The goal of any movie is to make the audience feel something, whether it's joy, sadness, fear, or another intense emotion. Some movies are so beautifully done that the emotions you feel from them stay with you forever. From the films that tugged at my heartstrings to those that made me jump out of my skin, these are the seven movies I’ll never emotionally recover from.
I don't know if introducing a 5-year-old to “Gremlins” is normal, but it seemed like it was for me. It’s a movie my dad liked to watch that I absolutely couldn’t. That movie was scary for a kid, and I would run out of the room anytime my dad tried to put it on.
You can see the gremlins as cute when you're watching this at a more appropriate age. But these adorable little furballs turn into demons and freaking multiply. 5-year-old me will pass on that, thank you very much.
Of course, I've seen the movie now and it's definitely not as scary, but it's certainly not my favorite. I can still empathize with the young girl I was, feeling terrified at certain scenes. It would be my luck to marry a man who loves this movie (and who also insists it's a Christmas movie — which it’s not).
‘My Girl’ (1991)
While “My Girl” is a staple of many Millennial childhoods, I didn't see this movie until my late 20s. After watching it, I completely understood why it was an emotionally exhausting film to my peers. Starring Anna Chlumsky as Vada Sultenfuss and Macaulay Culkin as Thomas J. Sennett, “My Girl” is a sweet coming-of-age story that quickly turns into a tragedy.
Seeing Thomas attacked by bees, which he's allergic to, and then lying in a casket after his death is enough to rip your heart out. Then, Vada sees Thomas in the coffin and says the most heart-wrenching line: “Where are his glasses? He can't see without his glasses!”
Despite living in a mortuary and being surrounded by death, this young girl still struggles to accept it, showing audiences that death is a complex experience. That scene was rough to watch, and I had to stop the movie to give myself a moment to cry before going on.
‘Simon Birch’ (1998)
A lesser-known movie, “Simon Birch” contains strong elements of Christianity, namely the notion of our life's purpose. The titular character of Simon Birch (Ian Michael Smith) has stunted growth but a firm conviction that God has put him on this Earth to accomplish something great. In the movie, he tries to find out what that is and struggles with it.
Toward the film's end, we learn his life purpose, and it’s enough to keep you in tears for at least a week. While traveling back from a retreat with younger children, the bus Simon and the children are riding in crashes into a lake. Simon is just the right size to command authority with the children and sneaks out a broken window to get them each to safety.
This brave act results in Simon’s death. I saw this movie as a child, and it was the first time a movie made me cry. I didn't understand why at the time, but now I know. Risking your life to save others is an incredible decision, and how it all works out is both sad and honorable. “Simon Birch” is one of the saddest films I've ever seen.
‘The Green Mile’ (1999)
Despite being one of the most highly regarded films ever, I didn't see “The Green Mile” until a few years ago. It's a beautiful movie, but it sticks with you, and not necessarily in the best way. The film is supposed to leave you uncomfortable and with conflicting feelings, as it gives viewers an inside look at some of the worst members of society.
For me, it succeeded. I couldn't get this movie out of my head for at least two weeks after I watched it. I replayed the deaths of John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Eduard Delacroix (Michael Jeter) in my head, as well as the painful moment when Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison) wets himself from fright.
“The Green Mile” is undoubtedly a good movie, and I recommend people watch it. For me, though, once was enough, and I can't imagine putting myself into that setting again.
At 14 years old, “Signs” may have been the first thriller movie I’d ever seen. I’d seen horror movies before and had no issues, but for some reason, I couldn’t recover from seeing this Mel Gibson film.
I saw the movie once and haven’t seen it again, so I barely remember it. Was it the family sitting in front of the TV screen with dead eyes or the aliens trapped in a room? Whatever it was, it chilled me.
At this point, I was a freshman in high school, and a movie had never spooked me — but this one caused me to wake up from nightmares more than once. I still refuse to watch “Signs,” but I don’t have issues watching other movies with similar content. I don't know what crawled inside my psyche after that film, but I'm not interested in finding out by rewatching it.
‘Remember Me’ (2010)
The final twist at the end of “Remember Me” absolutely gutted me. The movie is a simple romance story exploring the complexities of a child's relationship with his parents. Set in New York City, the timeline of the film is ambiguous. As a viewer, you don't question if it’s taking place in the present day.
By the movie’s end, the main character, Tyler Hawkins (Robert Pattinson,) has resolved issues with his father (Pierce Brosnan) and reconnected with his girlfriend (Emilie de Ravin). You root for Tyler throughout the film after seeing him struggle with his relationships. Seeing him reach this point near the end of the film, you expect a happy ending.
In the final scene, Tyler visits his father's office, and viewers can see a calendar as he waits. The date is Sept. 11, 2001. Then the camera pans out to show us that Tyler is standing in the twin towers. This scene is entirely unexpected, and your heart breaks straight in two. I never in a million years would have anticipated that ending.
‘Inside Out’ (2015)
I don't say lightly that “Inside Out” may be my favorite Pixar movie. It absolutely wowed me. I saw it for the first time a few years ago when my 4-year-old asked to watch it. I’d seen the memes with the characters before but knew nothing about the film. I was glued to the screen almost immediately.
The film focuses on the emotions of an 11-year-old girl who has just moved across the country. The way the movie tackles the intricacies of growing up, handling change, managing complex emotions, and letting go of the past is *chef's kiss.* I'm not exaggerating when I say I sobbed throughout most of the movie’s final hour.
It’d been a long time since a movie wrecked me that way, and to this day, I can't help but cry when Joy (Amy Poehler) makes it out of the memory dump and Bing Bong (Richard Kind) doesn't, or when Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) reunites with her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) after running away. I’ll never recover from “Inside Out,” and honestly, I don't want to. The way this movie makes me feel is what I love about watching films.