5 Movies More Complicated Than Inception


I suppose that this is somehow, unofficially, “Inception week” here at Unreality, what with seemingly half our posts somehow related to Christopher Nolan’s latest film.  The concepts of idea inception and dreams within dreams aren’t your everyday, run-0f-the-mill plot devices, and for a summer blockbuster, they’re about as complex and layered as you’ll see.  Still, Inception is really not that complicated, especially considering that Nolan holds your hand and gives you a tutorial via dialogue for the first third of the movie.  Here are five movies that are, in my opinion, far more complicated than Inception.



Time loops and time paradoxes can be confusing, but Primer twists timelines so many times that it’s nearly impossible to fully grasp what’s going on the first time you see this movie.  Or the second, for that matter.  There are multiple Abes and Aarons running around, some trying to get rich, others trying not to screw up time, and others trying to prevent past versions of themselves from screwing up time.  It’s dizzying to say the least, and easily one of the most complicated movies I’ve ever seen.  Some people have actually created timelines to chart exactly what’s going on, but even with that help, it’s damn confusing.  See for yourself by clicking HERE.

Mulholland Drive


I suppose I could have filled this list with David Lynch movies, but Mulholland Drive stood out the most.  The story is anything but linear, filled with symbolism, and, like Inception, deals with dreams and projections.  Overall, Lynch’s tale of Betty Elms and her amnesiac friend can be described as totally surreal.  Not helping matters is the fact that, as is his usual custom, Lynch has not revealed exactly what his film was supposed to mean, leaving it open to interpretation.  If anyone’s got a good theory on this one, I’d love to hear it.

Donnie Darko


Richard Kelly’s best (and only good) movie is Donnie Darko, a tale of tangent universes,  sleepwalking, time travel, and giant talking rabbits (sort of).  After a few viewings, Donnie’s destiny starts to become clear, but exactly what his role is in the universe and how time travel works can’t be fully appreciated without doing some research outside of the movie.  How convoluted and complex is Donnie Darko?  Even Richard Kelly himself has stated that he doesn’t fully understand it and that it is open to many interpretations.

2001: A Space Odyssey


2001 isn’t so much complicated as it is layered and complex, but that’s what you’d expect from a Kubrick film – especially one in which the story spans thousands of years.  From Moonwatcher’s learning to use tools, to the signal from the moon, from HAL’s breakdown, to the presence of the Star Child at the film’s finale – all overshadowed by the mysterious monolith – there are seemingly endless images and symbols to interpret.  The best way to understand 2001 is to read the book (which does vary from the film, but the same themes are present) or, even better, to read interviews with Kubrick and hear it straight from the man himself.



One of Nolan’s greatest strengths as a storyteller is his ability to structure his films unconventionally, and I’d argue that the best example of this is not Inception, but rather, Memento, a story that is, for the most part, told from end to beginning.  I don’t think that Memento is unbearably complicated, but it’s certainly the type of movie that one can watch passively and still expect to understand everything that’s going on.  I’m confident I fully understand Memento – and always have – but judging by the comments on one of my past articles, it seems that not everyone agrees.

Do you find the above movies complicated?  Which movies had you pondering their meanings long after you watched them?  Let me know in the comments section.

  • Daraph

    I think American Psycho is also a really confusing movie, as you do not really what you just watch once the film is over.

  • Orleanas

    Had Memento not been on your list, I’d have been pissed! But it is–and my respect for your knowledge deepens. So, as you can see, I agree with your selection of Memento. It took me a couple of viewings to put this story in a linear and understandable order, but I do think I understand it. (I’ll check your other posting about it later so that I can understand what others didn’t understand). In any case, I loved the way Nolan went about telling this story. And you’re right–it’s not one that can still be understood if one is watching it passively…We so desperately need more of these types of movies.

  • J5

    Aside from the lesbian scene in Mulholland drive I still dont know what that movie is all about. I watched it once, saw a great scene followed by some homeless troll followed by some side story line followed by a road. I know, I know, I “just dont get it” and I’m fine with that. I just know to expect a cinematic shitshow of supposed “beauty” when watching a David Lynch movie.

