I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who despises films, right? Like, nearly everyone has at least one movie that they could say they enjoyed watching. I imagine that many of those peoples favorites are blockbusters like The Avengers and Star Wars, or classics like The Breakfast Club or Back To The Future.
I'm not saying that's a bad thing, because those are all well made and respectable films. I'm just setting out to introduce you to a side of films that you might not be all too familiar with. The following films all fall into the surrealist umbrella, which essentially just means they have absurd imagery and symbolism throughout. Most of these films could be considered horrifying or disturbing, so if you can't handle that I suggest you click away.
1. 'Eraserhead' (1977)
Starting off with one of my favorite films of all time is Eraserhead. This is David Lynch's debut feature-length film, and it is among some of his best. You might recognize him from his work on Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks
This is personally one of the most horrifying films I have ever seen, and it wasn't even made with the intention of being a horror film. You see, Lynch is excellent at creating an atmosphere. And he certainly creates one in this film that will stick with you for some time after you screen it.
This film is like watching a horrible nightmare on screen. It's a beautiful work of art that I think everyone should view at least once. I want to keep plot details to a minimum for this film and each one I discuss next because it's best to go into these things as blind as possible. Turn your phone off, pull your curtains down, and turn up the volume. You do not want to miss Eraserhead.
2. 'Un Chien Andalou' (1929)
One of the first films to be considered surreal, Un Chien Andalou is certainly abstract, especially for when it was made.
This is a silent black and white film that is only about twenty minutes long, but you have to wonder how this was even made back then. It's essentially just a representation of the stream of consciousness on film. It's bizarre and almost non-nonsensical, but it's incredibly thought-provoking.
It's not for the faint of heart though. Within the opening scene, there is something that is extremely grotesque that comes out of nowhere. I am so curious as to how they even pulled it off safely for the time, and I'm even more curious to see how audiences would have reacted at the time.
3. 'The Mirror' (1975)
Ah, The Mirror. I screened this for the first time in an International Cinema course, and hoo boy was I not ready for this.
Considered to be one of Andrei Tarkovsky's greatest films, The Mirror is unlike anything I have seen before. It is unconventionally structured in a way that gives audiences enough clues to latch onto to piece the puzzle together, but still maintains a style that leaves so much to be interpreted. The slow takes and heavy imagery throughout the film is interesting in terms of atmosphere and world building as well.
I've only screened it twice now, and I feel like I need to watch it again a couple more times to really solidify my own interpretation of the film. But I loved almost every second of it. Please, check it out.
4. 'Inland Empire' (2006)
I know, I know. I already put David Lynch down on this list, but I couldn't resist doing it again.
This movie is almost impossible for me to describe. Very much like Eraserhead, it's like watching a nightmare. Except this one could be argued as being even more frightening and bizarre than anything else he has worked on. This film is a surrealist masterpiece. The only plot detail you need to know, is that a woman is in grave danger.
Find this film somewhere online and please get around to watching it. The camerawork is very unconventional with this film too, almost felt like a guerrilla style of filmmaking which makes it even scarier. Just check out everything David Lynch. He's a madman, but he creates some of the best films of our time.
5. 'Begotten' (1990)
If you have made it this far, you're ready for Begotten.
There is no dialogue, no characters, and no discernible obvious plot. It's about eighty minutes of black and white madness captured on film. It's a beautifully disgusting film with nothing but imagery and music. If you really want to see how far surrealism in film can go, this is almost as deep as you can get.