Tossin’ It Out There: What do YOU think of “Dark” Movies?

This week’s MTESS, “Se7en”, drew a great response… but a number of comments touched on how dark a movie it was, and how either they didn’t like the film themselves because of that, or that they’d have trouble recommending the film to others.

Many movies choose to go to the dark side, to varying degrees. Some people love that. Others get put off. It often results in a challenging film… and perhaps, in certain circumstances, hampers the film’s ability to reach a wide audience.

What do you think? When a movie is bleak, like say, “The Road”, or walks on the dark side of humanity,  maybe say, like … “Natural Born Killers”, is it a turn off for you? Do you check out? Maybe you’re drawn to that sort of subject matter…

Whatever it is, let us know! How do you feel about “Dark” Movies?

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87 thoughts on “Tossin’ It Out There: What do YOU think of “Dark” Movies?

  1. For the most part, I am into ‘dark’ movies. As a long-time fan of the horror genre, that’s a given. I’m not a what would be considered a ‘gore-hound’, though. At this point in my life I have no problem drawing a line in the sand on things that would be considered dark in the extreme. For instance, there’s no way in Hell I’m screening ‘A Serbian Film’, ‘Irreversible’, ‘Martyrs’, ‘Inside’, and the like just to say I’ve seen (let alone ‘enjoyed’) them. I have friends who have. That’s fine by me. I can only speak and do for myself.

    That line I speak of is perhaps gossamer thin — ‘Se7en’ I can watch/enjoy and something like ‘Dredd’ can have my heart racing and put a smile on my lips nonetheless. Still, I know full well that doesn’t go for everyone. Again, I’m okay with that. It’s not everyone cup of tea (says the guy who saw ‘Killer Joe’ this summer ;-)). Great subject, Dan. Thanks.

    • No problem man, thank you Le0p!

      I like how you make the “Gore Hound” distinction. I’m not a gore hound either. Not at all. In fact, I’m thankful to Paranormal activity for stemming that tide. I think that the popularity of that movie wound up changing the mainstream horror movie trend back away from gore… I could be off base, but that’s my suspicion.

      Anyways, I feel as you do here, nice reply sir!

  2. If we’re talking about movies with pessimistic and brutal endings, I can’t say I’m much into them. I do appreciate that the director doesn’t pull any punches. However, I’m the sort of person that’s easily affected, and a pessimistic ending will usually ruin the rest of my week. That’s just who I am, I guess; it’s very, very easy to put me in crippling depression. I suppose I already know from real life that things in the world end up badly.

    So while the happy, uplifting endings can be cheesy, I suppose I prefer those because it does restore my faith — even on a superficial level — that things can turn out OK in the end.

    • All other things being equal, I think an uplifting movie is preferable. Hope triumphs. People want to have hope…

      That said, I’m more easily able to contain the emotional impact of a movie, I suppose, so I don’t sweat the dark stuff…

      That’s why this is a valid question though Santo, a lot of people don’t care for this kind of movie…

  3. I like dark movies. Not all the time, but when the dark ending feels natural to the story. On the flip side, I hate when a movie ends with a tacked-on happy ending. Would we care and talk about “Chinatown”, “Rosemary’s Baby”, and “Vertigo” if they didn’t have a dark ending?

  4. “Noir” made flix what they are today. Ultrarealistic, intense and suspenseful. In the 30’s Hollywood went looking for directors to give films that European feel. Germany obliged. Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang et all turned Hollywood “Noir”. For some reason Hollywood still resists, they want the feel good ending. You said the script for “Se7en” was altered to exclude the “box”. Thank God Fincher got the original. I love dark films. Hollywood keeps redoing films like “The Vanishing” and “Insomnia” to tone down the thought provoking, gut wrenching impact. I see more and more films as “NR”, not rated. The producers don’t want to alter their work to suit Hollywood’s ideals!

    • Yeah, Noir certainly was the great granddaddy. Hard to have envisioned where it would lead, you know?

