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Mind Screw: Film

"A mental mindfuck can be nice!"
Dr. Frank N. Furter, The Rocky Horror Picture Show


Films — Animated

Films — Live Action

  • I'm Not There, Todd Haynes' attempt to quantify the existence of Bob Dylan by presenting him as SEVEN SEPARATE CHARACTERS, including a woman, a small black child, and Billy the Kid. If you have an extensive knowledge of the man, then the metaphorical touchstones are fairly easy to follow. But if you're only a casual fan, entire chunks of the movies will leave you stonefaced or confused, especially about how they relate to Bob Dylan.
  • Arizona Dream by Emir Kusturica. Insanely weird characters? Check. Odd dreams? Check. Flying fish?! You bet! So, what exactly happened in the movie? Well, it sort of varies.
  • Barton Fink. Granted, nothing The Coen Brothers have done is completely straightforward, but when John Goodman is on a shotgun rampage through a burning hotel screaming "look upon me," and no, it does not make sense in context, you start to wonder what you've gotten yourself into.
    • He's just showing you the life of the mind.
  • Being John Malkovich. The film revolves around the discovery of an inconspicuous, boarded up doorway in an office building which turns out to be a portal which allows any individual who enters it to see through the eyes of actor John Malkovich for a short space of time, raising all sorts of philosophical questions about the nature of the human mind and existentialism in the process. It only get weirder from here on in.
  • The 2004 film Casshern had no explanation for the ending or for the various Deus ex Machina moments that appeared throughout the film. For example, giant metal bolts of lightning that: Started the plot, transported the hero right to the point he needed to be with no question from anyone, and conveniently provided the final chamber with a giant hole in the wall.
  • In Cemetery Man, Francesco Dellamorte Can't Get Away With Nuthin', and all of his murders are pinned on someone else. This is because Francesco isn't real, but is an imaginary construct of Franco. Fantasy bleeds into reality, and Franco begins to murder people in his insanity. Or maybe the dead are actually rising, the film isn't very specific on details. The entire movie takes place in a snow globe.
  • The horror film Cube intentionally offers no real explanations to what the eponymous Cube is and why the characters were placed in it. It just developped by itself, with one architect behind it saying "Because it's here. You either use it, or admit it's pointless" (which, in and of itself is pretty mind-screwy). The sequels, however, make things worse with their attempts to actually explain things somewhat, as none of the three films are made by the same people and can't seem to agree on essential points — Cube 2: Hypercube being the worst offender in this area.
  • Director of Cube, Vincenzo Natali, also made Nothing, a Stoner Comedy about non-existence. It's fairly straightforward in its own way, but still...
  • After a certain point in the film version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the opening shot is redone, starting off a long medley featuring the three central characters merging into one and walking naked down an alleyway.
  • I Love Your Work isn't as extreme as others on this list, as a simple "I guess it was all in his head" makes sense of it as a whole, as the ending makes that seem like the most likely explanation. But some scenes are still pretty odd.
  • Inception is not as mind screwing as one would expect. But the whole plot is about putting an industrial heir through one massive mind screw to mess with his free will. First he is put into an artificial dream where he gets kidnapped by people wanting the codes to his fathers secret safe, which he handles quite well. But then he gets put into a dream within the dream where he is approached by a stranger who claims to be part of his subconscious and they are both in a dream and under attack by kidnappers who wants to steal his company secrets. Then the laws of physics start to no longer apply correctly and he no longer takes things that well.
    • Also the main character who is putting the man through the mind screw is having some lingering doubt that he himself is dreaming and his mind being screwed with.
    • Inception uses In Medias Res openings. Not just at the start of the movie, but repeatedly, at multiple scenes, to intentionally evoke dreamlike logic. And the main plot is a heist in reverse, so it's necessarily a complicated story. And the ending is ambiguous between the best happy ending possible and one of the worst. Aside from all that, though, it's not mind-screwy at all!
    • When you have a character who asks 'Hang on, whose subconscious are we in again?' it's safe to say you're dealing with a mind screw.
  • Last Year at Marienbad, considered one of the most famous mind screws in French cinema. The film has no discernible plot other than apparently two people who may or may not have had a affair a year ago in Marienbad (German name of a Czech city) meet each other again at some sort of elite social gathering. Other than that, it plays out like some sort dream over loosely connected scenes. People still have no idea what exactly it was about, but the cinematography was beautiful.
