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20 excellent movies you absolutely never need to see again


Jun. 26 2024, Updated 6:33 p.m. ET

Good cinema makes you feel things. It often makes you confront uncomfortable truths or challenges deeply held beliefs. Very good films are often emotionally draining, depressing, or even disturbing, and while you recognize it was one of the best things you've ever seen... you also know you could never watch it again. 

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Comedian Rose Matafeo started a thread discussing the movies that fit this bill: no matter how good they were, we never ever want to see them again. 

1. 'Synecdoche, NY'

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Rose started off the thread with this pic written directed by Charlie Kaufman and starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The psychological drama is basically a minefield for any artist with a lot of neuroses — so basically most creative people. So as good as it is, I get not wanting to take yourself back there. 

2. 'Melancholia'

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Rose also threw Lars von Trier's Melancholia out as an example — one I couldn't agree more with. Kirsten Dunst's performance of someone in the midst of a deep depressive episode as the apocalypse looms is so believable that it's honestly triggering for anyone who struggles with depression. 

And if you don't, there's the existential dread of the apocalypse in there for you! It's a very good but very bleak movie you absolutely won't want to see more than once.  

3. 'Requiem for a Dream'

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@steveredm suggested this 2000 Darren Aronofsky film about drug addiction that is probably the most powerful anti-drug message anyone could watch. "Once was more than enough," he said. Hard agree. 

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There are a couple scenes in that movie that make me wince and feel light-headed just thinking about them.   

4. 'The Road'

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@T_L_Parkhouse says, "The Road. Brilliant film but when are you in the mood for something that bleak?" I've never seen it, but if it's at all like the book, I agree. 

5. 'A Clockwork Orange'

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"It is very powerfully uncomfortable!" says @dunnace. Stanley Kubrick's 1971 adaptation of the novel by the same name captures the "ultra-violence" depicted by author Anthony Burgess well — a little too well. 

6. 'Pan's Labyrinth'

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@Han__Grenade chose Pan's Labyrinth: "The isolation and turmoil of Ofelia, the brutal step father, the pale man... every moment made me feel uneasy.  Even the faun was terrifying with his huge body and deep was dire from start to finish."

"Two layers of story woven together, both grim af." Hear, hear. I've seen it twice, but only because I forgot just how hard it was to watch the first time.  

7. 'Room'

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"Utterly fantastic but so so emotionally draining," says @Bertie____. Brie Larson's performance as a woman in captivity won the Oscar for a reason: it's very convincing. And that's why the idea of watching that kind of trauma more than once is almost unimaginable. 

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Bertie was quick to clarify he meant this movie and not the so-bad-it's-good movie The Room (which you can and should absolutely see more than once to capture how bad it is). 

8. 'Children of Men'

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@_Jackalope_ says of the 2006 dystopian film, "Fantastic movie, nearly every scene is seared into my memory. Only seen it once, at the cinema on first day of release. Don't even own it on dvd or Blu-ray. Seems even more terrifying right now."  

9. 'Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father'

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"It leaves you dead inside," says Michael Parker about the documentary chronicling the story of Andrew Bagby, a man murdered by his pregnant girlfriend who eventually gave birth to Andrew's son, Zachary. "I showed it to a group after a fun night drinking, and 2 of the group won't speak to me now. I don't blame them," Michael says.  

10. 'Dancer in the Dark'

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Cynthia Boaz seconded Melancholia and added basically any von Trier movie, like Dancer in the Dark and Breaking the Waves. The former, starring Bjork, is not just tough to watch, but was so brutal to film that the Icelandic singer pretty much swore off acting for good. 

11. 'City of God'

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"My chest gets tight thinking about it," says Annie Adams of this Brazilian crime drama. "It is spectacular but I’m still too broken to venture back that way." 

12. '127 Hours'

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Matthew Hammond named the brutal survival flick starring James Franco. "OMG yes. I had NO IDEA how hard that one was going to hit me. Absolutely terrifying," added @cheekyhobbit. If you haven't seen it or know what it's about, let's just say the last few of those 127 hours are very hard to watch. 

13. 'Revolutionary Road'

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This 2008 drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet very realistically portrays the breakdown of a marriage and the bleakness of being an unhappy housewife in the 1950s. @beckandwoods says, "Loved it, but always found the DVD pull quote hilarious: 'A hands-down, watch-it-three-times-in-a-row masterpiece.' IN A ROW?!"

14. 'Blue Valentine'

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Speaking of watching a marriage fall apart, @wanitathicc named this "grim, depressing, painfully honest" movie, which explores "the decay of a marriage that became stagnant over time." Michelle Williams' performance deserved all the acclaim it received, but the result is that the movie is way too painful to bear a second viewing. 

15. 'Schindler's List'

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@AntzTowler suggested Schindler's List. The 1993 Best Picture winner is not only a painfully brutal portrayal of the Holocaust but clocks in at 3 hous and 15 minutes. It's hard to commit to watching a movie that long and upsetting more than once. 

16. 'Hereditary'

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"I saw it twice when it came out and now I truly don’t have any desire to see it again for at least a few years even though it’s now one of my favorite films of all time," says Makenna Sullivan. Oof, no kidding.  

17. 'The Pianist'

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"Without a doubt The Pianist," says @northernbirdy. "A magnificent film. Never, ever want to see it again as long as I live. If it came on the TV I’d turn it off." Plus, they point out, there's the whole Roman Polanski thing. That's like a whole other category of films nobody needs to see again. 

18. 'Grave of the Fireflies'

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Many people chose the anime film Grave of the Fireflies, which follows a boy and his little sister in Japan during World War II. One Twitter user says, "wrecks you emotionally and will leave you aching for years whenever you think about it. Absolutely worth a watch though if you go in prepared." 

19. 'The Lovely Bones'

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"Very few films effortlessly put me on edge, but The Lovely Bones is definitely one of them," says @CherubRiot "Specifically the scene with the younger sister finding the notebook" You won't be able to look at Stanley Tucci again for a while after seeing it. 

20. 'Lion'

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"Lion — a beautiful story but I don’t want to cry for half a day," says @MomoStJohn. "Also made me want to go to India and adopt a child off the street," they added. That could definitely get expensive after a few watches. 

Editor's note: This story was originally published in November of 2019. It has since been updated.


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