20 of the Most Fucked-Up Film Premises Ever

20 of the Most Fucked-Up Film Premises Ever

A lamb wearing a flower crown

Screenshot: Lamp/A24

The trailer for Lamb, the forthcoming freaky horror psychodrama from A24 and director Valdimar Jóhannsson, dropped yesterday, and if you’re on social media at all, there’s a good chance you’ve seen it, or at least encountered people’s horrified, if bemused, reactions to it. Which make a lot of sense once you’ve watched it:

A24 has a a bit of a reputation for strikingly atmospheric films that hit a particular sweet spot—movies that are generally a blend of art, entertainment, commentary, and holy-shit-what-did-I-just see?! Think The Lighthouse, The Witch, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and Midsommar (as well as the forthcoming Green Knight). To whatever extent that’s your thing, they’re all entirely unforgettable. That’s the power of what we’ll call the Fucked-Up Film genre: Good or bad, they stick with you, maybe forever.

Sometimes a premise alone can haunt your dreams. There are certainly movies that I’ve never even seen that I’ve been deeply disturbed by. Even reading a plot description or catching a few moments from a trailer can be unsettling. Fucked-Up Films have this power, and run the gamut from art house award winners to exploitation trash. Here are 20 of our… favorites?

(It’s probably not surprising some notable films have not been included here, only because they’re not available anywhere to stream—think The Unknown, Faces of Death, Spanking the Monkey, Happiness, Salo, Visitor Q, and other infamously twisted classics. Feel free to supplement our choices with titles from your own slightly disreputable DVD collection.)


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