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Top 10 Darkest Teen Drama Movies

Script written by George Pacheco These are the darkest teen drama films! We’ve included films like Carrie, Better Off Dead, Bully, The Virgin Suicides, Jawbreaker and more! What’s your fav dark teen film?

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Top 10 Darkest Teen Drama Films

It's, like literally the end of the world. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Darkest Teen Drama Films.

For this list, we'll be ranking the most memorable, successful or noteworthy films dealing with teen angst in a dark and disturbing way. Teenagers don't necessarily need to represent the entire cast of the films in question, but the protagonists and plotlines should reflect a young adult demographic, while at the same time being either dark in tone, or possessing a pitch-black sense of humor. Oh, and since we'll be delving deep into plot points here, a SPOILER ALERT is hereby declared!

#10: "Carrie" (1976)

So, is the classic 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s "Carrie" a horror film or a drama picture? Well, both, actually, and a damn dark one, to boot. For starters, the whole film is shot with this hazy, gauze-filled soft focus that gives it a creepy and dreamlike feeling. On top of that, the film's themes of domestic abuse, bullying, religious fervor and sexual awakening lend it a pathos far more powerful than your average teen movie. Add in a riveting performance from Sissy Spacey as the titular telekinetic prom queen, and you have yourself a recipe for one true dramatic classic.

#9: "Better Off Dead" (1985)

Hands up, who thinks that the subject of suicide is a great way to draw in laughs for your movie? No? Well, don't tell that to the folks behind the 1985 cult hit "Better Off Dead," a film where the main narrative focuses on the repeated suicide attempts of Lane, a boy whose girlfriend dumps him before the holidays. These failed attempts are played for laughs in "Better Off Dead," and it's here where the film's dark humor really hits home. Honestly, though? "Better Off Dead" is still fondly remembered by many who saw it during its initial run, thanks largely to the charismatic performance of its lead, John Cusack.

#8: "Jawbreaker" (1999)

Speaking of "black comedy," the laughs in this late nineties teen drama are as dark as they get, thanks to a script that combines makeovers, kinky sex and murder into one stylishly dressed take on high school social hierarchy. "Jawbreaker" centers around a trio of popular students who play an un-funny prank on their friend Liz, locking her in the trunk of a car and gagging her with the titular confectionary. Unfortunately, Liz chokes on the jawbreaker, and the three are discovered trying to hide her body by the school nerd. They decide to accept her into their clique as a way of keeping her quiet, and things quickly go downhill from there....

#7: "Bully" (2001)

Based on the real life murder of Bobby Kent in 1993, “Bully” pulls no punches when it comes to showing teenagers’ darkest impulses, as well as their worst consequences. The films focuses on a group of teens and young adults as they conspire to murder their violent and abusive friend. “Bully” is filled with sex, drugs, and violence, to the point where critics couldn’t seem to agree whether its portrayal of young people was realistic, or just plain exploitative. You can watch to form your own opinion, but viewer discretion is definitely advised.

#6: “The Virgin Suicides” (1999)

With a name like “The Virgin Suicides”, you just know this one is gonna be dark. Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut about a quintet of sheltered sisters living in 1970s Michigan sets a depressing tone from the start, but by the end deals with some extremely heavy imagery that we still cant shake from our heads. Told through the viewpoint of the boys living next door, the film explores facing tragedy at a young age and showcases a sense of suburban dread which helped it become one of the darkest teen movies of all time.

#5: "Boyz n the Hood" (1991)

Director John Singleton's "Boyz n the Hood" is a very real and unflinching look at the difficult and often tumultuous world of the inner city for young, black youth. The film is as far removed from fantasy as can be, and demonstrates the sort of honest storytelling we so often see nowadays when dealing with teenage characters and their struggles. Cinema was a very different landscape in 1991, however, which makes the effectiveness of "Boyz n the Hood" so remarkable, even twenty-plus years after its release. Singleton's film also benefited from a hugely talented cast, which included Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne, Morris Chestnut and Cuba Gooding, Jr.

#4: "Kids" (1995)

Director Larry Clark was no stranger to controversy when he helmed "Kids," a Harmony Korine-scripted effort which was greeted with a polarized reception by fans and critics upon its release in 1995. Clark's film drops the kid gloves in its depiction of teenage life, never shying away from depicting sex, drug use or the consequences of living a reckless life. "Kids" also featured a bevy of young stars in their debut roles, including Chloe Sevigny and Rosario Dawson. Much like with Clark’s later film, “Bully”, some critics claimed that "Kids" showcased this behavior in an exploitative or lascivious way, accusations which still follow the film to this day.

#3: "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955)

As the oldest film on this list, one might be forgiven for thinking that "Rebel Without a Cause" may have aged poorly, but that's anything but true. In fact, this groundbreaking classic continues to impress decades after its 1955 release. Sure, it would be easy to pin the success of "Rebel Without a Cause" firmly on the chest of cinema icon James Dean, but the film actually explores such issues as parental responsibility and juvenile delinquency in a way which was profoundly different from typical pictures of the day. There's genuine emotional pathos to be found, as well as a powerful story, making "Rebel Without a Cause" a timeless teen drama for the ages.

#2: "River's Edge" (1987)

We're getting into the super gritty here, with one of the most impressively honest teen drama films of the 1980s. "River's Edge" was remarkably different from the cookie-cutter '80s comedies being released at the time, and instead presented a very disaffected and depressing view of listless, bored teenage life. Director Tim Hunter had co-written a similar featured titled "Over the Edge" back in 1979, and would revisit themes of alienation and anarchy less than a decade later with this film. Keanu Reeves, Crispin Glover, Daniel Roebuck and Ione Skye all deliver memorable performances here, with "River's Edge" perhaps being one of the most underrated entries on this list.

Before we name our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions!

"Election" (1999)

"Pump Up the Volume" (1990)

#1: "Heathers" (1988)

What can we say about "Heathers" that hasn't already been said? The film was a revelation when it was released in the late 80s; a tour-de-force of intelligent writing, memorable characters and endlessly quotable moments. The film itself is an incredibly dark blend of comedy and drama, utilizing themes of suicide, bullying and gun violence within a very twisted and multi-dimensional small town ecosystem. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater are magnetic on screen, while the film keeps ramping up its unique mix of tension, drama and laughs, in the process setting itself up as one of the decade's definitive cult classics.


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