12 Superb Films Viewers Confess They Could Only Watch Once

“It’s a great movie, but I could never watch it again” is often said about movies that impact people who aren’t willing to return to the emotional or psychological place a movie imposes. It’s a compliment that warns of the film’s intensity.

Of course, there are the usual recommendations for Requiem for a Dream and Dear Zachary. But there are also some more exciting picks, either because they are deeper cuts or because of their effects on specific viewers. So here are some films to add (or not add) to your list.

1. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Brokeback Mountain Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal
Image Credit: Focus Features.

One person says that their first viewing of Brokeback Mountain was incredibly meaningful and incredibly painful. They first saw the movie when they were a young person in the closet, and the story of two men in love who struggle with their sexuality and the society around them is something that’s just too difficult to return to. 

2. Kids (1995)

Kids, Chloë Sevigny
Image Credit: Shining Excalibur Films.

Multiple movie fans agree that Kids is a movie they won’t return to after one watch. The film follows a group of teenagers as they go from place to place in New York, discussing and engaging in drugs, sex, and some violence. What pushes Kids beyond most rebellious and misbehaving teen movies, though, is the inclusion of a storyline about AIDS and its spread among young people. 

3. Come and See (1985)

Come and See, Aleksey Kravchenko
Image Credit: Janus Films.

One of the most devastating war films ever made, Come and See follows a young Belarussian teenager as he struggles to survive the Nazi occupation of Belarus. It’s a powerful and valuable film that’s considered one of the greatest war movies ever made, which is precisely why it’s so difficult to sit through more than once. 

4. Antichrist (2009)

Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist (2009)
Image Credit: IFC Films.

Lars von Trier has always been a provocateur. But his 2009 film Antichrist which features not one but two scenes of genital mutilation, is one of the most controversial films of his career. That said, the movie (a personal favorite of mine) is much more than those scenes of violence and builds to them by expertly developing tension between a husband and wife who have lost their infant child. 

5. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Sheryl Lee
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Several Twin Peaks fans say that while the prequel film is one of David Lynch’s best, it’s also a tough watch as we see the last days in the life of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), including multiple scenes of assault. As one Twin Peaks lover says, “It was great, but I can’t do that again.” 

6. The Road (2009)

Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Road (2009)
Image Credit: Dimension.

Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, The Road centers on a man and his young son who make their way through a post-apocalyptic wasteland trying to survive. As one user says, the film “was such a perfect well-done movie in every way. But it was so hopeless and so depressing, I could never watch it again.”

7. The Wrestler (2008)

The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke
Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Requiem for a Dream isn’t the only film by writer/director Darren Aronofsky that people admire but feel no desire to rewatch. Along with mother! and Black Swan, which some people mention; many agree that The Wrestler is too hard to watch twice because it’s so “heartbreaking.”

The movie tells the story of an aging wrestler who develops a romance with a stripper and seeks to reconnect with his daughter as he continues to brutalize his body for his work. 

8. The Girl Next Door (2007)

The Girl Next Door, Blythe Auffarth, Blanche Baker
Image Credit: Starz Home Entertainment.

The Girl Next Door is based on the novel of the same name by Jack Ketchum, inspired by the abuse and murder of Sylvia Likens. The movie tells the story of teenage girl Meg (Blythe Auffarth), who goes to live with her aunt after the death of her parents. But the aunt is a virulent misogynist who abuses her niece in increasingly violent ways before simply chaining Meg up in the basement and inviting her sons and other neighborhood children to come over and beat Meg. It’s a brutally effective exploration of an actual crime, but not one that inspires rewatches.

9. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Based on the novel of the same name by Anthony Burgess, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange follows teenage ruffian Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), who is captured and becomes a test subject for an experimental new rehabilitation method. The movie opens with a scene of violence and doesn’t get much easier from there, so it’s easy to understand why several people say they will never go back, even if the film does a great job of exploring its themes of free will and oppression. 

10. Plague Dogs (1982)

Plague Dogs, John Hurt, Christopher Benjamin
Image Credit: Embassy Pictures.

Plague Dogs is one of the few animated movies to end up in this category because it’s so emotionally affecting that viewers, even those who loved it, want to steer clear. Based on the novel of the same name by Richard Adams, the film follows two dogs who escape a research laboratory that experimented on them. It’s an adventure story that is all too real in its depiction of the cruelty humans inflict on animals. 

11. Threads (1984)

Image Credit: BBC.

Threads is a made-for-TV movie that explores what life in small-town Britain might be like after a nuclear bomb attack. While the film is celebrated as one of the best that the BBC has ever produced, it’s also, by far, the most challenging and disturbing. 

12. Irreversible (2002)

Irreversible, Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel
Image Credit: Mars Distribution.

Irreversible is infamous for an eleven-minute-long assault scene at its center. But several scenes throughout, including an incredibly graphic murder and frequent use of homophobic slurs, make the non-linear revenge film something many movie fans say they’ll never watch again. 

Source: Reddit.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Kyle Logan is a film and television critic and general pop culture writer who has written for Alternative Press, Cultured Vultures, Film Stories, Looper, and more. Kyle is particularly interested in horror and animation, as well as genre films written and directed by queer people and women. Along with writing, Kyle organizes a Queer Film Challenge on Letterboxd.