13 of the Most Disturbing Movies and Darkest Series That Left the Audience Traumatized

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Disturbing Movies & Darkest Series That Traumatized Fans

Can watching a TV show trigger your anxiety? Yes, it can. You must have watched shows that help with anxiety. But let’s talk about the darkest series that are notorious for causing heavy emotional and psychological distress to the point of driving both the actors and the fans to therapy.

Some suspense thrillers make your nails disappear while sad movies give your face a tear cleanse. Some psychologically chaotic TV shows mess you up so bad letting the dread brew inside burning an indelible emotional scar by triggering your traumas. Yet you’re still fixated on the darkest series of the season and can’t stop watching it. Well, your next destination is therapy.

yuji breakdown
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

True instances – Did You Know How Disturbing Movies Traumatized Celebs?   

Back in 1991, actor Charlie Sheen watched Guinea Pig 2: The Flower Of Flesh And Blood and called the FBI. Because what he saw had such a disturbing effect on him that he believed it was a snuff movie.

A similar situation arose in 1980 when the director of Cannibal Holocaust, Ruggero Deodato, was charged with murder by many film critics who were convinced that the darkest series of death scenes in the movie were real. How distressing is that!

Related: Halloween Horror: Experts Warn of the Impact of Horror Movies on Kids

Also, most recently, manga author, Kenjiro Hata was so traumatized by Gege Akutami’s Jujutsu Kaisen that he put his works on hiatus. Good luck to anime fans impatiently waiting for the upcoming JJK episodes.

13 Best Disturbing Movies and Darkest Series to Watch Out For

Let’s recap the unforgettable TV shows, cult-classic movies, and dark anime that come with traumatizing side effects as recorded in pop-culture history:

1. The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMDB Rating: 8.1

The Exorcist movie sparked a wave of concern regarding its potential psychiatric hazards. It’s preserved in cinema history as a pop culture phenomenon that shocked the world, not just a horror movie. Ouija boards, demonic possession, cerebral angioplasty, graphic scenes, and the inescapable evil realistically depicted true horror in the movie.

the exorcist ouija board
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

Many viewers experienced nausea and developed traumatic neurosis and even psychosis after watching the film. It triggered a condition called ‘cinematic neurosis’ in psychiatric patients which is defined as “the development of anxiety, somatic responses, dissociation, and even psychotic symptoms after watching a film” in the American Journal of Psychotherapy. If re-released in theatres now, decades later, The Exorcist will still scare you enough to make you call your mom to pick you up.

2. Schindler’s List

Schindler's List Poster
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMDB Rating: 9

Schindler’s List is one of the most psychologically disturbing movies with an emotionally loaded plot by Steven Spielberg that pivots on the Holocaust and Oskar Schindler’s heroic deeds. It’ll leave you traumatized at least for hours if not days. Through the darkest series of difficult scenes, it causes intense psychological distress because of their raw depiction of the Holocaust with the unimaginable horrors it has.

Schindlers List Red Jacket Girl Scene
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

These gruesome scenes include the heart-wrenching elimination of Jews from the Krakow ghetto, cruel acts committed by a Nazi officer (Amon Goeth), showing harsh life at Płaszów concentration camp in which many people died, dead bodies, and mass graves. Viewer discretion is advised due to the series of darkest scenes and the emotionally challenging nature of this film.

3. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones darkest series
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMDB Rating: 9.2

Among other things, Game of Thrones fascinated viewers with the intricate characters, a lot of skull-crushing, flesh melting, the red wedding, creepy plot lines, incest, complex political plots, and multiple dark and psychologically disturbing topics throughout its eight seasons. It propelled movie anxiety to a new level. It’s one of the darkest series ever to take the world by storm. Even its CGI dragon tugged at your emotions.

Drogon and Khaleesi
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

How can we forget how not only the actors starring in the series such as Kit Harrington and Sophie Turner, checked into rehab after the show ended, but many fans needed therapy after watching the final episode. Remember how the last season finale made you take a day off?

