Movies evoke emotions in their audiences, whether that's weeping, laughing, or feeling joy. Occasionally films make us second-guess what's real. A community of movie lovers shared examples of some movies that made them feel like they were going insane right along with the characters. Do you agree with their picks?
1. Black Swan (2010)
Nina is a ballerina whose passion and obsession for dance control every part of her existence. When the company’s artistic director announces that he intends to crown a new lead for their production of “Swan Lake,” Nina is shocked to find that he is considering a newcomer. The rivalry that unfolds between the two prospects is a deep dive into madness that reveals Nina’s true dark side.
2. 12 Monkeys (1995)
Imagine traveling back in time on a mission to save humanity from a deadly virus outbreak, only to be locked in a mental hospital for telling the truth. This wild ride follows James Cole as he tries everything he can to change the future. He encounters several people along the way that help and hinder his progress as this story spins into a whirlwind of an end.
3. Mulholland Drive (2001)
Be honest; you knew a David Lynch movie would be on this list before you even clicked it. This movie is over two hours of whiplash. Right when you think you have a grasp on what's happening, the rug is ripped out from under you. See if you can follow along while an amnesiac actress tries to piece together who she is and what she was doing before the crash that wiped her memory.
4. The Machinist (2004)
Christian Bale’s shocking bodily transformation had everyone talking about The Machinist. Bale takes on the role of Trevor, a machinist with debilitating insomnia that’s turned him into a frail shell of his former self. He’s being disturbed by a coworker pushing him to the brink and testing his mental limits. He soon learns the real reason he hasn’t slept in so long.
5. Beau Is Afraid (2023)
I've been to the theater twice to see Beau Is Afraid, and I still have trouble explaining what I watched. It's in a league of its own as far as insanity goes. We join Beau, a man with intense mommy issues, on his journey of building up the confidence to be his own person. The twists and turns are harsh, with jaw-dropping moments that will burrow into your mind and stay there for weeks.
6. Being John Malkovich (1999)
If you're looking for a movie about puppeteers, failing marriages, and portals that let you step into the mind of a celebrity, look no further than Being John Malkovich. This cult classic plays out like a dream with its ultra-surrealism and quirky antics. Filled with multiple celebrity cameos and a stacked cast, it makes for an entertaining ride on the Malkovich side.
7. Saint Maud (2019)
Maud struggles immensely with being a devout Catholic in a world full of souls that need saving. As a home care nurse with a terminally ill atheist as a patient, she has her biggest challenge yet. Her mental health begins to slip as she makes her patient's salvation her number one priority. As her faith wanes, we witness her spiral into her own personal damnation.
8. The Lighthouse (2019)
Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are a maddening duo in this period piece centering around the daily lives of lighthouse keepers. Winslow (Pattinson) is the new hire at a lone island lighthouse where his only coworker is Wake (Dafoe). Things are tense as Winslow tries to pull his weight and prove he's fit for the job. Tensions rise as Wake becomes critical, and the truth behind Winslow's arrival is revealed.
9. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Even if you haven't seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, you already know what you're in for. It's a drug-fueled road trip starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro full of psychedelic imagery that leaves your head spinning. The main characters' frantic nature and goofy shenanigans make the movie especially memorable.
10. The Lobster (2015)
This movie is a doozy. It wasn't until about three-quarters of the way through that I understood what was going on, and even then, I really didn't know for sure. This dystopian society in an undisclosed time period is obsessed with eradicating single people. Singles are given 45 days in a resort to find a partner, or they will be turned into an animal of their choosing. Despite being confusing at times, it was a fascinating watch.
11. Mother! (2017)
This movie stuck with me for weeks, and scenes are permanently seared into my mind. Jennifer Lawrence stars as Mother, a woman who spends time renovating her and her husband's old home. Her husband is a writer suffering from short-lived writer's block thanks to his muse, Mother. He becomes a success overnight, and soon fans come knocking at their door. From that moment on, it's a tornado of tragedy, including imagery that made everyone in my theater gasp aloud. Proceed with caution.
12. Jacob's Ladder (1990)
This twisted tale of a Vietnam War veteran’s descent into lunacy is both terrifying and heartbreaking. To know that veterans go through times of need and are turned away by the VA is tragic. This is Jacob’s story of arriving home and trying to return to normalcy while being haunted by the monsters of his past. The visuals are alarming, and the creatures are grotesque, making this a movie one to watch with the lights on.
13. Gerald's Game (2017)
A couple’s saucy weekend getaway quickly becomes a nightmare for Jessie as she becomes trapped in a jaw-dropping predicament. As she fights to survive physically, she also battles resurfacing mental demons. Her trauma collides with real-world threats, making for some unforgettable horrific scenes.