    On the other hand, Memento and Donnie Darko are two movies I understood immediately and love both of them, Memento being one of my favorites.

  • James

    I didn’t fin ‘Memento’ to be that complicated (I feel that if you just watch it the film comes together quite amazingly.)

    As for the comments made about you past post. ‘Memento’ is a movie where the bad guys win.

    Just watched ‘Primer’ recently, very,very,very confusing movie.

  • Tishy

    Antichrist. I still have no idea what that movie was really about.

  • J5

    @ Daraph

    Yeah the first time I saw it I thought it was good, then the parts where he’s just killing anything kind of lost me…. I had to watch it a couple times before I got it.

  • IcemanD

    Honorable mention: Pink Floyd’s The Wall

    Now, that may just be the state of mind the movie is generally watched in, but it did take a few viewings to get it all straight.

    Great list, though I’ve never really like Lynch’s movies.

    Primer is a great movie that after numerous viewings has not become anymore clear to me.

  • Zarquon

    Memento is not complicated at all :s Just pay attention, and in the end, you will understand.

    Now, Mulholland Dr. is something completeley different, but there is a rather good interpretation on IMDb. Copy/pasted for your convenience (spoilers offcourse :p) :

    Suggested timeline of events:

    1 – Diane on the set of Adam Kesher’s film – While the movie timeline starts with Camilla/Rita’s Mulholland Drive sequence, the actual reality timeline starts with Diane’s visit to the movie set where Adam is directing a scene with Camilla, her girlfriend (even though it’s seen as a flashback). Adam’s very hands-on technique of showing Camilla’s co-star how to properly perform a screen kiss leads Diane to suspect that the two are having an affair behind her back. Later, when Camilla visits Diane, she tells the other girl “we shouldn’t do this anymore.” Realizing her suspicions regarding Adam are likely true, she angrily throws Camilla out of her apartment.

    2 – Diane at the dinner – The characters there will later be incorporated into the paranoid fantasy of her ‘romanticized Hollywood’ dream: The director talking about the pool man becomes the director in her dream, also with Diane’s idea of the pool man. The fat man watching her as she drinks her coffee becomes the gangster who doesn’t like his espresso. Coco, the director’s mother, becomes her landlady. The cowboy-hat guy becomes the cowboy-hat Hollywood power figure. The girl who kisses Camilla becomes the “Camilla Rhodes” in the dream part. And of course, Camilla, her ex-lover, becomes the dependent, loving person Diane wants her to be: “Rita”.

    3 – Diane at Winkie’s – After the humiliation at dinner, Diane decides to kill Camilla. At Winkie’s, we meet the hitman she hires. He remains the hitman (and becomes a pimp) in her dream, although an amusingly incompetent one, possible because Diane fears he may not have been discreet in his actions, since she’s been told that a pair of detectives have been asking after her. The scary man in the background of this scene becomes the man with scary dreams in the dream-Winkie’s scene. Dianes fear (acknowledging the reality of the murder) is projected into her dream as the man’s fear, the scary bum’s face. We later see the connection, as it is this dream-bum who holds the box. The single stack of dirty money is dreamed as clean, neat multiple stacks. The plain blue key, that opens nothing but represents the murder, becomes futuristic looking, and now represents the ‘key’ to opening the repressed reality of the murder she is responsible for, hidden in the blue box. The waitress at the diner becomes “Diane.” (She is often mistaken as the prostitute seen hanging out with the hitman later, although it is not the same actress in both scenes. They do have very similar hairstyles, however.) The waitress’s real name, Betty, is the name Diane takes in her dream persona.

    4 – Diane at home – The first scene of the movie (after the opening dance sequence) is filmed as Diane’s head landing on a pillow, following the montage of the jitterbug contest she had won. We later learn that she already has the blue key, and knows the murder has taken place. At some point after that is the unseen moment when she begins her downward spiral into fantasy, falls asleep, and dreams.