  • MirrorMask My God, Mirror Mask... If the visual conception isn't enough, then would some other troper explain what the whole point was? Or how it was the Spiritual Successor to Labyrinth?
  • Lawnmower Man involved a lot of this. Not only is there a very strange VR section involving (at the time) state of the art cgi, there are drugs, a main character having his brain transformed and losing control of himself, and an ending involving something like a messianic ascension that is never explained. Compared to some films on this list, it is still pretty straightforward though.
  • The 1965 science fiction horror Monster A-Go Go attempts to pull off a mind screw at its climax, although as with everything else in the film - acting, special effects, sound recording - this fails utterly. In brief, director Bill Rebane ran out of money before he could finish the film; the footage was was later purchased by producer Herschell Gordon Lewis, who finished it as cheaply as possible, with extra scenes shot a year later and some spurious narration. The end result was a disjointed, haunting mess, in which characters we don't know talk at great length about a threat we never see. The kicker comes at the end; after sixty minutes of plotless meandering, it finally seems as if the radioactive monster has been cornered, in a sewer. The army are called in, and we watch some soldiers dressing themselves in radiation suits for five long minutes. But just as it seems that some action is about to take place, a cosmic switch is pulled. There was no monster. "There was no trail. There was no giant, no monster, no thing called "Douglas" to be followed."
  • David Lynch's films. Mulholland Drive for example. Or, to an even greater degree, Eraserhead.
    • Lost Highway where on the one hand characters transform into each other. On the other hand is the first scene repeated later from a different view: Fred, who answered the entryphone in the first version, rings the bell in the second one himself. So instead of an expected Once More with Clarity it turns out to further support the Mind Screw.
    • Inland Empire makes Mulholland Dr. seem sensical. As Laura Dern's character describes the events of the film: "I'm trying to tell you so you understand how it went. Thing is, I don't know what was before or after. I don't know what's happened first...and it's kinda layin' a mindfuck on me." And oh good Christ in heaven, how many false endings did that movie have? I'm fairly sure that they took up the last forty minutes.
    • Mr. Lynch is so well known for his Mind Screws, that he had to title his one non-maddening movie The Straight Story. And it's still kind of weird.
    • Heck, even his films that actually have a comprehensible plot like Blue Velvet or The Elephant Man have their share of mind screw moments.
  • David Cronenberg's works:
    • Naked Lunch is a lot less disgusting than the book it's named after (it actually borrows from a large part of the works of William S. Burroughs), but only slightly less confusing.
    • eXistenZ is Philip K Dick-like in the mind screw department. It features a VR game within a VR game within a VR game within a VR game, the characters openly question whether they're still in the game at every level (and for bonus points, compare real-life to VR), switch sides multiple times, and reference things that happened at other levels.
    • A slightly lesser known but still messed-up film of his- Videodrome starring James Woods and Deborah Harry. At first it's just messed up, given it involves the protagonist discovering a "realistic" tv program in which "contestants" are taken into a room where they are tortured and eventually murdered. As you'd expect, it's real. But things just get really weird when it starts messing with his mind and he starts hallucinating. By the time it's all over you're can't be totally sure how much of what you've seen is real and how much is in his head.
  • The movie π (π) has a paranoid mathematical genius, Hebrew numerology, conspiracies, neurological headaches, the secret name of God, and the protagonist taking A Drill to his head to escape all this crap. To top it off, it's in black and white. And is scored to techno music.
  • Primer, thanks to Time Travel, Second-Hand Storytelling, and a case of The Ending Changes Everything. There is an explanation for almost everything that happens, but you have to watch the movie at least twice to put all the clues together.
  • The very end of Reazione a Catena, with the main killers being shot to death with a shotgun by their 8-year-old son, and his sister commenting, Gee, they're good at playing dead, aren't they?.
  • Repo Man for sure, but played for laughs.
  • Guy Ritchie's Revolver. It involves a formula that supposedly allows the main character to win any game, a blood disease that disappears for no apparent reason, a crime lord apparently being the same person as the voices in everybody's heads... Yeah.
  • The scene in Spaceballs where Dark Helmet watches himself on a VHS tape. He got so confused that he cannot grasp the concept of "when".
