31 October 2023

The Disturbing Movie Iceberg

In 2021, a Reddit user known as Nice Guy Phil posted an infographic titled The Disturbing Movie Iceberg, an eight-tiered hierarchy of violent and offensive films. The metaphor in the title suggested that the films in tier one were ‘the tip of the iceberg’, while those in tier eight were the most disturbing films imaginable.

The chart generated a great deal of interest online, though most people who saw it were unaware of most of the films listed. In fact, it’s not advisable to seek out many of the films in the chart, and the only recommended films are those in tiers three and four. (The other tiers are either too mild to be considered truly disturbing, or too extreme to be considered narrative films.)

Tier one consists of mainstream horror movies that are entirely conventional and uncontroversial. Tier two features titles that are slightly more violent than those in tier one, including mainstream horror films that have been dismissed as ‘torture porn’.

Tiers three and four are the core of the list, and most viewers should confine themselves to these tiers. The exploitation films in tier three (such as Cannibal Holocaust) are not mainstream titles, though they have all been theatrically released. Tier four features fake snuff films released on video (including the Guinea Pig/ギニーピッグ series).

The titles in the remaining tiers are not commercial feature films, and should be avoided by most viewers. Tier five features Japanese porn videos, and tier six consists of mondo videos. The final two tiers contain extreme online material: fetish porn in tier seven, and death clips in tier eight.

(A compilation of footage from the 7th October Hamas attack on Israel, untitled though known colloquially as the ‘video of horrors’, would surely find a place in tier eight, though it has not been released to the public. The video, variations of which are between forty-four and forty-seven minutes long, was edited by Mattan Harel-Fisch and includes uncensored footage of the deaths of many Israelis on that day. It has been shown to journalists, politicians, and diplomats at various private screenings.)