Entertainment
7.7k voters

The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made

Updated March 3, 2021 50.6k votes 7.7k voters 259.6k views134 items

List RulesVote 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.

Photo:
...more
  • Mulholland Drive1
    1,181
    371

    ActorsNaomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux

    Directed byDavid Lynch

    Mulholland Drive is a 2001 American neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch...  more

    More Mulholland Drive 

    #554 of 722 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time#41 of 247 The Best Whodunit Movies

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey2

    ActorsArthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop, Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley...  more

    More 2001: A Space Odyssey 

    #57 of 369 The Best Movies Based On Books#33 of 178 The Best Dystopian And Near Future Movies

  • Primer3
    560
    183

    Primer

    2004

    ActorsShane Carruth, David Sullivan, Keith Bradshaw, Kevin Lucero Less, Casey Gooden

    Directed byShane Carruth

    Primer is a 2004 American science fiction drama film about the accidental discovery of a means...  more

    More Primer 

    #18 of 18 18 Awesome Sci-Fi Movies That Got Away Without Explaining Major Things#14 of 54 The Best Time Loop Movies

  • Inception4
    1,899
    909

    ActorsLeonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    Inception is a 2010 science fiction thriller film written, produced, and directed by...  more

    More Inception 

    10 'Inception' Fan Theories That Left Us More Confused Than We Already Were#9 of 12 Movies Where The Cast And Crew Disagreed About Its Meaning

  • Donnie Darko5
    1,617
    461

    ActorsDrew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Seth Rogen

    Directed byRichard Kelly

    Donnie Darko is a 2001 American supernatural drama film written and directed by Richard Kelly...  more

    More Donnie Darko 

    #26 of 35 Rainy Day Horror Movies You Can Watch Again And Again#286 of 450 The Best Movies For Guys

  • Memento6
    1,492
    746

    ActorsGuy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Jorja Fox, Stephen Tobolowsky

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan....  more

    More Memento 

    #2 of 16 Movie 'Heroes' Who Were Actually Villains The Whole Time#20 of 28 28 Great Films That Didn't Win Oscars

  • Eraserhead7
    498
    190

    ActorsJack Nance, Jeanne Bates, Jack Fisk, Charlotte Stewart, Judith Anna Roberts

    Directed byDavid Lynch

    Eraserhead is a 1977 American experimental body horror film directed by David Lynch. Henry...  more

    More Eraserhead 

    #88 of 553 The Best '70s Movies#185 of 224 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

  • Jacob's Ladder8
    431
    218

    ActorsMacaulay Culkin, Tim Robbins, Jason Alexander, Lewis Black, Ving Rhames

    Directed byAdrian Lyne

    Jacob's Ladder is a 1990 American psychological horror film directed by Adrian Lyne. A Vietnam...  more

    More Jacob's Ladder 

    #5 of 15 Horror Movie Endings People Only Pretend To Understand#10 of 36 The Best Horror Movies About Hell

  • Shutter Island9
    1,395
    658

    ActorsLeonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    Shutter Island is a 2010 American psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese. The...  more

    More Shutter Island 

    #15 of 54 The Best Movies Where the Bad Guy Wins#10 of 13 Twist Endings That Are Better Than The Twist Endings They Ripped Off

  • Lost Highway10
    374
    173

    ActorsRichard Pryor, Gary Busey, Patricia Arquette, Henry Rollins, Giovanni Ribisi

    Directed byDavid Lynch

    Lost Highway is a 1997 French-American psychological thriller film written and directed by...  more

    More Lost Highway 

    #45 of 49 35+ Great Movies That Blur the Lines Between Horror and Drama#124 of 156 The Best and Scariest Psychological Thrillers of All Time

  • Pi11
    400
    225

    Pi

    1998

    ActorsMark Margolis, Ajay Naidu, Clint Mansell, Ben Shenkman, Samia Shoaib

    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

    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...  more

    More Pi 

    #31 of 126 The Greatest Directorial Debuts Of All Time#7 of 14 Sci-Fi Movies People Only Pretend To Understand

  • 12 Monkeys12
    772
    486

    ActorsBrad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Christopher Plummer, Madeleine Stowe, Christopher Meloni

    Directed byTerry Gilliam

    12 Monkeys, also known as Twelve Monkeys, is a 1995 American science fiction film directed by...  more

    More 12 Monkeys 

    Behind-The-Scenes Stories From '12 Monkeys'#174 of 372 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

