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The 10 best mind-bending movies you should watch

by Sangam Adhikari

Mind-bending movies screw with your head, they’re not only going to make you think, but they’re also going to change the way you think; movies that hit you on a visceral and analytical level. They’re bruising your brain, in a good way obviously.

Here’s our list of the 10 mind-bending movies, which all have confusing plots, and open ends that will make you evoke up quite a lot of interpretations that can very well change the entire meaning of what you’ve just witnessed on the screen.


1. Primer (2004)

Primer is the epitome of complexity. Made on an extremely low budget of $7000, Primer plays with the concept of time travel and alternate timelines with perfection. The movie is almost impossible to understand in its first viewing.

Primer is a grounded Sci-Fi thriller that uses principles of Science for its plot structure. The machine that the characters create for time travel operates on the principles of the Meissner effect. The principles of time travel in the film are inspired by Feynman diagrams. These are some of the many things that make Primer one of the most complicated time travel movies ever made.

Some believe it’s a refreshingly mature take on the sci-fi genre, whereas others feel it’s an overly complicated mess of inexperienced acting and dull direction. This indie has divided many views on it. To be honest, both may be relevant, but a gripping mind puzzle lies somewhere in the middle, one that sheds any high-concept gloss for its subject in a stripped bare analysis of how anyone might create a time machine realistically, and the dire implications it would have in turn.


2. Shutter Island (2000)

Shutter Island is one of the best psychological thrillers to come out in decades. The story revolves around the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane.

The movie messes with your head and, after the credits roll, keeps you wondering for a long time. For the most part, as the protagonist investigates to find out more about an escaped convict, you will feel like you are in the driver’s seat, but the ending will compel you to question whether the antagonists are protagonists and vice versa. You’re going to get dizzy!


3. Triangle (2009)

Christopher Smith’s overlooked thriller provides a loopy and memorable experience that gets the most out of its premise. The film revolves around passengers on an Atlantic Ocean yachting trip who jump to another ship when hit by strange weather conditions, only to witness greater mayhem on the open sea.

In the beginning, the film seems like a typical, fearless yacht-horror, but it’s more than that. The film is as distorted as possible and does not give you any direct examples of what you witness to add to your suffering.

Triangle has great visuals for an Indie movie and is one of those movies that don’t go too far into explanations, theories, and stuff, but still manage to entertain you and thrill you. A horrifying atmosphere is created by the disturbing direction and the plot just plays with your brains. It’s not that the movie doesn’t want to send you clues, but they are so subtle that if you’re not paying attention, you can easily miss them.


4. Predestination (2015)

Predestination is one of those films that is impossible to talk about without giving away too much information about the actual plot. The trailers do make it look like it’s another saving-the-world premise that uses the concept of time travel but the actual film has done something much snazzier and thought-provoking than what one’s first impression suggests.

It is an incredibly original and creative film that uses and puts a darker, grimmer spin on what might appear to be ‘normal’ elements of the science-fiction genre. It uses distinctly strange pacing, starting with a ‘bang’ and sticking with the subdued story for almost an hour. Strange enough, though, these moments of almost mere dialogue and occasional flashbacks never get repetitive, but rather deepen the characters and back-stories of the film.


5. The Butterfly Effect (2004)

The Butterfly Effect is a unique and exemplary film, with considerable scope and leaving you with reflection. The twists and the turns are fantastically written and amazingly translated onto the movie screen.

The story revolves around a young man suppressing harmful memories of his life’s main events. He discovers a way of recalling these lost memories as he grows up, and a supernatural way of altering his life.


6. Source Code (2011)

Source Code is a science fiction action thriller movie directed by Duncan Jones and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan. Concepts like programming, afterlife, quantum physics, psychology are all brilliantly combined to give a surreal experience. The movie gets to the core of the matter right away.

The movie starts with Colter Stevens, a US military pilot who wakes up on a train to Chicago only to find out that he’s in someone else’s body. The last thing he remembers is his plane crashing after an encounter with Afghan militants. How did he get here?


7. Coherence (2013)

Coherence is a re-energizing low budget sci-fi movie, This mind-bender centers around a single dinner party on a night where a comet is passing over Earth, causing some strange occurrences.

The film keeps you at the edge of your seat from the first frame to the last, primarily a result of the experimental production process by which director James Ward Byrkit only gave the actors notes about their goals for each scene (there was no script).

Million of houses and millions of peoples coexisted together which create a lot of confusion. Finally, they came to know that each of them came from a different house from the different realities. Millions of possibilities of reality occur at the end of the movie is gonna blow your mind.


8. Memento (2000)

Analysis of Memento Screenshots | AS Media Coursework

A masterpiece from Christopher Nolan based on the short story “Memento Mori’ by his younger brother Jonathan Nolan. Memento is ranked one of the best films of its decade for its unique concept, non-linear narrative structure, and patterns of memory, perception, and self-deception.

The film will keep you guessing until the end where the final twist reveals everything, leaving you in a state of shock. You’re never going to see it coming! It’s an experience that you don’t often experience in movies.

It wouldn’t be wrong if we include every third Nolan movie on this list. So, We’ve only included ‘Memento’ to shorten the list. Other films to enlist this title are ‘Tenet’, ‘ Interstellar’, ‘Inception’ and ‘The Prestige’.


9. The Machinist (2004)

The Machinist is a mesmerizing film, a journey through the interstices of a mind that is deprived of sleep, food, and struggling to unravel the chaos of a past of guilt and terror. 

When the film opens we meet Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) or at least the emaciated, tortured remains of a man who hasn’t slept for a year. We don’t know why this works in a machine factory is in such condition: the story unwinds slowly so that by the end we accompany Reznik in his shock to his moment of discovery.


10. Fight Club (1999)

David Fincher’s masterpiece satire on the pre-millennial male deserves a spot here, regardless of carrying one of cinema’s most known twists.

Over time Fight Club has become a cult hit, Based on the novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk, The movie has some deep philosophy and it questions our lifestyle as consumers. Different people have different interpretations of the movie. Starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, directed by David Fincher, this movie is a must-see.

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