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

What are some movies like Donnie Darko?

Was the plot of Donnie Darko a bit too twisted?

  • Yes, I had to rewatch it.
  • No, the movie wasn't that subtle.
  • Can't say.
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How does one define what Donnie Darko is about? It’s an insane movie in many ways, venturing far off the beaten Hollywood paths.

It’s about a Donnie, a teenager who often sees a man wearing a bunny mask in his dreams and reality, convincing Donnie that the world he lives in is about to end. Although is not sure about 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 Donnie Darko. But let’s just say that you wouldn’t be prepared for the ending. It’s confusing and agitating at first. You’d want to re-watch the whole movie with a different point of view, trying to understand what the hell just happened. Once you get what really happened in the end, though, it feels like one of the best closes that a movie can ever have.

Not a lot of movie manage to fuc* up my mind. Normally, I would appreciate a movie and never talk about it again, but Donnie Darko was an entirely different experience. It was disturbing but amazing at the same time.

Being a huge fan of this movie, I decided to look out for some other movies like Donnie Darko and came with 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, changing his life forever.

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. It’s still regarded as one of the best works of M. Night Shyamalan. What a shame that M. Night went on to do mediocre movies after The Sixth Sense.

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

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. You might not have heard about it as it’s not so popular outside UK.

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. When the main characters ask a question from viewers right at the end - that can only be answered if you have watched the whole thing very carefully- you’d find yourself re-watching it. Layer Cake is without a doubt one of the most underrated movies like Donnie Darko.

Inception – A mind-bending movie like Donnie Darko

Inception takes place in 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.

Things take a drastic turn when they are offered a more difficult job that requires them to place and idea inside the victim’s mind instead of stealing. As they go deeper into the dreams, risking their sanity and even their lives to get the job done, things become more complicated than they initially thought. What follows is a nearly 2 hour movie that will have you glued to your seats all until creates begin to roll.

You know that anything directed by Christopher Nolan isn’t going to be simple. Memento, The Prestige, Insomnia – nearly all movies directed by him are complicated, trusting viewers to understand the main storyline by putting all the pieces together. They are not something you can get over with easily. These movies will leave a long term impact on you, making you think for a long time after credits roll.

Inception, however, 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 in 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.

If you are looking for some mind-bending movies like Donnie Darko, you’d love what Inception has to offer.

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. Only then they realize what they had, to begin with. But is it too late to save their relationship?

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 gift someone who already has everything he wants from his life? How about a live-action game that consume life slowly?

The plot surrounds around Nicholas Van Orton, a wealthy San Francisco banker who spends most of his time alone. Things take a turn for the worse when his distance brother gifts him a card that secures anyone’s entry to an usual entertainment company called CRS. Intrigued, Nicholus decides to see what it’s all about. He goes to visit Consumer Recreation Services (CRS) and wired things start happening around him.

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, offering all the feelings a person can feel - Anger, disparity, sadness, happiness and yeah, Mindblowness. When David is helming a movie, you know 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 round a man who hasn’t slept for over a year. He keeps finding post-it notes with secret messages. Plus, a co-worker that no one else has ever seen, begins haunting him. Ultimately, he gives up investigation and realizes that he is losing his mind. Things become worse when he starts hallucinating and losing grip on reality, embroiling everyone around him in his madness.

Christian Bale is amazing in this movie. He has taken things to extreme just for embodying his character. If not for anything else, watch The Machinist to see his near-starving physique that 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 stays 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 goes to a mysterious island to investigate an escape. From the very beginning you know that things aren’t quite the way they seem. There is something pretty wrong with the protagonist. He sees his dead wife and kids haunting him in dreams. We don’t quite know why it’s the case till the shocking end that leaves you wondering who the real culprit is. Let’s just say that the federal marshal is not the man he thinks he is.

This is a movie I would recommend watching for a second time. All the little clues and puzzles you didn’t get the first time, you will this time around. If you are looking for some great mind-bending movies like Donnie Darko, Shutter Island should be on top of your list.

The Others

The Others tick 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 who lives in a huge old house with her two kids. For some reason that isn’t explained until the very end, the kids are photosensitive.

Things take a drastic turn when she becomes convinced that her house is haunted. Moreover, there is something wrong with newly recruited servants. When she goes on 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. But that’s not to say that this isn’t worth your time. It’s a slow burner, but things escalate pretty quickly in the second half. The twisted ending will get you good.

Memento – One of the best mindfuck movies like Donnie Darko

Where am I? Who am I? Why am I here? These are the questions Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) has to deal with every day when 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. But 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 until credits begin rolling. Did I say that Christopher Nolan, the price of mindfuck genre, directed this movie?

Requiem for a dream

Have you ever wondered what can drugs 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 any drugs. Without spoiling anything, I would say that this movie is a tense, wicked ride that will make 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 something that they know has a lot of potential, but they are not quite sure what to do with it. Intrigued, they begin experimenting with the machine, 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 this movie. You’d have to put all the pieces together to make any sense of it. But if you manage to do it, you will find Primer to be an extraordinary movie.

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

When two great illusionists become rivals, they try to outsmart each other by performing the ultimate illusion. When one of them performs it, the other delves 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.

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 when is doing his most private thing. Devastated 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 around seems to go about their business like it doesn’t matter. That’s until a man wakes up 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 movie was made before the latter. So I guess Dark City must have had some influence on The Matrix.

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

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