We’re excited to pick out five of the most controversial films on Netflix. As we all know, controversy is seductive and alluring and often causes conversations of utmost importance. In today’s world that rides on the Internet high, controversy and the ‘cancel culture’ go hand in hand. In 2020, Netflix had borne the brunt of controversy when a hashtag titled ‘Cancel Netflix’ began trending on Twitter, days after the release of the French film, Cuties.
The landscape of cinema has seen many controversial films over the decades. From Salo showcasing scenes of human depravity, including sexual violence and excreta consumption, to the scarring plot of baby porno in A Serbian Film, films and shows have the capacity to incite rage and disgust among the audience and cause an overall disturbing effect.
Netflix, too, has had its fair bit of controversy with various shows and films, especially ones like 13 Reasons Why, Bonding, Messiah, Atypical and others. While Atypical was called out for the misrepresentation of autism in the first season, the violent themes of sexual assault and suicide in 13 Reasons Why was said to have inspired many teens to take their own life. Bonding misrepresented the BDSM community while Messiah was cancelled due to the backlash it received from religious communities.
Polarizing and often unsettling, here are the five most controversial films on Netflix you can watch today:
5 most controversial films you can now watch on Netflix
5. Two (Mar Targarona, 2021)
Targarona’s Spanish thriller almost seems to be a twisted lovechild between The Human Centipede and Saw. The film features one of the most shocking and gruesome sex scenes on the streamer which includes an incestuous twist. Starring Marina Gatell and Pablo Derqui, the scene added to the notoriety of the film’s grim premise.
Two strangers are abducted and stitched together by their abdomens. They end up having sex in a disturbing pornographic sequence and later turn out to be long-lost siblings who are being held captive by their deranged father. The latter even watches the dup perform the sexual acts in a bizarre act of voyeuristic pleasure and aims to exterminate them.
4. The Hunt (Craig Zobel, 2020)
Based on a politically-charged screenplay by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof, this darkly comic satire in the unbridgeable political divide between the American left and the right, the film sees two distinct groups, the liberals and the deplorables at loggerheads. While being hunted, when a captive woman turns tables on her captors, things go downhill.
American conservatives lashed out against the film with the then-US President, Donald Trump going ballistic on Twitter, talking about how the film was “made in order to inflame and cause chaos”. A brilliant satire on the political scenario with implied references to Animal Farm by George Orwell, the film has an abundance of gore, suspense, comedy and fresh perspectives.
3. Ashab Wala A’aaz (Wissam Samira, 2021)
The first-ever Arabic Netflix Original, Ashab Wala A’aaz, which roughly translates to Perfect Strangers, garnered a fair bit amount of controversy in Egypt with many radical, conservative groups being offended by some of the scenes. These include the discussion of a homosexual relationship, the open discussions regarding an extramarital affair as well as a scene where a character is seen taking off her underwear discreetly under the table.
While the film received massive support from creators around the world, the initial backlash included death threats and rape threats to the cast, especially Mona Zaki. The film sees a group of friends playing a dinner table game where they reveal their deepest, darkest secrets by sharing personal texts, calls and messages.
2. 365 Days (Tomasz Mandes, Barbara Bialowas, 2020)
With an abundance of raunchy scenes and erotic romps, the 2020 film had taken the world by storm and divided the Internet. While one half could not get enough of the handsome male lead, others were disgusted by the erotic fetishisation of Stockholm syndrome, abduction and rape. Many said that the film should be banned for glamorising rape and leaving a twisted and harmful representation of the same in the minds of viewers.
Based on Polish author Blanka Lipisinka’s trilogy, the film- now released for two more sequels- focused on Laura’s shenanigans after being abducted by a mafioso leader who gives her a year to fall in love with him. They end up having sex in various places, including a luxurious yacht.
1. Cuties (Maimouna Doucoure, 2020)
Released in 2020, this French coming-of-age film saw a Senegalese-French girl, Amy, being caught between her traditional Muslim upbringing and family values and her desire to dance and the toxic Internet culture after she joins the titular twerking dance squad. The film incorporates a commentary on the hypersexualization of young girls online who feel the pressure of fitting a certain image to feel validated and seen.
The film led to a massive outrage where the audience felt that the film was sexualising young girls and “feeding paedophilia”. Considered dangerous and vile, many spoke up against the streamer for providing a platform to showcase the sexual exploitation of young children, especially girls. Although Netflix defended the film vehemently, talking about how it was meant to expose the toxic Internet mentality and the subsequent consequences, the film still remains one of the biggest blemishes in their name.