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Top 10 British Movies You Can Only Watch Once

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Luke Hunter
Some movies that are just so downright disturbing, uncomfortable or depressing that a second viewing is just out of the question. Welcome to Watchmojo UK, where today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 British Movies You’ll Only Ever Watch Once. For this list, we’re paying homage to the great British movies that – despitetheir greatness – will never be the type of film you watch over, and over, and over again. Special thanks to our user RichardFB for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 British Movies You Can Only Watch Once


Some movies that are just so downright disturbing, uncomfortable or depressing that a second viewing is just out of the question. Welcome to Watchmojo UK, where today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 British Movies You’ll Only Ever Watch Once.

For this list, we’re paying homage to the great British movies that – despitetheir greatness – will never be the type of film you watch over, and over, and over again.

#10: “12 Years a Slave” (2013)


It might not seem like your typical British movie, but with a British director and lead actor, “12 Years a Slave” has UK influence throughout. Set in the antebellum South in America, Steve McQueen’s adaptation of the memoirs of Solomon Northup, a free-man who’s kidnapped and enslaved, takes a harrowing look at slavery in the late 19thCentury. The importance of the film is without question, as it charts an especially horrible period in human history. But as such, cinema rarely gets this heavy. Packed with grueling long takes too – including an almost 3-minute hanging scene – it’s a must-watch movie, but you might not rush to see it again.

#9: “A Clockwork Orange” (1971)


As one of the first movies to ever be pulled from cinemas after inspiring real-life copycat violence, “A Clockwork Orange” is a masterpiece in harrowing film, brought to life by legendary director Stanley Kubrick. The film tells the story of Alex Delarge, a teenage delinquent with a taste for rape, ‘ultra-violence,’ and Beethoven. And so, as Alex gets arrested and goes through an experimental procedure to pacify him, we wait and watch in horror as his eyelids are pulled back and he (and therefore we) are forced to watch a stream of all the world’s most violent acts. Feelgood summer blockbuster, this definitely isn’t.

#8: “Hellraiser” (1987)


This classic 80s horror film is about a disturbing as it gets, telling the convoluted story of a recently resurrected man feeding on humans to live. And while the central figure strives to survive, a group of demons known as ‘cenobites’ try to drag him back into a sadomasochistic underworld – twisted enough for you, yet? The iconic nature of this film comes from the lead cenobite, ‘pinhead,’ who’s perhaps surprisingly well-spoken for a demon devoted to experimental S&M. But all in all, once is probably enough.

#7: “Nil by Mouth” (1997)


Another heavy movie without even an inkling of hope, fun or light-heartedness to speak of, “Nil by Mouth” is the gritty, realistic story of an abusive husband and the family who suffer by his hand. Starring English hard-man Ray Winstone as ‘Raymond,’ an alcoholic with a hair-trigger temper, the film follows him and his dysfunctional family as they struggle with drug-addiction, domestic violence, and divorce. It also has the honor of using the ‘C’ word more than any other movie in history, with 82 uses! So, if swear words offend you, you might not even make it to the end.

#6: “Straw Dogs” (1971)


Educated American, David Sumner, played by Dustin Hoffman, moves to a sleepy English village with his wife, but his dream soon turns into a nightmare, when a group of xenophobic locals turn violent. “Straw Dogs” is probably best known for its harrowing ending and a horrific rape scene, which shocked audiences so much the film got banned in the UK and had to be heavily edited before being released in the US. On top of everything else, it did absolutely nothing for the popularity of bagpipe music. No sir.

#5: “Tyrannosaur” (2011)


British actor Paddy Considine’s directorial debut, “Tyrannosaur” is very, very far from the safe and easy crowd-pleaser that Considine could’ve gone for. Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman star in this kitchen-sink drama about a racist, vicious thug, who meets a religious, charity shop worker and as the two grow close, a pattern of domestic abuse and violence develops. The relentless, increasing depravity of the crimes committed and the no-holds-barred scenes inflicted upon us leave you almost screaming at the screen, begging for it to stop.

#4: “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” (2008)


This may be a gentler film, which could even be considered bitter-sweet at times, but that just makes it all the more disturbing when you consider what is really going on. “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” is told from the point of view of 8-year old ‘Bruno,’ a German boy whose family move next-door to a concentration camp. When Bruno finds the camp, he makes friends with a young Jewish prisoner, they play, laugh and joke through the barbed wire, but it’s the ever-present plume of smoke rising from the camp that makes this story all the more disturbing.

#3: “Shame” (2011)


Centred on a sex-addict, whose vicious addiction to prostitutes and pornography threatens to consume his life, “Shame” is another from Steve McQueen – and a definitive move for Michael Fassbender. Fassbender plays Brandon with such brutal realism and yes, shame, that we can’t help but feel pity for his desperate, self-loathing character, as his errant soul is tested over and over again. The frank scenes of depression, sexual violence, and self-harm are an eye-opening constant; and with explicit nudity, it is definitely not one to watch with the parents, either.

#2: “Scum” (1979)


The second Ray Winstone film to feature today, “Scum” is a 1979 drama about the brutality of life inside a British borstal. Winstone plays Carlin, a young man who tries to avoid a life of violence, but inevitably gets drawn into the thick of it when he takes the rap for his brother’s crimes. Before long, Carlin himself becomes embroiled in an everyday cycle of torture, racism, and rape as his character is chipped and dismantled. The violence here is so graphic, that the film was once pulled from British TV – and even fans of Winstone’s typical hardman outings might hesitate on a rerun of this.

#1: “Threads” (1984)


Originally made in 1984 by the BBC as a docudrama about the realities of nuclear war, “Threads” could easily double up as a hard-hitting horror movie, thanks to its gruesome and terrifying scenes. It’s arguably one of the bleakest, most upsetting, and most frightening films ever made, following residents of Sheffield as their lives are destroyed by a nuclear war between the US and Russia. “Threads” proved extremely poignant and distressing upon release, at the height of the Cold War, but with little sign of global powers relinquishing their nukes anytime soon, it seems just as relevant today.
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