4. Final Destination 2 (2003)

Final Destination 2
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMBD Rating: 6.2

The Final Destination film series has now turned into a mirror reflecting modern anxieties and unruly coping mechanisms. Teeming with carnage, blood, destruction, and death, it’s one of the darkest series in cinema history that has been inducing anxiety for over 20 years.

Though intense gore is peppered throughout the movies, that one log truck scene on the highway in Final Destination 2 successfully traumatized an entire generation.

Final Destination Log Truck Scene
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

You’d be lying if you said logging trucks don’t give you heart palpitations if you’ve watched the movie.

5. Squid Game (2021)

Squid Game
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMDB Rating: 8

If Squid Game was your first K-drama, Congratulations! You’ve just traumatized yourself. As a top contender for the most disturbing series on Netflix, this South Korean survival drama sent shock waves all around the globe.

Squid Game Kdrama
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

Squid Game quickly became one of the most-watched series in Netflix history. Its appeal lies in its social critique and violent depiction of the abuse of power and privilege. Squid Game will make your brain hurt. Bet you don’t think of childhood games like Red Light, Green Light, or Tug-of-War in the same way after watching the show.

Also Read: The Phenomenon Of Mirroring Fictional Characters: How People Subconsciously Take On Attributes Of Their Favorite Fictional Characters

6. Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica darkest series
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMDB Rating: 8.2

If you haven’t watched it yet, you’re in for a surprise as sweet as ghost pepper. This psychologically disturbing anime takes a haunting twist on the conventional magical girl narrative, delving into themes of sacrifice, existential dilemmas, and the true price of power. With its intricate and emotionally charged storyline and the darkest series of painful deaths, this anime weaves a complex web of fate and despair that leaves both characters and viewers unsettled.

puella magi madoka magica
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

Add it to your watchlist of the most traumatic anime and darkest series to watch when you feel empty inside due to the sudden lack of anxiety alongside Attack on Titans, Devilman Crybaby, Berserk, Studio Ghibli’s Grave of Fireflies, etc. Keep your safety blanket nearby while watching.

7. You (2018)

You
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMDB Rating: 7.7

One of the most disturbing series on Netflix, You, is psychologically hazardous. This show offers you stalking and obsession, manipulation and gaslighting, violence and murder, sexual assault and coercion, toxic relationships, identity theft and invasion of privacy, and moral ambiguity.

You S4
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

Exploring the dark world of Joe Goldberg (the main character) leaves all of your brain cells unsettled. It’s not just the darkest series of death scenes or jump scares that make a show disturbing, in the case of Netflix’s You, it’s the severe manipulation and psychological horror that gives viewers nightmares.

Related: 5 Roles We Play In A Narcissist’s Life

8. Save Me (2017)

Save Me
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMBD Rating: 7.9

You’ve enjoyed K-drama but how do you fare with K-trauma? South Korean drama Save Me explores insidious psychological manipulation and control exerted by the cult leader on his followers, played by Jo Sung-ha. A young woman is kidnapped and imprisoned by the cult in the show followed by grooming and gaslighting.

darkest series
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

This series cleverly portrays the vicious consequences of religious fanaticism and the intense psychological trauma suffered by the helpless characters trying to break free and protect their loved ones. The depiction of violence, harsh living conditions, and cult manipulation can be distressing and emotionally challenging to watch.

9. Ratched (2020)

Ratched
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMDB Rating: 7.3

One of the darkest series of 2020, Ratched delves into Nurse Mildred Ratched’s intriguing background as a manipulative and controlling character. The thriller weaves facts and fiction exploring disturbing themes like mid-20th century mental health treatments that include electroconvulsive therapy and lobotomies.

Ratched Factual Scene
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

It further discusses sexual violence, graphic violence, and issues of mental illness and how they can affect a person’s life, and relationships. Themes of betrayal, revenge, horror, and gore are woven into the storyline of this thrilling series set in a world that is haunting from within. Watch it alone if you enjoy pain.

