1973)

Considered one of the scariest movies of all time despite being made in 1973, The Exorcist used cinematic techniques that terrified viewers – so much so that a study was conducted for a psychological journal, citing that the film had caused a phenomenon known as film neurosis.

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The film is loosely based on a true story, portraying Regan (Linda Blair), a twelve-year-old girl who behaves abnormally after playing with a Ouija board, to the point that doctors cannot help her. His mother (Ellen Burstyn) ordains priests Father Karras (Jason Miller) and Father Merrin (Max VonSydow) to orchestrate an exorcism to rid Regan of his illness. The terrifying sense of realism in the film chilled audiences when it was first released, and continues to do so now. The Exorcist has been preserved in the National Film Registry for its cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance in the film industry, and is the horror movie audiences need to see.


reservoir dogs (1992)

infamous director Quintin Tarantino first film left viewers speechless and uneasy with its foul language and scary violent scenes. The 1992 detective film reservoir dogs depicts the events before and after a diamond heist, with the eight gang members turning on each other on suspicion of deception.

The grim scenes of violence sparked outrage, including during a screening at the Sitges film festival, where 15 people walked out, including famous horror filmmakers. Rick Baker and Wes Craven.

The painted bird (2019)

Described as a “three-hour ride from hell”, the Interslave talkie The painted bird is a war drama that plunges into extreme violence. Set somewhere in Eastern Europe during World War II, a young orphan boy (Petr Kotlar) passes through hostile villages in search of accommodation.

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He encounters many along the way, which hinder rather than help, leading to brutal scenes that have received as much praise as criticism. The 2019 Venice Film Festival did not receive the film well, where half of the auditorium walked out before the film finished. The painted bird encapsulates the worst of humanity through historically one of the darkest periods in history and is a wildly symbolic film that never strays from its subject.

Swiss army man (2016)

The absurd comedy Swiss army man got the audience talking, and not just a former Harry Potter star acting skills. The film follows Hank Thompson (Paul Dano), a man stranded on an island on the brink of suicide until he sees a corpse washed up on the beach. The corpse ends up being able to speak, to which viewers are introduced to a childlike Manny (Daniel Radcliffe), whom Hank must teach to live again.

A creative and unique friendship film, Swiss army man produced a yet-to-be-seen scenario – a body that serves as a jet ski among other objects. Profound, the film caused outings when it first premiered for Sundance, disgusting viewers with grotesque imagery.

Antichrist (2009)

Antichrist is an experimental psychological horror film, made in 2009, and shunned for its beyond graphic content. Transgressions dominate the plot, where unnamed characters known as He (Willem Dafoe) and she (Charlotte Gainsbourg) descend into madness following the death of their child (Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm), leading to scenes filled with sex, violence and sadomasochism.

Believing that all women are evil, she subjects him to constant torture, which is also ensured by the harsh forest in which they dwell. During its presentation at the Cannes Film Festival, Antichrist elicited gasps of disbelief and boos, being considered a pointless and useless film.


127 hours (2010)

A survival drama based on a true story, 127 hours is the most tame movie on the list, because instead of tackling taboo subjects, it focuses on survival in the midst of danger, where the main character must rely on their own will. 127 hours tells the story of Aron Ralston (James Franco), a mountain climber, who travels to a national park in Utah without telling anyone.

While traversing a slot canyon, a rock breaks loose and he falls, causing him to be trapped where no one can hear or see him. Viewers felt physically sick, and some even fainted at the heartbreaking sight of Aron pricking his arm in an attempt to stay alive.

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