Countless movies with convoluted plots and sequences have viewers scouring the internet for answers to explain what happened on the screen. Some filmmakers and their projects accomplish this feat well (Christopher Nolan is the king of the hill in those terms), some aren’t, and then there’s the group that falls in the middle.
Several movies are so bad they’re good or just so well done you have to watch them again to grab all the pieces and answer that familiar question. Whether it’s for comedic value, crazy storylines, or confusing endings, audiences wonder after some movies, “What did I just watch?”
Updated October 24, 2022 by Hannah Saab: There’s no shortage of popular movies with weird plots, jarring endings, or unique aesthetic choices that will leave viewers with unanswered questions. These wild movies can be good or bad, depending on whether they manage to have the intended effect on the audience.
“Pulp Fiction” (1994)
The recipient of seven Oscar nominations and a win at the 67th Academy Awards, pulp Fiction is perhaps the most iconic “What?” film. Screenwriter and Director Quentin Tarantino took 90s moviegoers on a roller coaster experience with the story of two hitmen, a boxer, a mobster and his wife, and a pair of restaurant bandits, their stories all colliding at the end of the film .
Number eight on IMDb’s Top Movies list, this crime genre remains a staple in movie history, especially for its quoteable lines and scenes; however, the film is pure mayhem, and by the end, critics and audiences were left stunned with delirium as they rated the film highly, still unsure of what just happened.
‘Summer World’ (2019)
He could be a writer/director by Ari Aster style, since Hereditary evoked the same visceral reactions, but mid summer left the audience’s jaws on the floor from start to finish. After a family tragedy, Dani (Florence Poug) travels abroad with her boyfriend and friends to attend a Swedish summer festival. As her relationship hangs in the balance, Dani and the others discover the festival is much more sinister.
From graphic deaths to cult lore, critics and audiences alike were taken on an unsettling ride throughout the film’s nearly two and a half hour runtime. Rising to higher ratings from critics, Aster’s work continues to set him apart in the horror genre with films that leave audiences appreciating the cinematic value but stunned by the silence.
“The Lighthouse” (2019)
Another fine film from the director and co-writer Robert Egger, Lighthouse is a black-and-white mystery drama that left viewers wondering what just happened and why they were okay with it. Featuring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoethe film follows a pair of lighthouse keepers trying to cling to their sanity in late 1800s New England.
With excellent performances from both stars, Lighthouse drew in critics and audiences alike by using cinematography to create claustrophobic tension for characters and viewers. The film is just under two hours of runtime, balancing drama, mystery, and horror elements that have moviegoers questioning anything and everything about what happened in this lighthouse.
‘Sausage Party’ (2016)
An R-rated animated feature produced by the comedic voices of Seth Rogan, Kristin Wiig, Jonah Hill, Nick Krolland James Franco, sausage party received a mixed bag of reviews from critics and moviegoers. A grocery store food group learns that life isn’t as perfect as it seems when they discover what lies beyond the checkout counter. The different foods group together to evade grocery store employees and humans who want to buy them.
Audiences seemed put off by the excessive language and sexual content, while critics found it utterly original as it backed up its offensive humor with timing and other gags. Either way, the film is thought-provoking no matter which side of the aisle viewers fall on. Without spoiling the movie, the ending scene certainly seemed to divide viewers and spark the “What am I looking at?” answer.
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (1998)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegasadapted from Hunter S. Thompsonit is novel, is a sensory overload, causing a split between critics and viewers. comedy stars Johnny Depp as journalist Raoul Duke and his psychopathic lawyer Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) as they go on a drug binge full of psychedelic shenanigans on their way to Las Vegas.
Less than two minutes long and two hours long, the film is co-written and directed by Monty Python co-creator terry gilliam. Critics weren’t impressed with this installment in his filmography, but audiences who managed to watch the entire film were pleased with the film’s commentary on ’70s drug culture.
“The Snowman” (2017)
A chilling thriller bogged down by production issues; The Snowman did not live up to the bestselling novel on which it is based. A detective investigates a serial killer who leaves his victims turned into snowmen. Martin Scorsese was briefly attached to the film before the director Thomas Alfredson took the job.
A jumble of scenes with poor editing, voice dubbing, etc., the stars of the movie, Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson, somehow managed to convey a beginning, middle, and end even though the audience didn’t know how he got there. The film is still manageable, even laughable, to get through despite its cinematic stumbles.
‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (2022)
There’s no getting around it; after watching Netflix’s sequel to the Leatherface saga, audiences wondered, “what was the point?” Set 50 years after the first episode, a group of idyllic entrepreneurs attempt to take over a remote Texas town, upsetting one of horror’s established villains, Leatherface (played by Mark Burnham in this slice). The filmmakers went with an obsessive amount of gore, sacrificing the scare factor and other cinematic techniques that made the 1974 original so beloved.
The saving grace of the film is that its running time is 81 minutes. Despite casting the rising actress Elsie Fisher (by Bo Burnham Nopeeigth year), Chainsaw Massacre didn’t seem to sit well with critics or Netflix subscribers, making it one of the worst movies of 2022 audiences went to, “What Did I Just Watch?”
‘Swiss Army Man’ (2016)
Realized by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, Swiss army man is a bizarre absurdist comedy film with an original story. It’s obvious from the premise that viewers are in for a goofy ride, as it revolves around a man named Hank (Paul Dano), who is stranded on an island and befriends a corpse, Manny (Daniel Radcliffe). He may be dead, but Manny has a few tricks up his sleeve, some of which they’re trying to use to get out of there.
Strange as it is, the comedy movie works on so many levels. From the slapstick humor that relies on fart jokes to the moving story of a true friendship that develops between a man and a corpse, viewers are bound to find something they’ll enjoy in the underrated film.
“I Think About Ending Things” (2020)
Based on the eponymous novel by John Reiddirector Charlie Kaufmanit is I’m thinking of ending things is a surreal psychological thriller that has a deceptively simple premise. It tells the story of a young woman (Jessie Buckley) who is about to meet her boyfriend (jesse plemons) Parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) for the first time.
It initially seems like a visually stunning film about grief and loss, but quickly becomes something mind-blowing and somewhat confusing. It’s the kind of movie that gets weirder and weirder until its ambiguous ending will leave audiences scratching their heads or wiping away tears.
“Everything everywhere at the same time” (2022)
Life is not easy for Evelyn Quan Wang (michelle yeo) in Everything everywhere all at oncebecause she has to face an anguished girl (Stephanie Hsu) and an incompetent partner (Ke Huy Quan). But everything changes when she is contacted by representatives of the multiverse, who seem convinced that she is the only one who can save the world.
The intense, vibrant, and often outrageously wild film became an international hit when it was first released. Directed by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, its stunning take on the multiverse is woven perfectly with its heartbreaking story about a broken relationship between a mother and her daughter. Audiences will be on the edge of their seats until the very end and will likely wonder what they just watched in the best way possible.
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