What do we mean by taboo? It is something that will not be encouraged to happen by society as we know it stands on some cultural belief systems, which human beings have always considered too sanctimonious to be broken. But much like almost every prohibited thing, taboo relationships have an allure of their own. Some dare to explore it, and some are just too afraid to have a peek into the darker sides of their beings. Lars von Trier says in his movie, ‘The House That Jack Built’ (2018), that man’s darkest desires are always manifested in art. Several films have explored these dark waters of prohibited desires, and Netflix offers some of the best titles in the genre.
11. Hard Feelings (2023)
Unlike the other films in this list, this Granz Henman directorial explores a friendship that finds itself to be taboo, thereby giving it a humorous angle. In other words, we meet high school students/best friends Charly (Tobias Schäfer) and Paula (Cosima Henman), who are grappling with their respective puberties and genitals that can speak to them. To add to this, they also have to deal with their feelings towards each other that feel gross and wrong, which is another way of saying taboo. You can watch the film here.
10. 365 days (2020)
Directed by Barbara Białowąs and Tomasz Mandes, ‘365 Days‘ is a controversial Polish film that explores a taboo relationship through the lens of Stockholm Syndrome. Starring Michele Morrone as Massimo Torricelli and Anna Maria Sieklucka as Laura Biel, the story revolves around a young woman, Laura, who is kidnapped by a mafia boss, Massimo, and given one year to fall in love with him. Despite its steamy romantic facade, the film faced criticism for romanticizing a toxic relationship dynamic, raising ethical concerns about consent and manipulation. ‘365 Days’ delves into the dark complexities of desire, power, and obsession, leaving audiences questioning the boundaries between love and coercion. You can watch the movie here.
9. Bulbbul (2020)
Directed by Anvita Dut Guptan, this Indian Hindi-language horror film is set in the 1880s Bengal presidency. It follows a young 5-year-old girl named Bulbbul (Tripti Dimri) whose attraction towards her 20-year-older husband Indranil’s (Rahul Bose) brother, the much younger Satya (Avinash Tiwary), makes Indranil send Satya to foreign. When Satya returns 20 years later, Indranil isn’t there, and Bulbbul has grown up to be a gorgeous and strong woman. As we get to see how their new dynamic works out, there is a parallel plotline that shows a chudail (a demonic female) going about killing the men who abuse their wives in the nearby village. How these two stories are connected is what we get to see in this brilliantly executed and underrated film underscored by incestuous elements. You can stream ‘Bulbbul’ here.
8. Rebecca (2020)
The 2020 Netflix film is not the first time Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel ‘Rebecca’ has been adapted for the screen. Arguably, the most famous adaptation was by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940, which won an Oscar for Best Picture. In the 2020 web film, the 20-something unnamed British female protagonist (Lily James) meets the dashing widower Maxim “Max” de Winter (Armie Hammer) while traveling the world with an older American socialite. They fall in love and marry, and the protagonist travels with him to Manderley, her husband’s sprawling estate in Cornwall. However, her Cinderella-like dream quickly disappears as the protagonist finds herself living in the shadow of her husband’s dead first wife, Rebecca. The story’s taboo aspect comes from Rebecca’s relationship with her cousin, Jack Favell (Sam Riley). You may watch the film here.
7. Fatal Affair (2020)
‘Fatal Affair,’ a gripping thriller directed by Peter Sullivan, dives deep into the treacherous terrain of taboo relationships. Starring Nia Long and Omar Epps, the film weaves a suspenseful narrative around an extramarital liaison that quickly spirals into a nightmare. Long’s character, Ellie, rekindles a past connection with an old flame, David (Epps), leading to a torrid affair. As the intensity of their secret romance grows, it unravels a web of deceit, obsession, and peril. ‘Fatal Affair’ skillfully explores the forbidden allure of forbidden love, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats as they witness the devastating consequences of crossing moral boundaries. You may watch the film here.
6. Lady Chatterley’s Lover (2022)
When D. H. Lawrence’s original book came out, it caused massive controversy. At one point, it was banned in multiple countries around the world, and its publisher faced an obscenity trial in Britain because of it in 1960. The story follows a torrid affair between an upper-class married woman and the working-class man who serves as the gamekeeper of the impressive Chatterley estate in Wragby. In Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s rendition of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover,’ Constance “Connie” Reid’s husband, Sir Clifford Chatterley, returns home, paralyzed from the waist down. As they don’t have any children yet, Clifford suggests that Connie should have an affair simply for impregnation. When Connie meets gamekeeper Oliver Mellors, they quickly realize they have much in common despite their differences and embark on a passionate relationship. You can check out the film here.