  • The Star Wars Holiday Special has quite some moments of mind screw, largely thanks to the fact there's absolutely no subtitles for non-human creatures' languages (such as the wookies). For instance, we'll perhaps never know what were the tiny circus-performers like things the little wookie was watching, let alone the white swimming things that appeared in the machine that grandpa wookie was watching.
  • Stay. It all makes sense at the end the entire film is the product of Ethan's dying mind absorbing his immediate surroundings, but through the course of the narrative, good luck trying to make sense of anything.
  • Suspiria: the plot is nothing else than a "witches doing evil wizardry after being discovered" kind of thing. The camera angles, scary soundtrack, eerie camera angles, buckets of blood, and macabre scenery, though....
    • There's no plot twist in Suspiria. It's a coven of witches. They don't even try to hide that fact.
  • The Butterfly Effect is a sort-of mind screw. Is he traveling through time? Moving across alternate universes and adapting to the memories of the version of himself in the new universe? Is he just nuts and then one day finally gets the help he needs? Is the end really just another delusion? These last two possibilities are subverted in the DVD release alternate ending in which he goes back to when he was in his mother's womb and commits suicide with his own umbilical cord before even being born. Which is impossible, by the way.
    • Not exactly, most people seem to think he's strangling himself with it. He isn't; he's biting through it. Without teeth. Nice.
      • Possible Fridge Brilliance when you remember all his previous siblings also died in the womb
  • The Uninvited has a wonderful Mind Screw at the end of the film.
  • The opening scene of The Cell has J-Lo riding across the Namibian desert in a wedding dress, dismounting and then looking back on her horse which has turned into a chess piece; and then approaching a boat that is half-buried in the sand and a boy who turns into a werewolf. Later on the film involves a schizophrenic serial killer who drowns his victims, augments their bodies so they look like dolls and then masturbates whilst hanging himself above them by chains attached to metal rings in his back; an albino German shepherd; a horse getting sliced up sushi-style; a collection of doll-like, corpse-like women inside display cases behind glass panels attached to crude machinery that jerks them about in grotesque, sadomasochistic sexual poses; a female bodybuilder; a demon-like man with purple curtains attached to his back; Vince Vaughn getting his intestines pulled out and spiraled around a rotisserie; vultures; peacocks and J-Lo dressed as the Virgin Mary. Justified on account of the fact that the majority of this takes place within people's minds.
  • The beginning of The City of Lost Children. Most, not all of it, make sense by the end.
  • 1968's "The Magus" (from the book of the same name by John Fowles, more highly recommended, than the movie) with Anthony Quinn as the Master Mind-screw guy, screwing with a young guy on a Greek island; ... very hard to know what is up, it's a good one.
  • The Matrix. The sequels have a mild case of it, anyway; in the first movie, Morpheus took the time to explain what was going on.
    • Not mild with the Architect in Reloaded...
    • The "Animatrix", a collection of short anime films based off the trilogy, easily qualify as Mind Screw material.
  • The ending of The Ninth Gate has famously caused some confusion among viewers.
  • The Oscar-nominated French/Canadian/Belgian animated movie The Triplets of Belleville.
  • The ending of Time Bandits as well as every other Terry Gilliam film ever made.
    • "Don't touch it! It's Evil!"
      • Completely...Its a ok although odd movie until the final battle and everything after. Then we were all WTF just happened?
      • What do you mean? The ending of Time Bandits couldn't be simpler: God finally catches up with the bandits right as the Evil Genius is about to kill them and escape from his prison within the age of legends. God destroys the Evil Genius, rehires the bandits, telling them it's time to get back to work repairing all the holes in time, and sends the boy back to his home. A charred fragment of the Evil Genius' corpse comes through the time-hole with him, however, and his parents are killed when they touch the fragment, which also causes their house to catch on fire. One of the firemen who comes to put out the fire is the physically identical reincarnation of Agamemnon. What part of any of this is the least bit mysterious?
    • Brazil is a prime example of this. It's about a man living in a corrupt bureaucratic government who uses his dreams as an escape. It gets difficult to separate what's real and what's not, especially at the end when he's going insane as his best friend tortures him. In the original ending, at least.
  • Jim Henson (yes, THAT Jim Henson) made a overly symbolic (and Oscar-nominated) short film called Time Piece. Scenes include a caveman in an office, Jim Henson's head on a serving tray, and the only dialogue in the movie is Jim himself saying "help" about 3 or 4 times.
