You know that feeling you get when you’re watching a particularly immersive horror movie—that swooping sensation in your gut, and the prickling on the back of your neck? You suddenly realize the eerie music has dropped away entirely...And you find you’re holding your breath? The suspense almost becomes too much.
Well, for some, the suspense does become too much.
These movies vary in topic, but they all have one thing in common: the reactions they’ve elicited. Some horror movies have caused such visceral reactions they’ve caused people to feel ill, get sick—or even pass out. If you’re looking to test your mettle, check out these horror films...If you dare.
Justine is training to be a veterinarian. She’s a vegetarian, and finds herself forced to go through a bizarre and brutal hazing ritual—she has to eat raw meat. In the wake of this, Justine finds herself craving meat of all kinds—even human flesh. The bite marks and extremities found underneath were said to be so realistic some viewers at the Toronto Film Festival threw up—others fainted.
(Want to read graphic cannibalism horror instead? Check out To Be Devoured by Sara Tantlinger.)
The Green Inferno (2015)
Eli Roth is well-known for his gruesome and gory filmography. The New York Post even described The Green Inferno as "sick and depraved". A group of students goes into the Amazon with the purpose of saving the environment. When their plane crash-lands, they find themselves in the clutches of a cannibalistic tribe. A viewer at the Deauville American Film Festival fainted during a screening—which Roth apparently considered the greatest possible review.
When a couple suffers a deep personal loss, they withdraw to their remote cabin in the woods. While the desolation should provide solace, they find themselves spiraling into darkness. This Lars von Trier film was notorious not only for its court reception, but for its audience reactions. The film was greeted with walk-outs, along with reports of people fainting. It was also banned in France for seven years after its release.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Hailed as a “retching time for filmgoers” by the Chicago Tribune at the time of its release, this film had a stinky reputation from the very beginning. This found-footage classic follows a group of student filmmakers that are researching the legend of the Blair Witch in the Maryland forest.
Reports of people throwing up during screenings were nation-wide. Some cinemas went so far as to issue a health warning, as The Blair Witch Project was hailed as the scariest movie ever made when it first came out.
(BTW, if you want found footage without the nausea, read Experimental Film by Gemma Files.)
Bite follows Casey, a bride-to-be that receives a harmless bug bite—or so she believes. Her senses begin to change, she wakes up to find insect eggs in her apartment, she gains the ability to spit acid. While this all sounds like it has the makings of a great Marvel hero (The Bite Lady? BiteWoman?), things take a turn for the deadly.
The makers of Bite apparently knew precisely what they were doing when they premiered at the Fantasia International Film Fest. Barf bags were handed out in advance—and were certainly used by those in attendance. One person was in such a rush to leave the screening they fell and hit their head on the way out.
The Perfection (2019)
When Charlotte finds herself jealous of her favorite mentor’s new teacher’s pet, she’s no way to know that she’s merely at the top of a downward spiral. This film features several graphic scenes that made viewers sick: projectile vomit that was then crawling with maggots (in the film, not produced by those watching—we hope), as well as the image of bugs crawling under someone’s skin. If the director’s aim was the make people feel as sick as possible, then they’ve achieved perfection.
Featured Photo: Melanie Wasser / Unsplash