    5 – Diane’s dream/fantasy – The first 4/5 of the movie- It begins with Camilla/Rita escaping the hit Diane had just, in reality, taken out on her. “From there, Diane, a product of Hollywood, imagines the story in cinematic fashion: She sees herself as the naive wannabe starlet Betty, who succeeds on sheer talent and solves whatever problems are thrown her way. She even gets the girl!…she reimagines her ruined career and failed relationship with the woman she loves.” – Salon.com. Her fantasy also punishes the director for getting the girl in the real world; he loses control of the film he’s directing, his wife cheats on him with the pool man, and they throw him out of his house.

    6 – The box – In the “Silencio” club scene, because of all the “illusion” comments and depictions, such as the singer, Diane realizes she is dreaming and shudders. On the edge of reality/waking, the box appears in her dream as her subconscious could no longer repress her memories of murdering her friend. The box is the symbol of Camilla’s death and inside it Dianes guilt, which she kept locked up by her fears (the bum/monster). Once Rita/Camilla unlocks it, the dream-cowboy says “It’s time to wake up.”

    7 – Diane’s awakening – As shown on her face when she wakes, Diane is forced to face the fact that it was all a dream, the sadness of her own life, and the guilt brought on by having her ex-girlfriend murdered. Diane’s neighbor knocks on her door, which is what actually woke her up, to tell her there have been detectives looking for her, additional confirmation that there has been a murder. From Salon.com- “She starts reflecting on how she came to be in this position, from Camilla’s coolness to her flirtations with Adam to the unforgivable humiliations at the party. Diane sees that she’s been reduced to an object of pity and contempt by even someone like Coco.” In her kitchen, Diane says excitedly “You’ve come back”, to “Camilla” before quickly realizing it was just another hallucination/fantasy. This is when Diane goes into a flashback of: 2 – Diane at dinner, 3 – Diane at Winkie’s, leading into:

    8 – Diane’s breakdown – This hallucination starts with the bum dropping the open blue box (the murder realization), and then comes the crushing guilt. The escaping little old people (the ones who are possibly her parents or grandparents) remind her of how far she’s come and how much she’s changed and also how she couldn’t possibly face those people again, knowing what she’s done. (When we first meet Betty, she is saying good-bye to this old couple, on to a better, brighter future in Hollywood.) As her guilt and the reality of what she’s done overwhelm her (and with the hallucinatory breakdown of the old couple attacking), she shoots herself in the mouth.

  • D

    Mulholland, Memento, and Primer especially are good picks for this list. Unfortunately Donnie Darko is one of the most overrated cult movies of all time. It isn’t complicated compelling or well written. Honestly it just sucks. Primer, on the other hand, is wild.

  • Trey

    Most excellent choices! David Lynch, always a great choice. “Lost Highway” is another one if you took this list out to 10 choices. I also think Darren Aronofsky’s film “The Fountain” is a good candidate.

  • LawlessVictory

    Generally agree. I found Inception to be absolutely fantastic, but it wasn’t necessarily all that complicated so much as it was just really clever and neat. Unless you start to get into fan interpretations and theories, that is…

  • Gulleycurse

    Donnie Darko sucks…..

    On the grand scheme of things the matrix movies are not complicated but the scene with Neo and the Architect from Reloaded is incredibly confusing….

  • Madison

    @ Trey

    Oh, The Fountain for sure. Great call, one of my faves.

  • Josh

    Moon seems to be one that few people understand. I know I’m one of two of my friends who actually understand what happened (and think it is relatively simple, too).

    Another one would be Ferris Bueller. I assume you’ve read the Fight Club theory? Yeah, I haven’t been able to watch that movie in the last year without thinking “he probably doesn’t exist!”

  • J5

    @ Josh

    People dont understand Moon?

  • lol

    How does people not get moon? Or memento? did you even watch the movie or did you fall asleep or somthing?

  • DBinPhilly


    This 1966 British film was a unique vision of reality.

    Starring David Hemmings, Sarah Miles, and Venessa Redgrave, Blow-Up inspired the American movie Blow Out starring John Travolta.

