Lately, I have been turning to films and shows for creative inspiration or just my own form of escapism. I have found that the movies that I love the most are the ones that challenge me and twist my preconceived notions until there's nothing left. As we see our society changing and re-shaping itself around us, watching a film that mirrors our same doubts, fears, and dreams can be a comforting thing... or it can make us ten times more scared than we were before. Art is subjective, we know that. We see what we want to see in it; no two people will ever feel the same way about anything. But I think we can agree that there are some forms of art — films — that really mess with us and leave us staring open-mouthed at the screen as the credits roll. Here are a few.
1. "The Truman Show"
This 1998 film brings all those "is this a simulation" jokes to life. Finding out your whole life is one massive television-produced lie? That's enough to make anyone lose it, along with running into an overly-polite person at every turn.
2. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
Another movie starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, one that delves into every fear anyone has ever had about relationships. Equal parts drama, comedy, and science fiction, I found myself confused for the first half of the movie. It's one of those movies where you're thrown in without much context, which easily disturbs a lot of people.
3. "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond"
Yet another Jim Carrey feature... this time a Netflix documentary about Carrey's experience playing the late comedian Andy Kaufman in the 'Man on the Moon' film. The documentary doesn't mess with your head in the way 'Inception' might, but the way Carrey goes in depth about staying in character the entire length of shooting - to the point where he ends in the back of an ambulance - really makes you think about identity and your own reality.
4. "A Cure for Wellness"
"A Cure for Wellness" is a thriller, one of those movies where you have to solve the puzzle, to try to figure out what the secret plot twist is before the main character does. The whole premise is based on a cure that a remote wellness center is offering to people who are plagued with a mysterious illness. The entire situation is shady, confusing, and the end of the movie leaves you feeling more disoriented than the rest of it. It's either a poorly articulated movie or a wonderfully executed psychological thriller.
5. "A Quiet Place"
This John Krasinski film includes only a few minutes of audible dialogue. For many people, silence is unsettling. The suspense and anticipation of not knowing when the monsters will appear or a jump-scare will pop up in each scene keeps the viewer on edge. Additionally, this is another one of those movies that brings you in without much context so you're left not knowing what to expect. Then there's the whole putting-your-baby-in-a-box thing.
6. Any Lifetime Movie
Anyone else notice how weird Lifetime movies are? They're always about kidnapping or boyfriend-stalker situations that feel a little too real.
7. "The Dressmaker"
This 2015 thriller starring Kate Winslet (available on Amazon for Prime members) centers around the scandal that took place when Winslet's character was a kid. The entire town accuses her — a child — of killing a classmate and she is sent away alone. The rest of the movie serves as her returning in her adulthood to try to piece together the murder she somehow committed but can't remember. The child violence is gruesome and disturbing...the elements needed to mess with your head before it's even over.
Does this one need an explanation? It's historically and culturally inaccurate and just plain creepy. Besides the blatant unbelivable aspect of the story of an indigenous girl really falling in love with a violent and oppressive white settler, the fact that it is loosely based on a true historical moment that was stolen from indigenous tribes makes it worse. The real story of Matoaka is not the cookie-cutter fairy tale Disney wants you to believe; it is actually extremely tragic and was sadly made worse by being exploited. Try explaining that to your kids.
9. "Alice in Wonderland"
One of my favorite books and movies, "Alice in Wonderland" serves as one of those nonsensical stories that we all know and love. But it's also one of those movies where if you try too hard to figure it out, it'll really mess you up. That riddle, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" will have you going mad for a week.
10. "Silence of the Lambs"
My dad let me watch it as a kid. Do I really need to say anything else?