12 Sci-Fi Movies That NOBODY Understands

Some films have plots, some have characters, and some have Julian Sands as a centipede-man...

Dwayne Johnson in Southland Tales
Darko Entertainment

Science fiction can be a tricky beast. For every simple enough Star Wars-style story, there’s a trippy headf*** full of deep questions and moral complexity like Ridley Scott’s seminal cyberpunk flick Blade Runner, adapted from the labyrinthine works of Philip K Dick, or an almost impossible to decipher riddle of a flick like Shane Carruth’s Primer, a movie you’d need a degree in theoretical physics to unpack on your first viewing.

That’s not an exaggeration, either—the film’s director literally had a background in advanced mathematics informing his twisty time travel thriller.

Sometimes, though, it can be surprisingly freeing to simply shrug, throw your hands up, and say “Hell, I have no idea what it all means.” There are some flicks which reward close watching and reveal their meaning through repeat viewings, but some are so complex and intentionally obtuse that you’re better off simply enjoying the ride for what it is—a mental rollercoaster with no clear answers.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled this list of flicks which no one actually gets—and yes, you can feel free to prove us wrong by providing a one-line explanation of these films in the comments. But you only get one line.

12. Upstream Color

Dwayne Johnson in Southland Tales

Directed by the aforementioned Primer helmer Shane Carruth, 2013’s Upstream Color manages to outdo the director’s earlier effort in terms of sheer strangeness. This is mostly due to the fact that (we’ve been reliably informed that) a sufficiently advanced understanding of physics and maths can, conceivably, make sense of Primer’s complex internal machinations, whereas the stream-of-consciousness seen in Upstream Color has no such skeleton key hidden somewhere.

Impossible to decipher, this hypnotic flick follows a man, a woman, and a whole bunch of pigs as it tracks the journey of a possibly alien parasite—but that limited description barely scratches the surface of this strange and strangely beautiful flick’s layers, a complex maze of potential meanings designed to be pondered by film students for eons to come.


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