Entertainment

The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made  

Ranker Film
Originally by
62.1k votes 6.9k voters 239.2k views 153 items

List Rules Vote up any movie that required a rewatch or someone else to explain it to you

The most confusing movies ever made are those films which either intentionally or accidentally are hard to follow, complicated and so far out there that they are disorienting to even the most seasoned viewer. That's not to say these movies are bad because of their complicated nature but certainly not for the easily confused.

For those who crave the mental challenge of confusing movies, there are several directors whose style is highlighted by their complicated plot lines, tendency to present films out of chronological order and seemingly devotion to chaos in their movies. The likes of David Lynch (Mulholland DriveEraserheadInland Empire, and Lost Highway), Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space OdysseyThe Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut) and Christopher Nolan (Inception and Memento) are perhaps the best at making stellar yet highly confusing movies and among the greatest directors in movie history.

Lynch, Kubrick and Nolan undoubtably influenced other great filmmakers who also have a tendency to create movies that make viewers ask what the heck is happening. Charlie Kaufman, who did Synecdoche, New YorkAdaptationEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Being John Malkovich, and Steven Soderbergh, responsible for great films like Sex, Lies, and Videotape, among many others, gave their interpretation of how to create confusing and simply WTF movies.

So whether you love the twists and turns in The Matrix or think the utter madness of Primer is cause to be among the worst movies of all time, vote for the movies you think are the most confusing below! Have a confusing movie in mind that's not listed? Add it! Help us rank the most confusing movies ever made.

list ordered by
1
Mulholland Drive is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2001
Mulholland Drive is a 2001 American neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch and starring Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, and Justin Theroux. It tells the story of an aspiring ...more
2
Inception is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2010
Inception is a 2010 science fiction thriller film written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars a large ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph ...more
3
Memento is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2000
Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan. The screenplay was written by Nolan based on his younger brother Jonathan Nolan's short story ...more
4
Donnie Darko is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2001
Donnie Darko is a 2001 American supernatural drama film written and directed by Richard Kelly and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wyle, Jena ...more
5
2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1968
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was partially inspired by ...more
6
12 Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1995
12 Monkeys, also known as Twelve Monkeys, is a 1995 American science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short film La Jetée, and starring Bruce ...more
7
Primer is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2004
Primer is a 2004 American science fiction drama film about the accidental discovery of a means of time travel. The film was written, directed, produced, edited and scored by Shane Carruth, who ...more
8
Pi is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1998

If you're a fan, be sure to check out our list of the best surrealist films.

Pi, also titled π, is a 1998 American surrealist psychological thriller film written and directed by Darren Aronofsky in his directorial debut. The film earned Aronofsky the Directing Award at ...more
9
Being John Malkovich is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1999
Being John Malkovich is a 1999 American fantasy comedy film written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. It stars John Cusack, Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener, with John Malkovich ...more
10
Eraserhead is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1977
Eraserhead is a 1977 American experimental body horror film directed by David Lynch. Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend (Charlotte ...more
11
Fight Club is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1999
Fight Club is a 1999 film based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The film was directed by David Fincher, and stars Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter. Norton ...more
12
Jacob's Ladder is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
ChangesDownClub added 1990
Jacob's Ladder is a 1990 American psychological horror film directed by Adrian Lyne, written and produced by Bruce Joel Rubin and starring Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña and Danny Aiello. ...more
13
Eyes Wide Shut is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
Bootsdad added 1999
Eyes Wide Shut is a 1999 American thriller film loosely based upon Arthur Schnitzler's 1926 novella Dream Story. The film was directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick. It was his ...more
14
The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
wiabux added 1999
The Matrix is a 1999 American-Australian science fiction action film written and directed by The Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe ...more
15
Brazil is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
Dave Loomis added 1985
Brazil is a 1985 British film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard. British National Cinema by Sarah Street describes the film as a ...more
16
Lost Highway is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1997
Lost Highway is a 1997 French-American psychological thriller film written and directed by David Lynch. The film features the last film appearances of Richard Pryor, Jack Nance, and Robert ...more
17
The Fountain is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2006
The Fountain is a 2006 American drama film that blends elements of fantasy, history, spirituality, and science fiction. It is directed by Darren Aronofsky, and stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel ...more
18
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotle... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2004
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science-fiction comedy-drama film about an estranged couple who have each other erased from their memories, written by Charlie ...more
19
The Shining is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1980
The Shining is a 1980 British-American psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, ...more
20
Cloud Atlas is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
SamiMorcos added 2012
Cloud Atlas is a 2012 science fiction film written and directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski. Adapted from the 2004 novel of the same name by David Mitchell, the film has ...more
21
Interstellar is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
Mediocre_Maja added 2014
Interstellar is a British-American 2014 science fiction epic film directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine. The film ...more
22
The Usual Suspects is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
1994
The Usual Suspects is a 1995 German-American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Bryan Singer and written by Christopher McQuarrie. It stars Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del ...more
23
The Matrix Revolutions is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
StacyWolfe added 2003
The Matrix Revolutions is a 2003 American science fiction action film and the third installment of The Matrix trilogy. The film was released six months following The Matrix Reloaded. The film ...more
24
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
doremifasola added 1992
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is a 1992 American psychological horror film, directed by David Lynch and written by Lynch and Robert Engels. The film can be viewed as both prologue and epilogue ...more
25
Antichrist is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
2009
Antichrist is a 2009 Danish experimental horror film written and directed by Lars von Trier. It tells the story of a couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) who, after the death of their ...more