Emotional songs say so much, but emotionally intense movies can wreck you for days, weeks, or years, especially if they’re fictional or based on true stories. Some filmmakers/directors know how to pull the heartstrings of their audiences’ and according to research, watching highly emotional films play tricks on the brain.
With this in mind, some Reddit community, including BuzzFeed, has recently asked its members about which movies they believe are absolutely incredible but are too emotionally intense to watch again. The responses have become a never-ending list, but we’ve compiled 50 of the top ones alongside their reviews for your perusal. Have a look.
A Star Is Born (2018).
“I can’t believe this wasn’t on the original list! I’m happy I saw it once because Bradley Cooper was remarkable, but there are scenes from it that still haunt me, and I don’t think I could watch it again.” — kelzee05.
The Neon Demon (2016).
“I was not prepared for it.” —carolibal4cfa04881.
Funny Games (1997).
“Those people were not ‘funny’ in the least, and it really fucked me up when they just moved on to the next house at the end.” —jasond42d4442c9.
“This one might be an odd choice to be on here. It’s a colorful and beautiful movie. I am Latina, so it was nice to see the representation — but Grandma Coco? Oof. It reminded me too much of my own late grandmother, and I cried so hard.” —preistessofsass.
“That movie with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal — oof.” —merrifieldgiorgio.
The Paperboy (2012).
“John Cusack will never be the same to me.” —serenak4cd31813e.
“It was so good, but I almost had an anxiety attack in the theater and can’t bring myself to watch it again.” —marileib.
“Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay were both phenomenal, but it was an emotionally exhausting experience!” —tessmarin.
“Everyone I’ve ever known who’s seen this movie has had a visceral reaction to it, whether it be total disgust, violent anger, or whatever else. I personally think it’s one of the must-see movies for those who want to get into B-movie horror, but I would be very concerned if you wanted to watch that shit multiple times.” —P1nkL3m0n4d3.
Million Dollar Baby (2004).
“I saw it once. It was very well made, but it also made me sick, and I don’t think I could ever watch it again.” —dianaelenac.
A Single Man (2009).
“Colin Firth gave a searing, devastating performance — he’s so good, I can’t see it again. I was emotionally drained at the end.” —stephanies4bcc536a5.
The Boy In The Striped Pajamas (2008).
“I had to watch it in history class in eighth grade, and….well, it’s a beautiful film, but I can’t watch it again or I’d never finish it due to tears.” —Poison_Ivy 90.
The Perfection (2019).
“It’s on Netflix and it FUCKED me up. I was not expecting anything that happened, and it was full-on gross and disturbing at some points. I would never watch it again, but it was too wild not to watch once!” —abbeyp4ce88581e.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006).
“I thought I was going in to see a cool fantasy flick. Instead, it turned out to be a movie dealing with trauma, abuse, and coping mechanisms. It’s still a great film, but so gut-wrenching.” —u/JDazzleGM.
Alpha Dog (2006).
“It would be sad enough if it were fiction, but the fact that it was based on real events makes it so hard to stomach.”—me98765.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988).
“I’m never, EVER going to watch that shit again. It’s from Studio Ghibli, the same company that did Spirited Away. It’s an absolute masterpiece, for sure, but don’t expect to find happy little creatures in it.” —u/V02D.
Promising Young Woman (2020).
“I just watched this two days ago and still can’t get over it. I highly, highly recommend it, but I don’t think I can watch it again.”—u/LeoFoster18.
“It was an absolutely phenomenal film that I can never watch again. Witnessing THAT twist ending was enough to give me permanent 0_0 face whenever I think about it!” —Ashley M.
The Passion of the Christ (2004).
“This may be an unpopular opinion, but it just really traumatized me. I can’t watch that movie again. It didn’t scare me as much as that movie did.” —gabbier6.
The Last King of Scotland (2006).
“Great film, but Forest Whitaker was far too convincing for me.” —TrilingualMom.
Just Mercy (2019).
“It’s such an important movie to watch, but I cried off and on the whole time. It’s so emotional, especially since it’s a true story and things like that do happen to Black people. A positive ending, but a total roller coaster. I think about it all the time.” —lnicolek012.
Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire (2009).
“I will never watch it again, and now that I have children, I’m even more adamant about that.” —livlintern.
Marley and Me (2008).
“As a lover of animals, I could never watch this again without bawling my eyes out. It physically hurt me to watch.” —h2creech.
