Went to see Insidious over the weekend. A bit of a scary one I thought! Usual shock tactics where sound was concerned but it did the job of making me crap my pants a few times pretty well!

There was a scene in the film where a house intruder alarm went off. Boy was it loud! Never really experienced such a continued ear piercing assault like that before. It did the job of making me feel uncomfortable and placing myself a bit more sympathetically with the characters, and it got me wondering if there wear any other films where sound has deliberately been used to make the viewer feel physically uncomfortable? I literally had to put my fingers in my ears at one point! Not that I'm complaining though, it was a fun film to sit through :)

Cheers, Andy

  • I loved Insidious. Just a great, spooky flick. May 10, 2011 at 13:43
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    "...it got me wondering if there wear any other films where sound has deliberately been used to make the viewer feel physically uncomfortable?" For that, I'd have to vote for "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never". May 10, 2011 at 19:24
  • lol now that's one film I definitely know I wouldnt have the stomach to sit through!
    – Andy Lewis
    May 11, 2011 at 12:21
  • @NoiseJokey lol...agreed May 11, 2011 at 15:11
  • @NoiseJockey Yes. Amen to that.
    – Utopia
    May 11, 2011 at 18:44

18 Answers 18


I can think of the opening scene from Gaspar Noe's "Irreversible"... I'm sooo never watching that movie again! (not that i didn't like it, just way to much) And Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Amores Perros" gets really intense/uncomfortable sound wise to on the dog fight scenes

  • 1
    Someone gifted my wife a copy of Irreversible a few years ago. We still haven't watched it because everyone who mentions it has the exact same sentiment. We can't bring ourselves to even put it in the DVD player. May 10, 2011 at 13:45
  • Definitely one of the most challenging films to sit through, at least outside of the really dark underground stuff like 'Nekromantik'. Sound really added to the unease. @Steve, that is one weird movie to be gifted... ;-) May 10, 2011 at 19:25
  • 1
    @Steve what kind of person gives Irreversible as a gift??
    – VCProd
    May 10, 2011 at 20:32

Don't know if it was INTENTIONAL, but in "Blade Runner", the sound offscreen as Roy is crushing Tyrell's skull still makes me wince... probably worse because you DON'T see it! :)


There are certain parts of "Requiem for a Dream" that just really make my skin crawl. Not simply due to the sound, which was quite effective, but also the content matter. There are also parts of "Black Swan" that get pretty close as well.

Other mentions off the top of my head: - Tod Brownings "Freaks" (forever burned into my psyche since I saw it at the early age of 11)

  • Gaspar Noe's "Enter The Void" can be a bit unsettling at times.

  • Shinya Tsukamoto's "Tetsuo - The Iron Man" has some pretty heavy music that I would imagine would be pretty intimidating and definitely have a psychological impact on the listener if you're not into traditional Industrial music and Music Concrete.

  • "Winters Bone" was a bit disturbing to me at times, not because of the sound in the film... but because it's a pretty bleak portrait of some really desolate sections of America and it's really sad to see such a reality.

  • Larry Clarks "Kids" has a similar effect as Winters Bone, not because of the sound, but because of content matter.

  • Tobe Hooper's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (the original). It's not the sound in this one either. Oddly enough it's the color scheme in this one that really freaks me out. Maybe it was the type of color processing or something, but the natural lighting combined with the colors just messes me up.

  • The Shining - Not sure why, but the carpet in the hotel freaks me out. I'm fine with the rest of the movie, but the carpet can almost give me nightmares.

That's all that comes to mind at the moment. If more come up I'll add them.

  • Requiem for a dream is amazing.... should see it again soon... May 11, 2011 at 11:03
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    Enter the Void is a sonic assault! Totally messes with your senses. The opening title/credits sequence will let you know what your in for. Amazing! May 12, 2011 at 2:08
  • Yeah those opening credits are quite the head f**k! lol I was pretty impressed with the sound ETV. I loved the way all the POV stuff was done too. A must watch I'd say..
    – Andy Lewis
    May 12, 2011 at 12:13

Irreversible is definitely a brilliant suggestoin. Any done by Gasper Noe would be. I also would highly recommend any David Lynch films, but most noteworthy would be Eraserhead.


