Reality sucks, amirite? The monotony of the day-to-day, with bills, deadlines and the endless hamster wheel of food prep. (I bet 10-year-old you didn’t think your life would require this much food prep, but that’s neither here nor there as you attempt to make chicken breast exciting for the third day in a row.) So, when you get home after a long day, and retreat to the comfort of your couch and your trusty Netflix account, you’re ready for something a little… different.
What you need is a good ol’ fashioned mindfuck. Something that can turn your world upside down. Something that can shake things up and make you forget all about that boring chicken breast. And you’re in luck, because Netflix Canada has a number of films on hand that will plunge you into alternative realities and absolutely blow your mind. And whether we’re talking about a blindfolded Sandra Bullock wandering around the wilderness (Birdbox), Toni Collette coming to terms with some unfortunate truths about her family (Hereditary) or Jake Gyllenhaal getting stalked by artwork (Velvet Buzzsaw), there is a little something for everyone.
Synopsis: When strange paintings by an unknown artist are discovered in a dead man’s apartment, a supernatural entity begins to murder anyone who dares to profit off the artwork.
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, John Malcovich
What makes it a mindfuck: Things don’t get more reality-bending than artwork that murders a bunch of greedy art dealers. And with vivid visuals, a stellar cast and twists and turns that keep you on your toes, this film will leave you worried that the art print in your bathroom isn’t just boring… it could be trying to kill you.
Synopsis: While attending a dinner party as his ex-wife’s home, a man begins to suspect that his former lover may have sinister plans for him and the other guests.
Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman, Emayatzy Corinealdi
What makes it a mindfuck: Like the best films on this list, The Invitation starts as one thing and quickly evolves into something… very different. Much like the lead character, Will (Logan Marshall-Green), your paranoia will be off the charts after this one—and it may give you the strength to not text that ex you’ve been thinking about lately. Don’t do it. Trust me.
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
Synopsis: When a man discovers his ex-girlfriend has undergone a procedure to erase memories of him from her mind, he decides to do the same thing…only for the two former lovers to continue to cross each other’s paths in surprising ways.
Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst
What makes it a mindfuck: It’s a classic mindfuck—and for a reason. Aside from putting Michel Gondry on the map as a film director (he won an Academy Award for the screenplay) and solidifying Jim Carrey as a dramatic lead, the astounding visuals place you directly in the minds and memories of two lovers falling out of love. It’s a depressing feast for the senses.
Synopsis: In a world where malevolent supernatural entities make you harm yourself if you see them, a woman and two children must journey to a safe zone—alone, blindfolded and relying on their other senses to make their way.
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson
What makes it a mindfuck: A sensory horror film in the vein of A Quiet Place, this Netflix hit inspired the “Bird Box Challenge” meme that had people getting blindfolded and putting themselves in danger for a laugh. Like, maybe don’t do that, but you can be thrilled by a stellar cast navigating terrible circumstances. And there are also a few surprising twists along the way…
Synopsis: When a researcher invents a biological form of virtual reality that can play with human memory and perception of time, she attracts the attention of shady government officials who see more nefarious uses for her invention.
Cast: Jessica De Gouw, T. J. Power, Thomas Cocquerel
What makes it a mindfuck: Building off of a grim-but-believable tech premise, this Australian sci-fi thriller plays with your sense of reality and will make you question the reliability of the lead character Ren Amari (Jessica De Gouw)’s perspective at just about every turn. Definitely worth a watch.
Synopsis: In the future, the world’s atmosphere has been rendered toxic, and most of humanity has left the planet to live on one of Jupiter’s moons, Io. Still, a young scientist works in a far-flung outpost on Earth, determined to find a way to make the planet liveable, when she crosses paths with a stranger…
Cast: Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie, Danny Huston
What makes it a mindfuck: Well, it’s not twisty so much as post-apocalyptic-y, but as a love story between two lone wolves on a deserted planet, it makes for quite the diversion and a cautionary tale on what could happen if we don’t get our act together on the global warming front. Also, Anthony Mackie is sexy on a pants-warming front.
Synopsis: When her mother dies, a woman uncovers some unsettling information about her sinister bloodline and the dark fate that awaits her children.
Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne
What makes it a mindfuck: Writer and director Ari Aster is currently breaking brains with his latest film, Midsommar, but Hereditary remains his first and true masterpiece—a tense psychological horror film that unravels slowly and makes you feel as uncertain of what’s going on as the characters themselves. Critics loved it, and I suspect you will, too—although it will make you question everything you know about your Nana.
Synopsis: A thief with the ability to enter dreams and steal important information is tasked with a seemingly impossible job—plant information in a man’s subconscious. And the prize? Having his criminal record cleared once and for all.
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard
What makes it a mindfuck: Writer and director Christopher Nolan is known for his fair share of complex narrative puzzles (see also: Memento), but this film put him in the big leagues. An A-list cast running through dreams and into dreams from dreams by dreams… you’ll probably need to draw a bit of a flow chart to make sense of it all, but it’s worth the watch and quite the visual spectacle.
Full disclosure: Writer JP Larocque writes for Netflix shows Slasher and Another Life.