Valentine’s Day can be rough for those of us who are a little jaded towards all that lovey-dovey stuff. Maybe you want to get into the spirit of the holiday but in a darker, less conventional way. Well, we’ve got some flicks for you.
If you like Valentine’s Day candy to be nothing but dark chocolate, here are some black-hearted flicks you can watch while everyone else is making googly eyes at each other.
Blue Velvet (1986)
Available on Amazon Prime.
David Lynch is fascinated with examining characters who are seduced and corrupted by the darker forces of existence. Never has that been better explored than in Blue Velvet. The story revolves around naive young man Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) discovering a severed ear in a field. As he investigates this morbid mystery, he crosses paths with sultry lounge singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) and becomes entranced by her. His obsession with Dorothy leads him into a confrontation with the terrifying Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) and Jeffrey plunges even deeper into an underworld of depravity.
It’s a twisted romance that could only come from the brilliantly demented mind behind Twin Peaks. It’s a difficult and disturbing watch but it’s also one of the best films on this list.
Teenage love is often the most tumultuous kind of love. Well, what happens when you throw a little homicide into the mix? That’s what Veronica (Winona Ryder) is dealing with when she falls head over heels for bad boy J.D. (Christia Slater). The two of them end up embarking on a semi-unintentional murder spree and decide to make the killings look like pretentious suicides. Of course, the town turns these kids into posthumous heroes and J.D. becomes obsessed with turning even more teenagers into corpses.
Heathers is a biting bit of satire with a kooky romance as its beating heart. It’s got rapid-fire humor and wonderful chemistry between its two leads. This is a mandatory high school movie.
Bride of Chucky (1998)
Available on HBO NOW.
The Child’s Play franchise had gotten a tad stale after three entries, but Bride of Chucky revitalized the whole series and gave Chucky (Brad Dourif) a romantic foil in the form of the hilarious and super hot Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly). After resurrecting Chucky, Tiffany gets her soul transferred to a doll as well. The two embark on a quest to find some new vessels to possess and they end up hitching along with two eloping lovers, Jade (Katherine Heigl) and Jesse (Nick Stabile). Along the way, they do what slasher villains do best: slice and dice.
Bride of Chucky is a darkly comedic blast, and the deranged relationship between Chucky and Tiffany is bizarrely touching. Just wait until you get to their, ahem, most romantic scene.
Available on Amazon Prime with Shudder.
Finding love can be very difficult. What if you held a fake audition for an acting role as a cover to find a date? Audition puts forth that concept and it does not turn out well. Because one of the auditioning women, Asami (Eihi Shiina), ends up being one of the most horrific and obsessive individuals ever portrayed on film. When things go sour, she kidnaps her date and proceeds to torture and mutilate him in ways that will make you cover your eyes and scream.
Audition is an endurance test for many viewers. For those who can make it through, it’s a hell of a horror film.
Let the Right One In (2008)
Being an outcast is tough, especially when you’re a child. Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is a loner kid living in Stockholm. But, he soon befriends Eli (Lina Leandersson), the strange and quiet girl who just moved in next door. They strike up a friendship and even a romance, but it’s not long before Oskar realizes what’s so special about Eli: she’s a vampire.
Let the Right One In is a violent exploration of companionship and accepting the darker parts of our nature. It’s also the kind of charming romance we rarely see in films centered around very young characters. This is a brutally honest and equally heartfelt film with plenty of blood to spare.
Available on FilmStruck.
After the accidental death of their infant son, a grieving couple known only as He (Willem Dafoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) retreat to a cabin in the woods in order to repair their failing marriage. As they attempt to console each other and get to the root of their problems, nature itself begins to rebel against them in nightmarish fashion.
Antichrist is a vicious and unrelenting deep dive into the disintegration of a romance and the inescapable forces of death and decay. It’s a tough film to recommend but if you can withstand its onslaught of horror, it’s a movie that will never leave your brain.