  • @TheSoundMonster, completely agree with your David Lynch recommendation. Mulholland Drive drove me to the brink with those tiny elderly people, the crazy monster living behind the dumpster, and the man letting the espresso dribble out of his mouth. Jun 18, 2012 at 6:00

IRREVERSIBLE gets my vote, what an amazing stunning film. 127 HOURS is great too... also what always gets me is the sound of the teeth on the curb in American History X


127 hours. the scene where he chops off his hand. That was pretty disturbing.

  • When I saw this at a screening, two people fainted during that part and paramedics entered the theater.
    – Soundie
    Jun 17, 2012 at 15:36
  • Ill attest to this one! Very well done sound design for that part. Cant even close your eyes to get away from the pain! Jun 17, 2012 at 16:41

No one mentioned the train crash from Super 8? I almost had to leave the theater because of the intensity. By far the most uncomfortable I've ever been while watching a movie.


Pan's Labyrinth was a spectacular creepfest. As was The Orphanage.

  • Pans Labyrinth is the one movie that I have watched which I couldn't watch the first time. Creepy.
    – Chris
    May 11, 2011 at 4:54
  • Oh yeah, I love that film! The sound during the bottle/face smashing scene was pretty gruesome as I recall too :/
    – Andy Lewis
    May 11, 2011 at 12:22

From asian cinema

Audition and Gozu by Takeshi Miike puts me on the edge everytime I watch them. The gore is great, but his SFX designer is pretty damn awesome too.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse (Kairo) is quite a good one too.

  • I'd recommend Gozu as well, but Audition I found truly disappointing. May 11, 2011 at 0:27

The Ring - For whatever reason, the sound in that movie disturbed me when I saw it in theaters when I was 15. This is why I am afraid of static/white-noise now.

The Cell - awesome abstract sound design. Worth the watch in my opinion!!

  • loved The Cell.
    – Rene
    Jun 18, 2012 at 1:58

The Birds by Hitchcock. The mix of synths with real birds gives me the creeps.


127 Hours, Requiem for a Dream, The Shining, Enter The Void


I would offer Nacho Cerda's "Aftermath", Karim Hussain's Subconscious Cruelty, Audition. These films are both visual and sonically really traumatizing. In Aftermath, it is the stillness of the ambiance in harmony with what is being played out on screen that left me feeling unnerved. Happy mind warping.


Cannibal Holocaust. 'nuff said.

  • That film is worth sitting through just for the poignant cheesiness of that last line: "I wonder who the real cannibals are..." May 11, 2011 at 22:04
  • Also, Cannibal Ferrox
    – oinkaudio
    May 12, 2011 at 5:58

The Devil's Rejects from Rob Zombie, I was 12 when I first watched it and I remember I was pretty disturbed after watching the stuff the characters do to those people in the motel.

  • No 12 year old should be watching that movie!!!! What you were THINKING?!?! Jun 18, 2012 at 5:54
  • Haha I know I thought the same thing when I figured out how old I was when I watched it. Back then I was trying really hard to be "bad ass", I was getting into metal music and stuff so the title sounded cool to me and I wanted to watch it.. Jun 18, 2012 at 6:39

We watched the uncensored version of the Human centipede 2 at uni. The sound design is outstanding and extremely powerful but I would never watch this terrible film again.


"Funny Games"!!! This movie still makes me nervous about letting my neighbors borrow eggs.

the original is mind blowing - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119167/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

the remake is an incredible homage to the first - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0808279/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

I'd also have to say "Man Bites Dog"... but perhaps that's because I went in thinking it was real. the 90s were a different time... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103905/


It's not directly a horror flic, but it made me feel very uncomfortable. Being John Malcovitch : All sounds from the body are treated like we hear them in our head, the eating, speaking, drinking. Quite a weird sound when you think about it.

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