      I doubt when the made the “Maltese Falcon” anyone ever would have anticipated one day movies would be delivering severed heads. Lol

  5. I frequently watch “dark” movies, and many of the movies in my list of favorites would probably fall into that category. That said I think it’s more important that a movie is good, at least in the sense of well made. But it’s been my experience that not everyone can appreciate that stance, unless there is some redeeming quality in the storyline then it’s no good. I guess that neither is right or wrong, just depends on ones personal preferences.

    • Totally true, and a lot of times in these threads, that’s where the discussion lies is just pure personal preference.

      You make a solid point about the quality of the movie. A really solid point. I’d venture to say that darker films have their work cut out for them! They really have to be something in order to surmount the tone they set!

      That said, if a movie is solid, I’m there too, regardless! :D

  6. I don’t mind dark movies but some endings are just too dark or too bleak. I want there to be some sense of hope at the end of something very dark. Even if it is just a thread of light in the darkness we can cling to. I love dark fiction too. But a few of my favorite writers got a tad two dark with the books that came out about a year or so ago, I’m waiting for the next books to offer that light at the end of tunnel.

    But when it comes right down to it, I prefer dark comedies. Keeping Mum, Wild Target, Assassin in Love (also called The Baker), Hotel Splendide to name a few. I know I’ve seen some others, I just can’t think of all the titles.

    • I actually went a big 0-fer on those movies you mentioned. Haven’t seen any of them :(

      I hear what you’re saying about the “Ray of hope”… A movie has to be super great (for me) to succeed without one.

      If its sufficiently high quality though, I can push through.

      Kind of figured you’d have a response along these lines from the Se7en comments the other day ;)

      • Haha! Yeah, usually do have a response. I’m somewhat opinionated when it comes to films. I can usually find some value in films I don’t like at all. There area a few that I can’t. The Room and Butterfly Effect are two I can’t. I was trapped and forced to watch The Room. I need to find some appropriate revenge.

  7. I’m usually love dark films but, there are exceptions. Kevin Smith’s “Vulgar”, for example. I didn’t think it was possible to be too dark but, I wish I could erase that one front my memory.

  8. Hi, Fogs and company:

    I often prefer films that shy away from a forced happy ending/hugs all around endings for films.

    ‘Night Moves’ with Gene Hackman is a prime example. As are:
    ‘Who’ll Stop the Rain’ with Nick Nolte, Tuesday Weld and Michael Moriarty.
    ‘Report to the Commissioner': Again with Michael Moriarty and Yaphett Kotto.
    ‘Across 110th Street': Yaphett Kotto, Anthony Quinn and Harlem.

  9. I enjoy watching dark movies (aka film noir). I like that there is always something to think about. A lot of times, it allows us to ponder life and decisions, or the how twisted the world is, etc. Of course, I would never watch it in abundance because thats just a shortcut to getting depressed, but it is refreshing sometimes and gives a new perspective.

    I actually have lots of faves that are dark movies like Pan’s Labyrinth, Memento, Se7en..just to name a few.

  10. There’s never been a “dark” movie I met that I didn’t like. Or… at least, if I disliked it, it wasn’t because it was dark. Dark movies are the bee’s knees.

    Guess what my favorite part of Bambi was?

    (just kidding)

  11. I am not someone who likes dark movies generally. However when the story, characters, and direction coalesce; I can enjoy the film. Stories like Seven and Silence of the Lambs[SOTL] are further amplified or scary because their antagonists represent possible threats in the real world, criminals that actual professionals cops and crime solvers have to prevent or decode. Fantasy threats like werewolves and vampires are sometimes easier for me to digest in stories because they are fiction [at least I hope so]. A dark movie must also have a strong story and not just be like first film in a series “only darker.” SOTL was a strong novel from THarris after novel Red Dragon.

    “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.” – Hannibal Lectory(Hopkins), Silence of the Lambs

    • Nice. Worked a nice dark one in for your trademark quote…

      You bring up a good point here, something no one has touched on yet, and that’s the “only darker”. I HATE that trend in today’s films, let’s remake X only darker, or here’s this Superhero, only darker.

