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14 Mindfuck Movies Like Donnie Darko That Will Haunt You for a Long Time

Rahul is a movie addict who can never get enough of good films. His all time favorites are Inception, 12 Angry Men, and Scarface.


How does one define what Donnie Darko is about? It’s an insane movie in many ways, venturing far off the beaten paths. If you've watched it, you already know what I'm talking about. For those who haven't watched this masterpiece yet, I'll try to summarize a convoluted plot in a few words.

The plot revolves around a teenager, who often sees a man wearing a bunny mask in his dreams, convincing him that the world he lives in is about to end. Although he is not sure what he is doing, he sets out on a quest to save the world.

I wouldn’t give away anything else about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it for those who have still not watched it. Let’s just say that you wouldn’t be prepared for the ending. It’s confusing and agitating at first. Let it sink in while you figure out what exactly happened. You’d want to re-watch the whole movie with a different point of view. Once you get what occurred in the end, though, it feels like one of the best closers that a movie can ever have.

Not a lot of movies fuck up my mind. Usually, I appreciate a movie and never talk about it again. Donnie Darko, however, was an entirely different experience. It's disturbing, bizarre, and amazing at the same time.

Being a huge fan, I decided to look out for some other films like Donnie Darko and came up with this list. Having watched most of them, I can assure you that they are amazing.

The Sixth Sense


Bruce Wills plays a child psychologist who meets a bright, troubled kid claiming he sees visions of dead people, ghosts and monsters. At first he brushes it off, but when he delves in deep, he finds out that there is much more it. Perhaps the kid is right. He reaches a shocking conclusion, which changes his life forever.

It’s still regarded as one of the best works of M. Night Shyamalan. This is one of those twisted movies where you can see it coming all the time, yet you’ll be caught off guard when it finally hits you. “How could he be………?” That’s all my mind could process when a huge twist unraveled right at the end, and your reaction is not going to be a lot different than mine.

If you are looking for some twisted movies like Donnie Darko that would haunt you for a long time, give The Sixth Sense a shot.

Layer Cake – One of the best mindfuck movies like Donnie Darko


You might not have heard about it as it’s not so popular outside UK. The plot revolves around a cocaine dealer who is planning to retire soon. On the last day of his job, he gets two tough assignments from his boss that must be done.

Layer Cake is easily one of the smartest movies ever made. And the best part is, there is no American version yet.

The story is fresh, cinematography is incredible, and directing is marvelous, but it’s the ending is what really gets you. You need to pay attention to the whole movie, otherwise you will miss out on the ending. The main characters ask a question from viewers right at the end, which can only be answered if you have watched the whole thing very carefully.

Inception – A mind-bending movie like Donnie Darko


You know that anything directed by Christopher Nolan isn’t going to be simple. Memento, The Prestige, Insomnia – nearly all his movies are subtle and intelligent, trusting viewers to understand the main storyline by putting all the pieces together by themselves. His movies stay with you for a long time.

Inception takes place in the near future when entering anyone’s dream has become possible. A group of people take advantage of it to make a fortune for themselves. They enter the mind of business tycoons, steal their ideas and sell them to some powerful people for tons of money.

Things take a drastic turn when they are offered a more difficult job that requires them to place an idea inside the victim’s mind instead of stealing. As they delve deeper, risking their sanity and even their lives to get the job done, things become more complicated than they'd thought. What follows is a nearly 2-hour movie that would glue to your seat until creates roll.

Inception takes the mindfuck genre to whole another level. It messes with your mind, challenging you to keep up with its breathtaking action. Its ambiguous and controversial ending is still a hot topic of discussion on a lot of movie forums. Did our protagonist ever made it out of the dream or is he still stuck in limbo? Watch the movie and decide for yourself.

Eternal Sunshine of Spotless mind


When a couple’s relationship turns sour, they decide to undergo a procedure that would make them forget about each other forever. They decide to go through with it, which helps them remember the amazing the cozy relationship they had once. Is it too late now?

Starring Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson and Jim Carrey, Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind is one of the best screenplays of mindfuck genre. It penetrates your brain with motion pictures. I guess it’s the easiest way to describe this wonderfully directed and acted movie.

Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind is easily one of the best films like Donnie Darko. Prepare yourself for this one!

The Game


What can you give someone who already has everything he wants from his life? How about a live-action game that slowly consumes life?

Directed by David Fincher, The Game is a breathtaking journey from the beginning to the last few minutes. It’s a true entertainment movie in every sense, evoking anger, disparity, sadness, happiness and yeah, Mindblowness.

The plot revolves around Nicholas Van Orton, a wealthy San Francisco banker who spends most of his time alone. His life takes a different turn when his distance brother gifts him a card that secures anyone’s entry to an unusual entertainment company called CRS. Intrigued, Nicholas decides to see what it’s all about. He goes to visit Consumer Recreation Services (CRS), and not long after that, his life starts getting consumed by that game.

When David is behind a movie, you know that it’s going to be incredible. Don’t miss out on it if you are looking for some good movies like Donnie Darko. This one will take you on a ride.

The Machinist


The story revolves around a man who hasn’t slept for over a year. He keeps finding post-it notes with secret messages written all over it. Who leaves them behind?

To make matters worse, a co-worker no one else manages to see begins haunting him. Ultimately, he gives up the investigation and realizes that he is losing his mind. Things become worse when he starts hallucinating and losing grip on reality, dragging everyone around him in his madness.

Christian Bale has done an amazing job is an amazing job. Props to him for being able to do a challenging role like this with authority.. He took things to extreme just for embodying his character. If not for anything else, watch The Machinist to see the near-starving physique he built specifically for this movie.

If you are looking for a typical Hollywood thriller, you’d be slightly disappointed here. On the other hand, if you can appreciate character-focused movies like Donnie Darko, The Mechanist should be your best bet. It’s a movie that'd stay with you for a long time.

Shutter Island – A movie like Donnie Darko that makes you think


Directed by Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island demands attention and respect from its viewers. It will haunt you, surprise you, puzzle you and most importantly, blow your mind.

The plot revolves around a federal marshal, who along with his partner, travels to a mysterious island to investigate an escape. You can sense from the very beginning that things aren’t quite the way they seem. There is something wrong with the protagonist. You just can't quite put your finger on it. He sees his dead wife and kids haunting him in dreams. We don’t quite know why it’s the case until the very end. Let’s just say that the federal marshal is not the man he thinks he is.

It's one of those movies you'd need to watch more than once to get everything. It's totally worth your time, though.

If you want some more mind-benders, check out the list of movies similar to Shutter Island.

The Others


The Otherstick all the boxes in terms of what you normally look for in an a good mind-messing movie. It’s a story about a woman living in a huge old house with two kids. For some reason that isn’t explained until the very end, the kids are photosensitive.

It doesn't take her long to realize that the mansion is haunted. The newly recruited servants only cause her more trouble. There is something wrong with them. When she decides to investigate, the revelation awakens her, changing the family’s life (afterlife) forever.

The idea behind The Others is not original by any means. It borrows heavily from The Sixth Sense, copying the style of storytelling to some extent, but there is enough originality to keep you on your toes throughout this movie. It’s a slow burner, but things escalate pretty quickly in the second half. The twisted ending is surely going to get you.

Memento – One of the best mindfuck movies like Donnie Darko


"Where am I? Who am I? Why am I here?"

These are few of the many questions Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) has to deal with every day as soon as he wakes up. Suffering from short term memory loss, he invents a unique way (tattoos all over his body) to remember important details about his life and track down the killers of his wife.

Can such a man be trusted? Did the murder happen the way he thinks it did? The last couple of minutes have answers to all the questions.

It might be confusing at first, but once it gets going, you will be glued to your seats till the very end. Did I say that Christopher Nolan, the price of mindfuck genre, directed this movie?

Requiem for a dream


Have you ever wondered what drugs can do to you? Do you want someone to never touch drugs again? Get them to watch this movie. I can guarantee that they will think twice before doing it. Without spoiling anything, I would say that this movie is a tense, wicked ride that will help you see your life from a different standpoint, and make you appreciate all the things you have in life.

