The 10 Best Movies About Dysfunctional Families That Makes Audiences Feel Grateful About Theirs

As the great comedian Charlies Chaplin once said: “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in a long shot.” Films about dysfunctional family relationships are those special kinds of entertainment that convey the importance of strong family bonding to audiences. Yet, the appeal of these movies stems from their satirical commentary on the adamance of sustaining family values which led to unprecedented situations.

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Be it a tragedy or a comedy, dysfunctional family films constantly undergo reinterpretations that manage to sustain audiences’ interest in the genre.


‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ (2001)

Aside from the symmetrical shots and deadpan humor, turbulent family relationships have also been director Wes Anderson‘s trademark in cinema.

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The Royal Tenenbaums depicts the eccentricities, heartaches, and disappointments faced by the Tenenbaums. And it all started, perhaps, because of patriarch Royal Tenenbaum’s (Gene Hackman) sudden departure from the family. After learning of her ex-wife’s potential remarriage, Royal returns to his family 22 years later, claiming he had cancer. However, his grow-up children have other equally exasperating matters on their minds.

‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (1974)

The film that spearheaded the slasher genre and inspired horror films to launch into franchises. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the most controversial horror films despite its comparatively less bloody content.

On their way to investigate grave-robbing, a group of teenagers stumbles upon a family of murderers who prefer dining on human flesh. Led by the iconic Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) armed with his chainsaw, the vulnerable targets must do everything to survive the slaughterhouse family’s inhumane antics.

‘The Quiet Family’ (1998)

Sometimes the best partners-in-crime are your family members. And with the Kangs in The Quiet Family, this is most certainly the case.

The South Korean dark comedy follows a family who owns a lodge in a remote hiking area. After their first customer committed suicide, the family hastily buries the body to avoid unwanted attention and bad publicity. Unfortunately, their customers start dying under outrageous circumstances, which continuously besieges the family to cover up their misdemeanors.

‘Eraserhead’ (1977)

Film buffs don’t call him the “Master of Surrealism” for nothing. David Lynch‘s feature debut Eraserhead not only baffles fans with its ambiguous imagery, but its eerie score and dubious characters are exactly what nightmares are made of.

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Focusing on the imminent fear of parenthood, Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) is distressed with his life spiraling out of control when his girlfriend gave birth to a mutant child. Unable to tolerate the newborn’s ceaseless cries and screeching, Henry’s girlfriend took off, leaving only the undependable protagonist to take care of their alien child while hallucinations swarmed his mind.

‘Shiva Baby’ (2020)

One of the stand-out indie films of 2020, Shiva Baby is a comedy-horror hybrid that highlights the tragedy of being a bisexual college student in a Jewish family that thrives on gossip about other people’s misfortunes.

Attending a shiva (Jewish mourning rituals) with her clueless parents, the main protagonist Danielle (Rachel Sennott), is thrown into impassive conservations with judgemental relatives, comparisons with her ex-girlfriend, and direct confrontations with her sugar daddy and his wife. Maybe Danielle and The Graduate (1967)’s Benjamin should attend counseling together.

‘Visitor Q’ (2001)

Shot in just seven days, extreme director Takashi Miike invites no short of controversy from the public with Visitor Q as part of Japan’s “Love Cinema” series.

Visitor Q sees a stranger entering the bizarre life of the Yamazaki’s, consisting of an ex-reporter man, his heroin addict wife, an abusive son, and a daughter who works as a young prostitute. Attempting to restore balance to the dysfunctional family, Recreating the style of home movies makes the macabre-humored film much more realistic as it is shocking.

‘Boyhood’ (2014)

Contrary to Miike’s Visitor Q, Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood took 12 long years to portray the coming-of-age story of Mason Evans Jr. From the age of 6 all the way to 12th grade at age 18.

The film examines Mason’s bumpy transition from childhood to adolescence and his ever-changing relationship dynamics with his divorced parents and sister. Detailing the little things in life, such as relentless sibling bickering, unfulfilled promises made with parents, and first experiences with romance, Boyhood is a poignant tale of growing up brimming with anecdotes that many will resonate with.

‘Goodnight Mommy’ (2014)

Fans of extreme horror films would be bewildered by the Austrian film that befuddles the line between innocence and malevolence.

Two nine-year-old twin brothers await their mother’s return in their lakeside home. When their mother arrives home from her cosmetic surgery, the twins are startled by their mother’s bandaged appearance and sudden personality change. In the absence of a father figure, the children discover clues that their “mother” is not who she claims to be.

‘Knives Out’ (2019)

Featuring a star-studded ensemble cast, the success of Knives Out lies not only in its dry but sardonic hilarity but its ingeniously plotted whodunit narrative.

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The mystery film begins when acclaimed crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead in his house. While the police believe it to be suicide, the renowned Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) thinks there’s more to the story than meets the eye. With the help of Harlan’s personal maid Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), Detective Blanc commences his investigation into the enigmatic but deteriorating Thrombey family, with each member shrouding secrets that may be shed light on Harlan’s untimely demise.

‘Hereditary’ (2018)

From Knives Out to Hereditary (2018), Toni Collette is definitely the face of the dysfunctional family in motion pictures.

After the death of the secretive matriarch of the Graham family, her daughter Annie (Collette) and her family start having increasingly strange encounters that threaten their once peaceful home life. One of the best psychological horror films about demonic families, Hereditary is also a heartbreaking film about the sufferings experienced from losing your loved ones, prompting one to resort to extreme measures to ease their pain.

KEEP READING: 10 Family Films That Are Great For Kids But Not As Good For Adults

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