10 Iconic, Mind-Boggling Movies You Have to Watch Twice – Collider

These movies hit a little differently with each repeated viewing.
While most modern blockbusters reliably deliver stories that hum with a certain familiarity, these hit films did just the opposite. Abandoning the comfortable status quo of more traditional tales, these are some of the most notable films that have left audiences bamboozled as they tried to wrap their heads around what they had just watched.
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The fact is that some films insist upon being viewed twice — or three, or four, or twenty times — to be understood. Featuring complex stories that demand repeat viewings to be digested and shocking twists that suddenly become clear as day when revisited, these films left our heads spinning when the credits rolled.
If Reservoir Dogs was the film that put Quentin Tarantino on the map, then his follow-up film, Pulp Fiction, ensured the masterful storyteller wouldn’t be just a flash in the pan. A dark comedy/crime drama, it follows several interlinked figures in the L.A. criminal underworld in a web of violence and style.
With shifts from starkly different characters who don’t seem connected to one another to the time jumps the movie employs, it can be a lot to take in for first-time viewers. But, despite its 154-minute runtime, it is never a chore to revisit Tarantino’s iconic rhythmic dialogue and a range of characters being phenomenally portrayed by a stacked cast of Hollywood A-listers.
Christopher Nolan’s films are widely praised due to their creative narrative structures and heart-pounding sequences. The director’s 2014 sci-fi epic Interstellar delivered all that in spades, following a small crew tasked with traveling to a different universe to find a new home for humanity as Earth becomes unlivable.
With hard science — particularly the mind-bending concept of time dilation — integral to the plot, it doesn’t take long for audiences to feel their brains overheating as they try to keep up. Even if the story doesn’t make more sense to some viewers upon rewatch, Interstellar is always worth another look for its breath-taking visuals and Hans Zimmer’s awe-inspiring score.
The fourth collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio made for a winding mystery thriller with one of cinema’s more underrated plot twists to boot. Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) journeys to a psychiatric hospital on a remote island to investigate a missing patient who he believes is responsible for his wife’s death.
Shutter Islandis incredibly enticing, rich with an ominous atmosphere that lends itself to chills and tension while allowing the stellar cast to shine. The reveal of who exactly the missing prisoner was has burned the film into the minds of viewers, many of whom had to rewatch the film to see how the whole story pieced together.
Ever a master of opaque storytelling, Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut can only be described as truly surreal. Something of a cult classic, Synecdoche, New York offers a challenging viewing experience for those who like something to contemplate while they watch a movie.
Philip Seymour Hoffman and the rest of the stellar cast do a lot of leg work to hook the viewer in if the surreal atmosphere and intriguing plot didn't already do that. Ultimately, it’s a film that demands multiple viewings to be wholly dissected and understood.
Well, there's mind-boggling. Then there’s Predestination, a contained, paradoxical sci-fi mystery that turns the WTF dial Predestination, a contained, paradoxical sci-fi mystery that turns the WTF dial up to eleven. Following a time-traveling agent tracking a criminal known as the ‘Fizzle Bomber’ through time — and the perilous journey of self-discovery his inexperienced partner goes on — it is a great, underrated sci-fi gem that disturbs as much as it intrigues.
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The twists pile on top of each other in unrelenting fashion as the characters make one shocking discovery after another. While a second watch is essential to understanding Predestination, it could also entice viewers to think deeper about the film and leave them even more confused after the first viewing.
Denis Villeneuve is the biggest name in science-fiction filmmaking right now, with Dune and Blade Runner 2049 his most recent releases; however, he’s been no stranger to mind-melting drama either, with such films as Incendies and Enemy in his repertoire. Arrival may be the point in his filmography where his two styles meet in a perfect marriage of hard sci-fi and head-scratching narrative.
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Amy Adams stars as an accomplished linguistics professor tasked with finding a way to communicate with one of a dozen alien crafts which have landed on Earth and brought the world to an interspecies standoff. What we first thought were memories are eventually revealed to be something else entirely, and the twist gives the movie a tragic new light which is best appreciated upon rewatch.
Anti-consumerism has never been as fun as in David Fincher’s pulsating masterpiece, Fight Club. Boasting one of the most iconic plot twists in cinematic history, the 1999 satirical drama has had first-time viewers reaching for the rewind button for over twenty years.
However, there’s more to uncover upon rewatch than just seeing all the moments which hinted at Tyler Durdin’s (Brad Pitt) true nature. The glaring critique on an ideology being practiced to the extreme, and not just watching Edward Norton and Pitt punch each other to a pulp — as delightful as that is — offers plenty of food for thought for audiences on repeat viewings.
A quintessential classic for anyone who considers themselves to be a film buff, Stanley Kubrick’s immortal masterpiece is not only one of the most iconic pictures in cinematic history but also one of the most hotly debated. After a phenomenal theorization of the first steps of human evolution and a mysterious, confidential mission to a lunar base, 2001: A Space Odyssey finally settles with the infamous HAL 9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain) and the crew of Discovery One as they venture to Jupiter.
Despite its mixed critical response upon release, the film has gradually reached a venerable status in cinema, still inspiring passionate responses from modern audiences who still debate what it all means. In true Kubrick fashion, it endeavors to ask far more questions than it answers, but with spellbinding visuals (even by today’s standards), it presents as an epic adventure that is always worth revisiting to try to decipher.
Arguably the most soul-shattering plot twist in movie history, The Sixth Sense was a compelling drama that immortalized Haley Joel Osment as the kid who saw dead people. The film’s final moments not only saw director M. Night Shyamalan forever define himself as a master of plot twists but left audiences no choice but to rewatch the film again immediately.
They say the sign of a great twist is all the clues seem to slap you in the face when you revisit the movie, and The Sixth Sense is no different in that regard. However, a second viewing allows the audience to see just how ingenious the set-up of the twist was and allows Bruce Willis’ performance to shine in a more tragic light.
Christopher Nolan’s ground-breaking thriller introduced moviegoers to many tropes that would become core components of the filmmaker’s illustrious career. Memento follows Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), a man on a mission to avenge his murdered wife despite his short-term memory loss.
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Most of the story is told in reverse, which ingeniously allows us to feel Leonard’s confusion while grasping what exactly is happening around him and how others are using his condition against him. From the high concept premise to the time-bending narrative structure, the film is pure Nolan in what is the filmmaker’s most underrated achievement.
KEEP READING: 10 Great Movies That Are Hard to Watch Twice
Ryan Heffernan is an Australian writer and aspiring filmmaker with an Honours degree in Film Production from the University of Canberra. With a great love of storytelling, he adores films with complex characters and challenging narratives. His other hobbies and interests include Australian sports, history and gaming.
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