The Least Parent Friendly Cinema Moments of 2016
Disclaimer: this article contains major spoilers for several 2016 films.
Everyone has had that moment, at some point in their lives, when the most explicit part of a film comes on and, of course, your parents walk in, stare at the screen in shock, and ask in a mortified voice "What in the world are you watching?" That question is what this list is all about; finding the scenes most likely to garner that question from an unprepared parent, relative, or guardian. Some of these moments are enough to destroy their respective films, others are just high points in terms of being generally uncomfortable or bizarre. Either way, this list is a salute to, in my opinion, the strangest, weirdest, most upsetting, and most cringe-inducing scenes that are bound to make any unexpected passerby question your taste in film. (Note: My parents skew towards the conservative and religious side of the spectrum, so all of these choices have been made with that filter in mind. Carry on.)
"Granny's Peach Tea" from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Dir. Zack Snyder)
Batman v Superman is a movie full of questionable decisions with regards to the mythos of the DC Universe. However, the strangest cinematic decision Zack Snyder made was using an open jar of urine labeled "Granny's Peach Tea" as an indicator for an impending terror attack on a Senate hearing. Ignoring the logistical impossibilities of this scenario, this scene is tonally at odds with everything else in the entire film, and calls into question the perceptiveness of every character in the room, undermining even Superman's supposedly super-human senses. This is, personally, the most confusing and baffling scene, in a film full of badly conceived decisions. Not to mention, leaving that much urine in an open container in public is disgusting and highly irresponsible, and will make any unsuspecting person either laugh uncontrollably, or back out of the room, confused and concerned.
"Tiny Hand Masturbation" from Deadpool (Dir. Tim Miller)
Regardless of your feelings about Deadpool as a film, you cannot deny that some (ok, most) of the content is meant to cross a line. The shot that, in my opinion, encapsulates that the most is the quick flash of Wade Wilson, pressing a stuffed unicorn to his forehead, and pleasuring himself with his tiny, tiny hand. This moment, while shockingly funny in context, would make unsuspecting passersby stop and stare, confused by the events on screen, and silently judging you and your sense of humor. This is one of the simplest, purest examples of the "What are you watching?" type of scene.
From here on out, this list gets weird. Real weird.
"Turkey Baster Sequence" from Don't Breathe (Dir. Fede Álvarez)
I have never seen a film shoot itself in the foot so hard with a single scene. What should be a decent home invasion movie with a fairly original premise morphs into a sinister and uncomfortable film about sexual assault an hour into its runtime. The assault aspect comes entirely out of nowhere and disappears just as fast, leaving the viewer, in my experience, confused, upset, and actually rather angry. This scene also changes the context of the rest of the film, to the point that if someone walked in during this scene and asked "what are you watching," which they absolutely would if they saw a turkey baster full of man fluid on screen, the only answer I would be able to muster is "I don't even know anymore."
"Anton Yelchin Getting His Arm Hacked Apart" from Green Room (Dir. Jeremy Saulnier)
Green Room is one of the most tense film experiences I had this year. The whole movie up to this point is devastatingly tense, as you can tell thing will go real bad, real fast when it finally happens. Even still, the moment when Yelchin's arm gets stuck on the outside of the door and he begins screaming in agony is one of the most devastating and unsettling thing I have seen in a film in a while. The gore effects on his arm when he manages to get it back through the door are top notch, and further build on the horror of what is unfolding on screen. If anyone had the unfortunate timing to walk into the room while this scene was happening, jaws would be on the floor, eyes would be wide, and tastes in film would be questioned. At least, in my house, anyways.
"Jena Malone Has Sex With a Corpse" from The Neon Demon (Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)
The Neon Demon is never exactly subtle when tying the ideals of modern beauty to death and violence. However, one of the most shocking and unexpected instances of this comes when Jena Malone's character Ruby, after failing to force herself onto Jesse (Elle Fanning), gets down and dirty with a corpse. Surprise necrophilia is always going to be the kind of scene that will earn the viewer confusion and scorn from the unprepared pedestrian, and this is no exception. The scene carries on, assaulting the senses and sensibilities of the viewer, but unlike the weird sex stuff in Don’t Breathe, this feels earned, and reinforces exactly how messed up a person Ruby is.
"Vomiting the Eyeball" from The Neon Demon (Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)
It was rather difficult to not make this list entirely moments from The Neon Demon or The Witch (more on that soon), but this had to make the list. Even as The Neon Demon is about how Los Angeles and the fashion industry will eat you alive if you let it, it's still a shocking moment when the three other models actually consume Elle Fanning's Jesse. But the moment right before the credits where one of the models vomits up one of Jesse's eyes, guts herself with a pair of scissors, and then the other model, who just sat back and watched, picks up and eats the eyeball again is bone chilling. In a movie full of craziness, this and the corpse scene stick out the most.
"The Bible" from Swiss Army Man (Dir. DANIELS)
This one is a much more personal selection, as someone who was raised in a very religious household. But turning The Bible into a copy of Everybody Poops, writing on it in poop, was the most surprising and unexpected thing in a movie about a farting corpse. I was completely unprepared to see that happen, and it happens so quickly that I almost didn't believe that it happened. But more to the point, if my mother had walked down and seen a shot of the Bible written on with feces, she would have genuinely been shocked and concerned.
"Food Orgy" from Sausage Party (Dir. Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan)
A bunch of food has very graphic and intense sex with each other and it goes on for way too long. I really don't need to explain why this is on this list. The whole scene is just gross. Really, really gross.
"Exorcism Scene" from The Witch. (Dir. Robert Eggers)
The Witch is one of the most unnerving cinema going experiences I have ever had. The paranoia running rampant throughout this film starts coming to a head with the attempted exorcism of whatever demons possibly possess the son, Caleb. The chaos of the overlapping prayers and satanic ramblings, disturbing visuals of the son convulsing while his family prays over him, and the drone of the score underneath all of it makes this scene immensely uncomfortable. This scene is also the first point in the film where the tension the first half of the film begins to pay off, and the violence and craziness really starts.
"Katherine Nursing the Crow" from The Witch. (Dir. Robert Eggers)
This moment is a direct result, plot-wise, of the last one. The mother, Katherine, hallucinates and sees her presumed dead infant alive in the house, and she happily begins to breastfeed him. A cut reveals that the infant is actually a crow, pecking at her exposed breast, which is bloody and damaged as a result. This is the only scene on this list that, on rewatch, makes me pause the film and take a breath. The shot of Katherine cackling while a crow pecks at her breast is seared into my brain permanently, and actually made me ask myself "what am I actually watching here" while sitting in the theater. This is the last thing I would want anyone walking in on while I'm watching a movie, and if that isn't a perfect way to end this list, then I don't know what is.