More often than not, films are viewed as means of entertainment. They give us a break from our daily lives and allow us to immerse ourselves in a world that feels so familiar, yet completely new; all usually within 2 hours of our time and a helping of expensive popcorn. However, there exist films which do not depict the world around us, or even our interactions with it but take us deep into our own psyche to witness the human inside all of us, stripped of the masks we all wear. Raw, powerful, and uninhibited, these 5 films show us ourselves and the subtle intricacies of human nature in trying situations.

Requiem for a dream (2000)

Requiem for a dream

It begins with four relatively normal lives. Next come along four different types of addiction. What follows is an hour and forty-two minutes filled with the sheer horrors of the desperation that drives them to new lows to seek out that next hit or snort or lose that extra gram; the devastating toll a few bad decisions can have on your life; leaving you with an entire lifetime haunted by this movie, its soundtrack, and bleak, yet horrifyingly real imagery.

Room (2015)


A hostage or kidnapping situation is nothing new in Cinema, not even ones where people are kept captive for many years. But what Room does differently, and executes beautifully, is not focus on the hostage situation itself, but the aftermath and the psychological effect it has on the hostages long after they’ve been rescued; it shows just how hard it can be to return to normal life after such emotional trauma, and how a young mother and her son come up with different ways to cope.

The Tribe (2014)

The Tribe

Probably the most confusing and jarring movie on this list, The Tribe follows a young man, who joins a boarding school for the deaf, and slowly descends into criminal activity which, oddly, seems to be the norm if you want to survive. The movie takes a turn when the main character becomes infatuated with a girl he studies with during the day, and pimps out to truckers at night. The entire movie has no dialogue, with the actors conversing in sign language without any provided subtitles. We are shown, literally just shown, the shocking indifference with which they carry out robberies, pimp out their fellow students without remorse or regret, and the broken, twisted dynamics of this tribe of deaf young adults who have been shunned by society.

Short Term 12 (2013)

Short Term 12

Short term 12 is a residential foster care facility for at-risk minors who have been forcibly removed from dire situations at home. The movie follows the protagonist, a counselor, as she tries to balance her own life and trauma with taking care of the troubled teens under her watch. Heartfelt, honest, cheery and at times stark and depressing, this movie explores the life of teenagers abused and neglected by society and their families, and the selfless people that help them get back on track.

The Machinist (2004)

The Machinist

An emaciated factory worker says that he hasn’t been able to sleep for over a year. An unsettling atmosphere pervades through this movie as the protagonist’s mind starts unravelling when strange occurrences begin to happen in his home and workplace, and he slowly begins to question his own sanity. Foreboding, bleak, and with a final all-revealing twist, The Machinist shows the toll someone’s mental health can take on their body, and how a single traumatic incident can send someone’s life spiralling out of control into paranoia, depression, and disassociation of self.

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