I love a good movie mystery. But what I love even more is when a movie is mysterious. There’s a difference! If you need proof, just take any of the 5 films below. They’re all trippy dramas — not technically mysteries. But something weird is afoot. Something is … off. And all that strangeness makes for thrilling entertainment indeed.
Serenity – Matthew McConaughey stars as Baker Dill, a boat captain living on an idyllic island in the middle of nowhere. He leads a simple life, catching fish to make ends meet. But he is particularly obsessed with catching one gigantic tuna he’s named “Justice.” That is what his entire existence centers around, until his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) shows up out of nowhere. She’s desperate for Baker to help her and her son (who she had with Baker) escape from her abusive new husband, Frank (Jason Clarke), and makes Baker a deal he might not be able to refuse. But something is not quite right about what’s going on. There are a few mysterious characters lurking around the island, and Baker often has flashes of what his son is doing, as if they are connected in some way. This movie kept me guessing up until the end, and I assure you, it’s a whopper of an ending!
Donnie Darko – In this 2001 sci-fi cult classic, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a troubled high schooler, Donnie Darko, who begins seeing visions of someone in a scary, towering rabbit costume. The rabbit continually warns that the world is going to end in 28 days, and eventually seems to be directing, or at the very least influencing, some of Donnie’s actions. This is hands-down one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen, but it’s also one of those stories that sticks with you. Because the entire time you’re watching it, you just get this sense of doom and dread, and you know that something really bad is going to happen.
Stoker – This 2013 psychological thriller is so disturbing, I don’t even know where to begin. It stars Nicole Kidman as Evelyn and Mia Wasikowska as her daughter India. They’ve just lost their husband/dad Richard (Dermot Mulroney) in a terrible car accident, and at the funeral, Richard’s long-lost brother Charlie (Matthew Goode) shows up. Charlie announces that he’ll be staying with the family to help them out after their horrible loss, but it’s clear right from the start that Charlie is not exactly what he seems. And that is about all I can say without spoiling the rest of the plot, but just trust me that it is messed up.
Vanilla Sky – Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz and Penélope Cruz star in this mind-bending tale that will leave you questioning pretty much everything. David (Cruise) tells the story via flashbacks, showing his life as a rich New Yorker who’s dating Julie (Diaz) but has a fling with Sofia (Cruz). Things go haywire after Julie discovers his betrayal … like, majorly haywire. As in, there are at least 5 different theories as to what is actually even going on in this movie! Check it out and decide for yourself.
Jacob’s Ladder – OK so real talk: my friend and I saw this in high school, and she was so upset by its frightening and unsettling imagery that she ran out … and I followed. It’s a psychological horror film that stars Tim Robbins as Jacob Singer, a combat medic in the Vietnam War. When his group comes under attack, Jacob attempts to flee, but then is knifed by someone and everything goes black. Next thing we know, it’s 4 years later, and Jacob is working for the post office back in the US, has a girlfriend (Elizabeth Peña) … and is suffering from some severe mental trauma. Those scenes that made my friend bust out of the theater? They’re the visions and hallucinations that haunt Jacob, and which he desperately attempts to get to the bottom of. What he finds is, surprise surprise, not pretty.
What is one of the most unsettling movies you’ve ever watched?