12 Sci-Fi Movies That Purposefully Mess With Your Head

Some sci-fis just revel in melting your mind...

Existenz Jude Law

Ah the venerable institution of the sci-fi mind screw. Is there any other genre as perfectly suited to messing with the audience’s heads? Only science fiction could hold host to the imaginings of Philip K. Dick and William Gibson, and it’s the lone genre which could leave directors with track records as bizarre as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s and David Lynch’s vying for the reins of a major studio release like Dune.

Maybe it’s the fantastical possibility inherent in time travel, space exploration, and faraway alien planets, maybe it’s just the increased suspension of disbelief which the genre allows—whatever the cause, sci-fi has been home to plenty of mind warping narratives over the decades, some genius and some unwatchable-y pretentious.

Good, bad, or stuck in between, here are a few sci fi movies which messed with viewer’s head, but did so for good reason, whether it was in service of a twisted moral to their story or just a more inventive and playful way of telling it.

12. Primer

Existenz Jude Law

Shane Carruth’s debut is infamous for its twisty, almost impossible to unravel timeline, and the flick went on to inspire everything from British Bermuda Triangle set chiller Triangle to Spanish thriller Timecrimes, an equally impressive microbudget effort from a fellow emerging genre auteur.

The film follows a pair of scientists as they attempt to understand and experiment with perfecting their accidental discovery of a time travel method, and it leaves the process frustratingly impossible to decipher for mainstream audiences thanks in large part to Carruth’s own real life background in advanced mathematics and engineering.

By the time the film reaches its enigmatic close, the audience is left certain that they can make sense of the storyline and its many versions of the protagonists who exist across various timelines within a stable time loop—we’ll just need a pen, some paper, and a few years to work it all out.

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