    • He also made a humorous but bewildering teleplay called The Cube (no relation to the Canadian film and its sequels). It's about a man trapped in a cube shaped room. He has no idea where he is or how he got there. Other people can enter and leave freely, but he cannot. People change into other people, objects appear and disappear, bizarre philosophical interpretations of his situation are suggested and dismissed, and when he gets cut he bleeds strawberry jam. Is he dead? Insane? Part of some twisted psychological experiment? Or is he really just a character in a television program? In a way this film deconstructs this trope, as an overabundance of explanations are provided by other characters, though which (if any) is the truth is never revealed.
  • Un Chien Andalou. Just try to read the Other Wiki's synopsis. Word of God says that was entirely deliberate. Quoting Luis Buñuel on the rules he and Dali set for them selves in writing the script: "no idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted." and "Nothing, in the film, symbolizes anything. The only method of investigation of the symbols would be, perhaps, psychoanalysis."
  • Waking Life
  • Jean-Luc Godard's film Weekend.
  • What the #$*! Do We Know!? is a major, major offender of this one. If you can make some sense out of the cryptic, convoluted Technobabble about Quantum Mechanics, Religion, Life, the Universe and Everything, you'll see how this movie easily beats Serial Experiments Lain in terms of head-trippiness, even though even The Other Wiki agrees it's all just quantum mysticism mixed with the ideas of some new age school. According to Intuitor, it also completely messed up Quantum Physics, horrible research, biases and scientific inaccuracies destroyed any hope of correct science.
    • Here's the key: there is a middle-aged woman doing her best attempt at a deep male voice partway through the film. The name given on screen is "Ramtha". Her cult funded the entire movie.
    • Additionally, David Albert, the Camberidge Physics/Philosophy professor who appears in the film, has gone on record stating that the filmmakers have selectively edited his interview to make it appear that he endorses the film's thesis that quantum mechanics are linked with consciousness when really he is "profoundly unsympathetic to attempts at linking quantum mechanics with consciousness."
    • What the Bleep's Mind Screw ability depends on your gullibility.
  • Zardoz, quite possibly the only film to begin with a giant stone head coming out of the sky, declaring the penis to be evil, and throwing a bunch of guns out of its mouth. The movie just gets weirder from there.
  • The collected works of Mr. Charlie Kaufman.
    • Synecdoche, New York is an absolute Mind Screw from start to finish. From the ridiculous jumps in time to plays within plays within plays to a woman living in a perpetually burning house before dying after 30 years from "smoke inhalation".
  • Most films directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, including Solaris, Stalker, and The Sacrifice. Also, The Mirror, to which Tarkovsky commented that even he himself didn't understand the full meaning behind some of the scenes.
    • It has to be noted that Solaris and Stalker are both adaptations of novels, by Stanislaw Lem and the Strugatsky Brothers, respectively. However, the mind-screw factor was added by Tarkovsky, who had a certain penchant for esotericism and spiritual symbolism. Neither of the original works is as mind-screwy: Solaris, while at first reading like a Surreal Horror / drama mix, in the end gives a concise and non-supernatural hard SF explanation. Roadside Picnic, which became Stalker, explains significantly less but still, all of the weird shit that is going on can at least be vaguely traced to the Zone and the artifacts the alien visitors left behind.
  • In the original Total Recall (1990), Quaid describes the real plot of the Big Bad as "the best mindfuck yet." And then Hauser shows up on video chummy with Cohaagen... The real mindfuck—for the audience that is—is the ending, which forces the audience to ask themselves if the entire movie did or didn't take place in Quaid's mind. On second viewings... it's still not clear. Fairly well done for what is otherwise a fairly standard action movie. Word of God is no help on the matter. In fact the director has said both interpretations are consistent with the facts, and it was set up that way on purpose.
  • Westworld is an odd case in that it almost makes sense, and keeps setting itself up as if for The Reveal. By the end, we've still got a decadent amusement park where a bunch of Ridiculously Human Robots started killing people for no apparent reason. Add in gallons of What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?, and you've got yourself a headache.
    • -and then it's remade as 'Jurassic Park'.
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats is full of this, but is played for laughs. The final scene in particular stands out.
  • The Believer's ending.
