Crying at the movies can provide us with a wonderful catharsis. However, there are also movies that can despair down to the depths of our souls. These are movies that are often beautifully made, marvelously acted, and intensely relatable. They’re also quite frankly supremely depressing.
In other words, if you can handle a depressing movie, there are some amazing films out there that are worth checking out. But be warned: These movies are notorious for being so brutal and saddening, you probably won’t want to watch them more than once. Even so, you should at least see them the one time.
If you’re tired of happy endings and happy characters, here are five remarkable films that also have the distinction of being so depressing, you probably won’t want to see them again:
1. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) knows a thing or two about taking his characters into the depths of hell. Worse yet, they generally don’t make it back in one piece. Requiem for a Dream, an ensemble drama that depicts several interconnected lives that are slowly destroyed by drugs, is a good case in point. The film features powerful performances from the likes of Ellen Burstyn. It also has an ending that is completely devoid of joy.
2. Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Lars Von Trier is another filmmaker that’s well-known for crafting beautiful misery. His musical Dancer in the Dark might just be his grimmest work to date. Bjork gives a commanding, haunting performance, but the movie was reportedly such an intensely, emotionally painful experience for her, she has refused to act in a film since.
3. The Mist (2007)
Frank Darabont has a knack for depressing (The Walking Dead) and Stephen King (Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile). He combines both of those loves in this nightmarish story of the terrified remnants of a small town fighting off monsters inside a grocery store. The interesting part here is in how Darabont deviated from King’s original open ending to give us something absolutely devastating.
4. Sophie’s Choice (1982)
We understand that Meryl Streep’s polish immigrant has to choose between her children in a Nazi concentration camp. That doesn’t mean we’re okay with the whole thing.
5. The Elephant Man (1980)
As we consider the recent passing of the great John Hurt, check out his Academy Award nominated performance in this unhappy, bleak story of real-life “elephant man” John Merrick.