We all know that horror movies are supposed to be filled with well horror or scary scenes. So sometimes it can tough to truly shock viewers because they have seen it before or are simply ready and braced for something awful. However, there are times in non-horror movies where there are scenes that are more unsettling, intense, and horrific than the entirety of some horror movies. These scenes can catch the viewer off guard because they come at us unexpectedly or simply show the disgusting real side of life.
In this series we will take a look at some of the best and most memorable scary, unsettling or all-around horrific scenes from a movie that are generally considered to not be in the horror genre. Let me know what you thought about the scene and share some of your favorite horrific scenes from non-horror movies. Maybe it will be featured in a future post. Enjoy!
*Warning: May Contain Spoilers*
Léon: The Professional (1994)
Scene One: Sniff
Scene Two: One-Minute Past
Luc Beeson’s stylish Léon: The Professional about a professional assassin reluctantly taking in a 12-year-old girl after her family is brutally murdered is one of the most beautiful and well-acted action thrillers of all-time. Leon (Jean Reno) and Mathilda’s (Natalie Portman) chemistry in their relationship, as controversial as it can be construed, really drives the film into something deeper than just another action flick. Leon, who is usually a recluse, takes in Mathilda after a tragedy to not only care for her but to teach her the ways of a “professional”. These scenes are light-hearted with some chuckles and also sweet in how they both seem to need each other in different ways. However, for moments like these to work, you need the dark and ugly side. The reason behind Mathilda’s tragedy which brought the two together. The monster who murdered her family and most likely would have killed her as well if he had the chance at the time. Enter Norman Stansfield, played to perfection by Gary Oldman.
Scene One: Sniff
To do the second scene justice, I had to add Stansfield’s introduction to the movie and you will understand why. We see Stansfield, back turned and listening to music through headphones, while one of his henchman, Malky, is trying to convince a man, Mathilda’s father, to tell the truth now about what happened to their product because Stansfield has a scary talent for sniffing out a lie. When Mathilda’s father (Michael Badalucco) continues to claim his innocence, the henchman reluctantly and apologetically interrupts his boss from his music letting him know that he says he didn’t cut their dope. From the moment Stansfield turns around, you can see that this is a menacing individual. He then approaches the father, who is almost trembling, and begins to physically sniff and even caress the man. What makes this part even more fantastic is that this was improvised by Oldman without Michael Badalucco knowing he would do this, so the discomfort we see on his face is genuine. While hugging the father, Stansfield lets him know that he believes him but to find out the next day by noon. Ok first, ain’t no man sniffing me but how excruciatingly uncomfortable is this scene alone? Even the henchman is visibly shaken by what’s happening. Gary Oldman set a very uneasy tone right off the bat with this character.
Scene Two: One-Minute Past
Well it’s almost noon the next day as we see men strategically fill the hallway outside of the father’s apartment and up strolls Stansfield. We see him take a small case out of his pocket and rattle it next to his ear. He opens it, takes a pill out and bites down on the pill going into an almost euphoric type trance while letting out an orgasmic like noise. He then utters one of the greatest phrases in movie history, “I like these calm little moments before the storm. It reminds me of Beethoven.” Shivers down my spine. It’s one of those lines that has more impact on the re-watches of the film because you know what happens next but upon first viewing, you are questioning what exactly it means. We then see the father nervously drinking and the mom having a fun bubble bath. Back to Norman who is working himself up talking about how you can hear the insects scurrying around as the storm approaches. While grabbing a shotgun he asks Malky, “Do you like Beethoven?” in which he gives a pot on answer of, “I couldn’t really say.” Norman pumps the shotgun and without hesitation blows the door open with it. Panic ensues in the apartment. The father knows what’s coming. His oldest daughter runs for her life screaming daddy as Stansfield conducts his own symphony while gunning down the wife in the tub and the daughter in the hallway.
The scene builds to this crescendo and Norman just stops to calmly approach the father, who is frozen stiff, and lets him know, “We said noon. I’ve got one-minute past.” He sarcastically snaps his finger as if to say, “darn the luck.” The scene is heart pounding and an unsettling watch to witness how calmly innocent people were just murdered. What makes this all the more horrific is that this man and his henchmen are all DEA agents. They are supposed to be the good guys and they just slaughter this entire family, except for Mathilda, because of the father’s actions. Oldman just kills this performance as one of the greatest villains of all-time and he just owns both of these scenes. You can’t take your eyes off of this maniacal performance and how he plays this unhinged character bursting at seams with a little bit of charm on top of it all. Magnifico!
*Note: I add two videos to show more of the scene. *