When man first made moving images possible and later developed it into an art form with which he began to express his feelings and emotions and also tell stories, it was the closest we came in trying to replicate life. What we then tried to do is to go beyond replicating life to give a picture of how things might turn out in the future. Filmmakers have tried to question the reality we see around ourselves and present an alternate version of the truth, often trying to re-imagine reality through complicated stories. To quench your thirst for such films, Netflix offers a great collection of mind-bending movies that’ll give you a lot of food for thought.
25. Tau (2018)
Julia, a captive in a high-tech house, is forced to participate in deadly experiments for the elusive Alex’s AI research. Trapped and desperate, she befriends Tau, the advanced AI that governs the house but is unaware of the world beyond its walls. As Julia educates Tau, they form an unexpected bond. Together, they devise an escape plan, but time is running out. With stunning visuals and a gripping storyline accentuated by Gary Oldman‘s voice as Tau, this movie delves deep into the nuances of humanity, freedom, and artificial intelligence. You can watch it here.
24. Spiderhead (2022)
In the meticulously designed interiors of Spiderhead, a cutting-edge prison facility, inmates like Jeff find themselves ensnared in a web of alluring promises: volunteering for experimental drug tests could slash their sentences. Under the watchful eyes of the seemingly benign Steve Abnesti and his aide, Mark, these experiments, laden with potent emotional manipulators, take unforeseen sinister turns. As Jeff pierces through the veils of deceit to unearth the concealed motives of the facility’s operations and its puppet masters, a palpable tension envelops the narrative. More than just an exploration of human emotions and manipulations, the film delves into the depths of human choices, the fragility of love, and the immeasurable yearnings for freedom amidst deception. You may watch the film here.
23. ARQ (2016)
A seemingly mundane morning erupts into chaos for Renton as he’s thrust into a sinister dance of déjà vu. With his groundbreaking invention, the ARQ, inadvertently causing time loops, he finds himself and former lover Hannah ensnared in a deadly chess game against the militant Bloc and Torus Corporation’s sinister machinations. With each repetition, alliances shift, betrayals sting sharper, and the enigma of the ARQ deepens. As realities blur and timelines entangle, Renton and Hannah grapple with the haunting question: can they outmaneuver fate itself? The chilling climax, replete with mechanized intruders and frantic messages, leaves an indelible imprint of cyclical dread. Feel free to check out the movie here.
22. Psychokinesis (2018)
In the vibrant heart of Seoul, Shin Roo-mi fiercely guards her fried chicken legacy against the bulldozing intents of Tae-san, a mob-infused construction giant. When a chance meteor shower endows the carefree Seok-heon with telekinetic powers, little does he realize the colossal responsibility these gifts will bring. Reconnecting with his estranged daughter, Roo-mi, amidst her real estate war, Seok-heon’s newfound abilities become a linchpin of hope and defiance against unchecked corporate greed. Through aerial rescues, emotional rifts, and justice served mid-air, the narrative crescendos to a poignant reunion in Superpower Chicken, where powers serve drinks and familial bonds reign supreme. You can check out the film here.
21. What Happened to Monday (2017)
In a future grappling with overpopulation, seven identical sisters navigate a world with a one-child policy by posing as one person. Each named after a day of the week, they take turns living the life of “Karen Settman.” When Monday mysteriously vanishes, a dangerous game of cat and mouse ensues with the Child Allocation Bureau. As secrets unfold, loyalty among the sisters is tested, leading to heart-wrenching decisions. With star-studded performances by Noomi Rapace, Willem Dafoe, and Glenn Close, the film delves into sacrifice, identity, and survival. You can watch ‘What Happened to Monday’ here.
20. Extinction (2018)
Directed by Ben Young, this 2018 film stars Michael Pena and Lizzy Caplan in the leading roles. Pena plays a man called Peter who is subject to vivid and horrific dreams where he sees his loved ones are confronted by aliens who have invaded the earth. Worried, Peter visits a psychiatrist, where he meets another man who is having similar dreams. The city is attacked that very day, and a string of events follow, which makes us question what we have been seeing for so long. Peter also reveals secrets about himself, which were unexpected when the movie began. ‘Extinction’ has some solid performances and an amazing revelation in the end, but it has been criticized for its formulaic nature. You may watch it here.
