These Movies Will Hurt Your Brain (In A Good Way)

Photo: Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock.
WARNING: So many spoilers ahead! Plot twists unraveled. Endings revealed. Proceed at your own risk.
March 16 marks the 15th anniversary of the release of Christopher Nolan’s Memento, one of the greatest mindfuck movies of all time. What makes something a quality mindfuck movie? Sometimes, it’s a twist ending that seems to come out of nowhere and truly shocks you, because the reveal means you have to go back and rethink everything that happened during the course of the entire movie.
Take The Sixth Sense, for example. After you found out that Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) was dead the entire time, you had to recall every scene in which you thought Dr. Crowe interacted with characters besides Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment). Nope; it turns out he only interacts with Cole after he gets shot in the beginning of the movie. He really has been dead the whole time. M. Night Shyamalan, you trickster, you.
Other times, a movie fucks with your head from beginning to end. It leads you one way, then swerves sharply to the left. The plot isn't remotely linear, although it appeared to be (ahem, Triangle). Or you can’t even figure out what’s going on at all. Think Christopher Nolan’s Inception, or Shane Carruth's Primer.
And then there are psychological thrillers like Black Swan and The Machinist, which trap the viewer inside a character’s breakdown without providing a complete picture of what’s happening. In the words of U2, “Now you're stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it.” Also in the words of U2: "Don't say that later will be better," because you'll be obsessing about what happened in that goddamn movie you just watched. (Sidenote: Is Bono a mindfuck movie prophet? Please discuss.)
But when it comes to this magical mindfuckery that makes you wonder what you just watched for hours on end, why would you ever want to want to get out of these moments?
And one more reminder that there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD — so major you may as well call them majorettes and stick 'em in front of a marching band twirling batons.

More from Movies

R29 Original Series