Filmmakers can either investigate or exploit the issue of incest based on their goals, just like they can with other themes like violence, crime, and horror. Accolades of being exploitative, insulting, nasty, and mindlessly provocative have been leveled against films about incestuous relationships involving mother-son, father-daughter, brother- and sister-to-brother or sister-to-sister, and some of those charges are true.
There have only been a few of performers who have agreed to work on incest movies, and none of these movies have ever achieved unanimous critical acclaim. Until now. Movies about the emotional side of incestuous relationships have also been made, focusing on how people were coerced into having an incestuous relationship because of their own feelings of guilt or shame.
To be clear, we’re not talking about incest porn here; rather, we’re talking about how incest is depicted in mainstream films. Here is a list of the best incest films that have attempted to tackle the difficult subject matter. Most of the films on this list are about incestuous families. Films about gay or lesbian incest have been made infrequently, but those that do exist are rarer yet. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all provide streaming options for some of these excellent incest movies.
20. Close My Eyes (1991)
The story of Richard and Natalie, half-brother and half-sister, is told in the film “Close My Eyes,” which stars Alan Rickman and Clive Owen. Brothers and sisters, who have been apart from childhood due to their parents’ divorce and subsequent marriages, are able to connect after many years apart because of their shared childhood experiences. In addition to being married to a wealthy stockbroker, Sinclair (Rickman) is also a recruiter. Richard, Natalie’s younger brother, is a town planner and a member of the city council. Natalie and Richard are solely attracted to one another because of their intense sexual desire for one another.
19. Ma Mere (2004)
In terms of unsettling and unwatchable films involving incest, ‘Ma Mere’ is by far the most controversial. An incestuous mother obsessed with sex is played by Isabelle Huppert in the film, which invites her son to have sex with her. Violent intercourse occurs as Helene encourages her son to physically harm her and as he masturbates to the point of self-destruction, she cuts her self-inflicted wound. Isabelle Huppert is at her explosive best in this film, which is obviously provocative and unwatchable for the most part, yet you can’t get your eyes off of her.
18. Savage Grace (2007)
An incestuous relationship between the mother and son is depicted in the film, based on the murder of Barbara Baekeland. Barbara, played by Julianne Moore, has to deal with her son’s mental illness and confusion over his sexual orientation. As their lives come to a catastrophic end, she seduces her son in attempt to “stabilize” his sexuality, which creates an atmosphere of fear and terror. Julianne Moore is sensational in her role and lifts the film to a new level of excellence.
17. Spanking the Monkey (1994)
A slang term for masturbation, “Spanking the Monkey” is a dark comedy at the onset. Raymond’s mother has a leg injury, and his father is on a work-related tour, so he can’t go with him to an essential medical internship. It is only after Raymond’s mental health begins to deteriorate that the two form an incestuous relationship. Despite the film’s controversial and provocative subject matter, director David O. Russell manages to fill the film with warmth and enthusiasm that makes it a joy to watch. How morally repugnant, or how depraved. With more than 90% approval from critics and taking in more than five times its budget, “Spanking the Monkey” is the most highly acclaimed incest film on this list.
16. Delta (2008)
This underappreciated Hungarian film explores a tragic incestuous relationship between an estranged brother and sister in a way that few other films have attempted. Even if it has a sinister feel to it, the film doesn’t take advantage of its subject matter’s ambiguity to its fullest extent. Though there’s always an air of unease hanging over the film, the way the individuals and their relationships are depicted makes it easier for us to empathize with them rather than be turned off by the obvious use of emotional manipulation. ‘Delta’ tells the story of a young man who returns home to meet his mother and sister after spending time with her lover. His sister moves in with him while he begins to build a new house for himself, making things much more difficult for him.
15. The Blue Lagoon (1980)
‘The Blue Lagoon’ tells the story of two cousins, Richard and Emmeline, who are left on a secluded island in the South Pacific after a shipwreck. Emmeline and Richard first had Paddy to keep them company but he succumbs to alcoholism and they find themselves on their own in the island’s wide expanse. Emmeline gives birth to a daughter, Paddy, who they name after their daughter. Filmmakers argued that they wanted to portray the children in a way that was free of any form of constraints, and the movie was highly attacked for promoting taboos and being unnatural. As far as I’m concerned, the audience is the best judge of quality.
