The darkest movies of the past decade nobody is talking about

As the 2010s are wrapping up, film critics are unleashing their lists upon the world. Everywhere you look, there's an article about the best movies of the decade or the most important movies of the decade. But this is not that list. Instead, we're focusing on the movies from the 2010s that people want to forget they've seen ... or will never admit they watched in the first place. These movies are dark, they're messed up, and they're all incredibly well-made.

But sadly, gruesome movies often fly under the radar, and that's where a lot of these films stayed. And it's no wonder when you consider the topics they address, such as cults, violence, cruelty, murder, and depravity that seems unfilmable at times. In other words, these movies definitely aren't light viewing. But they're great if you want something that will shake you out of your movie routine and revitalize your faith in creative filmmaking. From psychologically disturbing dramas to blood-drenched horror flicks, these are the darkest movies of the past decade that nobody is talking about.

The Master will make you doubt every mentor you've ever had

Right off the bat, we're giving props to Philip Seymour Hoffman for creating a genuinely creepy L. Ron Hubbard-inspired character, despite having an amazing mustache. Make no mistake, The Master isn't about Scientology. Except that it's totally about Scientology. The movie was released three years before Going Clear came out in 2015, and it definitely plays as a fictionalized version of Scientology's founding. It also stars the phenomenal Joaquin Phoenix, who may have brought his real-life experience growing up in the Children of God cult to the role of Freddie.

Freddie is a young soldier who's suffering trauma after World War II, and he's spiraling out of control. We're almost thankful when he accidentally comes across a group known as the Cause by sneaking onto their boat. He's taken under the wing of a writer (Hoffman) who leads the group through intimidation and sheer charismatic will, but despite warnings that this guy is making everything up, Freddie sticks with the group and comes to depend on it for his emotional fulfillment. He struggles with doubt, but he never seems fully able to leave the group. What makes the film so disturbing is Phoenix's brutal performance as a raging, confused alcoholic who's trapped in a web of lies and manipulation, and The Master serves as a powerful reminder of how much damage cults can do.

You'll be a lot nicer to the office nerd after The Accountant

With films like Don't Breathe, Hush, and The Conjuring 2, 2016 was a great year for creepy movies, and The Accountant was one of the creepiest of the bunch. Sure, it's an action movie, but it's still pretty upsetting. It's also one of the few movies of the decade with an autistic protagonist, who also happens to be a complete badass. But the implications of his choices and moral code are troubling at best.

Ben Affleck plays Christian, the aforementioned autistic man who harnesses his condition to become a fantastic accountant. However, he works to cover up criminals' financial crimes in return for enormous sums of money. He works on the recommendation of a contact known as "the Voice," a mysterious woman who keeps him informed of everyone he potentially needs to take out. Oh yeah, did we forget to mention this dude is also an expert assassin? Because he puts Jason Bourne to shame. So naturally, the government is interested in finding him, but the guy has some criminal connections that need to be wrapped up and quick. There's not much more we can say without spoiling the film, other than mentioning Christian is a fantastic and eerie character who's definitely a superhero type. Plus, Affleck plays him better than he did Batman (though that isn't saying much).

November is the past decade's most beautifully disturbing movie

Released in 2017, November is by far the most beautifully shot film on this list. This Estonian film quickly became a favorite on the festival circuit, and while it may come across as weird and surrealist, it's just magic. Sit back and enjoy it. In fact, you might like it even if you're not looking for something scary, as the Los Angeles Times described it as "funny, with a sly salaciousness all its own."

In true fairy tale style, the story begins with a young woman named Liina longing for the love of a boy named Hans. Unfortunately, he doesn't feel the same way. So Liina steals away to the forest to seek out a magical solution to her problem. In a world where mythical beings constructed out of sticks (they're puppets but move like aliens) roam the fields, this isn't the craziest solution. After all, Death itself walks around, the villagers have to trick the plague from coming, and more than one person has sold their soul to Satan for extra help on their farms. But Hans may be just as willing to use magic to earn the affections of his crush, a wealthy aristocratic woman he considers to be perfect. So if you're looking to conjure a dark and magical movie, then November is the perfect film for any month of the year.

Abattoir brings a new definition to 'house hunting'

We'll be honest right up front. Abattoir, released in 2016, only has a 35 percent approval score on Rotten Tomatoes. However, it's been praised by some in the horror community for its wholly unique premise. And seriously, the plot alone makes the film worth a watch. Abattoir finds a reporter dragged into a criminal case after her entire family is brutally murdered. Then the house they were killed in sells in less than a week, which triggers her interest. Eventually, she finds an insanely creepy preacher who spends his time collecting tragic places. In fact, he's patching together a giant haunted house constructed of only places where deaths have taken place ... and there's no telling what evil beings are being assembled behind its walls.

