Horror films have been one of the bright spots of 2021. Whether they were released by a major distributor or an indie company, they all include disturbing imagery that sticks with the audience long after the credits roll. The following horror movie moments are some of the most intense and gruesome scenes of the year, but that doesn't mean they're all blood and guts - far from it, in fact.
The moments collected here range from brutal beheadings to a deadly shower of acid rain. There's also plenty of existential dread included here that might leave you shivering just thinking about it. Keep in mind that this list is peppered with minor spoiler alerts, but if anything, they'll just make you want to watch these disturbing horror movies from 2021 even more. Good luck sleeping with the lights off tonight - now let's get disturbed.
- Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing
How lucky are we to live in a time where the Escape Room movies are being regularly released? These pulpy, campy movies are the perfect popcorn flicks, and to top it all off, they have gnarly death scenes. The scene that sticks out from Tournament of Champions, the absolutely bonkers second film (in what's hopefully a 20-film franchise made up of increasingly ridiculous moments), concerns two champions getting melted with acid rain.
This amazing scene puts the final act of the film in motion as the characters discover they're in a set that looks like New York City. When a timer counts down, acid rain falls from the sky. Yikes. As the four gals try their best to find a place to hide, it becomes clear that Rachel and Briana are, in a word, effed. It's not the skin melting that's hard to watch (the audience barely sees it) - it's seeing the two women prepare for an incredibly painful death that's the most disturbing.
- Photo: Saban Films
The films in the Wrong Turn series are an always-reliable source for gore-heavy survivalist horror. 2021's entrance into the Wrong Turn franchise sees six friends beset by a group of rural Virginia creeps known as the Foundation, a group of settlers who broke off from normal society right around the Civil War.
The members of the Foundation dish out brutal punishments to everyone unlucky enough to encounter them, which range from impalement to getting their eyes destroyed with hot pokers, but the most disturbing moment comes when one young man is tied to a post and bludgeoned to death in front of his friends. This isn't your everyday bludgeoning either - it's a bludgeoning in front of a small audience where the viewer sees this guy's face completely smashed to a pulp. In a word, it's rough.
- Photo: StudioCanal3340 VOTES
There are so many disturbing moments in Saint Maud that it's hard to pick just one. Do you prefer the scene where Maud puts nails in her shoes and walks around as penance? Or the super uncomfortable sex scene? How about when Maud's boss embarrasses her in front of an entire party? It's not an easy movie to watch.
As hard as it is to watch Maud walk around with nails stabbing into her feet, it's the finale that will leave you breathless. After experiencing visions of God that may or may not be a part of a schizophrenic breakdown, Maud takes a beach and douses herself in gasoline before setting herself on fire in broad daylight. The moment initially shows the immolation from Maud's point of view, as heavenly light emanates from her frying body, but then the audience sees what's really happening as onlookers watch in horror as Maud's body is burnt to a charred husk.
- Photo: Universal Pictures4402 VOTES
'Old' - Breaking Bones
M. Night Shyamalan's Old brings the terrifying concept of aging to the big screen with gruesome moments that won't just gross out audiences but also make them fear aging in fun, new ways. The wildest scene in this very wild movie asks, "What would happen if someone with hypocalcemia (essentially low calcium levels in the body) turned into a human pretzel?" The answer is revolting in the best way.
By the time the scene in question unfolds, everyone is aware that they're aging rapidly and they're basically awaiting their fate. Chrystal, maybe one of the most unlucky characters in film history, goes into a seizure as her body twists and turns like she's the alien in John Carpenter's The Thing while every bone in her body snaps and breaks. After about 30 seconds, her constricted body gives out on her, and she gives in to her violent, but bloodless, end.
- Photo: Netflix
Is there anything worse than seeing someone get their Achilles tendon slashed? It's not just disturbing - this painful attack elicits an "oh, hell no" response that rises from the inside of every person in the audience, whether they're a horror fan or not.
The thing that makes this scene all the more disturbing is that it occurs at the beginning of the movie before the audience is really ready for the brutality that's about to occur. After pressing play, viewers see Jackson, a football player, come home to find that someone has been in his house. Before he can call 911, a hand reaches out from beneath a clothes rack and takes a swipe at the jock's ankle. Not only is it rough to watch, but it's a signal that things are only going to get rougher from here on out.
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures6391 VOTES
Malignant rocks. James Wan's throwback to '90s science fiction-infused horror brings campy thrills and scares along with some seriously disturbing visuals. The biggest freak-out moment in the film goes hand in hand with the movie's biggest twist - protagonist Madison is actually Gabriel, a serial killer who stays a few steps ahead of everyone.
In the scene, Madison is locked in a jail cell with a bunch of other unlucky folks, and the killer who lives inside her starts to literally squeeze out of the back of her skull. Madison grabs her scalp and rips it away as Gabriel's bloody face becomes visible. While running backwards through the cell, Madison/Gabriel rushes everyone in the cell to break bones, snap necks, and bite out chunks of their skin. This is easily one of the most fun scenes of the year.