10 great movies that only need one viewing, according to Reddit

As impressive as they are, there are certain movies that fans feel should only be seen once. For example, Orphan: First Kill is undeniably one of the most exciting and unpredictable horror films of the year so far, but there’s nothing more to gain from a repeat viewing – the experience won’t be quite the same.

There are plenty of great movies that Reddit users feel have suffered the same fate – they’re fun and impressive on their own, but their particular story just doesn’t have much to offer on a second or third viewing.


Eraserhead (1977)

David Lynch has built quite a reputation over the years for his penchant for unconventional and disturbing stories, and Eraserhead is perhaps one of the most obvious examples of this. Even many of Lynch’s biggest fans admit that the film is too confusing and complex, which prevents it from thriving on repeat viewings.

Reddit user balsac_is_daddy admits that while the film is “iconic” among several film circles, “once was enough.” There are many details that eagle-eyed viewers can pick up on repeat viewings, but the overall experience is too disturbing for some.

Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Oscar winner Casey Affleck joins Manchester by the Sea has built quite a reputation in the years since the film’s release as one of the most devastating and emotional performances ever put on film. The story itself lives up to this dark and pathetic tone, which many viewers are hesitant to revisit.

Reddit user millertimemtg described the film as “absolutely gutted”, claiming they had “no interest in watching it again”. Manchester by the Sea is the kind of movie that deliberately drains all happiness from the audience and replaces it with an emotional numbness that’s probably best experienced only once.

Whiplash (2014)

Whiplash is one of those rare films that is literally designed to make the audience as uncomfortable as possible. Each scene is framed and constructed deliberately to impose anxiety and tension on the viewer, with the narrative itself maintaining a relentless pace throughout.

Many fans describe Whiplash as one of the most unnerving movies of all time, which is why so many audiences don’t want to go back to the movie anytime soon. Reddit user frnklfrwsr claimed that even though they “loved” the movie, they were “still working to watch it a second time.”

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Not only is it 12 years a slave one of the saddest and most emotional films of all time, but it also includes some brutal depictions of violence that are definitely most effective on first viewing. The shock that accompanies all these disturbing acts of brutality is what makes the film’s story so exciting, which works best the first time around.

The only reason the audience found the strength to watch such an exhausting and disturbing film is because they wanted to educate themselves and discover the fates of the central characters. All of that mystery is lost on a second viewing, which leaves Redditor twitterneedsanenema with “no desire” to relive these acts of suffering again.

Gems in the Rough (2019)

While Uncut gemstones isn’t as emotional or disturbing as some of Reddit’s other offerings, the whole point of the film is to make the audience worry as much as possible. The story has several twists and turns that exist solely to keep the audience on the edge of their seats, which many fans of the film do not want to relive.

“It made me so terribly anxious the whole way through,” wrote Reddit user technical_fall_8770, commenting on the film’s unique atmosphere. The Safdie brothers use incredibly tight cinematography and fast pacing to achieve this distinct effect, and it probably won’t have the same impact on a second viewing.

Marriage Story (2019)

When it comes to movies that are literally meant to rip the audience’s heart out, Marriage story certainly deserves recognition. The entire film follows a divorcing couple, played by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, as they tear each other down and build themselves back up.

The film is emotionally draining, with several scenes consisting solely of the characters arguing through Noah Baumbach’s sharp dialogue. Reddit user artisticleap called the film “very emotional,” claiming they wouldn’t want to go through the pain again — despite the film’s technical craft.

The Return (2015)

The return was nominated for Best Picture at the 2016 Oscars, proving it’s impressed critics and casual audiences alike, but it’s not the type of story that lends itself easily to repeat viewings. On top of a challenging run time of 2 hours and 30 minutes, The return there is very little narrative or dialogue to keep the audience invested the second time around.

Reddit user ctancel5814 is “glad to see [the film] once,” but he doesn’t think it’s going to be revisited anytime soon. It remains one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s crowning achievements, but the film itself doesn’t really offer much on repeat viewings that isn’t obvious the first time around.

Come and See (1985)

Come and see is often cited as one of the greatest war films ever made, and also holds the impressive distinction of being one of the most harrowing stories ever told. It is a scathing condemnation of war and its endless casualties, told through the perspective of a young boy whose life is destroyed by an impending conflict.

Reddit user chuff3r describes Come and see as “dark, senseless, incomprehensible and painfully human”, proving just how emotional and powerful Elem Klimov’s iconic film really is. There are a few moments that need to be seen just once to change an audience’s perspective on humanity forever.

Eighth Grade (2018)

The reason so many people refuse to watch Eight grade second time around is actually a huge compliment to Bo Burnham’s script – the film is too painfully relatable. It perfectly captures the challenges and traumas of this particular stage of life – to the extent that many audiences saw themselves in the main character of Elsie Fisher.

Eight grade relies on its credibility and great humor to strike a chord with audiences, and the fact that Redditors like redsamuri are so hesitant to watch it again proves it’s doing its job perfectly. They write that “every awkward interaction cuts me to the core.”

The Pianist (2002)

Telling the story of a Jew’s journey through war-torn Poland in the 1940s, The pianist is often described as one of the most difficult films ever made to watch. It doesn’t pull its punches in the slightest, offering some truly disturbing and disturbing set pieces that show just how indiscriminately brutal this era was.

The pianist is utterly dark from start to finish, with Adrien Brody’s powerful performance leading the audience through a story of hopelessness and futile resistance. Reddit user john_lives praised the film, but wrote that “no one should feel this miserable twice.”

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