It's a truly unique story, and The Hollywood Reporter's review cited how much the movie delights in making fun of older horror films, complete with a bit of old-school, 1930s screwball comedy. All in all, Abattoir is an inventive horror flick that's definitely worth a watch, especially if you're a fan of Repo! The Genetic Opera, as the same guy directed both films.

Teen angst gets a lot darker in Excision

With most horror films, there's usually a clear villain and a clear victim. Excision, however, messes with the viewers until it's no longer clear who the audience should root for ... or who's to blame for the slaughter. 

AnnaLynne McCord — known for shows like Nip/Tuck and 90210 — went way against type to play Pauline, a misfit high schooler who dreams of being a surgeon. But Pauline's more than a little obsessed with body parts and blood, and speaking of the red, gooey stuff, there is a lot of it. We're talking buckets of blood and graphic dreams that leave Pauline hot and bothered. And the blood in the "real life" scenes is so realistic that even horror fans with an iron stomach might gag. 

Needless to say, Pauline's life is a little bit weird. The people at school think she's insane. Her mother knows she needs help, but instead of getting her psychiatric care, she turns to religion and classes designed to make Pauline a proper lady. Even worse, her sister suffers from cystic fibrosis, and there's nothing Pauline can do to help her. Right? Well, as she grows more desperate and even more isolated, Pauline tries to find a way to improve her life, even if it makes going after people with a scalpel.

You'll never talk to your neighbors after Shrew's Nest

Some agoraphobes are nice people with a problem. Others are unhinged lunatics keeping their younger sister captive and maybe torturing their neighbors. Well, that's the case in Shrew's Nest, anyway. This upsetting film debuted in 2014, and it largely flew under the radar. It's a period piece set in Spain in the 1950s, so it's great for horror fans looking for a lot of blood being thrown against super prim settings.

Macarena Gomez stars as Montse, an insane woman in her late 20s taking care of her younger sister after their father never returned from World War II. Montse is deeply religious, envies her younger sister's beauty, and takes morphine to keep herself from fully devolving. But everything changes when a handsome neighbor injures himself and begs them for help. Montse tends to him, and slowly but surely, she starts to grow possessive. His recovery, and leaving the two of them, may be what pushes them over the edge, and naturally, Montse doesn't ever want him to leave. As The Hollywood Reporter puts it, the film is a nice combo of Misery and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, with a bit of "old-style guignol" mixed in. In other words, you can safely expect a bit of blood.

The Handmaiden is one of the darkest films of the past decade

The world seemed to love The Handmaiden for a hot second. It received great reviews and won big at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and the British Academy Film Awards. Its association with Amazon Studios brought it even more notoriety. But then it faded away from view, and people forgot all about the gloriously gruesome poisoning scenes this movie had to offer. You've never seen cigarettes kill someone the way that they do in this movie.

The Handmaiden is a period piece set in 1930s Korea, and the whole movie is gorgeous, probably because it's from the same guy who made Oldboy (a movie that went too far when it came to being disturbing). The handmaiden at the heart of it is Sook-hee (played by Kim Tae-ri in her first role), a poor woman hired to help sway a wealthy countess to marry a con man. But when she learns about the countess' life, she doubts her plan and contemplates switching sides.

There's a legitimately interesting story in the movie of two women falling in love and working to evade their oppressors. But they're surrounded by sadistic people after their money and bodies. If they're going to have any say in their futures, they'll have to play dirty, and yeah, thing get very dirty indeed.

You'll dread the hospital after Nurse 3D

Undoubtedly the pulpiest movie on this list, Nurse 3D (sometimes just listed as Nurse) is also likely the least famous. It glided under the radar in 2014, going from theater to video in less than three months. It was panned pretty universally, and star Paz de la Huerta sued the filmmakers, saying that the movie ruined her career. That's great stuff.

De la Huerta plays Abby, a nurse who spends her spare time murdering men who are unfaithful. She's sadistic in both her killings and in her relationship with her mentee, Danni (Katrina Bowden). She wants Danni to depend on her and love her, and she grows infuriated when she starts to have a life of her own. Drugging Danni for scandalous pictures is just the beginning of keeping the young woman under thumb. Plus, her murders get more elaborate and gruesome as the movie goes along, giving "man hater" a new meaning. Granted, the movie isn't exactly Citizen Kane, but if you're looking for a cheery gorefest, then it's definitely the movie for you. 