  • Japanese auteur Takashi Miike, when he's not being the master of extreme violence and gore, is a master of the Mind Screw. His most mind-bending film, however, has to be Gozu. Disappearing corpses, a river without a bridge, creepy transvestite waiters, unreliable guides with bizarre skin conditions, young women giving birth to full-grown men, middle-age women selling breast milk, an almost deserted former fishing town, Yakuza who live in a junkyard, an American reading her dialog from a cue card, and a huge minotaur wearing baggy underwear. And that doesn't even begin to describe how twisted this movie is. The strangest thing is that it all makes perfect sense when you realize it's all a symbolic representation of the protagonist's inner journey, told with symbolism from both Japanese and Greco-Roman mythology, and represents his coming to terms with his own homosexuality and love for his Yakuza "older brother", and his "rebirth" as a new person.
  • Marebito by Takashi Shimizu, the director of Ju-on; The Grudge. A man obsessed with fear finds his way into a warped underground labyrinth world, is menaced by "Dero" ("Detrimental Robots"); and rescues a feral girl who turns out to be a vampire, who he keeps chained up in his apartment, and feeds by killing other people and draining their blood. But is that really happening? Do any of them actually exist? Is the girl real, perhaps his own daughter who he abuses and treats like an animal, while he kills people to feed his own delusion? Or has his detachment from reality actually enabled him to stumble into a real alternate, quasi-supernatural world? The ending completely refuses to resolve any of these questions; leaving them up to the viewer to answer.
  • The Valley (Obscured by Clouds) - French hippies on a quest (with Pink Floyd soundtrack)
  • Old Boy
  • Northfork
  • The Swedish film Persona features an actress who goes mute, except maybe she really isn't but wants to get away from her life. Her nurse wants to become the actress because she hates herself, and maybe she did. Or didn't. The actress also has a son that is involved...somehow. The opening scenes feature dead bodies, a sheep being stabbed with a knife, and an erect penis. What does all this have to do with the rest of the film? No idea, as it's even more out of place than the rest of the movie. Anyone who says they get what's going on is lying.
    • The abstract images which open the film are probably an homage to Un Chien Andalou. Bergman realized his work no longer seemed as groundbreaking as it once had, so he was announcing to the world his intention to go deeper into stylistic experimentation.
    • Bergman purposely put in a film break to give viewers a moment away from the surrealism.
  • Performance. When the sudden Music Video follows perfectly...
  • Pink Floyd's The Wall. Especially "The Trial" in which the main character is put on trial by his inner demons.
  • Paranoia 1.0 (often known only as One Point O) is as mind-screwy as it gets. A man (Jeremy Sisto, no less) receives empty packages while constantly dozing off in front of his computer: he's trying to write a program to meet a deadline, but he's constantly falling asleep and receiving empty packages... and developing an increasingly unhealthy craving for "Nature Fresh Milk". The apartment complex is full of people who have cravings for equally irrelevant things and there is a landlord that watches everything. Everything in the movie (e.g. what the empty packages are, why the landlord has an equivalent craving for packed meat, etc.) is explained in a logical and sensical manner - that is, until the movie decides to crank up the mind-screw-gears to twelve hundred and then flat out breaks the gauge and lets the whole thing explode. Thus, you just face an ending that leaves you wondering what you just watched.
  • Several of the Hellraiser sequels have shades of this, especially Hellraiser: Deader.
  • If the narrator being Tyler all along in Fight Club is not an example of that, then I'm being a Martian.
  • "The Color of Pomegranates", a Soviet-Armenian film loosely based on the life of 18th century Armenian poet Sayat-Nova. But instead of being a straight biography, it's an artistic film comprised mostly just a bunch of bizarre scenes that don't make much sense to anyone not familiar with Sayat-Nova's poems.
  • The Attic Expeditions
  • Dalton Trumbo's film adaptation of Johnny Got His Gun was done largely by making the film one big mindscrew, caused by the character's explosion-induced loss of his ability to see/hear/speak (as well as his limbs) inducing nightmarish visions inside of his head to pad out the film.
  • Cry_Wolf, best summed up with this exchange.
    "I'm confused."
    "No you’re not, that's what you want me to believe!"
  • The Monkees movie Head. A Deconstruction of the TV Show, plus an anti-establishment acid trip. Literally written while high o pot.
  • This short film adaptation of the Maurice Ogden poem "The Hangman". Also doubles as Surreal Horror.
