Mind-Bending Films

Films that transcend cinema

Corinna Osei

08 Oct 21

Complex, hypnotic and psychological: These films combined those elements to create something mind-bending and analyze things that people deal with in their everyday life. Read on to discover films that provide twists and turns to create a compelling storyline.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

After a painful breakup, Joel (Jim Carrey) learns that Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had her memory of their relationship erased from her mind. Heartbroken, he decides to do the same and slowly forgets about the women he loved. This film uses sci-fi elements to show the complexity of a relationship and the pain from a breakup. The psychological scenes translate in the most effective way how our mind picks apart memories as the film provides a non-linear narrative that represents decision-making and how we as humans see joy and sorrow in our lives. It brings out stellar performances from Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey as two people who've fallen in and out of love, wanting to forget about the past. It was nominated for two Oscar and won for Best Screenplay.

Never Gonna Snow Again (2021)

The latest entry on the list, this film follows Zhenia (Alec Utgoff), a Ukrainian immigrant that arrives at a gated community in Poland and is welcomed by the wealthy residents who embrace his talents as a masseur. It becomes mind-bending as Zhenia uses hypnotics and telekinesis as a way to help his patients who are dealing with pain and sorrow, whilst also dealing with his own pain. It blends elements of satire, sci-fi, drama and mystery into this world which makes for a compelling and wondrous film.

Never Gonna Snow Again is in cinemas from From Friday 15 October. Book tickets now.

Donnie Darko (2002)

Elements of sci-fi and fantasy are used to talk about mental health in this moving and mind-bending film about Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal), a teenager who narrowly escapes death after a freak accident. He has visions about Frank, a bunny that informs him the world is going to end in 28 days, whilst also manipulating Donnie to commit crimes. The surreal moments perfectly encapsulates how Donnie's mind works in this film and we end up trying to wrap our heads around what each scene means. It's an outstanding directorial debut from Richard Kelly which has ended up being a cult classic. It also has stellar performances all around from Drew Barrymore and the late Patrick Swayze, to Jena Malone and Jake Gyllenhaal in his breakout role.

I'm Thinking Of Ending Things (2020)

Based on a book by Iain Reid, this film focuses on a young woman (Jessie Buckley) who has doubts about her new relationship and travels with her boyfriend to meet his parents. Upon arriving, she begins to question everything that she knew about herself, her boyfriend and the world. The most difficult mind-bending film to explain on this list, it takes multiple viewership (and reading a couple of film breakdowns) to understand, making it confusing yet exhilarating. Written and Directed by Charlie Krafman who wrote Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this film elevates psychological and sci-fi elements that we have seen from Eternal in contrast to relationships. Performances from Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette and David Thewlis are all spectacular. This film doesn't have a clear ending as everything is mostly left to interpretation but once you find out what it all means, you are left in complete shock, mind blown and feel the urge to watch it all over again to see all of the clues.

Get Out (2017)

As Jordan Peele's directorial debut, it provides a wider perspective into the horror genre, with psychological elements used as symbolism of racism. In this film, we follow Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a black man meeting the family of his white girlfriend for the first time. Throughout the film, Chris starts to uncover shocking elements about the family. One of the most poignant scenes in the film is when Chris is pressured to get hypnotised by his girlfriend, Rose's (Allison Williams) mother, Missy (Catherine Keener) in order to cure his smoking habits. Whilst hypnotising him, against his will, she puts Chris in the "Sunken Place". As Jordan Peele perfectly explained in his 2017 tweet "The Sunken Place means we're marginalised. no matter how hard we scream, the system silences us".