21 Extraordinary Movies Taking Place Deep Inside The Brain!


The common theme that these movies have in common is that throughout most of them, everything happens inside the brain. Movies like Fight Club and The Machinist, where the actors jump into the real world, are not included. These ones are all in the head. 

Enjoy the list!

Storylines were taken from IMDb

Viewer comments were taken from rottentomatoes

21. Sucker Punch (2011)


IMDb: 6.1

A young girl (Baby Doll) is locked away in a mental asylum by her abusive stepfather where she will undergo a lobotomy in five days' time. Faced with unimaginable odds, she retreats to a fantastical world in her imagination where she and four other female inmates at the asylum, plot to escape the facility. The lines between reality and fantasy blur as Baby Doll and her four companions, as well as a mysterious guide, fight to retrieve the five items they need that will allow them to break free from their captors before it's too late...

Viewer comment:  Snyder pulverises our senses with derivative digital images and obvious musical choices. But his failure to delineate the levels of 'reality' is confusing and self-defeating.

20. The Cell (2000)


IMDb: 6.3

An FBI agent persuades a social worker, who is adept with a new experimental technology, to enter the mind of a comatose serial killer in order to learn where he has hidden his latest kidnap victim.

Viewer comment: Tarsem uses the dramatically shallow plot to create a dream world densely packed with images of beauty and terror that cling to the memory even if you don't want them to.

19. The Life Before Her Eyes (2007)


IMDb: 6.4

A woman's survivor's guilt from a Columbine-like event twenty years ago causes her present-day idyllic life to fall apart.

Viewer comment: Ambition and accomplishment are aeons apart in this would-be meaningful drama.

18. Stay (2005)


IMDb: 6.9

A thought-provoking and haunting exploration of how reality and dream-states may combine to form complex interactions. The line between the imagination and reality blurs when an accomplished Psychiatrist takes on a patient that appears to be suicidal.

Viewer comment: It is both straightforward and abstract, using cinematic tricks to put the audience in Sam/Henry's headspace. The result is a bit a sense of intentional vertigo that may cloud the films ultimately humanist point.

17. Vanilla Sky (2001)


IMDb: 6.9

David Aames takes all he has for granted; his wealth, his inherited publishing company, his good looks - his relationships. Especially his relationships. It catches up to him when a friend/sometimes sex-partner can't see their relationship the way he sees it. From that point, the movie takes a Lynchian twist that ultimately and literally pulls us into Aames' tortured psyche.

Viewer comment:  [A] spectacular film!

16. The Science of Sleep (2006)


IMDb: 7.3

Following the death of his father in Mexico, Stéphane Miroux, a shy insecure young man, agrees to come to Paris to draw closer to his widowed mother Christine. He lands a boring job at a calendar-making firm and falls in love with his charming neighbor Stéphanie. But conquering her is no bed of roses for the young man and the only solution he finds to put up with the difficulties he is going through is escape into a dream world...

Viewer comment: More amazing work from Gondry. If you're interested in a basic narrative, look away; if you prize inventive filmmaking, don't miss it.

15. Identity (2003)


IMDb: 7.3

Stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rain-storm, ten strangers become acquainted with each other when they realize that they're being killed off one by one.

Viewer comment:  Scary beyond belief serial killer thriller.

14. Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)


IMDb: 7.4

A film set in a strange afterlife way station that has been reserved for people who have committed suicide.

Viewer comment: Wristcutters is a small film of ambitions nicely scaled to the performances and story. Who knew that affectless characters could be so oddly affecting?

13. Source Code (2011)


IMDb: 7.5

A soldier wakes up in someone else's body and discovers he's part of an experimental government program to find the bomber of a commuter train. A mission he has only 8 minutes to complete.

Viewer comment: A thoroughly original, imaginative and fast-flying tale in which the Groundhog Day aspects are secondary to a story of service, honor and dedication.

12. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)


IMDb: 7.5

Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. While the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won't lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep.

Viewer comment:  A highly imaginative horror film that provides the requisite shocks to keep fans of the genre happy.

11. Paprika (2006)


IMDb: 7.7

When a machine that allows therapists to enter their patients' dreams is stolen, all Hell breaks loose. Only a young female therapist, Paprika, can stop it.

Viewer comment:  You could sit through the film two or three times to nail down the details of the story, but the film isn't interesting enough to warrant a second look.

10. Waking Life (2001)


IMDb: 7.8

A man shuffles through a dream meeting various people and discussing the meanings and purposes of the universe.

Viewer comment:  A brilliant film that provokes thought, idea, and conversations within the audience through its surreal animation and incredibly profound conversations.

9. Abre los ojos (1997)


IMDb: 7.8

A very handsome man finds the love of his life, but he suffers an accident and needs to have his face rebuilt by surgery after it is severely disfigured.

Viewer comment:  This is so smart, mischievous and stylish, you'll instantly want to see it again.

8. Being John Malkovich (1999)


IMDb: 7.8A puppeteer discovers a portal that leads literally into the head of movie star John Malkovich.


Viewer comment:  Devilishly inventive and so far out there it's almost off the scale.

7. Mr. Nobody (2009)


IMDb: 7.9

A boy stands on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? Infinite possibilities arise from this decision. As long as he doesn't choose, anything is possible.

Viewer comment:  ambitious as all get out and a wonder from start to finish.

6. Brazil (1985)


IMDb: 8.0

A bureaucrat in a retro-future world tries to correct an administrative error and himself becomes an enemy of the state

Viewer comment:  Brazil is a stinging, Strangelovian satire of the power of the bureaucracy in an Orwellian landscape.

5. Mulholland Dr. (2001)


IMDb: 8.0

After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.

Viewer comment:  Because Lynch is playing with archetypes like the wide-eyed innocent, he's able to subvert them with a heightened reality that suckers us in.

4. Inside Out (2015)


IMDb: 8.4

After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness - conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

Viewer comment: I never though of giving characters to my feelings. So interesting.

3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)


IMDb: 8.4

When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.

Viewer comment:  At its core, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could have been just another love story. Refracted through Kaufman's wonderfully weird prism, it's something truly memorable.

2. Matrix (1999)


IMDb: 8.7

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Viewer comment: This movie will probably have its effects even after 100 years.

1. Inception (2010)


IMDb: 8.8

A thief, who steals corporate secrets through use of dream-sharing technology, is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO.

Viewer comment: What kind of imagination is this? Where are we? Which one is the real world?

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