Buckle Up: 12 Films That Require Multiple Viewings To Understand

A whole genre of movies is made for the sole purpose of causing the viewers to spend the majority of their time watching, trying to put the pieces together.

These films that are filled with twists and turns often will drive the audience crazy but will deliver a huge payoff in the end that makes them worth watching.


Hot Fuzz
Photo Credit: Rogue Pictures.

Part of what makes Edgar Wright’s films so beautiful is his insane attention to detail and quick-paced dialogue.

While you’ll just need one viewing to appreciate Hot Fuzz, subsequent viewings unveil the number of layers that truly exist in this movie. You’ll discover new jokes you missed, as well as appreciate the foreshadowing that happens throughout the movie.


12 Monkeys (1995)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

More than just a member of Monty Python, Terry Gilliam is also an accomplished director. While Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of his most popular works, 12 Monkeys, starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, might be his best work.

While the surface portrays a sci-fi mystery filled involving time travel and a post-apocalyptic future, subsequent viewings dive into far deeper meanings. Since Cole unknowingly watches his own death, the movie also touches on false memories, the concepts of destiny and fate, and the unfortunate realization that we cannot change the future, even if we have the capabilities to do so.

3. ENEMY (2013)

Enemy Jake Gyllenhaal
Image Credit: Entertainment One.

After a man spots his exact look-a-like in a movie, he seeks him out, ultimately diving into his private affairs. If you think your brain is twisted in the middle of the film, just wait until you get to the end!

4. PRIMER (2004)

Primer David Sullivan and Shane Carruth
Image Credit: IFC Films.

Intellectual engineers Aaron and Abe build and sell error-checking technology with the help of their friends. When they accidentally invent what they think is a time machine, Abe builds a version capable of transporting a human and puts the device to the test. As the two friends obsess over their creation, they discover the dark consequences of their actions. 


Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me Pamela Gidley
Image Credit: Pathé.

In the folksy town of Twin Peaks, Washington, FBI Agent Desmond inexplicably disappears while hunting for the man who murdered a teen girl. The killer is never apprehended, and after experiencing dark visions and supernatural encounters, Agent Dale Cooper chillingly predicts that the culprit will claim another life. 


The Lighthouse (2019)
Image Credit: A24.

Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s in The Lighthouse. The longer the movie goes on, the more twisted it gets. While the ending is certainly entertaining, it will still leave your brain a twisted mess (which is a good thing!).

7. VANILLA SKY (2001)

Vanilla Sky Tom Cruise
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Vanilla Sky is the story of a young New York City publishing magnate who finds himself on an unexpected roller-coaster ride of romance, comedy, suspicion, love, and dreams in a mind-bending search for his soul. Viewers will never really know what is real and what isn’t, which is part of the fun of this thriller. 


The Time Traveler's Wife Rachel McAdams
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Chicago librarian Henry De Tamble suffers from a rare genetic disorder that causes him to drift uncontrollably back and forth through time. Time travel almost always causes confusion in a movie, and that is exactly what this aspect of the film brings in The Time Traveler’s Wife. Some might say the ending is disturbing, but it feels like a well-earned payoff for those who become invested in the story.

9. BEAU IS AFRAID (2023)

Beau Is Afraid Joaquin Phoenix
Image Credit: A24.

Beau Is Afraid is weird from the very start and just gets more complicated as it goes on. Constantly thrusting the audience into twists and turns as we learn that Beau is indeed afraid – of everything. The end is controversial, but you can’t say it doesn’t make you think.

10. THE STING (1973)

The Sting (1973)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Following the murder of a mutual friend, aspiring con man Johnny Hooker teams up with old pro-Henry Gondorff to take revenge on the ruthless crime boss responsible. Hooker and Gondorff set about implementing a crafty elaborate scheme that the crime boss won’t even know he’s been tricked.

11. INCEPTION (2010)

Inception (2010)
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Inception tells the story of a thief who can enter people’s dreams and steal their secrets from their subconscious. Because of this, you never know what is real. Is he in a dream or the real world? Though also twisted, the end is a payoff for those who were paying attention.

12. TENET (2020)

Tenet (2020)
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

A secret agent is given a single word as his weapon and sent to prevent the onset of World War III in Tenet. He must travel through time and bend the laws of nature to succeed in his mission. Many viewers claim that they never saw the twist coming, but this film truly delivers once it hits.

Read More From Us – 17 Movies With Zero Expectations That Blew Us Away

The Fugutive
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


Never judge a book by its cover. You can say the same about movies.

Some of our favorite films are the ones we went into with no expectations. Despite this, they blew us away from start to finish.

17 Movies With Zero Expectations That Blew Us Away

Read More From Us – Classic 80s Movies Better Than Anything Released Today

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The 80s was an incredible time for film. From award-winning cinema to hilarious comedies and everything in between, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

Thankfully, many of these 80s movies still hold up today. I regularly find myself watching these beloved 80s movies more often than modern cinema.

Classic 80s Movies Better Than Anything Released Today

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