It might sound counterintuitive to include a negative word like “Don’t” in a movie’s title, but that doesn’t stop a ton of filmmakers from doing it. It immediately makes a movie sound risky or off-limits, but then again, that might be what makes it an enticing word to include. Movies can be a way to vicariously experience thrills and break certain rules, after all.
On the topic of “Don’t” movies, the following 10 do include that word at the start of their titles. They’re far from the only movies to do this, given it’s surprisingly common, but are among the best and most high-profile of those that do. Don’t be put off by the “Don’t” – they’re all worth checking out.
‘Don’t Look Now’ (1973)
Grief has become a popular thing to unpack within the horror genre in recent years, and is arguably what Ari Aster has built a career around, at least going by Hereditary and Midsommar. Don’t Look Now was a horror movie that did just that before it was cool, as it’s now half a century old, and is still sad and unsettling in equal measure.
It’s an intense psychological thriller/horror movie that sees two parents grieving the loss of their child, and how their lives unravel after an encounter with two elderly psychics while in Venice. Things start slow and continually build to an eerie climax, so while viewers need a decent amount of patience to properly engage with the film, where it ends up going makes it worth sticking with.
‘Don’t Look Up’ (2021)
Don’t Look Up is many things: a dark comedy, a disaster movie, a political satire, an angry tirade against society disguised as a movie, and one of the least subtle fictional works in recent memory. As far as the premise goes, it’s pretty simple though, seeing as it follows a team of scientists who are trying to warn the world about a comet that’s on track to collide with Earth and destroy life as we know it, all the while those in power want to pretend it poses no threat.
It’s all a fairly blatant metaphor for the issue of climate change, but given it also came out in 2021, it also works as a satirical look at how governments handled – or failed to handle – the pandemic. Either way, it’s very in-your-face and understandably divisive, but does ultimately achieve what it sets out to do, even if it does so with a certain lack of grace or delicacy.
‘Don’t Breathe’ (2016)
At the start of Don’t Breathe, a trio of young burglars target the house of an old man who they believe will be an easy target. He lives by himself, is getting on in years, and is also blind, which gives them confidence that they’ll be able to take his large stockpile of cash in a fairly straightforward manner.
If they were right, it would make for a remarkably short movie. As such, they’re incredibly wrong, as the man turns out to be a ruthlessly efficient defender of his property, turning the tables on the burglars by hunting them and effectively making them the victims. It ends up playing out like a claustrophobic slasher movie, and takes some particularly nasty turns in its uncomfortably memorable final act.
‘Don’t Torture a Duckling’ (1972)
An Italian horror movie with a very out-there title, Don’t Torture a Duckling is about a small town that’s sent into shock by a series of gruesome murders. Various characters search for the killer while numerous townspeople act suspiciously, keeping the investigators (and the audience) constantly second-guessing who might be behind the terrible crimes.
The good news is that the title is followed, and no one actually tortures a duckling. Instead, it probably refers to the fact that the murderer targets children (who are perhaps compared to ducklings here, as both are innocent and not usually harmed), so that naturally makes this grisly horror movie upsetting in parts. For those who enjoy old Italian exploitation movies, it probably holds a decent amount of value, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
Don’t is a short film directed by Edgar Wright, and originally appeared as one of the fake trailers included in Grindhouse, which is a double feature comprising Robert Rodriguez’s bloody action-horror movie Planet Terror, and Quentin Tarantino’s ever-so-slightly more restrained Death Proof.
While those two films aimed to parody and homage classic exploitation movies, Don’t aimed to do the same for old horror movie trailers. It did this through over-the-top violence and imagery, humorous narration, and Wright’s typically snappy editing, making for an entertaining fake trailer that stands as one of the better ones included in Grindhouse.
‘Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood’ (1996)
Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood is a parody of numerous movies, as the extremely long title might suggest. Boyz n the Hood, Menace II Society, and South Central are among its main targets, as all were part of a popular sub-genre throughout the 1990s known as hood films.
That might make it a fairly niche parody, seeing as that type of movie was most popular two to three decades ago now, but it’s still a good deal funnier than most 21st-century parody movies. Even if the funniest gag is ultimately the overlong title, it still makes for a pretty fun watch, with plenty of jokes – some good, some not-so-good – thrown at the viewer throughout its runtime.
‘Don’t Worry Darling’ (2022)
Don’t Worry Darling was a slightly divisive movie, to say the least. While it might’ve received the most attention for its pre-release controversies and drama, the movie’s premise itself is still an interesting one that shouldn’t be entirely overlooked, as it’s a mystery/psychological thriller film about a seemingly idyllic small community that might be holding a darker secret.
Well, of course it’s holding a dark secret. It would be strange if this kind of movie didn’t have a reveal or some plot twist hidden from the audience, but that’s what the genre demands. In any event, while some might call Don’t Worry Darling a mess, few have declared it a dull one, so it’s at least got that going for it.
‘Don’t Look Back’ (1967)
Technically, the full name of this documentary is Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back, but it can be neatly abbreviated to Don’t Look Back once you know it’s about the legendary singer-songwriter. It documents Bob Dylan at the height of his popularity while completing his tour of England in 1965.
Fans of Dylan will know that there’s always been an air of mystery around him, and so will come into Don’t Look Back knowing they’re not going to fully understand everything about him from a single documentary. However, it is still an eye-opening and interesting movie for Dylan fans, and viewers who enjoy a good documentary in general.
‘Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared’ (2011)
A short film that took the internet by storm back in 2011 – and began an entire series – Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared at first appears to be a colorful and music-filled kid’s show spoof. What starts as a playful look at the benefits of being creative gets dark very quickly, however, with shocking and horrific imagery taking center stage by the end.
It’s probably the way it transitions so jarringly but also so seamlessly that made Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared have the impact it had as an early 2010s viral video. It may have lost its shock factor nowadays, thanks to being so well-known, but can’t be overlooked for the minds it blew back when it was first posted online.
‘Don’t Think Twice’ (2016)
The main obstacle to enjoying Don’t Think Twice might be the fact that the main characters are all part of an improv comedy troupe. As such, many scenes feature a style of comedy that may be grating to some, or only enjoyable in minimal doses to others, and it can make Don’t Think Twice a little difficult to recommend.
That being said, it does still have a likable cast, and it’s a good-natured dramedy that means well. And hey, if you’re the kind of viewer who likes improv comedy, then a movie like this is a must-watch, though it’s understandable why it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.