Incest is one of the most controversial taboo topics in cinema and society in general. While people have warmed up to the idea of homosexuality, incest remains to be unacceptable in the eyes of society and rightfully so. But this didn’t stop directors from using it as a topic for their films.
Here are 10 of the Hollywood’s best incest movies of all time and a warning from us: things are about to get disturbing.
Top 10 Best Incest Movies of All Time
Murmur of the Heart (1971)
Murmur of the Heart (1971) is a French coming of age film focussing on 15 year old Laurent’s sexual awakening during the 1950s.
The film’s title pertains to the heart murmur that Laurent incurred after getting sick from scarlet fever. While the film focuses on his strange relationship with his over-attentive Italian mother, it also focuses on the possible incestuous affair between him and his mother after one night of heavy drinking.
The film has a way of presenting such a disturbing topic with charm and affection further influencing filmmakers like Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson.
Ma Mere (2004)
On the polar opposite of Murmur of the Heart is Ma Mere (2004) which is probably one of the most disturbing films we’ve ever encountered.
Another French film, it focuses again on the incestuous relations between a mother and her son. Here we see Isabelle Huppert play a mother who convinces her teenage son to have sex with her. But not only that, she also asks him to hurt her while at it.
The film ends in a violent scene where the mother asks her son to cut her stomach while she slits her own throat as her son reaches climax.
La Luna (1979)
Here’s another incest movie involving a mother and her son. Starting to see a pattern here?
In Bernardo Bertolucci’s La Luna (1979), we see a strained relationship between a mother and her son turn into a sexual one as she tries to help him get rid of a drug problem. While the film doesn’t really hold up well which is disappointing, it remains popular (or should we say notorious?) within film circles because it delves into the topic of incest.
We personally think this film is more tragic than disturbing.
In Park Chan Wook’s Oldboy (2003) we follow Oh Dae Su, a loving father, and husband, who finds himself mysteriously detained in an unknown location for no reason.
After spending years in captivity with only a small television for entertainment and some dumplings for food, he is released onto the streets where a bum hands him a phone and some money. He then goes on a mission to unravel his kidnapping and what happened to his family.
Along the way, he meets a beautiful young woman with whom he forms a romantic and sexual relationship with only to find out in the end that she is his own daughter.
The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)
The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005) tells the story of a father and daughter who lives in social isolation and the subsequent effect of his bringing home a girlfriend on their relationship.
After learning that his daughter slept with one of her stepbrothers, he realizes that she is in love of with him.
The film stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Camilla Belle in the lead roles of the father-daughter duo.
Spanking the Monkey (1994)
Spanking the Monkey (1994) sets itself apart from the other movies on this top 10 list because of its more comedic portrayal of the controversial subject.
Here we see a medical student, Raymond, who is forced to stay back home and forgo a medical internship to care for his injured mother while his father is away for work. Eventually, Raymond develops an incestuous relationship with his mother coinciding with his down spiraling mental state.
The film is directed by David O’Russell as a black comedy. Its title pertains to a euphemism for masturbating.
Beautiful Kate (2009)
When Ned returns home to visit his dying father with his fiancee, old family drama comes bubbling back up the surface.
In a complex and convoluted turn of events, it is discovered that Ned along with his siblings took part in a cycle of incestuous relationships ending when her older siblings Kate and Cliff both die in a car accident.
Savage Grace (2007)
Based on a real-life scandal which shocked people in the 1970s, Savage Grace (2007) tells the story of an unhappy socialite Barbara who develops an incestuous affair with her son in an attempt to ‘stabilize’ his sexuality realizing he is gay.
Unfortunately, this leads to a tragic set of events which end in the murder of Barbara at the hands of her own son.
While the film doesn’t outwardly portray an incest relationship between the lead character Brendon, a sex addict, and his sister, Sissy, it is implied that there might have been a history between them given their strange relationship with each other.
Still, Shame (2011), even without the incest plot, is an interesting look into the life of a sex addict and a powerful drama movie which sought to shed light on the darker parts of our humanity.
Dogtooth (2009) is as disturbing as we’re willing to go.
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, the film tells the story of a couple who decide to raise their kids isolated from the outside world in the family compound. Here the children are subjected to physical abuse and violence which is normalized to them over time.
But things come to a head when the parents start to force their son into incest by choosing between his sisters despite having a prostitute come in to service him. Eventually, one of the sisters decides to hatch an escape plan.
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Which of these incest movies disturbed you the most? Will you watch any of them willingly? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.