    Blow-Up was one of the most influential films of the last 50 years. Everyone who saw it left with a different interpretation of its meaning and it was the topic of conversation for weeks.

    It is a not-to-be missed all-time classic and is in my personal Top 10.

  • Cheryl

    I don’t have any movies to contribute but I don’t understand what was so hard to get about Inception. Now I’m more worried I missed something completely that allowed me to ‘get’ it. =)

    I plan on seeing in again but that’s more due to my new insane crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

  • NY not NYC

    Revolver. Great flick. Sort of makes sense in my head, but once you start explaining it to someone else, you realize the whole damn thing is bonkers.

  • Postal

    @NY not NYC

    Can you be more specific as to which Revolver you are referring to? I’m interested and IMDB.COM has numerous matches for the title Revolver. A single actor’s name would help.

  • Shin_Shin


    I totally agree. I was told to watch Donnie Darko by a friend who said it was one of the greatest movies he’d seen in a long time. I still don’t understand what the hype is all about.

    There are so many movies out there that are strange simple to be strange. Just because something is “different” doesn’t make it good.

  • lol

    Revolver with Jason Statham

  • judas

    you have my admiration Madison. after reading the comments here and the other posting it seems there are several people that reply that would drive an average man crazy with their “clearly I have a better understanding of movies the you” attitude. my suggestion for film would be “Revolver” by Guy Richie

  • LawlessVictory

    I guess Moon could be confusing if you, um, weren’t paying attention? I don’t know. Moon is kind of like Inception to me in that it was more about how unique and well executed it was than how complicated it was meant to be.

    Though, I shouldn’t really be surprised. I knew people who were confused by the whole Ra’s Al Ghul thing in Batman Begins, which is probably Nolan’s most straight forward movie to date. “So, wait, when Ra’s Al Ghul dies, Liam Neeson takes over as the new Ra’s Al Ghul? Is it, like, a title and not a name?” It was so annoying at the time.

  • Magill

    Land of the Lost has got to be the most confusing movie of all time.

    Honourable mention goes to Jean-Luc Goddard’s Le Weekend, too. So bizarre.

  • Zak

    Eraser Head was kinda confusing.

  • the_dehumidfier

    basic, there is nothing basic about that movie. i spent a 2 hour car ride with my friend trying to figure it out and im still not completely sure i got it.

  • Max

    I would say American Psycho, The Matrix and The Big Lewbowski are all more complicated (and that’s just of the top of my head). AP, did it really happen or was it all in his head? The Matrix, discounting the sequels is incredibly deep in complex, and had a much beefier script than Inception. As for Lewbowski, well does anyone really knwo what the movie is about? Is it a simple story about the adventures of the Dude? Is it some morality tale? A critical statement or satire of America? Maybe it really is the Seinfeld of movies and is actually a film about nothing? Inception is a good film, but it is not complicated.

  • GuestyMcGuestGuest

    Dark City?

    And 25th Hour for some reason, though I guess it doesnt really fit I think alot of people just didnt get this movie.

  • GuestyMcGuestGuest

    Oh and The Fall

  • Erik

    Haven’t seen Inception (yet), but I would like to add The Machinist and Inland Empire.
    Great, but totally different kind of complicated movies!

  • Manchurian Candidate

    Inception wasn’t that complicated really (nothing like Primer-complicated at least), but just to list 5 more movies that have not been mentioned yet that you might like if you liked Inception:

    Altered States
    Jacob’s Ladder
    Barton Fink
    Ladri di saponette (Icicle Thief)

    In TV, at least Twin Peaks, The Singing Detective and The Prisoner would be quite obvious choices.

  • Guesty

    If you haven’t seen Pandorum – a space sci fi thriller then this is one of those movies thats like WTF . After two viewings I still don’t know whats going on.

  • Add the following to the list of complicated films:

    Spanish Prisoner
    Total Recall

    These all fit into the category of “dubious endings”. Total Recall, for example, has two sets of clues pointing to two different endings.

  • J5

    @ Ed

    Total Recall?