19. The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
After ‘Cloverfield’ (2008) and ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ (2016), ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ is the latest edition of the series, and this time, the problem has shifted from invading aliens to a massive energy crisis on Earth. The scientists decide to use a particle reactor to harness infinite amounts of energy, but there is also the risk of opening portals to another realm. This makes us vulnerable to a potentially dangerous parallel universe. Though the movie has not received positive reviews, its connection to the Cloverfield universe makes it a must-watch for people who love mind-bending movies. You may watch ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ here.
18. Lavender (2016)
‘Lavender’ opens in 1985 when a man named Patrick receives the news of his brother, his brother’s wife, and his niece’s massacre. The police even go on to reveal that a teenager named Jane was the only surviving member on the scene. Cut to 2010; Jane is a professional photographer famous for taking pictures of abandoned farmhouses. Although she is married and even has a daughter named Alice, she falls victim to frequent memory loss, which strains her relationship with her family. Things turn even worse when Jane is unable to recognize her daughter and husband after a car accident, although she receives a mysterious music box and a picture of a farmhouse she had photographed as a gift, which eventually reveals that Jane is considered the person responsible for the 1985 massacre. Another photograph leads to her having unexplainable visions, and soon, the line dividing the past and present begins to blur, making Jane question her reality. You can stream the film here.
17. Mirage (2018)
‘Mirage’ opens in 1989 during a 72-hour-long electrical storm, when a boy, Nivo, witnesses his neighbor’s murder at the hands of her husband. Terrified, he runs onto the street, where a car hits and kills him on the spot. Twenty-five years later, Vera Roy and David Ortiz move into the same house and find an old TV set along with cassettes and video recorders. While going through a few cassettes, Vera comes across the video taken by Nico and begins watching it as a similar electrical storm begins lashing down on the city. After learning of the way Nico died, Vera discovers that she can interact with the boy through the tape and thus manages to save his life. However, this results in a space-time continuum glitch that completely alters her reality. With her husband now married to a different woman and her child never born, Vera desperately hunts for ways to set things right as the movie builds up to a mind-bending climax. You can stream ‘Mirage’ here.
16. The Discovery (2017)
Is there an afterlife? Well, Thomas, the character played by Robert Redford in this 2017 movie, believes so and has also managed to scientifically prove this fact. Suicide tolls increase when people come to know they have a chance to lead a better life after they die. In the meanwhile, his son Will meets a girl named Isla on a ferry, and they visit Will’s father’s laboratory to explain to him the dangers his discovery is causing. There, they find out yet another invention made by their father. Will keeps seeing visions of a boy on a beach about which he talks to Isla. His father’s machine helps him understand that he is caught in a loop from which he needs to get out. The movie sees some great performances from Rooney Mara, Robert Redford, and Jason Segel. You can stream it here.
15. IO (2019)
This movie only shows us what can be the near future of the earth in a few decades. It serves as a warning sign more than anything else. It speaks of a dystopic future when the Earth has become so toxic that mankind has colonized Io, a moon of Jupiter. A girl, Sam, is among the few people still living on Earth, and she comes across another such human, Micah, who tries to convince her to leave for Io soon. Meanwhile, her boyfriend has taken part in an expedition to find another planet suited for living. The question that this movie brings up is vital- in this day and age of heavy industrialization, when will the Earth finally become unlivable? And what shall we do then? Brainstorm the warning by watching the movie here.
14. iBoy (2017)
Released on Netflix, this cyberpunk thriller stars Maisie Williams of ‘Game of Thrones‘ fame. She plays a character called Lucy, whose friend, Tom Harvey, gets hit by shrapnel from his phone and finds out that he can now visualize digital signals. Lucy gets brutally raped in her home, which makes Tom use his powers to bring the attackers to justice. This unique tale is of a superhero of a different kind. Tom can see digital signals and thus has the upper hand over everyone because the world now runs on digital data. The movie, though a thriller, might be taken as a metaphor for the fact that whoever controls digital data is currently our master. Feel free to check it out here.
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13. The Perfection (2018)
‘The Perfection‘ revolves around promising young cellist Charlotte Willmore, who leaves the Bachoff music school in order to care for her ailing mother. Once her terminally ill mother passes away, Charlotte contacts the head of the school and discovers that a star student named Lizzie took over her place after she left. Although Charlotte initially befriends Lizzie and starts a romantic relationship with her, jealousy takes over, and Charlotte feeds Lizzie a hallucination-inducing medicine before manipulating her to hack off her arm. Although Charlotte goes back to her everyday life as if nothing has happened, things change when Lizzie returns, leading to a mind-bending tale of vengeance that hides a massive twist and threatens to expose one sinister secret after the other. You can check out the film here.
