In a world saturated with predictable plots and recycled ideas, it's refreshing when you discover a gem that dares to defy conventions with unique concepts that haven't been done to death. From mind-bending mysteries to thought-provoking thrillers, here are 28 films that deviate from tiresome storylines.
1. Inception (2010)
There are valid jokes about Inception making rules up as Christopher Nolan went along, but there's no way around the fact that this one played with the concept of ideas and dreams in a way we'd never seen — and haven't seen since.
2. Us (2019)
The idea of human beings sharing a soul with a monstrous, under-privileged doppelgänger counterpart is fascinating and, as was the case with Get Out, Jordan Peele managed to weave in a sizable amount of humor into this grand concept horror flick, too.
3. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
Imagine hearing the title Honey I Shrunk The Kids for the first time. What would you think the plot of the movie is about? It's quite literally about shrinking the kids. It definitely explored some new territory with a plot that felt very unique at the time.
4. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
Most of us are at a loss for words when it comes to Everything Everywhere All at Once. This incredible film is one that tackles the wildest of universe-jumping concepts and family dynamics — and it has a little bit of everything in the mix.
5. Being John Malkovich (1999)
In this offbeat and surreal comedy, a struggling puppeteer named Craig discovers a hidden portal that allows anyone who enters to experience life through the eyes of the famous actor, John Malkovich.
As the line between reality and fantasy blurs, Craig and others become obsessed with this bizarre opportunity, leading to a hilarious and thought-provoking exploration of identity, desire, and the human condition.
6. The Skin I Live In (2011)
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar, this dark and twisted tale follows a brilliant but unhinged plastic surgeon named Robert Ledgard. Obsessed with creating a new type of synthetic skin, he keeps a mysterious woman captive in his mansion, subjecting her to unorthodox experiments.
As the layers of secrecy unravel, shocking revelations come to light, challenging our notions of beauty, identity, and the consequences of playing god.
7. Mr. Nobody (2009)
Set in a future where immortality is a reality, Mr. Nobody tells the story of Nemo Nobody, the last mortal on Earth. As an elderly Nemo recounts his life, the narrative branches into multiple possible paths, each exploring different choices and possibilities.
With breathtaking visuals and philosophical undertones, this film examines the nature of existence, the impact of decisions, and the infinite possibilities that shape our lives.
8. The Lobster (2015)
In a dystopian society, single individuals are given 45 days to find a romantic partner or face being transformed into an animal of their choice. David, a recently divorced man, checks into a hotel where he must navigate a peculiar set of rules and rituals in his quest for love.
This darkly humorous and satirical film presents a unique commentary on societal pressures, conformity, and the desperate pursuit of companionship.
9. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)
Based on the acclaimed novel, this atmospheric thriller follows Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a gifted but disturbed perfume maker with an extraordinary sense of smell. Obsessed with capturing the essence of human beauty, he becomes a serial killer, targeting young women to extract their scents.
With stunning visuals and a haunting atmosphere, this film dives into the twisted psyche of its protagonist while exploring the power of obsession.
10. John Dies at the End (2012)
Blending horror, comedy, and the supernatural, this mind-bending film revolves around two college dropouts who gain the ability to perceive a hidden world filled with strange creatures and mind-altering substances.
As they become embroiled in a battle against an otherworldly invasion, the line between reality and hallucination blurs, leading to a wild and unpredictable ride filled with dark humor, bizarre twists, and existential questions.
11. Melancholia (2011)
Directed by Lars von Trier, Melancholia explores two sisters' psychological and emotional struggles as they confront an impending collision between Earth and a mysterious planet called Melancholia.
With stunning visuals and a haunting score, this visually striking film is an allegory for depression, existential crises, and the fragility of human relationships in the face of impending doom.
12. Extinction (2018)
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Extinction follows a man plagued by nightmares of an alien invasion that wiped out humanity. When the invaders return, he discovers a hidden truth about their intentions and his own connection to them.
This film offers a unique twist on the alien invasion genre by blending elements of science fiction and psychological thrillers.
13. Snowpiercer (2013)
In a frozen, post-apocalyptic world, the remnants of humanity survive on a perpetually moving train divided into social classes. Snowpiercer tells the story of a rebellion led by Curtis, a lower-class passenger, as he and his fellow rebels fight their way through the train's compartments to reach the privileged elite at the front.
As they encounter unimaginable horrors and uncover the train's dark secrets, this gripping film becomes a metaphorical exploration of social inequality, revolution, and the human will to survive in the face of oppressive systems.
14. Triangle (2009)
When a group of friends sets sail on a yacht, they encounter a massive storm that leaves them stranded on a mysteriously abandoned cruise ship. As they explore the vessel, they soon realize they are trapped in a time loop, reliving the same events repeatedly.
This mind-bending psychological thriller dives into themes of fate, free will, and the haunting consequences of our actions as the protagonist comes to terms with who she really is.
15. The Room (2019)
Not to be confused with Tommy Wiseau's infamous film, The Room follows the story of a young couple, Kate and Matt, who find themselves trapped in an isolated room with no way out.
