10 Movies That Were Designed To Mess With Your Head

Films so confusing they need to be watched twice...

Mulholland Drive

Ask your average moviegoer why they visit the cinema, and they’ll probably tell you it’s because they want to be entertained, or because they want to have their eyes opened by the infinite possibilities of the moving image. They probably won’t say it’s because they want to put in the work required to earn a degree in quantum physics, or give themselves permanent hair loss due to uncontrollable head scratching.

Still, there are undeniable joys to be found within some of cinema’s most jaw-droppingly confusing movies. These are not films that are confusing due to incompetent editing, bad characterisation or poor scripting, they’re befuddling by design; meticulously crafted and re-crafted to within an inch of their lives.

These movies are either purposely obtuse to the point where viewers aren’t really supposed to understand them (and are intended to simply create a mood), or are designed to be solved and unlocked like a fine puzzle.

As such, you’ll find very little in the way of flashy action or Hollywood romance here. These are the filmic equivalents of a top-tier Mensa brain-teaser, with no cheap thrills or explosions to speak of. That is, apart from the explosions going on in your brain…

10. Inception

Mulholland Drive
Warner Bros.

Contrary to popular belief, Inception isn’t all that confusing. As action movies go, it’s certainly a thinker, but there isn’t really a whole lot to ‘get’ about Christopher Nolan’s dream-hopping epic.

That said, it was absolutely constructed with the intent to screw with your mind. The movie darts back and forth between different dreamscapes, wherein time slows down, Tom Hardy can look like Talulah Riley, and the laws of physics no longer apply. Also, people dream about snow-capped military outposts, as though they’re constantly thinking about the beginning of Tomorrow Never Dies during the day.

Anti-gravity kung-fu and city-warping aside, it’s Inception’s final scene that really knocked us for a loop. All this time we’d figured Cobb was back safe with his children, and was going to live out the rest of his life as a free man. But his totem (the device which acts as an indicator as to whether you’re trapped in a dream) technically never stops spinning, implying that he’s still trapped in a dream to this day.

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Liam is a writer and cranberry juice drinker from Lincolnshire. When he's not wearing his eyes away in front of a computer, he plays the melodica for a semi wrestling-themed folk-punk band called School Trips.