  • CptnObvious

    Not to bang on cult classic drums…but where’s Requiem for a Dream and Pi on this list? I mean, barring your opinion on the movies, there’s so much going on between drugs, seizures and the like (in both movies, really), that it’s exceptionally complicated.

    And, if you’re into anime, Perfect Blue was one big contiguous mind-screw.

    And, I agree with Pink Floyd: The Wall. That is a brain-trip trying to keep in line what’s effect and what’s story.

  • Asawrek

    Mr. Nobody is complicated too.

  • J7

    Two steps ahead of you J5, at the end of Total Recall is arnold still in fantasy land or did he really save mars?

    Seems far fetched either way you look at it. Visa ve al la complicated film!

    Good call Ed and thumbs up for the girl with three boobs! 😛

  • ivan

    momento isn’t backwards…. it’s starts in the middle and half of the movie moves forward (color) and half of it moves backwards (black and white). Everyone always says they “understand the movie, it just moves backwards”, which is only half true.

  • J5

    @ J7

    Of course he saved Mars…..he’s 1980s/Early 90s Arnold. Why wouldnt he save Mars?

  • James

    Donnie Darko isn’t confusing, just overrated.

  • Parker Jammstein

    Some films that I’ve always found ridiculously odd and confusing:

    Zardoz- Sean Connery basically walking around in a big diaper, and the trailer has the line “ZARDOZ CREATED GOD” or something, you need to be on mescaline and horse tranquilizer to understand that movie.

    El Topo- To this day I HAVE NO IDEA what the hell is going on.


    Naked Lunch: Hallucinations are awesome.

  • mos

    if u want a clearer understanding of mulholland drive, you’ll find it here. but i always just tell people it’s a love story and leave it at that.


  • Ryan

    Cool, thought I was stupid for not fully grasping Primer after a nearly full attentioned screening.

  • Derek

    What about “The Jacket”? (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0366627/)

    That movie was pretty confusing and fucked up.

  • anonymous

    Synechdoche, NY

  • xms

    What about A Scanner Darkly? It was more along lines of Memento – missed a few minutes and you’d missed ‘the point’. Also like Memento it all comes together in the last minute – if you don’t watch the last minute it would seem like a waste of 1 1/2 hours.

  • Doubleu

    Dark city, Ringu,Ringu2,Ringu0,Cube,HyperCube,CubeZero, All of Kevin Smith movies.

  • Wil

    Memento seems to be fairly uncomplicated…. until you realise that the main character actually KILLED his own wife. She was not murdered by “John G” as he claimed.

    His whole story is all an elaborate form of denial, deep in his subconscious he is choosing not to remember the awful truth.

    I didn’t realize that till the 3rd time I watched it. Nolan is awesome. 🙂

  • neil

    You can add “The Fountain” to this list. It annoyed me because it made things obscure on purpose.

    Was it all in his mind? Was it all in her mind? Was it her writing the book, or was it him thinking about her when he was writing the book? blah, blah, blah.

  • Cuetee

    I like this list. I would also add Sphere into the list.

  • mike

    I thought Holy Mountain was more confusing than all of these movies.

  • gulleycurse

    @ GuestyMcGuestGuest= 25th Hour good call

    Kontrol- about the subway workers in Hungary?or someplace….Weird flick

  • cyberdemon66

    how the hell did high tension ot make the list that movie was a total mind fuck

  • chelsea

    i get so sick of people saying they didn’t understand Memento. it was a very SIMPLE plot, just shown in a mixed timeline. they even shot it in color vs. black and white to help the dumb audience keep track. if you don’t understand that movie, you probably also have problems tying your shoes and walking while chewing bubble gum. it’s annoying.

    however, considering the mental capacity of 90% of people i encounter on a daily basis, you should broaden this list to include such mind-boggling plots as “The Care Bear Movie” and “UP”…

    good call from James for Antichrist. that movie takes some thinking and doesn’t make you think good things.

