Have you ever seen a movie that makes you go, “What on earth did just happen?” Surprise is not an easy-to-achieve effect in the human psyche, and Freud says it’s because of the Thanatos or the death drive. Since death is the final destination (and we’re keeping ‘Final Destination‘ out of the list), the surprise feels mundane in the next moment. However, some movies defy the stance and still pack enough mind-bending twists to keep you bewildered for a day or an eternity. The following films on HBO Max are some of the best movies that will leave you confounded.
9. Orphan (2009)
This psychological horror film stars Isabelle Fuhrman, Vera Farmiga, and Peter Sarsgaard. It follows the married couple Kate (Farmiga) and John Coleman (Sarsgaard), who adopt 9-year-old Esther (Fuhrman) after the loss of their unborn baby. While everything seems normal in the beginning, Esther slowly starts to show signs of being manipulative and hostile towards her siblings, even trying to seduce her father, John. When Kate looks into Esther’s past, she finds out that the girl is not as youthful as she seems. Want to know how? For that, you can watch the film here. You won’t regret it.
8. Don’t Worry Darling (2022)
In the heart-pounding psychological thriller ‘Don’t Worry Darling,’ Olivia Wilde weaves a mesmerizing tale that’ll leave you questioning everything. Set in an idyllic company town, a housewife (Florence Pugh) unravels a sinister secret concealed by the town’s enigmatic leader (Chris Pine). As the tension builds, it’s not just the secrets that grip you; it’s the stellar cast, including Harry Styles, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, and Olivia Wilde herself, who add an electrifying layer of mystery. Brace yourself for a cinematic rollercoaster that takes unexpected twists, leaving you in a state of suspense and awe long after the credits roll. You can stream the film here.
7. The Menu (2022)
Directed by Mark Mylod, this horror comedy flick, which is more horrifying than funny, revolves around a high-end restaurant called Hawthorn that is situated on a private island. As the wealthy guests (Nicholas Hoult, Anya Taylor-Joy, Janet McTeer, and John Leguizamo, among others), who have arrived to feast on the exquisite cuisines, begin their dinner, celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) brings in each course that is accompanied by an unsettling monologue about each item in it.
Amidst the revelation of secrets about the guests, along with commentary on classes in society and capitalism, among other such topics, the customers are made to realize that they will all be dead before the night comes to an end. An intriguing take on the genre, ‘The Menu’ is an effective addition to our list as it has multiple twists, including a special one at the end. To find out what they are, you can stream the film here.
6. Under the Skin (2014)
‘Under the Skin,’ directed by Jonathan Glazer, is a masterpiece of cinematic storytelling with a remarkable plot twist. Starring Scarlett Johansson, the film initially appears to be a seductive, enigmatic narrative about an otherworldly woman who lures unsuspecting men. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the real twist lies in her own transformation, exploring themes of identity and humanity. Johansson’s stunning performance, combined with Glazer’s hauntingly atmospheric direction, keeps you captivated, and when the twist unravels, it’s a profound revelation that challenges your perceptions and leaves you with an unforgettable cinematic experience. Feel free to check out the movie here.
5. Hereditary (2018)
It would be a sin to reveal the plot of this A24 production declared as this generation’s “The Exorcist” by Time Out New York. A psychological supernatural flick directed by Ari Aster, ‘Hereditary’ follows the Graham family and how it is subjected to the demons it inherited from its predecessors in the aftermath of the death of the Graham family matriarch i.e. Ellen Leigh (Kathleen Chalfant), mother of Annie Graham (Toni Collette), mother-in-law of Steve Graham (Gabriel Byrne), and grandmother of Annie’s children, 16-year-old son Peter (Alex Wolff) and 13-year-old daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro). As their inheritance begins to take a toll on all the members, the viewers are subjected to a paranormal experience that is bound to stay with them for a long time in a very unsettling manner that reminds one of American classic horror. You can stream ‘Hereditary’ here.
4. A Most Violent Year (2014)
In the enthralling drama ‘A Most Violent Year,’ director J.C. Chandor crafts a tale of unexpected turns and moral ambiguity. Oscar Isaac shines as Abel Morales, an ambitious immigrant striving to expand his heating oil business in 1981 in New York City. The film meticulously builds the tension, portraying Abel’s struggle against corruption and violence while maintaining his integrity. However, as the plot thickens, unexpected betrayals and shifting alliances among the characters, brilliantly portrayed by Jessica Chastain and an outstanding supporting cast, challenge the audience’s assumptions. Chandor skillfully subverts traditional narrative expectations, delivering a plot twist that redefines the characters’ motives and leaves viewers questioning the thin line between right and wrong in a world filled with moral gray areas. You may watch the film here.
3. Ex Machina (2015)
In the realm of mind-bending cinema, ‘Ex Machina,’ a creation of director Alex Garland, shines brightly due to its compelling plot twist. Domhnall Gleeson plays Caleb, a talented programmer who finds himself in the secretive world of his employer, the brilliant but eccentric Nathan (Oscar Isaac). His mission is to administer a Turing test on a sophisticated AI, Ava (Alicia Vikander). At first glance, the film appears to be a conventional AI examination, but it transcends expectations. As the layers of deception and revelation unfold, the narrative is subverted, leaving viewers astounded by Ava’s true intentions, the complexities of her character, and the morally intricate maze she navigates. The impeccable cast, led by Vikander’s stunning performance, propels ‘Ex Machina‘ into a league of its own, where the gripping plot twist is an exploration of humanity, AI consciousness, and the blurred lines between them. You can watch the movie here.
2. The Witch (2015)
This Robert Eggers directorial is a horror flick starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie and Sarah Stephens. Set in New England in the first half of the 17th century, it tells the story of a Puritan family wherein the parents lose their youngest son, baby Samuel, who mysteriously disappears while his sister Thomasin is playing with him. This sets off a chain of events that leads the members of the family to turn against each other, and it seems that there is an external force at play. To find out who or what led to the disappearance of the baby, you can check out the movie here.
1. Carnival of Souls (1962)
Directed by Herk Harvey, this psychological horror film is considered by many as a classic art film. Starring Candace Hilligoss, Herk Harvey, Frances Feist, and Sidney Berger, it follows a woman named Mary Henry (Hilligoss) who miraculously survives a car accident in Kanas after which she moves to Utah and is hired as a church organist. However, her visions of a ghoulish pale-faced man (“The Man”; played by Harvey), along with others like him, keep getting more frequent. Is she having a nightmare? Or are the ghouls real? A body recovered from the car crash after the accident carries the truth. To know what that is, you can stream the film here.
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