While some movies are straightforward in their appeal, some are tiffany twisted. They break you, wreck you, make you helpless, gasping for a breath of fresh air. You leave the movie theatre in awe, questioning and reassessing the film’s events. They are more of experiences than narratives. If you are looking for movies that evoke curiosity about the world, existence, and beyond, we have a list that may inspire and deflect you from making meaning. Here are some of the mind-twisting movies readily available on HBO Max.
10. American Psycho (2000)
Drawing from Bret Easton Ellis’ eponymous novel, Mary Harron helmed the serial killer satire ‘American Psycho.’ While chronicling the banker class from the eyes of a possible serial killer, the shallowness of elite society seems starking. Patrick Bateman’s character fascinates as it repulses you – with his dual life, sneering internal monologue at his colleagues’ visiting cards, and his dread of life. With master character actor Christian Bale in the central role, the film is tense and disturbing, and the final revelation makes you go, “Damn.” If you are looking for a psychopathic mind-bender, you would be surprised by this gem.
9. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Tim Burton reared the 2005 rendition of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ based on the fantasy novel by Roald Dahl. While the 1971 version, ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,’ has its charm, it is nearly not as eye-catching and mind-bending as the twenty-first-century retelling. Charlie gets a golden ticket from a Wonka bar, and it sends him to the titular chocolate factory, escorted by his grandfather, who once worked there. Now, keeping up with time, everything is automated, and it’s a literal madhouse. If you seek a quirky mind-twisting fantasy musical, Johnny Depp‘s Willy Wonka has plenty of surprises in store for you.
8. A Clockwork Orange (1972)
Stanley Kubrick‘s masterful and futuristic crime thriller ‘A Clockwork Orange‘ thrives due to its outlandish set designs and fashion statements. From David Bowie to Madonna, cultural icons have been inspired by the styles and visuals of this landmark in cinematic achievement. With that being said, this movie is not for minors – as even adults may find it uneasy.
The protagonist, Alex, and his droogs commit a harrowing crime, and he heads straight to a psychological institution. The progress of Alex’s life from a sickening crime to the experimental punishment involving Beethoven, the tenor of this movie, is odd as it attempts to play with your mind. But if that is what you are looking for, this film will “filly” you.
7. Moon (2009)
Helmed by Duncan Jones, ‘Moon’ is a grave and ominous sci-fi movie that creeps up on you and leaves you fascinated. Sam Bell plans to leave the space station on the moon and finally head home to meet his family. However, he finds strange occurrences on the ship as his tenure trudges to an end. In the finale, he makes a discovery that makes him question his subjectivity. While a science fiction movie by the tag, it changes its ambiance towards the end to mind-bending horror. If you are looking for a movie with a jaw-dropping twist, this is the film you should add to the watchlist.
6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ is probably the moodiest film in the ‘Harry Potter‘ series, revealing the franchise’s darker potential. Alfonso Cuarón also marks the curious tale with a menace, and we see Dementors for the first time. Harry uses magic and gets a threatening letter from Hogwarts; a stretching bus ride follows, and he reaches an apartment with a deadly secret. From the beginning, Harry has no real family, and now he suddenly has a godfather, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman plays with a duality of character), who is AWOL from Azkaban. Moreover, there’s time travel and a significant revelation in the end. It is available on HBO Max if you want to relive the fantastic mind-bending adventure.
5. The NeverEnding Story (1984)
Acclaimed German director Wolfgang Petersen helmed ‘The NeverEnding Story,’ a stunning and glorious fantasy movie unlike anything you have seen. Based on the eponymous novel by West German author Michael Ende, the movie is a pure flight of fancy. To escape his mundane life, Bastain takes refuge in books, where he is soon drawn to the magical world of Fantasia. With spectacular visuals and a poignant and magical ambiance, this film will appeal to the curious child in you. The vast and timeless world of fantastic creatures is enough to inspire and bend your mind.
4. Memento (2000)
Christopher Nolan‘s neo-noir thriller ‘Memento’ shines, thanks to its reverse-progressing script. The unreliable narrative and noir hero initially set out on a quest for the truth, but the fact only disturbs him more. However, there was an accident, and he suffered a blow, which makes him forget what happened 15 minutes ago. Now, his wife is missing, and fearing the worst, he must find the killer. As he wakes up in unlikely places and attempts to trace back to the immediate past, the non-linear storytelling perfectly serves the narrative. If you are a bit of a detective while watching mystery thrillers, this movie will make you stunned with its discovery.
3. Solaris (1972)
Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky helmed the sci-fi psychological thriller ‘Solaris,’ a movie widely regarded as his answer to Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ Based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem, the film follows a scientist heading to a blue planet to experience strange occurrences. The space station on the earth is experiencing some trouble, and soon the members begin to die. While low on visual effects, you know what Tarkovsky does to your mind. If you don’t, this film is a great entry point to his mind-bending oeuvre, available on HBO Max.
2. Eraserhead (1977)
David Lynch‘s ambient black and white debut masterpiece ‘Eraserhead.’ dwells between macabre body horror and psychological thriller. In a futuristic and bleak industrial landscape, we meet the character billed as “The Man in the Planet,” who engages with a pregnant woman who seemingly bears his child. The child is born deformed, and the mother leaves, annoyed by the child crying. The father is left to rear the child on his own while his thoughts of a lighter planet overwhelm his mind. The falling cadence becomes a free-flowing montage as the sound plays with the viewer’s mind. If you want to get into the fascinating mind of David Lynch, this movie is a great entry point.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
In 1969, three US astronauts walked on the moon while the war raged on foreign frontiers. A year earlier, Stanley Kubrick released his cult classic visual masterpiece ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ With the allure of artificial intelligence and stunning visual effects, the film chronicles the progress of human civilization through a futuristic lens. While adapting the short story ‘The Sentinel’ by Arthur C. Clarke, the narrative makes visual advances unthinkable at the time.
As for a fringe conspiracy theory, the movie was a cover for the actual shooting of the July 20, 1969 clips of the astronauts walking on the moon, which the theorists say were also shot by Kubrick. While we cannot confirm it, there’s no denying its symbolic and mind-bending space opera recipe was way ahead of its time, and it still is.
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