13 Of The Darkest '90s Movies That Show An Entirely Different Side Of The Decade
When you reminisce about the '90s, you probably think of all the more saccharine vibes the decade gave off: chatting to your crush's parents when trying to reach them on their landline, boy and girlbands, that rave-tastic yellow smiley face. But actually, it was as depraved a decade as any period of time — don't believe me? Then, you need to see for yourself by lining up a "bleakend" (like the weekend, only full of existential horror) filled with the darkest '90s movies. Make sure you enlist a best friend, snuggle buddy, or your dog to watch these with you. Because honestly, you're going to feel like screaming into the void after you stream them.
This isn't exactly surprising, when you think about it. As the name of the cult Danish film movement suggests, it was the beginning of the Dogme 95, a film manifesto that led to some very bleak cinema. Several indie movies pushed boundaries by showing teenagers behaving not just badly, but violently and in sick, twisted ways. And there were some thrillers that you won't be able to watch and eat popcorn through.
So, a word of warning: Make sure you schedule dinner before, not afterwards. Because these are some of the most stomach-turning films out there. Nope, the '90s weren't cute. If you take these films as suggestive of the real vibe of the decade, the '90s were a time of serious nihilism.
1. 'Natural Born Killers'
Mickey Knox and his wife Mallory share more than a romantic bond — the pair are both mass murderers and they become a national media obsession. It's based on a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, so it's guaranteed to be soaked in blood, guts, and gore.
It's written by Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers) and directed by Larry Clark (Bully), so you know it's going to be dark. Released at the height of the AIDS epidemic, the film's treatment of unprotected sex, sexual abuse, and substance abuse in a group of teenagers is sobering stuff.
Come for the A-list talent (Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey), stay for the stomach-turning murders based on the seven deadly sins. No spoilers, but this isn't for you if you're easily grossed out.
Teenager Dark Smith is focused on two things: the end of the world and finding his true love before this happens. Lots of acid trip feels are provided by this film, which touches on aliens, orgies, suicide, and everything in between.
If you've read the J.G. Ballard novel this was adapted from, you know the score. David Cronenberg's adaptation focuses on a group of people who are sexually aroused by car crashes.
When a middle-aged widower is urged by his son to start dating again, he meets a woman he likes, Asami Yamazaki. And when the audience watches Zamazaki sit perfectly still in an apartment empty of anything, but a phone and a sack for four days before answering the widower's call and claiming she never expected him to phone, you know something seriously creepy is up. And it is.
7. 'Eyes Wide Shut'
Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) ventures into new sexual territory after his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman) reveals she considered having an affair a year earlier. Harford infilitrates a dangerous masked orgy held by a secret society.
The first film from Darren Aronofsky (Requiem For A Dream, Black Swan) focuses on a mathematician, which sounds a little yawn-some, right? But its surreal style and intense violence, including one pretty sickening way of trying to cure constant migraines, makes it a bleak and disturbing movie.
9. 'Reservoir Dogs'
Tarantino's first movie as a director showcased the level of violence we'd come to expect from the cult film fanatic.
10. 'Jacob's Ladder'
A Vietnam war veteran is haunted by strange hallucinations and suspects a larger conspiracy is at play. It's creepy AF.
11. 'Boy Meets Girl'
You're at a bar, meet an attractive woman who invites you back to hers, and you watch porn together. Sounds fun — until the man wakes up to find himself strapped to a dentist's chair. Torture and violence ensue.
This short Spanish horror film involves a mortician in a hospital who's turned on by dead bodies. Please don't make me spell out what this means for the film, because I think you can guess.
13. 'The Celebration'
This Danish indie movie was the first film that complied with the Dogme 95 manifesto. It focuses on a family who have come together to celebrate their father's 60th birthday — at the dinner, the eldest son publicly accuses his dad of having sexually abused both him and his twin sister.