10. Dead Ringers (2023)

Dead Ringers
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMDB Rating: 6.5

This psychological thriller miniseries is based on the 1988 film of the same title that’ll leave your entire consciousness shook. Twin gynecologists are set on a mission to alter the ways women give birth. Dark, twisted, gory, creepy, and strange with the addition of Rachel Weisz’ mesmerizing acting, Dead Ringers will make you shudder.

Dead Ringers Rachel
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

It’s one of the darkest series in 2023 that’ll make your skin crawl, and dethrone you of all sense of ease and calm. Brace yourself to explore the body horror sequences that make your heart break out of its cage.

11. Moral Orel (2005)

Moral Orel
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMDB Rating: 8.1

Despite his apparent innocence, Orel’s well-meaning nature serves as a cover for the deeply religious, dysfunctions as well as a hypocritical and grimly humorous world that he shares with his family and community. Subsequently, Orel’s behaviors are often met by unexpected and darkly comic outcomes.

Moral Orel People Are Scary
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

In its way, satire has always been known to portray disturbing events related to religion, ethics, and living in small towns, which this animated series illustrates in its own manner. If you’re into cynical comedies, this off-beat show is a rather disturbing trophy for your mind.

12. White Christmas (2014)

Black Mirror
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMDB Rating: 9.1

Of all the disturbing Christmas movies you’ve planned on watching this year, don’t forget to revisit the sweet little tale of Matt and Potter having a Christmas meal together. White Christmas is the fourth episode of Black Mirror Season 2. Browse at your own risk.

White Christmas
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

Netflix’s Black Mirror Christmas Special which aired in 2014 will inject an adequate amount of psychological distress into your holiday watchlist. It takes you on a harrowing journey to a godawful future of technology by wrecking your brain.

13. Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (2022)

Dahmer Monster
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

IMDB Rating: 7.9

If you want a thrilling conversation with your therapist afterward, Netflix offers you the darkest series based on the notorious serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. In one word, horrifying. Definitely not for the faint of heart. Lock your doors and keep your lights on while watching.

Jeffery Dahmer Monster
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

But if the genre of True Crime appeals to you like a bone-chilling cold compress to ease out your real-life worries, this will be the most disturbing series on Netflix you can enjoy. However, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.

Why Do Disturbing Horror Cause Anxiety?

The influence of gory movies and horror anime on mental health is a complicated individual process. What is exhilarating or therapeutic to some might be injurious to others. Some people can experience increased stress responses, anxiety, and nightmares due to graphic content, especially in the horror genre. Some viewers may have residual short-term trauma or become numb to them. Movie anxiety is real.

Related: Aaaaaah! 10 Top Horror Movies On Netflix You Must Watch

In addition, people who are predisposed to anxiety or trauma-related disorders may be prone to long-term psychological implications upon watching realistic portrayals of anxiety in TV shows. 

However, the cognitive impact of watching disturbing movies and binge-watching the darkest series is different for people. Anime and TV shows with intense psychological impact could also contribute to Maladaptive Daydreaming Disorder (MDD) due to the vivid imagination propelled by the concerned series. 

Trauma is a subjective experience whereby the viewers’ response may greatly depend on their personal history or sensitivities.

Takeaway

There are countless instances as such in cinema history where very disturbing and realistic-looking scenes have deeply impacted people’s mental health.

The list of therapy-worthy movies and anxiety-inducing series to binge or watch out for grows longer each year as modern sensibilities and sensitivities change. But the choice is always yours. When consuming media, people need to be aware of their own sensitivities and limits.

Your beloved characters might have perished in a certain Shibuya incident that broke you, but you can overcome it.

Mahito Kills Nanami
13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

Content warnings and viewer discretion advisories added at the beginning of the darkest series and movies on OTT platforms can help individuals make informed choices about the media they choose to engage with.


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13 Of The Most Disturbing Movies And Darkest Series That Left The Audience Traumatized

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