As their confinement stretches, their sanity and relationship begin to unravel, leading to a suspenseful exploration of claustrophobia, psychological torment, and the human will to survive against all odds.
16. The Man From Earth (2007)
In this thought-provoking sci-fi drama, John Oldman, a college professor, reveals to his colleagues that he is a 14,000-year-old immortal who has witnessed the course of human history. As his friends question his claims, they engage in a philosophical and intellectual discourse that challenges their beliefs about existence, time, and the nature of humanity.
17. The Menu (2022)
Set in the high-stakes culinary world, The Menu follows a young couple who eat at a restaurant that offers an exclusive and mysterious dining experience. As they indulge in a series of visually stunning and unconventional meals, they discover that the establishment has a dark secret, and the cost of this gastronomic journey may be higher than they ever imagined.
18. Tenet (2020)
Directed by Christopher Nolan, Tenet takes audiences on a mind-boggling espionage journey involving time manipulation and inversion. The protagonist, a secret agent, is tasked with preventing World War III by unraveling the secrets of technology that can reverse the flow of time.
As he navigates a complex web of international espionage, this visually stunning film challenges our understanding of cause and effect, blurring the line between past, present, and future in a thrilling and intricate narrative. My one complaint about this movie is that I often found it difficult to parse out the dialogue because of the sound mixing.
19. Possessor (2020)
In this haunting sci-fi thriller, Tasya Vos works for a secretive organization that uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people's bodies and carry out assassinations for wealthy clients. When she takes on a dangerous mission, Tasya finds herself trapped in her host's mind, battling for control and struggling to distinguish reality from her own identity.
As she gets pulled deeper into her assignment, the lines between her personal and professional life blur, leading to a gripping exploration of identity, morality, and the consequences of playing god with another person's body.
20. Anon (2018)
Set in a near-future society where privacy no longer exists, Anon follows a detective named Sal Frieland as he investigates a series of murders committed by an elusive hacker. However, this hacker has the ability to manipulate people's digital memories, erasing their identities and leaving no traces.
As Sal digs deeper into the case, he becomes entangled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse, where the line between truth and deception becomes increasingly blurred.
21. Bad Samaritan (2018)
Sean Falco, a young valet with a criminal side hustle, stumbles upon a horrifying secret when he burglarizes the home of a seemingly affluent customer. Discovering a woman held captive, Sean becomes embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the sinister homeowner. This gripping thriller takes audiences on a suspenseful ride as Sean fights to save the captive woman while trying to stay one step ahead of his ruthless adversary.
22. Altered States (1980)
Dr. Edward Jessup, a brilliant scientist, becomes obsessed with unlocking the mysteries of human consciousness and exploring altered states of reality. Experimenting with sensory deprivation and mind-altering substances, he embarks on a perilous journey that blurs the boundaries between his physical form and primal existence.
23. Rubber (2010)
In this quirky and unconventional film, a sentient tire named Robert embarks on a killing spree, using its psychokinetic powers to explode the heads of unsuspecting victims. As a group of onlookers becomes unwitting participants in the bizarre spectacle, Rubber defies conventions by challenging the audience's expectations and playfully exploring themes of audience engagement, the nature of cinema, and the absurdity of storytelling.
24. Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Set in an alternate reality, Sorry to Bother You follows Cassius Green, a young African-American telemarketer who discovers a unique talent that propels him up the corporate ladder. As Cassius rises in success, he becomes entangled in a world of corporate greed, exploitation, and the dehumanizing effects of capitalism.
This darkly comedic and satirical film offers a biting social commentary on race, labor, and the cost of individual success in a society driven by profit.
25. Nocturnal Animals (2016)
Blurring the lines between reality and fiction, Nocturnal Animals weaves together two interconnected narratives. An art gallery owner, Susan Morrow, receives a manuscript from her ex-husband that tells a dark and violent tale. As she becomes engrossed in the story, Susan begins to confront the painful truths and regrets of her past.
26. Last Night in Soho (2021)
Directed by Edgar Wright, Last Night in Soho follows a young aspiring fashion designer, Eloise, who mysteriously finds herself transported back in time to the 1960s, inhabiting the body of her idol, Sandy. As Eloise uncovers the dark secrets of the past, she becomes entangled in a psychological thriller that blurs the boundaries between reality and a haunting, dreamlike world.
27. Malignant (2021)
From the twisted mind of James Wan comes Malignant, a gripping horror film that takes a unique approach to the genre. Madison, a woman plagued by horrifying visions, realizes that her nightmares are connected to a sinister entity that has taken control of her body. As she unravels the truth behind her condition, she must confront her dark past and fight to reclaim her own identity.
This chilling and suspenseful film delivers unexpected twists and turns that will have you on the edge of your seat with bated breath or laughing hysterically.
28. Upstream Color (2013)
Written, directed, and starring Shane Carruth, Upstream Color is a mesmerizing and enigmatic film that defies easy categorization. The story follows Kris, a woman who becomes entangled in a mind-altering experiment involving a mysterious parasite.
As she navigates the blurred boundaries of memory, identity, and connection, Kris is drawn into a surreal and transcendent journey that challenges our understanding of human consciousness and the intricacies of our shared existence.