While some people watch movies to unwind, relax, or escape reality – there are others who tune into shows and flicks as a means to release their emotions. Then there are the ones who just can’t get enough of new, unexplored stories and mind-bending plots, and then later spend hours, if not weeks, analysing every minute detail.
As filmmakers and screenwriters take on more challenging albeit unique stories, their creations often demand an intermediate-to-advanced level of mental gymnastics. Most of the time, the endings are left ambiguous or vague, where the answers may or may not be revealed throughout the story.
If you fall into the camp of viewers who enjoy this genre, Netflix has got you covered with a bunch of thought provoking films and series that will make you think twice and question your own reality long after the end credits. Here are our picks:
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
If there’s one film that will make you think “what the hell is going on” from start to finish, it’s Charlie Kaufman’s surreal I’m Thinking of Ending Things. The movie follows a young woman – played by Jessie Buckley – and her boyfriend who are on their way to meet the latter’s parents. What follows is a journey more mind-boggling than that of any Nolan film, but if you love picking films apart, analysing them, and figuring them out – this is it.
After arriving at her rundown childhood home, Kim Seo-yeon discovers an old cordless phone that only receives calls from a distressed woman, named Oh Young-sook, who is being tortured by her mother. Seo-yeong soon discovers that Young-sook is living in the exact same house, but in the past in 1999, and that the phone is their only means of communication. The women then devise a plan to manipulate each other’s lives for the better, only to have it end in resentment, tragedy, and death.
It doesn’t get any more thought provoking or intense as Black Mirror – the popular British anthology series having stunned viewers from all over the world with its captivating storytelling, hard-hitting tales, and of course, its take on contemporary social issues that really hit home. While the series is rooted in speculative fiction and novel technologies, watching or re-watching Black Mirror will have you realise that perhaps our own reality won’t be too far from theirs.
Love, Death and Robots
With the Love, Death + Robots anthology series, it’s amazing how much introspection and wonder can come out from a standalone story that’s under 20 minutes. Think Black Mirror, but with more attention to artistry and broader storytelling, since each episode features a different filmmaking style and animation. Stories range from delving into the downsides of an automated future, to seeing the world through the eyes of the authority in an overpopulated, dystopian era.
Brand New Cherry Flavour
The latest horror limited series to hit Netflix, this show proves to be more disturbing than scary – packed with blood-curdling scenes such as puking out kittens, unorthodox brain surgery, and digging into guinea pig stew. Rosa Salazar plays Lisa Nova, a talented, aspiring director who gets removed from working on her own movie by a notable LA producer, Lou Burke. Driven by rage and revenge, she seeks out a hermit witch named Boro to place a curse on Burke – but things don’t go as straightforward as she wishes. If you’re not picking apart the symbols scattered throughout this dreamy, ‘90s-esque series, you’ll spend time wracking your brain about how supernatural lineage plays out here.
If you’re someone fascinated by the concept of time travel, the works of Christopher Nolan, and don’t mind reading subtitles – get yourself on German science fiction thriller Dark. What starts out as a mysterious child’s disappearance in the town of Winden, opens the door to a world of secrets and hidden connections between four estranged families. Those who like to ponder on the existential implications of time and its effects on human nature will definitely get a kick out of this series.
The exploration of humanity, oppression, and privilege is portrayed through confined doppelgängers in Jordan Peele’s Us. Years after encountering her double at an amusement park funhouse, Addy – played by Lupita Nyong’o – finds herself and her family in danger as their respective doppelgängers hunt them down while on a family vacation. The controversial twist at the end has garnered plenty of debate amongst fans of the film,