I always like to revisit those characters that have disturbed me in cinema, the ones that stick with me and the ones I will never forget. Disturbing characters are always the most interesting and do leave a lasting impression. They make us think, they shake us up and hang us out to dry. Sometimes we don’t know what makes them tick, other times we can’t tell what lurks beneath the surface. Here is my Top 10 …
10.) Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
I would never and I mean NEVER want to be stuck in a room with this woman for more than 60 seconds. What a crazy and heartless person, she truly is one of cinema’s most disturbing characters and easily one of the best villains we’ve ever seen. No wonder actress Louise Fletcher won awards for this, although this role has made me truly terrified of her.
9.) John Ryder (Rutger Hauer) The Hitcher
What an unrelenting psycho! From the moment we see him in the film we know he’s trouble, and he really is! He is the type that will not stop to get you, and he represents that deep seeded fear within all of us of no escape. The performance by Hauer is incredible, he never lets up and he disappear into the character and never looked back.
8.) Alex (Malcolm McDowell) A Clockwork Orange
He’ll commit acts of violence and rape, find it fun and even sing whilst doing it, that is not normal! Alex is a disturbing creature, something that we just cannot understand, what truly makes him tick? Yet despite those disgusting acts he ends up becoming an almost sympathetic character, which in itself is disturbing. You’d never want to meet Alex, and because of this role Malcolm McDowell just seems evil, even when he’s playing a good guy.
7.) Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) The Wolf Of Wall Street
Make no mistake I think the real Jordan Belfort is a disturbing person, and the character created for the film embodies that very well, perhaps even more so. Jordan just does not care, it’s all about money, exploitation, drugs, hookers, drugs and more hookers. This character actually makes me afraid to have money, it can destroy you very easily. He had no idea what to do with it and thought he was a king, he ate hookers from breakfast and did so many drugs it should have killed him 50 times over. There is nothing redeeming about him, and I find that lifestyle and the character truly disturbing.
6.) Lola Stone (Robin McLevy) The Loved Ones
Holy shit on a stick, this is one crazy woman and one I would never ever want to meet! Funny enough I did meet the actress and she’s nothing like Lola thankfully, but that shows just how powerful performance was and what an actress she is. Lola is an obsessive crazy type, she wants the boy and she’ll get the boy and nothing will get in her way. Once she has the boy, well you don’t want to know what she does with Daddy to him. She is seriously fucked up and perhaps even too looney for the looney bin. Lola is disturbing on so many levels and is the stuff nightmares are made of. Think you know a crazy woman? You haven’t met Lola!
5.) Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) Audition
Speaking of crazy women, Asami is another I would never want to come across. I still remember my first and only viewing of Audition on SBS, late at night and I had trouble sleeping after that insane climax. The film tricks you into thinking it is about one thing, and bam you’re thrown sideways and the truth is revealed. She seems like a normal and likable woman, but once her true colours and motives are revealed, your heart is ripped out and your eyes don’t want to see but y0u can’t look away. She doesn’t flinch when she does some truly horrific things and that is disturbing but even more so you actually liked her not long before that.
4.) Francis Dollarhyde/The Toothfairy (Tom Noonan) Manhunter
I will always support Manhunter, it is better than a majority of the Hannibal Lector films out there and this one didn’t even have Anthony Hopkins in it. But the real disturbing element here and one that has certainly haunted me since I first saw the film is Francis Dollarhyde. He at first seems like a normal guy, maybe a little shy and keeps to himself but its what hides below the surface is what is truly terrifying. He kills families, he is a sick and twisted serial killer with delusions that make him even more disturbing. Again that element of normalcy with fucked up hiding in it is what really frightened me about him. He could be your trusty neighbor that is killing right next door you’d never know it. Tom Noonan gives an incredible performance and anytime I see him, I always think of this character.
3.) Krug (David Hess) Last House On The Left
Krug is definitely one of cinemas most disturbing creatures, he is a man with no humanity left. Just thinking about the character sends chills down my spine, and he is the driving force behind the film. The things he does (rapes, kills) is not easy to sit through, and you really don’t want to be subjected to it either. There is nothing left within him that could make him stop, he wont suddenly get rehabilitated and that is a scary thought. David Hess gives a flawless performance here, he becomes Krug and does not let up at all, there is no flinching with this role. In a scene that was improvised he told one of the victims to piss her pants and she did, if I were performing next to him he wouldn’t have needed to order it. This character is despicable he even encourages his own son to blow his brains out, disturbing doesn’t even begin to describe him.
2.) Raymond Lemorne (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) Spoorloos/The Vanishing
Spoorloos remains one of the most unsettling and disturbing films I have ever seen, I haven’t ever been able to bring myself to watch it again and I don’t know that I can anytime soon. This film is absolutely disturbing due to the story and due to Raymond, a character that not only disturbs me but scares me to my very core. He is a normal family man, someone who looks like a cuddly teddy bear, someone who could never harm anyone. He could be your favorite Uncle or something, but that is just a mask for what really lurks underneth, Raymond for his own reasons does truly horrific things to others, and the cat and mouse game is one that he knows he’ll win. The fact that he seems like any other person and deep down just isn’t is something I find terrifying. Nothing is worse than feeling trust with someone and finding out they are a monster. The performance is just incredible and I cannot give credit enough to the late Bernard-Pierre who had such a talent.
1.) Henry (Michael Rooker) Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer
This is perhaps one of the best performances of its kind, and it was done by a young Michael Rooker, who really just gave it his all and it gave him a career in return. Henry is loosely based upon real life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas but it goes beyond that and becomes an exploration into the mind of a killer. Henry is once of those characters I have already described, he’s one that seems normal but you know he’s not. What really got to me when I first watched this film was that Henry was an incredibly sympathetic character and he felt like someone I could have been friends with. That thought alone just haunted me, and it really made me wonder whether I was a good judge of character. That is what makes this character fully fleshed out, he is sympathetic, he’s been abused and subjected to horrors from his own mother that is very upsetting to hear. But all of this perhaps turned him into a man that couldn’t cope, and instead that anger and rage and feelings turned him into a killer. The only way he can get anything out of life is to kill, and he changes when he gets into that mode. He knows there is something wrong, that scene where he looks at himself in the mirror, you can see him wondering just who is staring back. What a character and what a performance, it’ll disturb me for life. And I might add, I did get to meet Michael Rooker and he couldn’t have been nicer and he gives incredible hugs. Thank goodness!