12. Vivarium (2019)
Beginning with nature’s cunning mimicry, we’re introduced to Gemma and Tom, a couple seeking a new home. They’re lured to a surreal suburban labyrinth called Yonder by an eerie realtor, Martin. The seemingly infinite maze of identical houses becomes their inescapable prison. Their predicament intensifies when a mysterious infant arrives, demanding their care. As the child grows at an unnatural pace, mimicking behaviors and exhibiting unsettling features, the couple’s sanity and relationship are strained. Tom’s obsessive digging reveals haunting truths, while Gemma’s confrontations with their strange captor lead to tragic ends. A cyclical nightmare, the story culminates in a grim realization about Yonder’s unending cycle of life and death. You can watch ‘Vivarium’ here.
11. The Guilty (2021)
‘The Guilty‘ revolves around LAPD officer Joe Baylor, who is under investigation for shooting a teenager during duty. Working the night shift at a 911 call center, he eagerly awaits the end of his shift and his next hearing, where he plans to plead not guilty. While accepting various 911 calls, Joe gets connected to a scared woman, Emily, who claims that her ex-husband, Henry, has abducted her. Initially, he tries highway patrol to locate the vehicle but is unsuccessful. Then, managing to extract her home address, Joe sends officers to the house, where they find her daughter, as well as the mutilated body of her younger child. Moreover, after breaking into her ex-husband’s home, authorities find that the woman is a patient at a mental health facility. As roles suddenly get reversed and the truth begins coming to light, the movie delivers one mind-bending twist after the other, making this a must-watch. You may watch ‘The Guilty’ here.
10. In The Shadow Of The Moon (2019)
In 1988, a police officer is hunting a serial killer and manages to track her down, only to watch in horror as she gets trampled by a subway train. The case closes after the murderer is dead. Only she is not dead and resurfaces nine years later, and the killings start again. With the authorities unable to comprehend the logic-defying murders, only one cop is close to figuring out the reality, especially when she starts dropping hints. ‘In The Shadow Of The Moon’ is a crime thriller that will leave your head slightly spinning when you’re done watching it, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. You can stream the film here.
9. Horse Girl (2020)
Sarah is a sweet, socially awkward woman with a fondness for crafts and horses. The film ‘Horse Girl‘ centers around Sarah as she gets increasingly paranoid and suffers a total, crippling mental breakdown to the point where she cannot distinguish between what is real and what is not. The surreal psychological drama tries to take viewers inside Sarah’s mentally disturbed headspace so that audiences can feel as she slips further and further down the spiral. Some great acting by Allison Brie, who plays Sarah; there’s a strange fragility in her eyes that threatens to shatter as the film progresses. You can stream ‘Horse Girl’ here.
8. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
Within the confines of a remote farmhouse, a young woman’s thoughts oscillate around the notion of ending her developing relationship with Jake, her introspective boyfriend. Their journey to meet Jake’s parents transcends the realm of the ordinary, with mysterious phone calls, shifting narratives about their love story, and unsettling discoveries within the home. Intercut with perplexing visions of a high school janitor’s mundane existence, the film becomes a labyrinth of surreal events and encounters. The ebb and flow of time, personified by Jake’s inexplicably aging parents and a haunting ballet performance, crafts a tale replete with existential musings, confronting viewers with themes of reality, memory, and fractured identity. You can stream the film here.
7. Lucid Dream (2017)
A father desperately searching for his missing son has exhausted almost every avenue in the three years since the child was abducted. He finally comes across the method of lucid dreaming that will enable him to see the exact moment when his son got kidnapped and track him from there, all while sleeping. ‘Lucid Dream’ is an intense South Korean sci-fi mystery-thriller that is not completely without faults. It mostly maintains the fast-paced fervor but stumbles a bit here and there when it gets way too emotional for the genre. You can watch the movie here.
