While most horror movies take a straightforward approach to delivering terror (i.e. killer hunt victims, ghost scare families, etc.) but others take a more complex, even nonlinear approach to storytelling. In the right hands, a writer/director/cast can create a sense of palpable dread by boggling your brain. Experimental horror or films that deal with time loops and multiple realities can be especially challenging. Being confused, feeling off-kilter, struggling to make sense out of a complex tapestry of sound and disturbing imagery is more than many horror aficionados can handle!
Related Article: 10 Horror Movies That Are Basically Porn
The latest video essay from our friends at WhatCulture is right up our alley and proves that confusion equals terror to a tee: 10 Movies That Were Designed To Mess with Your Head! Not all of them are strictly horror, each is so perplexing they’ll definitely make your head spin! Have a watch and let us know what you think in the Comments section! What are your favorite movies that are equal parts horror and mind-fuck? Let’s discuss!
If you can’t stream, the movies are listed below, along with trailer and synopses. Enjoy!
Official Synopsis: Films so confusing they need to be watched twice…
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Inception (2010, Directed by Christopher Nolan)
Official Synopsis: Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief with the rare ability to enter people’s dreams and steal their secrets from their subconscious. His skill has made him a hot commodity in the world of corporate espionage but has also cost him everything he loves. Cobb gets a chance at redemption when he is offered a seemingly impossible task: Plant an idea in someone’s mind. If he succeeds, it will be the perfect crime, but a dangerous enemy anticipates Cobb’s every move.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Directed by Stanley Kubrick)
Official Synopsis: An imposing black structure provides a connection between the past and the future in this enigmatic adaptation of a short story by revered sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke. When Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and other astronauts are sent on a mysterious mission, their ship’s computer system, HAL, begins to display increasingly strange behavior, leading up to a tense showdown between man and machine that results in a mind-bending trek through space and time.
Triangle (2009, Directed by Christopher Smith)
Official Synopsis: Yacht passengers encounter mysterious weather conditions that force them to jump onto another ship, only to have the odd havoc increase.
Eraserhead (1977, Directed by David Lynch)
Official Synopsis: Henry (John Nance) resides alone in a bleak apartment surrounded by industrial gloom. When he discovers that an earlier fling with Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) left her pregnant, he marries the expectant mother and has her move in with him. Things take a decidedly strange turn when the couple’s baby turns out to be a bizarre lizard-like creature that won’t stop wailing. Other characters, including a disfigured lady who lives inside a radiator, inhabit the building and add to Henry’s troubles.
Memento (2001, Directed by Christopher Nolan)
Official Synopsis: Leonard (Guy Pearce) is tracking down the man who raped and murdered his wife. The difficulty, however, of locating his wife’s killer is compounded by the fact that he suffers from a rare, untreatable form of memory loss. Although he can recall details of life before his accident, Leonard cannot remember what happened fifteen minutes ago, where he’s going, or why.
Coherence (2014, Directed by James Ward Byrkit)
Official Synopsis: Eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of events due to the malevolent influence of a passing comet.
Donnie Darko (2001, Directed by Richard Kelly)
Official Synopsis: In a funny, moving and distinctly mind-bending journey through suburban America, one extraordinary but disenchanted teenager is about to take Time’s Arrow for a ride. After surviving a freak accident, Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) begins to explore what it means to be alive, and in short order to be in love, he uncovers secrets of the universe that give him a tempting power to alter time and destiny.
Primer (2004, Directed by Shane Carruth)
Official Synopsis: Intellectual engineers Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan) build and sell error-checking technology with the help of their friends Robert (Casey Gooden) and Phillip (Anand Upadhyaya). But when Aaron and Abe accidentally invent what they think is a time machine, Abe builds a version capable of transporting a human and puts the device to the test. As the two friends obsess over their creation, they discover the dark consequences of their actions.
Lost Highway (1997, Directed by David Lynch)
Official Synopsis: From this inventory of imagery, Lynch fashions two separate but intersecting stories, one about a jazz musician (Bill Pullman), tortured by the notion that his wife is having an affair, who suddenly finds himself accused of her murder. The other is a young mechanic (Balthazar Getty) drawn into a web of deceit by a temptress who is cheating on her gangster boyfriend. These two tales are linked by the fact that the women in both are played by the same actress (Patricia Arquette).
Mulholland Drive (2001, Directed by David Lynch)
Official Synopsis: A dark-haired woman (Laura Elena Harring) is left amnesiac after a car crash. She wanders the streets of Los Angeles in a daze before taking refuge in an apartment. There she is discovered by Betty (Naomi Watts), a wholesome Midwestern blonde who has come to the City of Angels seeking fame as an actress. Together, the two attempt to solve the mystery of Rita’s true identity. The story is set in a dream-like Los Angeles, spoilt neither by traffic jams nor smog.