  • Eyes Wide Shut13
    661
    397

    ActorsTom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Stanley Kubrick, Alan Cumming, Leelee Sobieski

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    Eyes Wide Shut is a 1999 American thriller film loosely based upon Arthur Schnitzler's 1926...  more

    More Eyes Wide Shut 

    #66 of 134 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again#11 of 15 Hit Movies And TV Shows That Were Based On Books Nobody Had Heard Of

  • Vanilla Sky14
    1,091
    682

    ActorsCameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Steven Spielberg, Kurt Russell

    Directed byCameron Crowe

    Vanilla Sky is a 2001 American science fiction thriller film directed, written, and...  more

    More Vanilla Sky 

    #113 of 170 The Most Utterly Depressing Movies Ever Made#113 of 126 The Greatest Date Movies Of All Time

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind15

    ActorsKate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Carrey, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood

    Directed byMichel Gondry

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science-fiction comedy-drama...  more

    More Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 

    #199 of 246 The Best Rainy Day Movies#2 of 75 50+ Quirky Romance Movies That Are Unique in Their Own Way

  • The Fountain16
    433
    250

    ActorsHugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Donna Murphy, Ethan Suplee

    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

    The Fountain is a 2006 American drama film that blends elements of fantasy, history,...  more

    More The Fountain 

    Everything That Went Wrong With Darren Aronofsky's 'The Fountain'#112 of 177 The Greatest Comic Book Movies Of All Time

  • Being John Malkovich17

    ActorsCameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, Charlie Sheen, Sean Penn, Winona Ryder

    Directed bySpike Jonze

    Being John Malkovich is a 1999 American fantasy comedy film written by Charlie Kaufman and...  more

    More Being John Malkovich 

    #114 of 252 The Funniest '90s Movies#361 of 933 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

  • Cloud Atlas18
    394
    217

    ActorsHalle Berry, Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving

    Directed byTom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

    Cloud Atlas is a 2012 science fiction film written and directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer...  more

    More Cloud Atlas 

    #76 of 115 The Best Movies to Watch on Mushrooms#600 of 675 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

  • Brazil19
    315
    194

    Brazil

    1985

    ActorsRobert De Niro, Bob Hoskins, Ian Holm, Jim Broadbent, Michael Palin

    Directed byTerry Gilliam

    Brazil is a 1985 British film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Gilliam, Charles...  more

    More Brazil 

    #369 of 512 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked#265 of 305 The Funniest '80s Movies

  • Fight Club20
    1,081
    797

    ActorsBrad Pitt, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham Carter, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf

    Directed byDavid Fincher

    Fight Club is a 1999 film based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The...  more

    More Fight Club 

    'Fight Club' Fan Theories That Just Might Be True#40 of 155 The Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time

  • Blue Velvet21
    374
    264

    ActorsIsabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, Brad Dourif, Kyle MacLachlan

    Directed byDavid Lynch

    Blue Velvet is a 1986 American mystery thriller flm, written and directed by David Lynch. The...  more

    More Blue Velvet 

    #103 of 230 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time#25 of 26 The Best F-Bombs In Movie History

  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me22

    ActorsDavid Bowie, Heather Graham, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris Isaak, Mädchen Amick

    Directed byDavid Lynch

    Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is a 1992 American psychological horror film, directed by David...  more

    More Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me 

    #107 of 117 The Best Movies Based on TV Shows#54 of 84 The Best Thriller Movies Of The 1990s

  • The Matrix23
    862
    822

    ActorsKeanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Gloria Foster

    Directed byAndy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

    The Matrix is a 1999 American-Australian science fiction action film written and directed by...  more

    More The Matrix 

    33 Things You Didn't Know About 'The Matrix' Trilogy#99 of 1,189 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

  • The Machinist24
    249
    168

    ActorsChristian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside, Anna Massey, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón

    Directed byBrad Anderson

    The Machinist is a 2004 English-language Spanish psychological thriller film directed by Brad...  more

    More The Machinist 

    #11 of 73 The Best Movies About Split Personalities#33 of 34 The Best Horror Movies About Carnivals and Amusement Parks

  • Naked Lunch25
    209
    137

    ActorsIan Holm, Roy Scheider, Julian Sands, Judy Davis, Nicholas Campbell

    Directed byDavid Cronenberg

    Naked Lunch is a 1991 science fiction drama film written and directed by David Cronenberg and...  more

    More Naked Lunch 

    #57 of 204 The Best Drug Movies of All Time#58 of 100 List of Movies Like Inception