15 Movies Designed to Make You Think Long After the Credits Roll

Mia Farrow in Rosemarys Baby

Have you ever left the movie theater with more questions than answers? Sometimes, movies are designed to really toy with our minds and chip away at our psyche, and good ones can do so in such a way that we still find it entertaining. A popular movie forum discussed some films that achieved exactly this, leaving viewers confused, full of thoughts, or in a contemplative state as the credits rolled. Here are some of the recommendations if this is your desired movie-watching experience. 

1. Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

The Murphy family talk to Martin.
Image Credit: Film4.

You can rest easy. No deer are harmed in Killing of a Sacred Deer.

When a young boy seemingly inserts himself into the Murphy family, surgeon Steven must face the consequences of his careless actions that left a father dead. The premise isn’t really all that out there, but how it unfolds certainly is. Every bit of dialogue is delivered in a very direct, cold, and formal way. It’s as if you’re watching aliens learning to act. Don’t try to make sense of it. Just follow along and enjoy how twisted this psychological thriller gets.

2. Memento (2000)

Leonard Shelby and John Edward Gammell outside
Image Credit: Summit Entertainment.

Christopher Nolan will leave you a confused mess at the end of Memento, a movie presented in a non-linear narrative with two sequences running interspersed. Leonard Shelby has no recollection of how his wife died, and his short-term memory loss forces him to create new ways to remember new series of events. If you don’t pay close attention, expect a few perplexed eye twitches as the credits roll.

3. The Void (2016)

The Void's surreal imagery and use of triangles
Image Credit: Cave Painting Pictures.

If anything is going to leave viewers shaken and confused, it’s a cosmic horror movie. The Void seems to start off simple enough, with a group of people with intertwined fates in a mostly abandoned hospital. Then the murders happen. And the cult shows up. And people start turning into tentacled monsters. Go for the visuals, stay to try and have your many questions answered.

4. Vivarium (2019)

Eisenberg's Tom looks out over the sea of identical rooftops
Image Credit: XYZ Films.

A couple wants to buy a house in a suburban neighborhood. What should be a simple and positive task becomes a trip into madness as they find themselves trapped and forced to raise an otherworldly child. Vivarium is unsettling, creepy, and marginally frustrating, all of which lend to that uncomfortable feeling you get from a movie that’s left you shook.

6. Martyrs (2008)

Martyrs Xavier Dolan
Image Credit: Wild Bunch.

The 2008 French film from visionary Pascal Laugier focuses on two girls determined to seek revenge on their perpetrators of abuse. The revenge tale soon unfolds into a bleak conversation about class struggles, class disparity, the meaning of life, and the inevitability of death. All things sure to leave you questioning so much.

7. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The Autopsy of Jane Doe Michael McElhatton
Image Credit: IFC Midnight.

This 2016 film centers around a deceased woman with no identifiable clues as to how she died. As the morticians operate on Jane Doe, trying to solve her murder, they uncover a reality that startles them to their core. Instead of using CGI for Jane's body, actress Olwen Kelly lays on the cold metal slab with unblinking eyes. Without spoiling anything, Jane Doe is a bone-chilling horror flick with one of the best still actors working today.

8. The Invitation (2015)

Logan Marshall Green in The Invitation 2015
Image Credit: Drafthouse Films.

Like most sub-genres, cult movies are a hit or miss. The Invitation (2015)—not the awful 2022 vampire movie—focuses on a dinner party turned vile. The Invitation begs the question, do we ever really know our neighbors? That's a thought sure to make you suspicious of everyone around you.

9. Jacob's Ladder (1990)

Tim Robbins in a bathtub
Image Credit: Carolco Pictures.

Unless you're dealing with Suspiria, the original iteration of a film is superior. Plagued by trauma and terror faced in the Vietnam War, Jacob (Tim Robbins) returns home to a confused mental state and indistinguishable realities. A few doctors, his wife, and friends try to reach him, but he dissociates beyond reach, ultimately leading to one of the strangest scenes in cinema. 

10. Kids (1995)

Kids ensemble cast sharing a smoke
Image Credit: Miramax.

Larry Clark's films don't appeal to everyone. They're harrowing depictions of life and the disgusting and terrible aspects of the human condition. Kids, written by Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers), follows a group of adolescent best friends, one of whom is HIV positive and refuses to tell others. Kids is squeamish, graphic, and brutal, but it opens your eyes to issues society commonly brushes under the rug.

11. Waves (2019)

Image Credit: A24.

Waves showcases an expert narrative shift. The first act hones in on Tyler, his wrestling passion, and his undying love for his high school sweetheart. After a tragic accident, the film shifts to his sister, Emily's point of view. Waves has a stellar soundtrack full of the most heart-wrenching Frank Ocean songs.

12. Mother! (2017)

Mother! Jennifer Lawrence
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Mother! is a controversial Jennifer Lawrence film that split audience opinions in half. If you like Mother!, you love it with unending adoration. If don't, you go to great ends to discuss how much you despise the allegory for mother nature and The Bible.  

13. Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary reacting shocked to something off screen
Image Credit Paramount Pictures.

Think twice before deciding to have a baby with your significant other. You may wind up giving birth to the Devil’s spawn. Poor Rosemary thought she had a good relationship with her husband, Guy, but once they started talking about children, things took a turn for the worse. Rosemary’s Baby is not a happy-go-lucky pregnancy story, especially if you’re an expecting mother. Expect to leave this one questioning all the people in your life.

14. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

A red-haired girl sits on a bed
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer tells the tale of Jean Baptiste, a friendless orphan with the incredible skill to determine the ingredients in perfume. His superhuman sense of smell leads to him creating the best-smelling perfume of all time—one made from the corpses of women. The ending of Perfume floors even seasoned mind-twisting film enthusiasts.

15. Coherence (2013)

Coherence Emily Baldoni
Image Credit: Oscilloscope Laboratories.

If you're looking for a film that contemplates existence, alternate realities, and possibilities, look no further than Coherence. The 2013 film is another dinner party scenario. However, this dinner event occurs during a comet that knocks the power out. Soon the group learns other versions of themselves may exist. 

16. Enter The Void (2009)

Enter the Void Paz de la Huerta, Nathaniel Brown
Image Credit: Wild Bunch Distribution.

As Gaspar Noe's catalog goes, Enter the Void is a meditation on life and death imbued with vibrant colors and alluring cinematography. After the main character, Oscar, is killed by police in a bust, he flashes back through critical moments in his and his sister's life.

Source: Reddit.

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