About two years ago to the day, I Liz Lemoned myself.
I’d been seeing someone for a couple weeks, so I decided to ask her out to a proper date: dinner and a movie. She was down, and everything seemed gravy until, after a pause in our texting, she said, “Hey... you know Sunday night is Valentine’s Day, right?”
My dumb ass did not, in fact, know that Sunday was Valentine’s Day.
Though I had inadvertently turned my life into an episode of 30 Rock, I wasn’t about to flake, so I chose the best (only?) way to handle this situation: get Thai food and pick the most depressing film possible for us to watch. We settled on Touched with Fire, a drama about two bipolar poets (portrayed by Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby) who meet in a psychiatric hospital and fall into a manic, toxic romance.
The film, which chronicles a deteriorating relationship that seems to recall Holmes’s messed-up history with both Tom Cruise and Scientology, is almost certainly not what you should watch on an early date, especially on fucking Valentine’s Day. Nevertheless, we had a great time.
The point is, Valentine’s Day is what you make it. If you’re in love and want to celebrate it by watching a corny rom-com, more power to you, but if you’re ready to lean into the whole “hello darkness my old friend” thing on this hallowed day of passion, here are some Netflix movies for you. —Peter Slattery
Can you ever really know anyone? Andrew Haigh’s slow-burn British drama puts the idea of marriage through the ringer as a couple, played by a diabolically demure Tom Courtenay and a never-better Charlotte Rampling, comes to terms with the discovery of a decades-frozen body in the days leading up to their 45th anniversary. And, if you’re down for a devastating double-feature, watch The Night Porter afterward.
Horror/drama film Raw takes the cutesy phrase “I could just eat you up” to a disturbing new level. French director Julia Ducournau’s debut feature shows how a hazing ritual at a veterinary school leads to a student’s obsessive craving for human flesh. In what could be read as a ringing endorsement of its anti-V Day vibe, people literally passed out while watching it at film festival screenings a couple years back.
While sex-positive flicks like Make Love Not Porn abound in 2018, Paul Thomas Anderson’s classic takes us back to the greasy days of 1977 when the motto was more along the lines of “make porn, not love.” Come for a panorama of all-too-human shortcomings, stay for Mark Wahlberg’s 12-inch prosthetic penis.
We included The Tribe in our list of the best movies to watch while high for some reason, but the Ukrainian drama about a student gang in a school for the deaf ain’t your typical date movie either. The film, which is told exclusively through sign language without subtitles, has a brief moment of tenderness midway through, then plunges into a brutal chain of violence culminating in a bloody finale.
Think Christian Slater is your dream boy? Think again, he’s a psychopath! Moral of the story, boys suck, and you should’ve been hanging out with Martha Dunnstock all along.
The sequel to the sequel of maybe the most romantic movie of all time, Before Midnight shows what happens when whirlwind lovers finally start to get sick of each other’s bullshit. It’s a visually bright, emotionally murky finale of a poignant trilogy that, as its name suggests, is quite a bit darker than its previous installments.
As VICE UK’s Martyn Conterio wrote a couple years back, The Human Centipede’s “hypothesis and social diagnosis—a thesis written symbolically in feces—is stunningly bleak.” Sounds about right for Valentine's Day in 2018.
Seven years before Requiem for a Dream was written, Pacino was sulking around the streets of New York City looking for his next big score, and bringing everyone who cares about him down in the process. What could possibly be stronger than love? Addiction, obviously.
An alternate title for Noah Baumbach’s harrowing family drama could be “White People on Their Worst Behavior.” An icy performance by Nicole Kidman is the backbone of this simple return-home story, but it’s the bitter way she makes you love her by the end that will have you questioning just how thick blood really is.
It’s been more than ten years since Teeth premiered at Sundance, but the vagina dentata horror/comedy holds up as a feminist cult classic. As Broadly’s Sirin Kale wrote last year, Teeth is not only “a powerful critique of America's purity culture” but also “an incisor-sharp commentary on male entitlement, consent, and sexual violence.”
Nothing more and nothing less than love killed the cryptographer who cracked the Nazi code. In the immortal words of the only scientist anyone listens to anymore, “Break the cycle, Morty. Rise above: focus on science.”
Leave it to the Danish sadist Lars von Trier to paint the bleakest portrait of human relationships since de Sade wrote Justine. There’s love, there’s sex, and there’s fucking. Nymphomaniac debases all three, in equal measure.
Seen all these already? Why not check out our list of the best Netflix movies to watch while stoned. You’re welcome.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.