6. The Loved Ones (2009)
“Princess” kidnaps her high school crush after he rejects her invite to the prom and, with the help of her psychotically protective creep dad, has the night of her dreams with him by force.
The Loved Ones takes liberal influence from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre but becomes entirely its own film as things progress to the unpredictable madness of the film’s second half, all built around the antics of one of the most depraved father-daughter dynamics ever committed to film.
Few things are more disturbing than Princess and Daddy grinning and shouting “We can’t hear you!” to Brent’s vocalisation against the torture he receives at their hands – few things other than the cognitive dissonance of the film’s sugar-sweet theme song “Pretty Enough” or the icky implications of Princess and Daddy’s real relationship with one another.
7. Snowtown / The Snowtown Murders (2011)
A teenager is taken under the wing of a sinister local on a self-styled moral crusade and is forced to bear witness to, and take part in, acts of torture and murder.
People are scarier than monsters could ever be, and knowing that a real person did this to ten others is a sickening thought.
This creeping, crawling true-crime drama is the most upsetting, frightening film on this list. It’s not what you actually see but what you know is happening out of view that worms its way under your skin.
There’s a shot in this Justin Kurzel film that is focused on protagonist Jamie’s agonised face in closeup as he is forced to watch something horrific off camera that will haunt you more than anything you see ever could – the human imagination is a powerful tool.
The oppressive mood of Snowtown is relentless and once the credits finally roll you’ll be gasping for air.
8. The Babadook (2014)
A single mum and her autistic son are haunted by Mister Babadook, a nightmarish entity which has managed to escape from a disturbing children’s storybook.
With her feature debut based on an earlier short, Jennifer Kent released one of the most hypnotic, frightening and fun supernatural horror films of the 21st century so far, and easily one of its most memorable monsters.
Essie Davis’ emotionally ravaged performance belongs in the horror hall of fame, and Kent’s tight set piece construction and creation of a potently eerie atmosphere marks her out as one of the best in the game.
Mister Babadook is such a memorably designed movie monster – a wrong-headed children’s storybook character brought to life to terrify parent and child alike – that you’re hoping for another appearance or three from him further down the line. Quite why he has been adopted as a Pride icon is still a little bewildering, but it’s a fun extra life for him to have.
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