by Elizabeth Stammitti
There are some movies that stay on your mind long after they’re over. As the credits roll, you are left in awe at how everything came to that conclusion, or you simply can´t figure out exactly what happened. It doesn’t matter if there were clues throughout the film, or how hard you try to tie the pieces together, it’s the kind of movie that blurs the line between reality and fantasy, throwing away the laws of logic and delving deeper into a character’s psyche, taking you in with him or her.
If this is something you might be interested in, here are some recommendations for you:
“Dick Laurent is dead”. This is the first piece of information the film gives us and it’s quite an enigmatic one, which pretty much describes the whole movie: it’s a cryptic and dark ride that takes the form of a never-ending spiral. Every character, every action, even the dialogue is mysterious. David Lynch is the master at telling baffling stories and he showcases this talent with Lost Highway; it is brilliantly directed, it has a magnificent script, great acting, cinematography and soundtrack. If you’ve never seen it, by all means, go check it out. But I’ll warn you, don’t expect to make sense of everything that happens.
This film has a lot in common with Lynch’s work, because of the mixture of horror (the kind of horror that is triggered by our inability to fully comprehend something) and a latent desperation that comes from knowing that everything is out of control (or, beyond our control). Our main character, who has always felt insecure about his appearance because of a birth mark, makes a Faustian pact in search for revenge, after he and his mother fall victims of horribly-looking criminals that are vandalizing the city. This pact will unfold into very strange and grotesque situations that will keep you wondering what is really going on.
At its core, this is a revenge tale, but one that explores some really disturbing territory, where madness and perversion are the main themes. I don’t want to say more because, as it happens with many films of this type, the less you know before you start watching them, the better. This movie not only has terrific performances, direction and cinematography, but you will find yourself gasping for air by the time it reaches its climax.
This is a French flick with two beautiful lead actresses, Monica Bellucci and Sophie Marceau, where we follow Marceau’s character through a tortuous voyage of trauma, memory and transformation. Her perception of what’s real will gradually change as the film progresses and you’ll be left to discover the truth behind her apparent delirium.
In this Norwegian film, John, who has been recently left by his girlfriend, starts to get acquainted with his two female neighbors. The whole movie focuses on the interaction between the three characters, highlighting John’s frame of mind and creating an atmosphere that is both tense and eerie as their relationship escalates from awkward to violent.
Another French movie on the list. This is actually an adaptation of Mathew Lewis’ eponymous gothic novel. Vincent Cassel masterfully plays the lead role as Ambrosio, a monk who, at the beginning of the film, is the example of virtue, but his own inner demons and an external one will entwine to induce his fall from grace. It is a truly haunting film that doesn’t limit itself to generate gothic terror, but also questions the moral grounds of religion.
This might be the least popular David Fincher film, but it is a very good one. The main character, a rich entrepreneur (Michael Douglas) whose life revolves around work, joins a live-action game (a birthday present from his brother) that will affect his own life in the most unsuspected ways, as it will become more and more difficult for him to discern what’s real and what’s part of a game. This is a movie to keep you guessing, you will be as lost as the main character with each twist and turn the plot makes, but that’s what makes it fun to watch.
A married couple try to move on with their lives in Venice after the tragic death of their young daughter, an event which will haunt them in different ways, leading to dangerous situations and extreme consequences. This is definitely a must see film, it is visually and emotionally spellbinding, with an added sense of dread, that benefits from excellent performances by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, and a wonderful direction by Nicolas Roeg.
A psychiatrist, played by Ewan McGregor, takes the case of Henry (Ryan Gosling), a young man who survived a car accident and has decided to commit suicide on his 21th birthday. As the psychiatrist goes out of his way to prevent Henry from killing himself, he enters into the boy’s twisted world, where making sense of things will be the hardest thing to do. The dream-like quality of this movie is truly captivating and you will feel compelled to follow these characters to the very end.
Probably the most straightforward film on the list, but nevertheless a very suspenseful and disturbing one. An anthropologist (Bill Pullman) travels to Haiti to investigate some astonishing cases of people turned into zombies. What he finds is a world of voodoo and black magic where he is as vulnerable as any other man. This film will take you to unfamiliar territory with a new level of horror: that with the ambiguous quality of the simultaneously real and fantastic.