'Veronica' has gained a reputation as one of the scariest films out there, but it's not alone in this regard (Image via HighSnobiety)
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Netflix has become a hub for the most disturbing horror films in the genre. What movies live up to their reputation?

 

Subversive Spanish horror flick, “Veronica,” has recently been trending in the horror community as one of the most disturbing Netflix movies ever filmed. It is rumored that 70 percent of viewers couldn’t even bear to get through the movie because they found it to be too unnerving. However, many horror buffs felt differently.

Horror fanatics have been brutally chastising the film, claiming it not only didn’t live up to its hype but that it was an objectively bad film, relying on tired tropes and predictable fear tactics. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes disagree, however, giving the movie an overall rating of an astounding 88 percent.

All this debate piqued my curiosity. Was “Veronica” over-hyped? I watched to find out.

The first thing I’d like to point out is the criticism that “Veronica” relies on tired tropes isn’t necessarily fair considering that the movie is based on the true accounts of one the most famous paranormal events in Spanish history.

As the story goes, a young girl from Madrid named Estefania Gutierrez Lazaro died unexpectedly after allegedly using a ouija board in an attempt to contact her deceased father. “Veronica” roughly follows this narrative.

Though the film’s plot is undoubtedly pedestrian against its own will, director Paco Plaza makes up for this with his brilliant execution. Parts of this movie were extremely unsettling, namely because of Plaza’s masterful pacing and unorthodox, yet realistic elements.

An added disquieting factor in the film is the fact that the protagonist, as well as all the major characters in the movie, are children. This twist casts an added layer of distress in the viewer because no one wants to see a child in danger.

Still, this movie didn’t quite make the cut for me as far as disturbing Netflix movies are concerned. Though it was frightening and the pacing was decent, it was all too watchable to qualify for the lofty title of “scariest Netflix movie ever.” Indeed, the ending left much to be desired.

Perhaps that’s why horror fans are railing against it with such vigor. While I’d say it’s at least worth watching, if you’re truly looking for cult horror films on Netflix so gruesome they’ll leave you cringing days later, these four movies are the way to go.

“Baskin” (2016)

Probably one of the goriest films of all time, Turkish art-house flick “Baskin” easily ranks as one of the most disturbing Netflix movies. Baskin follows a gritty group of police officers who accidentally find themselves in the cold depths of Hell after investigating an accident. The plot is nonlinear, and dreamlike sequences are sprinkled throughout the film.

“Baskin” can be difficult to follow in spots because of its nonlinear production and heavy-handed symbolism. However, as you can easily see in the trailer, Baskin doesn’t hold back on the gore. Intestines are ripped from stomachs while the victim watches in horror, fully cognizant. Eyes are gouged out.

Baskin’s Hell is a torturous asylum, complete with copulating minions feeding on their own defecation, and psychopathic, inhuman antagonists, bent on inflicting unimaginable pain on the poor officers.

What “Baskin” lacked, however, was character development. Because the film relied so heavily on its nonlinear structure and on shock value, the viewer doesn’t get much of a chance to connect with the characters, which makes their inevitable fate less horrifying for the viewer. Since you aren’t invested in the characters, the torture inflicted upon them isn’t as impactful and it kind of feels like gore for gore’s sake.

That said, Baskin is a weird and unapologetic film, hell-bent on terrifying the viewer. There are scenes in this film so terrifying they stick with you months later. Fans of extreme gore should give this one a go.

“Raw” (2017)

Another foreign addition, boundary-pushing French horror flick “Raw,” debuted last year to retching audiences. Some viewers were even said to have passed out in theaters due to the graphic nature of this film. Raw follows the life of a sheltered, young vegetarian girl in veterinary school.

An extremely distressing take on a coming-of-age film, “Raw” is about a young girl named Justine and her gradual transformation into an insatiable cannibal. After being forced to eat meat for the first time in her life during a hazing ritual — raw meat at that — Justine develops a rapacious hunger for flesh in all forms. She begins ruthlessly biting into the raw flesh of her victims, including members of her own family.

While the film is not an all-out gorefest like “Baskin,” it is extremely graphic in parts, making it difficult to watch. If you’re expecting torture porn, aimed at grossing out the viewer, this film may not be for you. What this film is, however, is a bizarre coming-of-age movie, with extremely affecting moments.

The avant-garde nature of the film, combined with some incredibly gut-wrenching elements sprinkled throughout, make “Raw” one of the most disturbing Netflix movies to date.

“Gerald’s Game” (2017)

This movie is loosely based on a lesser known Stephen King novel entitled “Gerald’s Game.” Director Mike Flanagan, also known for productions such as “Hush” and “Oculus,” took one of Stephen King’s least popular books and turned it into a cult classic.

“Gerald Game” follows a couple going on vacation in a seemingly futile attempt to save their failing marriage. Gerald’s desire to act out a rape fantasy results in his wife, Jessie, being handcuffed to the bed.

Gerald’s reliance on Viagra as a sexual lubricant, however, causes him to have a heart attack and die atop Jessie’s body while she’s still bound to the bed. The vacation house is miles from civilization and Jessie’s screams for help go unheard. She’s left handcuffed to the bed, contemplating her own death.

While this film isn’t excessively gory and relies heavily on the element of suspense to create fear in the viewer, there are scenes in this movie that will make even those with an iron will wince. Jessie’s attempt to escape from her handcuffs is probably one of the most gruesome and nauseating moments in movie history. I dare you not to look away.

What’s great about this movie is the fashion in which Flanagan depicts Jessie’s descent into madness while chained to the bed, and how she overcomes her demons through her struggle. This movie gets remarkably deep in spots, leaving you glued to the screen.

Because Jessie’s situation is so visceral and real, this film is easily among the most disturbing Netflix movies, but its reliance on character development and plot structure also make “Gerald’s Game” objectively great in its own right.

“The Void” (2017)

Oh man, when it comes to disturbing Netflix movies, this one really takes the cake. “The Void” caught my attention when I discovered it featured actor Aaron Poole, the star of another underrated, albeit less gore filled, cult classic, “The Conspiracy.” Aaron Poole’s performance in “The Void” is every bit as fantastic as in “The Conspiracy.”

“The Void” could easily become “Hellraiser” for a new generation, with its intentionally convoluted plot line, occult driven themes and sensationalist gore. Lovecraftian elements are rife throughout this film and the gore is over the top.

“The Void” is relentless, shocking viewers within minutes of the film by showing a live woman screaming for her life right before she’s covered in gasoline and set on fire. It doesn’t let up from there either. Flesh is ripped from bones and hideous beasts are conjured to everyone’s dismay.

Perhaps the most compelling element of this film is its reliance on the element of surprise. The audience is given as much information as the cast, and when an ominous cult starts surrounding the hospital they’re trapped in, viewers are left as clueless about their intentions as the actors.

Even the ending is left somewhat muddy, as the actors are transported into what seems like an alternate dimension. We still know nothing about where they are or what the cult conjured. That is kind of the whole point of the film. “The Void” is blood-soaked and sickening from beginning to end and I loved every minute of it.

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