By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! October 30, 2013 at 6:02PM
A lot of fucked up things go bump in "Cube" director Vincenzo Natali's Freudian sci-fi horror "Splice" -- from girl-on-girl mutant rape, to Adrien Brody-on-mutant-daughter sex and more cheery fun -- but what sticks with you is the fiendish, clever script. It couches big ideas about evolution and man's tinkering with the gene pool into a nihilistic B-picture, sparing none of the characters (a scientist couple played by Brody and the lovely Sarah Polley) from the stupidity of their actions and foolish lack of foresight. A heady dose of psychosexual terror looms after Dren, the manmade alien-human hybrid child, catches her parents in the act. It's a squeamish, uncomfortable sit, but also a sick sort of pleasure. Amazon, $2.99.
Most Life-Scarring Moment: Aforementioned sexual encounter between a blissed-out Adrien Brody and his grown up test-tube monster.
If you want sexual trauma, incest, pedophilia and vegetable rape with your Snickers bars and candy apples this Halloween, leave it to French auteur Claire Denis and her troubling head-scratcher "Bastards," the latest film from the beloved director of "Beau Travail" and "White Material." While "Bastards" is more domestic drama than horror film proper, you won't see a 2013 film as bleak or traumatizing. It opens with an elliptical crosscut of flashbacks and forwards: a man has jumped to his death in the street, a young woman with a bloody vagina goes for a naked nighttime stroll, and a grumpy shipyard worker moves into the flat below a nervous shut-in played by Chiari Mastroianni. You're left in a gloom-sodden haze of confusion through most of the film, but these disparate narratives converge in a harrowing final 20 minutes. After it's over, you may never eat corn-on-the-cob again. iTunes and Cable on Demand via Sundance Selects.
Most Life-Scarring Moment: Need I say more?
"We Need to Talk About Kevin" (2011)
The unsavory subject matter at the bloodless heart of Lynne Ramsay's extraordinary "We Need to Talk About Kevin" -- a high-school sociopath goes batshit, massacres his classmates and leaves behind his guilty mother to sort out the carnage -- repelled some viewers and left the film struggling for distribution after its Cannes premiere. Understandable? Maybe. With its disorienting style, unlikable characters played to hair-raising perfection by Ezra Miller and Tilda Swinton, and moral ambivalence, "Kevin" is hard to warm up to. But given the genre elements here, including Jonny Greenwood's nerve-plucking score, horror fans should have no trouble embracing this impossible-to-shake film about a mother who may have never loved her own son, much less the monster he came to be. Here's a movie with no hope to make you feel dirty and lost. And since the film is mostly one long montage, it's like the nightmare inverse of Malick's "Tree of Life." Amazon
Most Life-Scarring Moment: After her son has done his bloody worst, Mommy (Swinton) comes home, pulls back the curtains and unveils Kevin's final, grandest act of vengeance.
"The Snowtown Murders" (2011)
Here it is, folks. The feel good movie of 2011. Based on an actual spate of murders in Australia, Justin Kurzel's downright mean movie centered on a dominant personality and his dazed cult of killers is one of the grisliest, most realistic serial killer movies ever made. But it's no procedural. With threads of incest, hate-crimes and child abuse (there's that theme again!), "The Snowtown Murders" piles on the ugly with no reserve. But Kurzel's horrifying film is leavened by a sprawl of excellent performances by young non-actors as the kids willed into the spell of an alluring psychopath (Daniel Henshall, creepy). Kurzel's direction has a European flavor, a style akin to the Dardennes or Cristian Mungiu if either made a horror movie. Netflix
Most Life-Scarring Moment: Boy-next-door Jamie (Lucas Pittaway) is forced to clean up the corpse of his half-brother after he is badly tortured and left for dead in a bathtub.
"Black Sunday" (1960)
Before Dario Argento was Mario Bava, one of the most prolific Italian genre directors and the grandaddy of the giallo film. In the 1600s-set gothic "Black Sunday," Barbara Steele plays a Russian witch who, after being burned at the stake, returns from the grave 200 years later to cast a deadly pall over those who wronged her. This horror classic is rendered in gorgeous black-and-white, and sizzles with eerie sound design. -Fandor
Most Life-Scarring Moment: The cherry on top of this "Sunday" is the opening scene, where the Mask of Satan is fixed to the witch's face as she's still alive at the stake. Oh, and that mask is lined with nails.