Mind bending movies are known to have many twists and turns that can take the story in an unexpected direction. The best mind bending movies, however, have a much more profound purpose to their twists and turns than to just entertain. They force their audience to question the world around them and bend their minds to see things in a way they would’ve never expected. Mind bending movies are typically science fiction films, psychological thrillers, horrors, and mystery dramas but any genre will do. Here are the 15 best mind bending movies that will make your head spin.
This film takes the traditional murder mystery premise of strangers being killed off one by one and turns it on its head. Identity is about ten strangers who are stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rain storm when they realize that they’re being killed off one by one. The film takes a lot of twists and turns which takes the story to a place you’ll never see coming.
You’ve seen flashbacks, time travel, and expository dialogue, but Charlie Kaufman’s romantic sci-fi depicts the backstory of a relationship in one of the most creative ways viewers have witnessed. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is about an estranged couple that undergo a procedure that will erase each other from their memories. The film is inventive, funny, and a heartwarmingly relatable message to anyone who has wished they could forget a relationship.
Time travel storylines are known to give viewers a headache. They can walk the line of brilliant and convoluted. Predestination is closer to the former. The film is about a temporal agent (Ethan Hawke) who embarks on a final time-traveling assignment to prevent an elusive criminal from launching an attack that kills thousands of people. Predestination is an audacious adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s short story, that is visually arresting and a mind-bending ride from start to finish.
Ari Aster is known for being an unsettling and unpredictable director, stemming from the release of his directorial debut Hereditary. The horror movie is unlike any other horror movie that came before it. It starts as a family drama and ends as something else entirely. Hereditary is about a grieving family that is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences. The horror film is particularly dark and graphic in some scenes, with content that many would find disturbing.
Christian Bale is an actor who is at his best when he is playing a tortured character. He’s known for playing Batman and a psychopath in American Psycho but one of his lesser known roles is as a anorexic insomniac in The Machinist. The movie is about an industrial worker who hasn’t slept in a year and begins to doubt his own sanity. The Machinist is a psychological horror story that allows you to experience what it’s like to lose your grip on reality.
Donnie Darko quickly became a cult classic after its theatrical run was hindered by 9/11 and other tragedies. The film also has a strange script that alienated a lot of audiences. However, the rising popularity of Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal has kept this earlier film of theirs in the spotlight. Donnie Darko is about a troubled teenager who is plagued by hallucinations of a manipulative man in a bunny suit. The film has a weird story and is deserving of being one of the best mind bender movies.
Charlie Kaufman has a knack for creating some of the best mind blowing movies. His films feel borderline experimental and enjoyably bizarre. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is another Kaufman film that messes with your mind. The film is about a young woman who travels with her boyfriend to meet his parents on a secluded farm. The film takes a surreal approach to addressing existential questions about humanity. Even though we spend most of our time in a car, I’m Thinking of Ending Things stays interesting all throughout.
The Others is a movie you want to know as little as possible about before seeing it. The mystery thriller has a twist ending that the film largely relies on to be effective. The movie is about a woman who lives in her darkened old family house with her two photosensitive children and becomes convinced that the home is haunted. The Others delivers a top notch piece of suspense that will seem inspired by Alfred Hitchcock.
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This movie tells a clever and meta tale about getting into John Malkovich’s head. Spike Jonze and again, Charlie Kaufman are behind this film which stars John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, and Catherine Keener. The movie follows a puppeteer discovers a portal that leads literally into the head of movie star John Malkovich. If that premise sounds strange, the film itself is even more bizarre. However, Jonze and Kaufman use humor, originality, and creativity to make the film work extremely well.
Christopher Nolan is known for his mind blowing movies from The Prestige to Interstellar. Before both of those films, Nolan created the inventive feature film Memento. You’ll need to watch the film more than once to fully understand it. Memento is about a man with short-term memory loss who attempts to track down his wife’s murderer. When it comes to movies that will make your head spin, Memento is right up there with the best of them.
Moon is another movie that will make you think. The film takes a look at how solitude can affect a human being over long periods of time. The sci-fi centers around an astronaut who has a personal crisis while stationed on the moon. In the best sense, Moon is an old-fashioned sci-fi. It focuses less on CGI explosions and instead on a greater personal struggle. Sam Rockwell carries the film as one of the only lead actors in the film.
Black Swan is a harrowing psychological thriller created by Darren Aronofsky. It takes viewers firsthand through what a descent into madness can look like. The film centers around an ambitious ballerina who finds herself struggling with a dark alter-ego while striving for perfection in the role of the White Swan. Black Swan has dark content but it’s a strong piece of cinema with a tremendous performance by Natalie Portman.
Shutter Island plays a lot of mind games on the viewer. There are a lot of twists and turns that make the film more than deserving of being a mind bending film. Martin Scorsese directs this thriller that follows two U.S. marshals who travel to a remote island in search of an escaped patient from Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane. Shutter Island may be a little slow moving but if you stick with it to the end, you’ll find it was all worth it.
Rosemary’s Baby is the epitome of classic horror. Rosemary’s Baby was one of the first horror movies released in 1968, and it’s still just as renowned today. In 2012, the American Film Institute named it one of the greatest horror films of all time. The movie centers around a young couple trying for a baby who move into an aging, ornate apartment building on Central Park West, but find themselves surrounded by peculiar neighbors.
When it comes to mind bending movies, there is no better example than Inception. The Christopher Nolan thriller instantly became iconic and is one of the main reasons mind bending films have become so popular. The film follows a man who enters people’s dreams and steals their secrets for corporate espionage. With a star-studded cast, a visionary director, and a script that takes you on a ride unlike anything you’ve ever see, Inception is arguably the most enjoyable mind bending film as a date.
Today, audience members have a tendency to learn about films before watching them through trailers, reviews, or friends. With mind-bending films, however, it’s best to go in completely blind and to simply enjoy whatever ride is thrown your way.
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