Sophie’s Choice (1982).
“I can’t even think about it without getting upset.” —christine61390.
Still Alice (2014).
“I saw it for the first time a few weeks ago. It was so raw and real. I can see why Julianne Moore won the Oscar, but it left me with such a deep sadness that I know I’ll never watch it again.” —[deleted].
Django Unchained (2012).
“The heavy usage of the n-word, the dog fights, the men who fight to the death, the slavery aspect…it absolutely traumatized me. I’m a Black woman who saw it with my ex (who was white and INSISTED on us seeing it). Yeah, no.” —Melanie.
“It’s a trippy, weird movie, but really good!” —Cheryl Keswani.
Les Misérables (2012).
“I had to turn it off the second Gavroche died. The way they shot that scene was horrible; it really showed the pain everyone felt. It could also partly be that my mom wouldn’t let me see this until I turned 16, but I really loved the soundtrack, so I basically grew up listening to the characters while having no idea that most of them died. I haven’t watched it in years, but I can still remember all of the deaths.” —[deleted].
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017).
“This one REALLY got me.” —vvinter.
Nocturnal Animals (2016).
“It’s a good movie, but I can’t watch it again because of that highway scene.” —u/JohnnyJayce.
Hotel Rwanda (2004).
“Great movie, would recommend it to everyone, but once was enough for me.” —Jaida.
Full Metal Jacket (1987).
“I watched the very first bit of it when I was in officer training and thought it was a comedy. A few months later, I sat down and watched the whole thing…it’s not a comedy.” —u/Titanomicon.
“I saw this movie ONCE, and never again. It was emotionally draining, and the ending was insane. Every time I think about it, I get super anxious.” —Denisse.
Eden Lake (2008).
“If you know, you know.” —spaced.
The Lovely Bones (2009).
“Deeply unsettling at times and very sad at others. The movie actually made me go through the stages of grief while I was watching it. Highly, highly recommend, but I won’t watch it again.” —[deleted]
12 Years a Slave (2013).
“Amazing movie, but I’ll never watch it again — especially knowing what happens to Solomon Northup in the end.” —murrays3.
Manchester by the Sea (2016).
“All day.” —u/voe600.
Seven Pounds (2008).
“That movie wrecked my heart and my soul. I was depressed for a week but stupidly watched it again the next week. Absolutely still haunts me to this very day.” —ltimmons5472.
Dancer in the Dark (2000).
“It has an amazing performance by Björk, and it’s brutally sad. I bought a copy of the DVD after seeing the movie because I loved it so much. I lent the disc to several friends and thought about it many times, but could just never summon the energy to watch it again myself.” —u/Trump_Card_Played.
“The garden party scene was wild, but as much as I liked this movie, I can’t watch it again.” —shariffamawani.
“The emotional dinner scene did it for me. Toni Collette’s anguish over her daughter’s death was too much to handle. I watched the movie shortly after my mom died, and it was just too raw.” —dramatic_chipmunk.
The Father (2020).
“It was absolutely brilliant…maybe TOO brilliant, because I don’t want to watch it ever again.” —adeledazeem.
A Clockwork Orange (1971).
“It’s very well made. Almost everything about that movie is incredible, but it’s so emotionally intense and has such a graphic subject matter that I’ll never watch it again. It’s one of those movies you see because it’s great, but once you’ve seen it, you’re like, ‘Okay, cool. Mark that one off the list,’ and never touch it again.”—u/SomeGuyinaHood1e.
Black Swan (2010).
“It’s so good, but it tripped me out too much.” —jryingling.
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008).
“Hands down.” —u/swanyMcswan.
“That movie bothered me. I hated to think that’s what teens were actually doing.” —jenniferw486be321c.
“We watched it in class when I was 12. My teacher wanted us to understand that racism was (and still is) just as pervasive in the North as it is in the South. I’m 26 now, and I haven’t seen it since. I’ll NEVER forget how much that movie gutted me, but it’s SO important to see.” —rose.
The Strangers (2008).
“The one with Liv Tyler. The mind games and the torture were a genuine nightmare!” —ladyheather1229.
Bone Tomahawk (2015).
“I’ve said this movie so many times for so many different posts on this website, but it really did fuck me up! It was great to see once, so cool what they did there, but I’ll never watch it again!” —rainaf4e29d925f.
The Imitation Game (2014).
“Incredible movie, great performances, but a heartbreaking ending.” —christig2.