Requiem for a Dream is beautiful, gripping and haunting at the same time. It can be very disturbing to some people. But if you have no issues watching movies like Donnie Darko, you should go ahead with this movie.

Primer – A puzzling film like Donnie Darko


A group of scientist working together create a mysterious machine with a lot of potential, but they are not quite sure what to do with it. Intrigued, they begin experimenting with it, only to be caught in a frantic loop where they start questioning themselves.

It’s not an easy movie to follow. In fact, I have seen a lot of people scratching their heads after watching it. You’d have to put all the pieces together to make any sense of it. If you manage to do it, you will find Primer to be an extraordinary ride.

Sure, it’s a low-budget movie with less than perfect production values with a bit too complex script. But is this movie any good? Hell yeah!

The Prestige


Two great illusionists become rivals, trying to outsmart each other by performing the ultimate illusion. When one of them finds the trick to perform it, the other digs deep to find out the secret behind it, jeopardizing everyone’s life around him.

If not for anything else, The Prestige deserves to be in this list just because Nolan has directed it. It’s a fantastic movie made for those who can appreciate the depth and every little detail sprinkled around in the movie. If you love are looking for movies similar to Donnie Darko, The Prestige must be in your ‘to-watch’ list.

The Truman Show – One of the best movies like Donnie Darko


Truman has everything he could ever wish for in his life – a good job, pretty wife and an all-round happy life on an island. But he is different from others. The poor guy doesn’t know that millions are watching him, even during his private moments. When he finally comes to know that his whole life has been a TV show, he decides to escape, facing tough challenges ahead.

Dark City


Dark city takes place in a city where sun never shines for some reason. Everyone seems to go about their business like it doesn’t matter. That’s until a man wakes up in the middle of the night to find out that he has murdered someone, but he doesn’t remember it. In fact, he doesn’t remember anything from his past. To his horror, he finds out that someone else is controlling the whole city and experimenting on its citizens by altering their realities frequently.

This is one of those movies where the suspense never lets up. It inspires you learn more about sci-fi. While Dark City bears a resemblance to ‘The Matrix’, this former was made before the latter. It always has been the other way around.

If you are looking for some tense movies like Donnie Darko, Dark City should be your best bet.


Cody Hall on October 11, 2019:

Should have added Jacob's Ladder

Nathanael on May 06, 2019:

The Endless, Butterfly Effect, Predestination - actually a predestination paradox (time travel movie) list would be cool...

Add Looper to that list.

Rahul Pandey (author) from Delhi, India on April 27, 2019:

Some people will disagree with you on Stay.

Colin on April 23, 2019:

Stay (2005) better than most movies on this list. Also Lady in the Water.

Afoyem on March 18, 2019:

Yes. Stay (2005) missing in the list.

Loco7 on March 11, 2019:

I would add David Cronenberg's "Naked Lunch"

shubham on February 20, 2019:

Better list than anywhere on google

dilawarkhan on October 08, 2018:

i have seen many movies but all these up here are mind twisting but there is more than these movies

brem on July 02, 2018:

Too many SPOILERS in here!!

the others on June 28, 2018:

Spoiled the others and shutter island

the on June 16, 2018:

the box

bilb on May 24, 2018:

why is Mulholland Drive by David Lynch not #1 on this list?

Sam Shepards from Europe on March 11, 2018:

Nice to see Primer here.

Leo on February 18, 2018:

"Stay" should be on this list as well.

jack on February 15, 2018:

dammit. you write for a movie blog and literally just couldn't resist spoiling shutter island? fire this guy.

Irishman on January 08, 2018:

The Usual Suspects is also a classic...

1234 on November 25, 2017:

the spoiler on shutter island....

"Let’s just say that the federal marshal is not the man he thinks he is"

you ruined the film for everyone who read through this page good job

Prince on August 26, 2017:

All done except Cake Layer

Chai on July 30, 2017:

Thank you for this amazing list!!!! Can't wait to watch them all!!!! You really have no idea how happy you've made me!!! Thank you again!!!!!!!!!