5. Lust Stories (2018)
This is an anthology film comprising four shorts directed by four strong directorial voices from India. Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar are the four directors who joined hands for this venture after their 2014 project together in the same format, which was called ‘Bombay Talkies.’ Each of the stories has something to do with sexual desire. The first story is of a teacher who has fallen for one of her students, but she is only in it because her boyfriend is far away, and she craves sex. Another story, deftly shot inside a small Mumbai apartment, shows that a maid has an intense sexual relationship with the young man whom she works for, but when his parents meet with his fiancee’s folks in the same apartment, things get interesting.
The third story is about a middle-aged trio. Two of them are married, while the third one is an old friend of the husband’s. However, the husband learns that his friend and wife are brewing a storm under the sheets when he is not around. None of the characters seem happy with their positions in life despite being affluent, probably reflecting the lack of a soul among people in this world constantly alienating us from our surroundings. The fourth movie is a comedy and perhaps the best of the lot. It is the story of a girl recently married into a traditional Indian family. Although her husband is very sweet, she remains sexually unsatisfied and thus finds other ways to pleasure herself. A hilarious scene involving a public display of sexual pleasure in this short takes a bold step in Indian films while talking about the expressions of a woman’s desires. You can stream the film here.
Read More: Best Casino Movies on Netflix
4. In the Tall Grass (2019)
Directed and written by Vincenzo Natali, ‘In the Tall Grass’ is a supernatural thriller movie based on Joe Hill’s novel of the same name. The Harrison Gilbertson and Laysla De Oliveira-starrer follows Cal DeMuth and his sister Becky, who are traveling to San Diego together. While on their way, the siblings hear a boy calling for help from a vast field of tall grass. Although they cannot see him, Cal and Becky waste no time jumping out of their cars to help the boy, only to realize they are lost in the inextricable vegetable labyrinth. You can stream ‘In the Tall Grass’ here.
3. The Four of Us (2021)
‘The Four of Us,’ a daring German film directed by Florian Gottschick, spotlights the intricacies of a taboo relationship. Starring Jonas Nay, Nilam Farooq, and Paula Kalenberg, the plot revolves around two couples entangled in an unconventional experiment. Janina, a budding journalist, and her struggling actor husband Ben, along with Janina’s best friend Maria and her boyfriend Nils, agree to a partner exchange without intimacy. The goal is to gain insight into their true desires within relationships.
As they convene at a beachside holiday house on the North Sea, secrets unravel. All four participants break the no-sex rule, leading to unexpected love connections, pregnancies, and shifting emotional landscapes. The film masterfully explores the complexities of love and personal transformation within a seemingly forbidden arrangement, with most of the narrative unfolding within the confines of the house and on the beach. You can stream the film here.
Read More: Best Sex Comedies on Netflix
2. Black Island (2021)
Written by Miguel Alexandre and Lisa Carline Hofer and directed by Alexandre, ‘Black Island’ or ‘Schwarze Insel’ is a German thriller film starring Hanns Zischler, Alice Dwyer, and Mercedes Müller. Set on the titular island, the story revolves around a taboo relationship between a student and his teacher. Jonas, a teenager, lives on the eponymous island with his family and aspires to be a writer. When their German teacher is supposedly involved in an accident, Jonas and his classmates get a substitute teacher in the mysterious and beautiful Helena Jung, whose special interest in Jonah soon evolves into a torrid affair. What Jonah doesn’t know is that his new teacher harbors a dangerous secret and intends to destroy him and his family. You can watch the movie here.
Read More: Best Horror Movies on Netflix
1. Two (2021)
Directed by Mar Targarona, ‘Two’ is a mystery drama movie that follows David and Sara, two strangers who wake up one day and find themselves stitched together. While David can’t make sense of his present state, Sara believes that her possessive husband, who has trust issues, is responsible for the bizarre situation. As they try to figure out what possible motivation the abductor may have for stitching them together, the unlikely partner learns that they are being constantly stalked. Feel free to check out the film here.
Read More: Best Movies Like Porn on Netflix