10 Confusing Horror Movies You Need To Watch Twice To Understand

Puzzling scares that require multiple screenings.

In the Mouth of Madness
New Line Cinema

Two of the most enticing aspects of horror films are the simplicity of the storylines and the immediacy of the scares.

More often than not, the genre excels at providing easily digestible plots surrounding visceral frights, fun special effects, gratifying sexuality, and disposable characters both likable and loathsome. Whether unremarkable or timeless, clichéd or inventive, these movies usually require only one watch to fully comprehend.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, and that certainly applies to the world of horror. Be they older gems like The Shining, Eraserhead, Altered States, and Hausu, or newer standouts like Hereditary, Us, and The Witch, there are dozens of other works whose abstract complexities and twisted surprises necessitate repeated viewings.

The same can be said for the following ten picks, all of which require multiple examinations to truly reveal their secrets, explanations, connections, and greater meanings.

(Obviously, plot spoilers lie ahead!)

10. Don’t Look Now (1973)

In the Mouth of Madness
British Lion Films

The death of a child is the hardest thing a parent can endure, as demonstrated by Nicolas Roeg’s harrowingly abstract 1973 horror masterpiece, Don’t Look Now.

It centres around John and Laura Baxter – played by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, respectively – a young couple who flee from England to Italy to heal their minds and marriage after the accidental drowning of their young daughter, Christine. For the most part, this consists of John restoring an ancient church while Julie spends time with a pair of elderly sisters (one of whom is blind and psychic).

While that may sound fairly straightforward, Don’t Look Now is anything but. In fact, it’s full of odd behavior and dialogue from several characters – including the sisters – that perpetually make the Baxters (and audiences) feel uneasy. There are also a few ambiguous visions and visual deceptions spread throughout, as well as a mysterious recurring figure in red who reminds John of Christine.

How all of those events are connected – inevitably leading to one of the most shocking and sudden endings in horror history – is only made clear after at least two in-depth appraisals.

Or, you could just watch our 2019 video explanation.

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Hey there! Outside of WhatCulture, I'm a Features Editor at PopMatters and a contributor to Kerrang!, Consequence of Sound, PROG, Metal Injection, Recording Academy/Grammys, and more. I've written books about Jethro Tull and Dream Theater—currently working on one about Opeth—and I run a creative arts journal called The Bookends Review. Oh, and I live in Philadelphia and teach academic/creative writing courses at a few colleges/universities.