  • primer was way overrated

    pi could qualify before primer, as would a serious man

    all the films you mentioned are easy to follow if you’re paying attention

    for those who never understood Mulholland Drive, here you go:

  • Rachel

    Fellini’s ‘8 1/2’ anyone? One of my favorites, film within a film and all kinds of crazy dream/fantasy/memory sequences.

  • Deodorant

    I’ve understood that the movie Mulholland drive is divided into two parts, with the theater/box scene in the middle marking the shift; The start of the second half is the chronological beginning, where the protagonist is continually let down and humiliated, especially when the film moves closer to the end. At the end, she commits suicide, and that’s where the first half of the film comes in. The first half is just her having some sort of psychotic fantasy right before she dies, where she is successful and happy. The theater/box scene in the middle is the moment when she actually dies, and thus the chronological ending of the movie.

    Of course, other interpretations are possible, but i think this one is quite clever and coherent.

  • riot1980


    I’m glad someone mentioned basic. That movie was very confusing.

  • Matt

    The Jacket with Adrian Brody is the most confusing/complicated movie I’ve ever seen. The descriptions/theories online make it even more confusing. Neat movie though. Kind of a 12 monkeys feel to it, but way crazier.

  • Quality

    This proves that I’m ancient, but “If . . .” (1968) may take a second viewing to fully appreciate. Malcolm McDowell foreshadows his role in “A Clockwork Orange” three years later.

  • J

    RE: Mulholland Drive. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it but this is my take (I need to watch it again):

    The main female character sold her soul to the devil to become famous. She initially fell in love herself, specifically with the person she became, but later grew to hate who she had become (she developed multiple personalities). the old people who attacked her were demons and the opening fire + dance montage was hell.

  • tao

    Primer: Agreed. It’s a mathematician’s Scifi

    Muholland Drive: Really? i think it’s pretty obvious. It’s a Masturbatory Fantasy of Betty ( Diane as she is referred to through most of the movie/dream). Case Closed. That’s the whole point. Remember Linch is an avid practitioner of Transcendental Meditation.
    Linch Fans i think would say his most complex movie is Lost Highway, although I’ve heard Inland Empire as well. I think that one is pretty easy, again if you are a Linch fan.

    Donnie Darko: Editing choices make this movie more convoluted. Watch the Director’s cut. Much more of an eye opener.

    2001: this movie plays like with out a linear storyline. The scenes are loosely connected. Not my favorite Kubrick. Stunning esthetically though. I would dare to say The Shinning is his masterpiece.

    Memento: It just goes backwards. that’s all there is to it.


    El Topo / Holly Mountain: Holly Fuck are these movies or extended film-art pieces?

    Happiness of the Katakuris: Stop motion, Zombie, Musical, Suicidal B&B. Mind Fuck.

    The Machinist: Brad Anderson’s Debut Film is another mindbender worth watching

  • Big Al

    last year in marienbad
    ultimate head fuck

  • Mike

    It has been a few years, but I think I recall “The Nines” being a bit complicated. It resembled three stories that were either different time periods or different life-paths of an individual. Each story had characters and flashbacks to the other two. I found it entertaining at the time, but not so twisted to watch it again to figure it out.

  • barnhouse
  • Lenny

    While I agree it belongs on this list, after reading your other article, I do think there was a misunderstanding. However, I guess it’s just one of the things people have to agree to disagree on.

    As noted by one of the posters on that article. The bad guy didn’t win in Memento. Teddy was using him as his own personal money making machine. Teddy was the bad guy. While he wasn’t the one who killed his wife, he was the bad guy of the movie. It wasn’t about a game (well for Teddy, I guess it was but that’s what makes him the bad guy).

  • Madison

    @ Lenny

    Well, they’re both bad, but Leonard is far worse. He’s making a conscious decision to kill someone he knows did not kill his wife. He’s purposely tricking himself into thinking that he is avenging his wife’s death. That’s pretty sick.

    If you can’t see that, your interpretation of Memento is wrong. Leonard even says to himself at the movie’s end, “Who will be my John G?” Meaning, who is it I can mark for death as the killer of my wife, knowing that he will forget that the mark isn’t really the killer in just a matter of minutes. It IS a game.