      NOT a fan. It’s a cheap trick, and one that doesn’t often actually produce better results. :/

  12. Well…I’m kidding, I didn’t have to think about it! The darker the better! When I watch a really dark movie, it makes me appreciate the “light” I guess that’s in the real world. But when I watch a fake sunshiney happy movie, I feel depressed afterwards because I’m not walking around in a cloud of photoshop. So I prefer my movies very very dark. But not gratuitously gory…I’m sure you understand the difference:)

    • :D I do.

      This comment made me chuckle. You bringing up getting depressed by sunshiney fake happy movies (perfectly valid, btw, I hear you… But to me I get depressed more that we live in a world where audiences buy into that, so Hollywood serves it up) made me think of those Avatards who got all depressed that Earth wasn’t as pretty as Pandora. Lol.

      I wanted to introduce them to Dr Dennis Leary. “Shut the &#%$ up! Next!” :D

      • I know, it’s so annoying!! All people want is Keven James and Vince Vaughn (“The Dilemma,” I’m talking at you!!) and fake unimportant laughs…and somehow those guys always have obscenely hot wives in their romantic comedies, and that just infuriates me to no end…ugly guys do not get hot girls. Trust me.

        Oh and it actually rains in the real world. And there’s dust…and acne…and really incredibly ugly curtains…and people aren’t that lovely shade of indigo…and much bigger problems than which mega sexy dude you’re going to keep banging (this one’s for you, “This Means War”!)…

        …but I could go on forever, so I’ll stop wasting comment space and make room for more of your awesome snarkiness… :D

  13. I think i’ve found my tastes currently tilt more towards the darker films(I wrote a long defense of Irreversible on my blog). In fact, for the FD a couple of my followers commented on how dark my pitch was ;)

    With that said, i don’t think dark always equals good, and in the wrong hands a sad ending can end up feeling pointless rather than thought provoking.Plus there are a few films that i haven’t worked up the courage to watch,like A Serbian Film. My dad was able to watch it tho(i think he worked on a few films in his younger years or something similar to that so it is very hard for a film to really freak him out)

    • I dont know if I have much interest in checking out that movie… from what Ive heard about it, there’s nothing that interests me there. Sounds like just… dark for darkness’ sake.

      You’re right, being dark doesn’t automatically equate to being good. :(

      • Personally, i think with irreversible gasper was trying to show that a man on a quest for revenge would probably be a unbalanced, repulsive person to be around. I don’t feel it was dark just for darkness sake. I think it was trying to a realistic, de-glamourized take on the revenge genre

        As for his other film ‘Enter the Void’, i have no love for that one. That would call darkness for darkness sake. Actually bronson is another film that felt like it was dark for darkness sake. There was no discernible point to anything in that one,for me anyways

  14. Interesting post. My answer is simple: I cannot get enough of them. There is, of course, a difference between a film, which is really deeply ‘darkly’ ‘disturbing’, like. maybe, ‘Sleepers’ or ‘Irreversible’, and a film, which is simply ‘dark’, like, maybe, ‘Black Swan’.or ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. I prefer the latter films, and, I can say that there are on the whole much better executed than light comedies or teenage romances.

      • This is one of those “My opinion is closely related to the book” conversations which you tend to veer away from, but I’ll put it out there anyway: I hated the book, quite possibly the darkest, most depressing, unremittingly disheartening book I’ve ever read. so much so that the movie could have been the most uplifting, triumphant life-affirming film ever, and it still would have depressed me just by having the same title.

  15. I like dark but you cant do it for its own sake! You need to compel me to take the time to see your dark film! I think thats why I did a post called Ten of the Greatest Movies You Only Want to Watch Once. It was all about dark and included stuff like Precious. Requiem for a Dream, Nobody Knows and Old Boy.

    All masterpieces, yet not the sort of films you watch over and over. At least for me anyway. … It requires a certain mood that doesnt come around all that often.

    • Couple of those I havent seen. I actually skipped “Precious” because I heard what it was about and I was like, Jesus… who would want to watch that? LOL

      So at least one of those is a “Great Movies You Dont Even Want to Watch Once” LOL :D

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