There are movies we watch to laugh, cry, love, and keep us in suspense. Then there are movies that are gritty, disturbing, and complete mind funks belonging in a category all of their own.
We’ve compiled a list of the 7 best flicks you should check out the next time you get the buds together for a mind blowing movie night. Whether you like futuristic science fiction, psycho-thrillers, or want to be left questioning your life choices, this collection is for you.
1. Ghost In The Shell (1995)
If you haven’t seen the 1995 animated film Ghost In The Shell, you’re missing out. This beautifully animated Japanese film is filled with sex, violence, and nudity. It’s a mature film aimed at adults and doesn’t let any of the violence take away from the plot and themes.
The plot follows a cyborg federal agent, Motoko Kusanagi, trailing a villain, “The Puppet Master,” who illegally hacks into the minds of cyborg-human hybrids. The futuristic dystopian society feels equally alone, unnerving, and on the brink of eruption. The story’s themes raise questions about identity, artificial intelligence, and what it truly means to be human.
Ghost In The Shell is a masterpiece of animation, sci-fi, and philosophy. If you ever wanted to the first step into more profound concepts, this film will guide you with beautifully crafted scenes and a bit of violence to keep you engaged.
2. Ex Machina (2015)
One of our all-time favorite movies is the multi-award-winning film Ex Machina. The story successfully subverts expectations and has a high level of tension constantly running in the background.
The plot follows Caleb Smith, a programmer who wins a contest to spend a week with the CEO of his company, Nathan Bateman. Nathan has created artificial intelligence and wants Caleb to put it to the test.
Ex Machina leaves the viewer isolated, trapped, and like they’re being watched from afar. As the story goes deeper and deeper, it seems like you’re following a string that will only lead to your inevitable demise. This film is crafted beautifully and truly immerses the viewer, creating a story that can’t be forgotten.
3. Requiem For A Dream (2000)
If you ever wanted to question any of your life choices thus far, watch Requiem For A Dream, and ponder your existence while you sit in a cold sweat. This story follows multiple characters spiraling into addiction-fueled chaos, all bound together by pursuing fulfillment and happiness.
The cinematic direction is what makes this story genuinely haunting. The jump-cuts, close-ups, and palette choice put us in the shoes of the characters so we can experience their downward spiral firsthand. With close-up shots of heroin, cocaine, and pills, this movie creates a disturbingly tense atmosphere that will leave you disgusted. You should watch it.
4. Gone Girl (2014)
Although not a sci-fi film, Gone Girl successfully screws with your head and your held beliefs of what it means to be in a relationship. This thriller casually plays with your emotions and expectations, as if you were a fly caught in a spiderweb.
The story follows Nick Dunne and his dissatisfied wife, Amy. She ends up missing, and what seems to be an unexplained tragedy slowly melds into a murder investigation. As the story unravels, you will feel the emotions of Nick and Amy and have a hard time deciding which side of the fence to stake your bet.
Gone Girl feels like a deep intellectual dive into human nature. It’s brutally honest and makes no apologies, making it a fantastic film that will leave you with a whirlwind of emotions.
5. Primer (2004)
The 2004 sci-fi thriller Primer can be hard to recommend because it feels like a puzzle unraveling before your eyes that you truly can’t comprehend. That being said, if you’re looking for a movie that will leave you scratching your head, Primer is a great choice.
The story follows two engineers, Aaron and Abe. They build what they believe to be a time machine within their garage. Soon after, they put their machine to the test and see the limits of reality and human capability.
Primer isn’t a movie that holds your hand. This low-budget film doesn’t care if you keep up or get lost along the way. The film feels low-budget, like we’re in the garage with Aaron and Abe, like we’re questioning our invention along with them and subsequently falling deeper into the rabbit hole.
If you can get past the low-budget nature of the film, with its poor audio and quality, then this film will leave you with questions you never thought to ask.
6. Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Synecdoche, New York is the mind-funk movie genre’s genuine article. Honestly, it’s hard to even recommend as you’ll need three viewings, two professors, and an excel spreadsheet just to understand what’s exactly going on.
The film follows Caden Cotard, a film director whose wife and daughter left him. An unknown disease is causing his body to shut down as he heads to New York City to cast a slew of actors to live their lives in a made-up city.
We recommend you give this movie an honest watch and then a second one just to let it all sink in. Synecdoche, New York is hard to understand and even harder to grasp the meaning behind the film.
This movie is honest, existential, and confusing. Whatever you gain from this film is yours to keep and ponder for days on end.
7. Old Boy (2003)
The 2003 South Korean thriller film Old Boy is exceptionally gritty, stylized, and tragic. This cult classic makes you want to join a cage fight, and fight apologize to the random stranger you didn’t wave to.
The film follows Dae-su, a drunken middle-aged man who gets kidnapped on his daughter’s birthday. He finds himself to be imprisoned in a windowless room he will soon spend 15 years in.
Dae-su’s trials play on the heartstrings of perseverance, willpower, and in the end, ultimately teeters on the edge of pointlessness. The story shows how insignificant actions can cause a domino effect, creating cycles of destruction, pain, and anguish.
Even after over a decade, Old Boy still remains an unnerving, fist-clenching, and controversial film that leaves the viewer shocked.