14. La Luna (1979)
In Bernardo Bertolucci’s controversial film, a mother and her son are depicted in a strained relationship. After his mother’s husband commits himself, Joe, a disturbed adolescent, moves to Rome with his mother. In the end, the boy’s mental health issues took a toll on him and he started taking narcotics. As she works to liberate him from the grip of addiction, his mother forms a sexual relationship with him. As a whole, the picture falters, although the incestuous scene is done really nicely.
13. Beautiful Kate (2009)
When Ned returns to visit his ailing father and his sister, it’s with his girlfriend, Kate, in tow. The story revolves around a complicated web of incestuous connections. Kate, Ned’s older sister, perished in an accident along with her older brother Cliff. Ned’s fiance discovers that he had a sexual relationship with Kate. Sally, Ned’s sister, tells him that she believes that Kate had a sexual relationship with Cliff, and he can’t bear to live with the guilt of doing such a heinous crime.’ However confusing the film’s plot, the writing and how it addresses such a horrific subject make it quite effective.
12. The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)
When it comes to depicting human connections, the film “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” is gloriously imperfect. As a farmer with a heart ailment who lives with his daughter who is separated from the outside world, Daniel Day-Lewis is an actor to watch. Having Kathleen and her adolescent sons in the house causes Jack’s daughter to become resentful of Jack’s extended family. Upon learning that Kathleen’s son had sex with Jack’s daughter, he is both enraged and heartbroken, realizing that she was in love with him. Because of the sheer warmth and compassion that it brings in, it manages to elicit an emotional response from its viewers.
11. Lolita (1997)
‘Lolita’ has been hailed as one of the best incest movies ever made, despite the fact that the incest is primarily hinted and not explicitly stated. Humbert, a French literature professor who is visiting New Hampshire, leases a room from Charlotte, a single mother who has been living with her teenage daughter Dolores for years. Humbert marries Charlotte in order to be closer to Dolores (or “Lo” as she is known). Charlotte is murdered in a vehicle accident after she learns of Humbert’s plan to pursue Dolores, whom he now refers to as “Lolita,” once she discovers his plans. Clare Quilty abandons Lo after he escapes with him, and he is abandoned by him as well. However, the film was appreciated by critics for its artistic and emotional nature rather than any incest film. Jeremy Irons has done an excellent job as Humbert.
10. Illegitimate (2016)
When it comes to the various sins that are common in society, ‘Illegitimate’ is a good place to start. It’s a passionate debate in an Orthodox Jewish family with a doctor as the head, a man who is proud to have averted many abortions. Sasha and Romeo, his twins, are having an incestuous, obsessive relationship, and Sasha soon discovers that she is pregnant. Sasha subsequently learns that her father never agreed with her mother’s decision to terminate her pregnancy, allowing her mother to abort her. After a few minutes into the film, we’re left wondering whose side is on the “right” side of a difficult love story that’s gotten intertwined and coiled under its own weight. This may be one of the most intriguing incest films ever created, ‘Illegitimate.’
9. Beau Père (1981)
An incestuous relationship between a pianist and his adolescent stepdaughter (whose mother died in an automobile accident) is known as “Beau Père,” the French word for stepfather. Reminiscent of “Lolita,” Remi is a musician who lives with his wife and stepdaughter in a Paris apartment. In the wake of her mother’s death, Marion had two options: stay with Remi or return to her father Charly’s inebriated state. In spite of Charly’s efforts to keep her there, Remi, her stepfather, welcomes her back. Because of their closeness, Marion finds herself drawn to Remi, but he is able to resist because of their friendship. “Beau Père,” an incest film that received favorable reviews despite its taboo subject matter, does not glorify it like previous incest films, which is unique for an incest film.
8. The Cement Garden (1993)
‘The Cement Garden,’ a story about incest in a family of four children whose parents have died, is told from the perspective of one of the children. To begin, we meet Jack, a young man who is helping his dying father with the household tasks while also caring for his two older sisters and younger brother. Jack and Julie resolve to keep their mother’s illness a secret from everyone because they don’t want to be placed in foster care. Instead of burying their mother, Jack and Julie erect a cement mausoleum for her to be entombed after her death. Despite the fact that Jack and Julie quickly form an incestuous relationship, they are unsure of the long-term consequences for themselves and society. In general, ‘The Cement Garden’ was praised for its performances and particularly for its direction.