  • Meek's Cutoff, specifically the end. What was the point of it again?
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show: A man and his fiance (that he takes the time to remind everyone of) end up entering a castle inhabited by generic horror movie servants who work for a transvestite Tim Curry who somehow creates a frankenstein monster only for a zombified Meat Loaf to ride a motorcycle out of a giant freezer to sing a song while dry humping his girlfriend only for Tim Curry to slaughter him and then apparently marry the frankenstein only for a narrator with no f***ing neck to introduce Tim Curry having sex with the asshole and the slut followed by the musical sex scene of the slut seducing the frankenstein when the paraplegic, nazi kool-aid man crashes through the wall and announces that meat loaf is his nephew and things about how much of a disappointment Meat Loaf was and this introduces musical attempted rape followed by a musical orgy in a pool and-wouldn't you know it- a musical dance where the servants reveal that they are aliens and kill transvestite Tim Curry, Meat Loaf's girlfriend, and frankenstein and then fly the castle off into space.
    • Bonus points for Dr. Frank N. Furter supplying the page quote.
  • Psycho Beach Party: What happened? How much of it was fake and who faked what?
  • The Science of Sleep: Due to the main character's constant and confusing dreaming it's hard to keep up with what is a dream and what isn't. And did that time machine actually work?
  • What Is It? Crispin Glover's...creation. There's a reason Oancitizen went crazy after seeing it.
  • The genre blender Xtro. Best summed up by this review:
    "Bizarre alien horror movie about an abductee who returns three years later in alien form in order to abduct his son. He goes through several transformations, one of them by impregnating a woman through her mouth and gorily emerging a short while later as a full grown male. He transforms his son by sucking on his shoulder, who then joins him in bizarre activities like melting phones, creating a killer midget clown and stuffing the babysitter into a cocoon so that she can lay eggs. No, this movie does not make any sense."
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. Figuring out the meaning of life is easy compared with figuring out the meaning of this movie. In fact they were so busy mind screwing the viewer that they forgot to actually convey the meaning of life, having to hastily throw together a bunch of cliched platitudes at the end. Perhaps the only part of the movie that made an ounce of sense, and it was given the least thought.
  • Looney Tunes: Back in Action: while the movie in general makes sense (or at least as much sense as one can expect from the Looney Tunes), the part where Shaggy complains about his voicing is a very subtle mind screw. Think about it. How can a real person be voice-acted.
    • One is an animated character as real as Bugs, the other is the human guy hired to play him.
  • Two words that have yet to be said despite being the name of one of the most famous incarnate of Mind Screw to come out during the 1960s: Yellow Submarine
    • And Magical Mystery Tour is even more insane!
  • Clean, Shaven is largely about providing a more objective look at schizophrenia and it's effects. Although the plot is straight forward, it's a mind screw because uses a lot of unusual/disturbing images and sounds to give us an insight into the protagonists condition.
  • My God, Felix the Cat: The Movie. Just... just watch it. Reptilian creatures, a magic bag, a half-robot evil overlord, a sentient tear, a dimensional transporter, mice-lizard hybrids, Yellow Submarine-like sea creatures, a Circus of Fear, a forest made of giant hair follicles with head-hunting creatures that are always losing their own heads, evil cubes and cylinders, and a book of ultimate power that defeats the bad guy by being thrown at him. And to top it all off, there's also a German version.
  • If you don't know the twist in The Sixth Sense you will experience the most thorough fucking of your mind ever. The protagonist died five minutes in. The other protagonist knew the whole time and kept it a secret. The wife has been grieving this entire time. It's not so much that the twist in question happened, but that the audience realizes immediately how much sense it makes.
  • The indie film Archie's Final Project aka My Suicide is a bit of a mind screw. The whole movie is meant to be a school project made by the main character, who is a teenage boy with a movie obsession and probably several mental illnesses. The first hour or so has a lot of slightly obscure movie references and a lot of random animation, images, and voice overs that don't really make sense, especially not the first time you watch it.
  • Generally most of John Carpenter's films are pretty straight forward in their delivery. A partial exception would be The Thing (1982), which despite having a narrative that's more or less easy to follow really leaves out a lot of crucial details that the audience is left to fill in. To this day fans of the movie still debate on who got to the blood, whether Blair was infected before or after he was locked up (which depending on how you look at it can provide wholly different interpretations of his actions over the course of the film), how Fuchs ended up being burned to death outside, and most of all whether the Thing really was defeated, or if perhaps one, both, or neither of the survivors have been assimilated. Also helps create an EXTREME case of Paranoia Fuel and Nightmare Fuel.