14. Buried (2010)
Buried takes place inside a pine box underground, making it 95 minutes of pure anxiety. Ryan Reynolds plays Paul, a civilian working in Iraq who is attacked by insurgents and placed in the ground with a cell phone and a lighter. As he receives calls from his attackers demanding ransom, he also receives calls from people attempting to rescue him. This movie is a race against the clock that will leave your stomach twisted in knots.
15. His House (2020)
Two refugees mourning the loss of their daughter flee from a war-torn country and take asylum in Britain. They are placed in housing that is run down and in a neighborhood full of racist unwelcoming people. As they try their best to fit in, they start to notice things that go bump in the night. After some investigating, they realize they're being watched from within the walls of their home.
16. Vanilla Sky (2001)
Even while wearing a mask, you can't hide from the truth. David is in jail for murdering his girlfriend during a moment of intense hysteria. As a court psychologist interviews him, he recalls the moments that led to that life-altering mistake. Things are not as they seem in this futuristic psychological thriller.
17. The Menu (2022)
Traveling to a private island for a one-of-a-kind, exclusive meal experience sounds like an incredible evening, but for this group of elites, it turns out to be the complete opposite. This movie kept me on my toes and had me trying to guess what was coming next to no avail. It's overflowing with shock and awe as a remarkably talented cast delivers memorable performances.
18. The Number 23 (2007)
After reading a book his wife gives him, Walter (Jim Carrey) becomes obsessed with the 23 Enigma, a belief that the number 23 has a hidden meaning because of its prevalence in many forms of media. This obsession drives him mad as he's desperate to find proof and make sense of it all. This path of discovery unveils far more than Walter bargained for and puts his family to the test.
19. Moon (2009)
Moon sometimes feels like foreshadowing with its elements of corporate greed and unethical practices. On the far side of the moon, a mining station has been built to harvest a new alternative fuel. Manning the station is Sam, who is on a three-year work contract which he must complete before he can go home to his wife and newborn daughter. After losing communication with Earth, it seems the artificial intelligence GERTY accompanying him is plotting something against him. He devises a plan to discover the truth as he slowly begins to lose his mind to hallucinations.
20. The Cell (2000)
The Cell takes us into the mind of a serial killer like no other movie has before. Child psychiatrist Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) takes part in a new method of treatment using virtual reality to enter patients' minds. This new technology becomes instrumental in helping find the location of the serial killer's last victim. Catherine enters the serial killer's mind filled with trauma and horrors beyond comprehension as she tries to unlock an ounce of humanity to save his final victim.
21. Stay (2005)
Psychiatrist Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor) has a new patient, Henry (Ryan Gosling), who has horrible thoughts about ending his life. Sam consults his girlfriend for advice on approaching this delicate subject with Henry, but when Henry goes missing and leaves a note, Sam is frantic to save his life. The further he looks into Henry's life, the more he realizes that Henry has been anything but honest.
22. I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
I'll be honest; this movie threw me for a loop. I could not grasp what was going on, and my confusion only worsened as the film progressed. A new couple drives to the man's parent's farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. When they arrive, a bizarre series of events ensues. Her imagination runs wild as she's gaslit and witnesses things that make her want to leave immediately. Even after leaving the farmhouse, she can't escape the perplexing situations he keeps dragging her into.
23. Men (2022)
After the trauma of witnessing her husband end his life, Harper (Jessie Buckley) decides to try and relax in the English countryside. The man who gives her a tour of the cottage is a tad awkward, but nothing she can't handle. He tells her to visit the pub in town, which she does later that evening, only to find that every man inside looks oddly identical. The rest of the movie gives way to one of the most warped and appalling scenes I have ever seen. I sat in the theater with my mouth hanging open for 10 minutes straight. It's a true marvel in the worst way.
24. Annihilation (2018)
Lena (Natalie Portman) is a cellular biologist and former U.S. Army Soldier whose husband has returned from a mission to explore an anomalous zone spreading from a meteor that landed in a lighthouse a few years prior. He has a mysterious illness, and his condition is rapidly declining.
Lena agrees to join a team of women and enter into the anomaly to learn what's happened to her husband's team and hopefully find a cure for him. They encounter nightmarish creatures in a beautiful alien landscape. The second half of this film contains scenes that will go down in pop culture history.
25. Crimes of the Future (2022)
Show me someone who says they fully understood this movie, and I’ll show you a liar. Humans have undergone significant biological changes in a bizarre future, such as feeling no pain and immunity against infectious diseases. This leads to a duo of performance artists performing surgeries to remove organs in front of live audiences. Evolutionists are interested in this as they desire to speed up their evolutionary process to eat and successfully digest the large amounts of plastic they’ve turned into “candy bars.”