12 Mind-Bending Movies Like "Inception"
Inception messes with your mind, in a good way. The whole movie is a breathtaking juggling act where one can easily forget what’s real and what’s not. It’s difficult to fit the pieces together in one go, but watching it again is totally worth it. If you still can't wrap your mind around it, there is no shame in resorting to Reddit, a website where you'll find various theories and answers to all your questions.
There is a reason why Inception is so exceptional – writer/director Christopher Nolan took more than 10 years to write the screenplay. It took him that long to pack all that content into one cohesive package.
Did you love Inception? Are you looking for some comparable movies that mess with your mind? Then read on.
How would you rate Inception out of 5 stars?
What Movies Are Like Inception?
- Source Code
- The Matrix
- The Machinist
- The Thirteenth Floor
- Sleep Dealer
- The Others
- Shutter Island
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- The Butterfly Effect
Get links to watch them now and read more mind-messing details about each below!
1. Source Code
A lot of movies waste time getting to the point. But Source Code, directed by Duncan Jones, gets straight to the crux of the matter.
It feels as if there is no beginning— there is a middle part, and then one of the most gratifying cinematic endings I have ever seen. The movie starts with Colter Stevens, a US military pilot who wakes up on a train to Chicago only to find out that he's in someone else's body. The last thing he remembers is his plane crashing after an encounter with Afghan militants. How did he get here?
As he tries to come to terms with everything that's happening, a bomb detonates and everything ends. To his horror, he finds himself in an even more perplexing situation: He is injured, immobilized, and in some sort of cockpit. Was the train real? Or is this real?
I would love to tell you more, but anything else would spoil the whole thing for you. If you haven't already, watch it. It's one of those movies that'll make you go "huh?".
2. The Matrix
What if everything we see is just a simulation? What if it’s not real? How can you differentiate what's real from what's not? The Matrix tackles these questions head-on.
It’s 1999. Neo, a computer hacker, is living two lives— one as a hacker and another as a regular guy with a day job. He comes into contact with a group that claims to know the real truth about the world he lives in. He refuses to believe them at first, but he meets them again, becoming increasingly convinced that there is something going on beyond his understanding.
He eventually meets Morpheus, who offers him two pills— a red and a blue one. Taking the blue pill means everything will go back to normal and he will forget this conversation ever took place. The red pill will help him understand the truth.
That’s when the whole world turns upside down for our guy. He realizes that his whole life was a mere simulation created by intelligent machines. There are billions of others like him still waiting to be woken up from the slumber.
Will he be able free them and emerge victorious in a war between humans and machines? (I also have recommendations for movies like The Matrix.)
3. The Machinist
If not for anything else, watch The Machinist to see Christian Bale’s dedication to his craft. He lived on apples and coffee for months to get this freakishly skinny physique. It looks even more impressive when you see his hulky body in Batman Begins, a movie released not long after The Machinist.
With a protagonist struggling to deal with his flawed perception of reality, The Machinist has a surprisingly similar theme to Inception. Christian Bale's character is suffering from insomnia, which is causing him to behave strangely. Eventually, his quirks scare his friends and co-workers away.
What’s real and what’s not? Just like Inception, it will keep you guessing till the end and will reward you for your patience with a mind-blowing conclusion.
How in the world is this movie rated only 6.9 on IMDB? Yes, if you were going to judge a movie by its trailer, you’d probably rate it as mediocre, but I urge you to not make that mistake. The less you know about this flick before you see it, the better. I think it’s a true masterpiece. Watch Triangle with an open mind and you’ll be utterly surprised by its depth and beauty.
The story revolves around a group of people traveling at sea. Struck by mysterious weather, they decide to jump on another ship, only to make matters worse.
Revealing why it’s like Inception would spoil the whole movie. Just know that you'll never guess the ending, as it carries that same “what the fu**” factor.
4. The Thirteenth Floor
Set in 1990s Los Angeles, The Thirteenth Floor is a science fiction film set inside simulated worlds.
A simulation has been set in 1937 by a genius programmer. Soon after creating it, though, he is killed and all his secrets are buried with him. All that's left is a message that will decide the fate of everyone else living in that world.