    • This is nothing when you look at the final instalment of the "Apocalypse Trilogy", In the Mouth of Madness. There's a reason why it's a former trope namer. It starts off with the character being brought into a mental institution, and his story starts off straight forward- a simple investigation into the disappearance of a horror writer due to release the titular novel. Then things get weird when it becomes clear that the books have a weird impact on readers, and he stumbles across a town that shouldn't exist and the writer tells him he's a fictional character created for his novel, and then his partner is literally written out of the story. By the end of the movie, you can't quite tell for certain one way or another who's sane, who's insane, what's real and what's fictional. Is the protagonist real, or is he merely a figment of a writer's imagination? Was the world really destroyed by Lovecraftian monsters or was it something else? Did the entire story even happen or is it all in his head?. To make things even more baffling, the final scene has Sam Neil's character walking into a movie theatre to watch the film adaptation of the book the entire movie has been centred around. It turns out The Film of the Book is actually the movie we've just finished watching.
  • Initiation Silent Night Deadly Night 4 is one big mind screw. Just one example is when the cult murders the herione's boyfriend and somehow cleans up the apartment in the short time it takes her to get the cops over.
  • The South Korean film, A Tale of Two Sisters. Two sisters, Su-Mi and Su-Yeon, move to the countryside to live with their aloof father and horrible stepmother after their mother's death. Su-Mi is very protective of her sister, as it is implied that their stepmother abuses her. And then there's a scene that takes place right when dawn is breaking, Su-Mi awakens to a ghost crawling on their bedroom floor, proceeds to stand up and get on the bed in a rather creepy glitchy manner, and then a freaking bleeding arm comes out of the ghost's vagina. Su-Mi wakes up to find that Su-Yeon has started her period, on the same day as the stepmother's. It's later revealed that Su-Yeon was dead the whole time and Su-Mi promptly flips her shit about it. Later, she discovers a trail of blood leading to a bloody burlap sack, which is implied to have Su-Yeon in it. Su-Mi attempts to try to cut the bag open when her stepmother comes along and knocks her out with a freaking statue. Later, Su-Mi's father tells the stepmother to take her meds (which is shown throughout the film), but then it turns out that it was Su-Mi that was taking anti-psychotics and is put into a mental facility. As the film comes to a close, it is revealed that after Su-Mi argues with her father and stepmother, she storms outside in a fit and Su-Yeon runs upstairs to cry, where her mother comforts her until she falls asleep. When Su-Yeon wakes up. she discovers that her mother had hung herself in the wardrobe, and in a fit of panic, she knocks down the wardrobe and inevitably dies.
  • The Stunt Man. Of the "blurring the lines between reality and fantasy" variation. This is not a film that you watch casually, it requires that you pay complete attention.
  • Apocalypse Now. The whole film is a surreal Vietnam War experience, full of horrors that transform sane men into madmen.
  • Holy Motors is a confusing mess of a film.
  • The Netflix-exclusive short film Example Show, re-released under names such as Example Short 23.976 Clear Show, Example Short 23.976 Burned In Timecode Remote Content and other strange titles. It involves lingering shots of the Netflix building gardens and a model train carrying toy penguins as the actor/director runs around doing random stuff and eventually quoting Julius Caesar. Word of God says that it was short made by a freelancer meant as a way for people streaming from Netflix to test their video players. The short has been subject to much Memetic Mutation, usually along the same lines as "Three Wolf Moon."
  • Michael Jackson's Moonwalker can be seen as a mild case of this. We have one segment, where Michael is chased by clay-mation characters, so he turns himself into a clay-mation rabbit and drives away from them on a motorcycle. And then, it turns out that the rabbit (Spike) is real, and Michael and he has a dance contest! Then we have the music video for "Leave me alone", which is heavy enough with symbolism to come across as hopelessly surreal. And then starts the last segment, where Michael suddenly has the ability to turn into a car and a giant robot!
  • Anything by Richard Kelly. But while Donnie Darko earned a fandom for being peculiar and The Box tries to be more understandable, Southland Tales has been described as a movie that "does not know what it's doing, so it does everything."

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