    You know, I didn’t think the movie was that complicated, but this is PRECISELY the reason I included it.

    Thanks for reading.

  • BUBB4 F377

    here’s a pretty brilliant interpretation of mulholland drive, madison.


  • dave

    Jacobs Ladder is my movie rubiks cube. check it out if you like mind bending psychological thrillers

  • Gregs

    2001 finale is just one of the most mind blowing sequences I ever saw. too much crazyness for a brain to absorb at once. I didnt get it and never dared to see again

    agree with some ppl with The Fountain, gave me a little effort and some discussion to figure out, but makes absolute sense.

  • grkeller

    No one here has seen “Avalon”?

  • Henrik

    Another move that could have made it to the list is 21 grams.
    Not complicated as such, but a lot like Memento, confusing at first but if you pay attention, at the end you get the aha experience.

    Never heard of primer, but i wil surely check it out asap.
    I love time travel movie. My favorite being “Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel”. Funny as hell.

  • Matthuliz

    I assume this list is for Hollywood movies, because none of the movies above could even compare to the depth and complexity of most Chinese movies. Heck, even their title confuses me.

  • shim

    Mr. Nobody!!! New movie. Very complicated. Very good.

  • Primer, certainly.
    But “no” to the others. Lots of references and layers of detail is not the same as a complex plot. Donnie Darko is far more simplistic in progression. Multiple layers of simultaneous or out-of-order storytelling is what makes things complex.

    Try “Triangle” (1999) for something more like Inceptions level (or, actualy, a lot more complex)
    Primer beats everything as it has about 8-9 layers of loops going on, and you dont see most of them.

    For things with other reality-layers, try Paprika or eXistenZ. Not complex, but both very cool films with lots of ideas.

    The only thing in Inception that I’ll need to rewatch to fully get is how the Limbo seen of Saito near the end ties in with the first opening shots of the movie and the first extraction we see.

  • “primer was way overrated
    pi could qualify before primer”

    Both great films, but how is PI even remotely complicated?
    Its a straight forward, completely liner plot, with everyones motivations pretty straight forwardly laid out too 😕

    I dont see any complexity *whatsoever* in PI.
    Even Back To The Future is more complex.

    PI is superbly directed with great music and lots of ideas. But complex? O_o

  • Jake

    Inception was far more complex than any of these except Mullholland perhaps, but Mullholland was just weird instead of being complex.

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  • Blizz

    Just like you people, I also love a movie that makes way for new ideas and so on. The real question isn’t whether you were confused by Inception or not but whether you enjoyed it and if it provoked you in anyway.

    list of cool but confusing movies:

  • RPS

    Thank you for mentioning Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, NY.” That movie definitely deserves an honorable mention on here due to the multiple levels of the main character’s mind/play, and I’m surprised other people haven’t mentioned it.

  • vesey

    There must be two “Inceptions” because the one i saw was a big waste of time and money. At age 62 the waste of time was more irritating…………………

  • Gregs

    just watched Inception and have to say, this movie isnt complicated at all. The overall idea is complex but once you open your mind to it, its a walk in the park, a pretty good one btw. someone always explain exactly what and why they must do everything.

    but… the movie has openings to your interpretation so its only complicated if you want it to be. Ive seen some theories saying Dom Cobb was the subject of the inception all along the way with some pretty good ideas. Guess I must see it again to make up my mind.

  • Coot

    Inception is not a complicated movie at all.. there are no major twist there are no timeline changes….its pretty straightforward and the plot is very very basic…Only an idiot would say that Inception is a complicated movie…

  • jrad

    Memento was easy. Apparently not for everyone. I suppose it has to do with how much someone is exposed to non-linear storylines. It probably also has to do with attention to details. Memento is a movie about details and dialogue. People who don’t pay too much attention will miss out on essential details.