6. The Call (2020)
‘The Call’ revolves around city-dweller Kim Seo-Yeon, who loses her cell phone while traveling to the village to meet her mother in 2019. However, once at their dilapidated village house, Kim finds a cordless phone that connects her to a woman in 1999. The woman, Oh Young-sook, lives in the same house but claims that her mother is torturing her. Realizing an opportunity to save her father, who died in a fire back in 1999, Kim uses Oh to try and warn him of the impending danger. The plan works, and Kim finds both her parents alive and the house in better order. Still connected through the call, Kim finds out how Oh dies and subsequently warns her, resulting in Oh killing her mother and becoming a serial killer.
Interestingly, no matter how the girls try and make things right in the past, it somehow affects the future negatively. However, what makes the film so incredible is how it makes the audience rack their brains about the pair’s next move before delivering a twist that is sure to blow one’s mind. Feel free to experience it here.
5. Synchronic (2019)
Steve and Dennis, paramedics in New Orleans, are caught up in a series of bizarre and deadly events, which they trace back to a new street drug called Synchronic. Steve, diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, soon realizes that this drug offers more than just a high—it sends its users back in time. As Steve experiments with it, aiming to understand its properties and locate Dennis’s missing daughter, Brianna, he faces dangerous encounters in various time periods and grapples with the weight of his own mortality. The story delves into the impermanence and subjectivity of time, the importance of cherishing the present, and the lengths one is willing to go for a friend. You can check out the film here.
4. They Cloned Tyrone (2023)
In an urban backdrop called the Glen, drug dealer Fontaine’s daily struggles are intensified when he’s apparently murdered, only to reappear alive the next day. Along with Yo-Yo and Slick Charles, Fontaine discovers a clandestine lab beneath the streets, revealing disturbing clones of Glen’s residents, including himself. The plot thickens as they unravel the twisted motives of white scientists using Black populations for behavioral experiments and mind control. As the group uncovers the dark truth of racial assimilation agendas, they fight for justice. A final revelation presents another layer to the conspiracy – Fontaine’s existence may be a mere replication of another man, Tyrone. You can watch ‘They Cloned Tyrone’ here.
3. The Platform (2019)
In a mysterious, towering facility known as The Pit, inmates are subjected to a cruel experiment: a platform loaded with lavish food begins at the top and descends floor by floor. By the time it reaches the lower levels, little to no food remains. Goreng, an idealistic man who chose this confinement to earn a diploma, quickly learns the ruthless rules from his cellmate Trimagasi. When faced with extreme hunger on lower levels, their humanity is tested to terrifying extents. As Goreng travels through different levels, he encounters allies and enemies and discovers the dark secrets and motives of those around him, culminating in a realization of the ultimate purpose of The Pit. If you are interested in finding out what The Pit is, you can watch the movie here.
2. Fractured (2019)
‘Fractured’ follows couple Ray and Joanne, as well as their daughter, Perri, while returning from Thanksgiving dinner. Ray and Joanne’s marriage seems to be in trouble, and the couple keeps arguing before deciding to stop at a nearby store to buy batteries. At the store, a stray dog scares Perri, and she falls into a construction pit nearby. Although her injuries don’t appear to be serious, Joanne insists that they should get her checked at a hospital. Once in the hospital, Perri and Joanne go off to do a scan while Ray waits. Hours pass, and with no news of his family, Ray walks up to the front desk, demanding an answer.
However, the hospital claims to have never served such people, and sure enough, all traces of his family are missing from the records. Desperate from fear, Ray involves the police and even suspects an organ trafficking ring, but to no avail. Working wonders on the audiences’ minds, the movie builds up tension before delivering a twist that will make one think long after the credits finish rolling. You can watch it here.
1. Oxygen (2021)
‘Oxygen’ revolves around Elizabeth Hansen, who awakens in an airtight cryogenic unit where oxygen levels are falling rapidly. Desperate to survive, she learns her name from the AI before contacting her husband, Léo Ferguson. Upon calling Leo, a woman picks answers the phone. However, once Elizabeth mentions she is Leo’s wife, the confused woman hangs up the phone. Anxious with worry, Elizabeth tries the number again, and this time, the woman informs her that Earth has been overridden by a deadly virus that even killed her husband. Moreover, Elizabeth also manages to get the pod’s master code, but it doesn’t grant her freedom from a gravity-less hollow space. As Elizabeth’s fate is slowly revealed, the movie does a wonderful job of building suspense through confusion and, interestingly, with each twist, makes viewers question if everything is really as it seems. You can stream the film here.
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