7. Oldboy (2003)
Those of you who haven’t seen Park Chan-spectacular wook’s thriller should stop reading here and go see it first. In terms of sensory and emotional intensity, “Oldboy” is the best film ever made. Oh Dae Su, a man who was kidnapped and held captive for 15 years, is the focus of this film. After uncovering frightening realities about his background, he sets out to discover the identity of his captor. Lee Woo-jin, a rival of Dae Su’s at school, was caught in the act of physical intimacy with his own sister. Woo-sister jin’s commits suicide as a result of him spreading the news to his peers. Retribution for Woo-actions, jin’s Woo-jin locked up his son for 15 years and used his own adult daughter to make him fall in love with her.
6. Shame (2011)
An extraordinarily compelling drama that explores the darkest aspects of the human soul, Shame by Steve McQueen The story revolves around a New York City businessman who suffers from a serious case of erectile dysfunction and is a serial sex offender. For the time being, he has to keep his emotions in check when his sister comes to visit. In this film, you can see it in a variety of ways. While many believe that Brendon and Sissy have nothing in common, I believe that they have a dark past. There is a slew of clues about their incestuous past from their level of intimacy and the way they talk to each other. In addition to the great performances of Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in the film, the film’s characters’ pathologies resonated with viewers on a number of levels. Would you agree?
5. The Quiet (2005)
Upon arriving at the home of her godparents, Dot discovers that their teenage daughter Nina is allegedly having an incestuous connection with her father Paul, who is deaf and mute. Nina secretly intends to assassinate her father, but Paul is hiding something and suspects her, and when Paul is strangled and thrown from the building, Nina realizes her dream of assassinating her father. Olivia is arrested for the murder of Paul, rather than Dot, who was thought to be the assassin. This movie surprised critics by opening with great reviews, notably for lead actress Elisha Cuthbert’s performance and the film’s depth of character portrayals. Negative evaluations were also common because of the presence of incest, but only if someone was interested in them.
4. Murmur of the Heart (1971)
You can’t help but fall in love with Louis Malle’s witty depiction of adolescence and sexuality. Although the incestuous relationship between Laurent and Clara is weird and provocative, it is endearing because of its charm and loveable affection, even though it is a peculiar and provocative relationship. Their romance has an unsettlingly romantic air to it, which adds to the novelty of it all. Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, and others have been influenced by the film’s style.
3. Lovers of the Arctic Circle (1998)
When Anna’s mother marries Otto’s father following the death of her husband, Anna and Otto’s childhood friendship takes a turn. In spite of this, they form an incestuous relationship as they become more drawn to each other, but life intervenes and the two go their separate ways. As a result, the film’s characters are treated as real people and the relationship is handled with a refreshing lack of melodrama and sentimentality, drawing no conclusions. One of the greatest incest films ever made, “Lovers of the Arctic Circle” is a must-see.
2. The Dreamers (2003)
‘The Dreamers’ is one of the most erotic movies with incest in it, rather than nasty, as one might expect from an incest film. Matthew, an American student studying French literature in France, encounters twins Theo and Isabelle while there. Matthew accepts Theo and Isabelle’s invitation to stay with them, only to eventually consent to their “liberal” habits of staying, sleeping, and showering together naked, despite his initial reservations. Matthew and Isabelle begin a romance with Theo’s “subtle” consent, but Theo’s “monitoring” keeps everything creepy. “The Dreamers” is one of the most explicit incest movies ever filmed, including frightening images of masturbation, incest, and frontal nudity. Their inhibitions and devotion to one another gradually fade as they join the continuous public protests. It was hailed as “sweet and captivating” by both critics and audiences alike, making it a universally popular film.
1. Dogtooth (2009)
This unflinching piece of art is utterly brilliant, and an understatement. Yorgos Lanthimos’ film, ‘Dogtooth,’ portrays the narrative of a family that restricts their children’s exposure to the outside world. The film normalizes violence, so even the most heinous acts don’t faze you. The parents ask the child to pick between his sisters after the father dismisses the woman he used to pay to have sex with his son because she had shown them Hollywood pictures. It’s reminiscent of a Michael Haneke picture, but without the sting of retribution.