Evolution will make you look at the beach very differently

There's creepy, and then there's kids-in-danger creepy. If this is a particular trigger for you, skip this movie.

Evolution, like a lot of great European horror, progresses at a slow but lifelike pace. It's only 81 minutes, but there's enough in this French film to keep everyone interested. The star is Nicolas (played by Max Brebant), a ten-year-old boy living on an island with his mother. The whole island is populated by only adult women and young boys, the latter of whom receive mysterious medical treatments. It's supposedly because their bodies are "changing," which doesn't sound ominous at all.

Naturally, Nicolas has questions, even more so when he finds a red starfish in the water attached to a dead boy. Why is he there? Why were the mothers writhing around on the sand late at night? Are they even really their mothers? The suckers on his mother's back don't put his mind at ease as Nicolas tries to figure out what's happening to him and his friends. Part fairy tale, part David Cronenberg movie, Evolution is a film that's hard to forget and one that's equally hard to watch.

We Are What We Are paints mystery meat in a new light

What would a list of dark films be without at least one story about cannibalism? And when it comes to eating human flesh, movies don't get much gnarlier than We Are What We Are. Released in 2013, this American horror film is a remake of a Mexican movie of the same name. Both films focus on a family of cannibals suffering the recent loss of a family member. In the American version, it's two little girls within the Parker family attempting to take on the religious duties that were previously performed by their mother. And by religious, we mean butchering people for slaughter.

Eating people has been a tradition in the Parker family,ever since the pioneer times, when food was scarce and it was do or die. But the world is opening up, and the Parker girls have reasons to doubt their ancient traditions. Hormones make things more complicated, of course. But an autopsy report outs their mother as a victim of a cannibalism-related disease, and all those bones showing up in town are drawing even more scrutiny. The girls have to decide what side they're on and if their father's anger is worth evoking. It's a family drama by way of Hannibal Lecter, and it will definitely leave you feeling uncomfortable the next time you sit down for dinner.

The Eyes of My Mother shows evil sometimes is black and white

Shot in English and Portuguese, The Eyes of My Mother is a perverse answer to the question, "What makes someone a movie serial killer?" While the movie isn't exactly mainstream fare, it did pretty well with critics, garnering a 78 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the horror community has commended it for portraying a believable female killer in the vein of May and The Devil's Rejects. Plus, the slow pace and black-and-white shooting style eases people in gradually, making it the demented plot all the more effective.

The movie centers around Francisca, an unfortunate child who witnesses her mother being murdered and her father taking the murderer captive. She "learns" about the pleasure of killing from the murderer, whom her family keeps imprisoned for years. Francisca becomes a troubled adult as her father dies, leaving her with the captive murderer ... and eventually no one. Her stunted way of seeing the world leads to more murder, child endangerment, and some weird interactions with a skeleton. When it comes to incredibly dark movies, they don't get much more upsetting than this one.

You'll want anesthesia to watch American Mary

It's important to know that American Mary was written and directed by the Soska sisters, the horror pros behind gems like Rabid, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, and the game show Hellevator. This movie is their lowest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes, tied with their more famous project See No Evil 2 at 60 percent. In other words, they're no strangers to weird movies, and they aren't necessarily concerned with doing works that are for everyone. Or their stomachs.

American Mary earned a cult following in 2013 for its portrayal of the very real body modification subculture, albeit from a dramatized point of view. The movie follows Mary, a dedicated medical student who finds herself doing under-the-table body modification surgeries for extra money. At first she's repulsed by people who take extreme steps to resemble Betty Boop, Barbie, or even dragons. But she changes her tune after experiencing sexual violence at the hands of "establishment" doctors. And as you might expect, her newfound skills come in handy when exacting revenge on her enemies. Let's just say people don't die right away.

Movies don't get much darker than I Spit On Your Grave

Released in 2010, I Spit On Your Grave is a remake of the 1978 film of the same name. It's part of the "rape-revenge" subgenre of horror, usually entailing a woman undergoing sexual violence and then taking revenge on her oppressors. Some people call this type of film exploitative, while others find it cathartic or empowering. Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie 33 percent from the critics, though audiences rated it slightly higher at 49 percent. Your personal tastes may vary.

The movie starts out fairly calm, with a woman going out to the middle of nowhere to finish writing a book. She has a mostly nice solo vacation, punctuated by some weird encounters with local men. But things take an incredibly dark turn when the men commit terrible sexual assault against her. She then decides to take revenge after escaping with her life. The rest of the film is five bad men dying in horrible, horrible ways. There are no heroes in this movie, and things get ridiculously brutal. While it might not be for everyone, there's no denying it's one of the darkest films of the last decade.