The Loved Ones (2009)
This one does require a rental, but out of every film on this list, The Loved Ones is the one you should seek out the most. The story centers around a high school prom, one of the biggest and most dramatic events in a teenager’s life. When the shy Lola (Robin McLeavy) is rejected by the emotionally troubled Brent (Xavier Samuel), she kidnaps him and sets up her own version of the prom. And Brent isn’t the first boy she’s done this too …
The Loved Ones is a perverse and shocking twist on the melodrama of high school romance, and it will definitely go to places you won’t expect. It’s an ugly and truly excellent flick for anyone who has ever felt rejected.
My Bloody Valentine (2009)
This remake of the 1981 slasher goes for full-on goofy charm and it works. Centered around a local mine, the grisly events play out around Valentine’s Day so it’s also a very appropriately themed entry in this list. It delivers the kind of slasher fare you expect — gory kills, a masked killer, and even a mystery — but its 3D production adds an extra layer of silly charm to all the bloody ridiculousness.
If you can’t hunt down the original, it makes for a solid double feature with this polished remake. But, this is the one that’s easily available and it’s well worth your time during the Valentine’s Day holiday.
The Last Circus (2010)
Available on Shudder.
Two circus clowns, Javier (Carlos Areces) and Sergio (Antonio de la Torre), battle over the love and affection of the trapeze artist, Natalia (Carolina Bang). All three of them are sadistic and deeply disturbed, and it leads to the kinds of unbelievable escalation that American films are afraid to try. The movie is actually a deep metaphor for the history of Spain, but even removed from that perspective, The Last Circus works as a ferocious descent into obsession and violence.
It’s a truly bonkers film that needs to be seen to be believed.
I Saw the Devil (2010)
How far would you go to punish someone who murdered the love of your life? I Saw the Devil asks that question and the answers it comes up with aren’t pretty. When secret agent Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) discovers the decapitated head of his fiancé, he decides to hunt down the killer on his own and play a sick game of cat-and-mouse.
I Saw the Devil is one of the best Korean films of all time, and for anyone who has ever wanted to enact harsh revenge on someone will understand its particular perspective.
Available on Shudder.
Maniac might be the most difficult film to watch on this list. It’s primarily told from the first-person perspective of Frank (Elijah Wood), a serial killer who targets young women and scalps them. But when he becomes acquaintanced with Anna (Nora Arnezeder), his world begins to fall apart and reality starts to come crashing down.
Maniac is a horror masterpiece but it’s also one that is going to be tough to stomach for most viewers. Putting yourself in the shoes of a serial killer is difficult, but it’s also a tragically heartbreaking tale that ends in a frenzy of nightmares. You’ve been warned.
The Lobster (2015) (Amazon Prime)
Available on Amazon Prime.
The Lobster presents the audience with a ludicrous concept. People live in a compound and are forced to find a mate within a certain time period. If they don’t, they are turned into an animal of their choosing. David (Colin Farrell) is trying his best to find someone but nothing is working out. It’s when he comes across a Short-Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) from a very different collective that things start to feel right. But, her group has their own set of particular rules.
The Lobster is incredibly dry-witted and bleak and leaves the audience with a difficult choice to make by the movie’s end. If you’ve felt cynical about finding love, this is a movie that might give you something to mull over.
Hounds of Love (2016) (Hulu)
Available on Hulu.
Australian filmmaker Ben Young crafts this skin-crawling thriller about a disturbed couple, Evelyn (Emma Booth) and John (Stephen Curry), who kidnap teenager Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings). As Vicki discovers exactly who these people are, she uses their issues with each other to help her escape. Hounds of Love is a creepy look at two truly broken and awful people who are both perfect for each other and doomed to destroy themselves.
Like other films on this list, Hounds of Love is designed to make you uncomfortable. If that’s not your thing, this list probably isn’t for you. But, if it is for you, Hounds of Love is not a movie to miss.