The protagonist, Douglas Hall, is the genius programmer's close friend and also the prime suspect in his murder. The evidence against him is strong. Eventually, he begins to question his own innocence. Is he the one who murdered his own friend? Why was his friend murdered? What is the message?
Everything becomes clearer when he finds out that that it’s really 2024. The 1990s world he thought he lived in is a simulation itself. It's actually a simulation within a simulation. They thought they were in charge, but it’s someone else who is pulling the strings. Will Hall manage to find the real killer and motive? You’ll have to watch to find out more.
The name says it all. A man accidentally travels back in time an hour or so. To his horror, he finds his past self moving toward a series of disastrous events with unforeseen consequences.
Granted, the first few minutes of Timecrimes are plain boring, but don’t let that stop you from witnessing one of the weirdest time-travel movies ever. It’s quite amazing to see how they manage to pull off a quite subtle story in such a resourceful and clever way.
5. Sleep Dealer
The only problem with time-travel movies is that there are way too many plot holes. There will be some things in this movie that leave you puzzled and you may never manage to wrap your head around them. But it is quite perfect in that sense, as there is a reason behind even the smallest of events.
Sleep Dealer is an interesting view of a future where immigration and globalization have become huge issues. People are divided, and government organizations are leveraging citizens' confusion to control them.
Being a low-budget movie, some things like special effects leave you wanting for more, but it shouldn’t let you stop from watching this gem of a movie. With its well-developed characters, heart-touching story, and convincing acting, Sleep Dealer cements its place as one of the best sci-fi movies like Inception.
Memento’s plot revolves around Leonard, a man who has made it his life's mission to avenge the rape and murder of his wife. His biggest foe, however, is his own disability— short-term memory loss. To remember important details and clues about his wife, he tattoos them onto his body.
The movie keeps you guessing until the end where the final twist reveals everything, leaving you in a state of shock. You’ll never see it coming! It’s an experience you don’t often come across in movies. If you love this thriller, take a look at some more movies like Memento.
7 The Others
A mother is desperately trying to protect her kids from the outside world while hoping her husband will finally come home after WW2. With the arrival of three strange servants, things start going awry as her daughter starts noticing strange events and intruders everywhere. With every passing day, their mansion becomes increasingly haunted.
Although it's traditional horror for more than three quarters of this movie, the twist in the end is pretty unique and takes some time to sink in. You will be thinking about it for a long time.
I am not going to reveal much. All I will say is, if you are looking for a twisted movie with some bone-chilling horror elements, give The Others a go.
8. Shutter Island
Shutter Island is one of the best psychological thrillers to come out in decades. It messes with your mind and leaves you guessing for a long time after the credits roll. You’ll feel like you are in the driver’s seat for the most part as the protagonist investigates to find out more about an escaped convict, but the ending will compel you to question if the antagonists are protagonists and vice versa. It’s packed with enough twists and turns to make you dizzy! Can you figure it out on your own?
It's a whole different experience when you watch it for the first time. You'll look at everything from a different viewpoint this time around. It's a mind-bender all the way through. Here are some more movies like Shutter Island that'll confuse and amaze you at the same time.
9 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
A couple is trying to get over their breakup by using technology to delete memories of their life together. Halfway through, they decide to sabotage the operation as they realize how inhuman it really is. Is it too late for them?
You know you have watched something special when you keep thinking about the movie for next couple of days and want to watch it again.
This movie boosted Jim Carrey as one of my all-time favorite actors. Credit should be given to Kate Winslet, too. Winslet and Carrey are both really brilliant.
10. The Butterfly Effect
What if we could go back to certain major points of our lives and take a better route to become someone better than we presently are? What if some sort of portal existed, leading us back to our past where we could change things to our liking?
While we may never find any way to get access to our past, Evan, a 20-year-old college student, finds a way to go back through his childhood diary and attempt to change things for himself and his friends.
The Butterfly Effect successfully demonstrates that even if you could go back and take a different route, things will not be perfect. At the end of the day, you’ll have to be content with what you have and focus on your future as there are some things you just can't control.