  • Good choices, but none of then are more complicate than Waking Life (2001) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0243017/

  • I think we can do a very long list of fucked up movies. I think there can be 3 kind of complicated movies.
    the ones that have a non lineal storyline.
    the ones that involve very abstract concepts and arguments.
    the ones that have many characters and heavy dialogues.

    id like to add to this list

    Tetsuo the iron man
    Stay (I really dont understand that one)
    the box

    …about inception id say that its as complicated as the fight club or maybe less. maybe we can do a top 50 mind blowing movies and post them here .

  • Simonk

    I didn’t find inception complicated at all, shoddy mathematics aside, it was quite a well defined movie albeit with a self limiting plot which lent itself quite respectably to the action film genre. It was very enthralling with its special effects and I enjoyed it immensely but I really don’t think there is much to debate. There are some questions left unanswered, but isn’t that standard technique for opening up the option of a follow up film?

    Donnie Darko kicks ass 🙂 ’nuff said but most definitely isn’t complicated nor do I think that was intended either. The questions that are left unanswered are because the director didn’t have the answer himself!

    My own opinion on primer, memento and mulholland dr. are that they are designed to confuse until the final revelation but they aren’t necessarily that complicated if you watch and enjoy as intended. You are drip fed clues about the reality of the story drop by drop until the end revelation rewards you with a eureka type realisation. There is no way you could second guess some of the sub plots in most of these films on the first watch and that is what I find is appealing about these films, even with the budget limited primer. Sticky fingers of time anyone?

  • rod

    you left out Alvin and the Chipmunks the Squeakquel – the 1st I kinda worked out BUT-girl chipmunks- that talk! !!!!! !!!!!!!! !!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Apparently it gradually moves from the 5th to the 11th dimension and is actually about a patient that you never see getting all their major organs transplanted for no good reason and Alvin is really Theodore who is really – you got it – the doctor.

    • Madison

      The 11th dimension? Ah crap, I thought it finished up in the 10th. Gonna have to watch again.

  • prodigz

    If you want a dream movie Waking Life
    If you want a compclted movie Naked Lunch will fry your brain
    If you are open and would watch an anime Noien has the most solid twisted story of most with Gantz taking a close 2nd

  • Idk if this has been mentioned yet, but “Southland Tales” is a great movie. From the same guy who did Donnie Darko.


  • The_Truth


  • Sarah

    First time I watched Memento, I didn’t know anything about it and I had no clue that there was all that time fuckery.
    That being said, I caught on preeeettty quick. Loved the movie.
    I also am pretty confident that I understand Donnie Darko, but I think that’s because I googled it. 🙂

  • Luon

    What about the Machinist?

  • ‘Funny games’… director playing with viewers by using entertainment… I didn’t get it’s sense till my friend didn’t make me realize it. Brutal but smart one.

  • Pacurka

    Ohh!! I forgot to mention ‘Identity’ (2003)- brilliant thriller with surprising end.

  • John

    Inception is not complicated at all…the writers took care of that by having the characters numbingly explain every plot point…snooooooze.

    The list is spot on though, i would have considered Akira being the anime geek that i am

  • twist3r

    Gigli is really complex. Everyone who said it was bad is just too dumb to comprehend it’s actual meaning. I guess the world needs ditch diggers too.

  • blankSwan

    I actually landed on this website hunting for movies that are similar to Revolver. I second Guy Ritchie’s Revolver. Would also suggest Cube (1997) directed by Vincenzo Natali.

  • sadik

    I feel “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind” is also a bit confusing movie. And why not “Source Code” too

  • santhosh

    twelve monkeys
    sucker punch and mr.nobody confused me a lot when i watched for the first time…

  • Mitchel

    Mr. Nobody. This movie makes it clear what’s going on from the beginning, but the entire movie makes you pay attention and sort out what is really going on.

  • Joel

    The fountain
    Mr Nobody
    Waking Life

  • iambatman

    agree with all on inception and memento being average in terms of complexity – they just have layers and are well written.

    But imo chris nolan is overrated, not to mention he probably has an overinflated ego dick but anyways.

    Naked lunch
    Synechdoche NY
    Primer i still dont get totally, dont think anyone ever really will it’s so obscure (without reading some graph on internet)