12 Mindf*ck Movies Every Guy Should See

When you sit down to watch a movie, a lot of the time you want to veg out and give your brain a little rest (see: Every Michael Bay movie). On the rare occasion you want to give your noggin a little workout, here are 12 films that will kick it into overdrive. Each is brilliant but confusing. Prepare to have your mind fucked.

Dogtooth

Dogtooth doesn’t really have a hard-to-follow plot, but ask anyone who has seen the Greek film, it’s a bizarre trip. The movie is about three teens who are kept in their parents’ compound away from the real world. Their knowledge of things comes solely from the teachings of their mom and dad. When the credits roll, you’ll ask yourself what the fuck you just witnessed. Amazon iTunes

Vanilla Sky

People either love or hate this movie. We’re guessing that’s because, after what seems like a simple story about a New York City playboy, the Cameron Crowe flick dissolves into a puddle of confusion. Even if your mind is having a hard time processing what the hell is going on, let the killer soundtrack with songs from Radiohead, Paul McCartney, and others keep you along for the ride. Amazon iTunes Netflix

Primer

Primer basically slapped our brains around until they were so numb they just gave up and went along for the ride. The low-budget flick from Shane Carruth tackled time travel with a heavy emphasis on the technology behind it and its philosophical repercussions. We loved it, but our heads needed an ice bath and a massage. Amazon iTunes

Inception

We can handle a dream, but we start getting lost when a dream is inside a dream and we don’t know who the dreamer is. Luckily, unlike with some others on this list, a few viewings should sort a lot out for you. Amazon iTunes

The Science of Sleep

Imagine a movie that’s part Wes Anderson, part The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and part drug-induced hallucination, and you’d have The Science of Sleep. From the same director that did Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the film entertains your brain with interesting visuals while you try to piece together what is going on. Amazon iTunes

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko has a cult-like following for its bizarre brilliance. Time travel and a giant bunny named Frank are just two of the things that squarely place the story on the strange side. The tangled plotline unravels after a few viewings, even if there are a few loose ends. Amazon iTunes Netflix

Cloud Atlas

Back in the mid-2000s, we tried to read a book entitled Cloud Atlas. It had received some praise and was billed as “challenging.” After trying our darnedest, we just couldn’t do it. The movie eventually came out, and while it was a little easier to grasp, it still left our brains feeling like they were tossed in a Vitamix. The complex and confusing tale is based on the interconnectedness of our lives. Have fun! Amazon iTunes

Eraserhead

This list would be incomplete without at least one or two David Lynch movies. Eraserhead is his WTF opus. Best consumed as a work of fine art, the film is incredibly disturbing and plays by its own rules. As Henry deals with a variety of horrifying dilemmas, you’ll question whether you’re just asleep having a nightmare. Amazon iTunes

Memento

Memento is best viewed as a puzzle. Just like the protagonist, you gather clues and pieces as you try to see what fits. And just like a puzzle, the second time you visit it, the more you realize what you missed the first time through. Amazon iTunes Netflix

Mulholland Drive

We’ll give you one more David Lynch movie to give your brain a workout. Mulholland Drive is yet another triumph for the writer and director. Leaving much to interpretation, Lynch has given viewers little in the way of explanation for some of the plot of this 2001 mystery. The sooner you drop the “What’s going on?” attitude, the sooner you’ll enjoy the gloomy flick. Amazon iTunes

Synecdoche, New York

Google “Synecdoche, New York and autocomplete will finish it off with “analysis” or “explain.” That’s a pretty good sign you have a movie that’s about to fuck with your head on your hands. As Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character falls deeper and deeper into madness and the creation of his play, real life starts to become hazy, and you, the viewer, are left in a daze. Amazon iTunes

The Tree of Life

“Challenging” would be a good word to describe this Terrence Malick movie. Any time a film tackles a subject as massive as the meaning and complexity of life—Is there a more massive topic?—you can expect some grandiose confusion. The film jumps between the story of a son and his relationship with his father and the beginning of Earth and man. Sound strange and sprawling? It is. Amazon iTunes

By Related Items: Features, Movies.


Shop+Sponsors

  • Jeff

    How about “Moon”!!

  • Jacob Crim

    Why is “Inception” on here? I would take that out and add “American Psycho”.

  • Jacob Crim

    Such an underrated film. A great preformance by Rockwell.

  • Christian Reed Jurgenliemk

    Maybe A Scanner Darkly? Fits better than inception for sure!

  • http://brode.co/ Marc Brodeur

    I was *really* hoping that you were going to include Primer… you did. I’m so happy.

  • Cojacked

    Requiem for a Dream is missing. Moon would be a great addition as well.

  • Bryan

    Enter the Void.

  • Daniel Rohats

    Hey, you all missed “The Usual Suspects.” Granted after a second viewing you can pretty much get it all figured out, but that first round is a huge “WOOOOOW, what just happened here?”

  • Dylan

    “Coherence” is a newer film that reminded me of Primer, basically about Schrodingers Cat theory. Go rent it!

  • Wrz

    Man on the moon with jim carrey at his best.

  • Edgar Alejandro

    It should definitely be mentioned that Vanilla Sky is actually an American remake of Amenabar’s “Open Your Eyes”!!!

  • Jesse

    Primer does not belong here. It is not a mindf*** by any means but a small look into a higher level of consciousness. The trailer promised more then the movie delivered because its based off of questions asked by a collective of minds that have simplified everything else to non-existence. Its purpose is to find like minds who can help solve the question at hand. Not appeal to your ego. lol.

  • Jesse

    Also like the other comments have already said, “moon” (and near the top) should be on this list where as Inception should be laughed away as a bad joke. Shutter Island was a much more successful mindf*** by leo then inception could ever dream of being (I swear that was a beautiful coincidence and not intended lol).

    I am about to watch “synecdoche new york” with hopes that my reverence of (for?) Mr. Hoffman does not raise my expectations to high.

  • tha_artist

    American psycho isn’t a “mindf***” movie… while it will make you take a step back and look at life a mindf*** movie should be a movie that makes you think ” what the f*** just happened… but wait… how the f***???” for the next week. I would suggest Mr. Nobody also as a movie that they missed

  • Harold Snugglesworth

    This list was short one. “Naked Lunch”

  • Captain Ahab

    Liquid Sky
    Waking Life
    Spun

  • Jr

    No “Oldboy” ?

  • R Torres

    Yes!

  • Cornboy

    Trainspotting

  • Robin

    Another great one: 12 Monkeys?!

  • Rapscallion

    Saw “Enemy” with Jake Gyllenhaal last week. Still trying to decipher WTF happened. You guys should too.