Some films require a second watch in order to be fully understood, while other movies may offer a completely different experience the second time through. A late character or plot reveal may change the entire dynamic of the story. On the other hand, quick, information-packed dialogue may be hard to fully grasp in just one take for even the most cerebral of audiences.
This list counts down the films that moviegoers absolutely must revisit. Thrillers with plot twists as well as intellectual stories with layers of subplot to sort through both appear on this list. Be wary, as this article contains a spoiler or two. Make sure to skip over the movies you have not seen on this list in order to avoid potential, unwanted spoilers.
Here are the 15 Movies You Need to Watch More Than Once.
Obviously, SPOILERS follow. Proceed at your own discretion.
15. Gone Girl (2014)
At first glance, Gone Girl might not seem like a movie that you have to see twice, but there is plenty left to discover upon multiple viewings. The early second act twist reveals that Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) whose disappearance kicked the plot into motion, faked her own disappearance and potential murder.
When this fact becomes apparent, the audience has to realize that the various events of her life, which had been written in her diary that later is recovered for evidence, were planted by this psychotic woman in order to frame her husband for murder. Early stages of their relationship have a much different context when reading it through these tinted lenses, which may reveal more than originally considered. The origins of this love story that felt slightly out-of-place during the first viewing now take on a whole new meaning for audiences upon revisiting.
14. Oldboy (2003)
The original Oldboy movie has become a cult classic in the past decade or so. It’s been acclaimed by the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Roger Ebert and named as one of the ten best Asian films ever made by CNN. For those of you unaware, Oldboy is a mystery thriller about a man who was kidnapped and held captive in a hotel room for 15 years. The motives of his captors are unbeknownst to him as well as the audience.
The main character (as well as the viewing audience) experiences a lot of twists and turns throughout the film, including being accused of the murder of his beloved wife. As some questions are answered, even more are raised in this intense crime thriller that leaves moviegoers guessing until the very end.
13. 12 Monkeys (1995)
Time travel is always a tough concept to come to terms with. Even the films that do it right (and 12 Monkeys is certainly one of them) leave audiences a bit confused from time to time.
Paradoxes, as well as the idea of past and future selves, are just a couple of the pitfalls that audiences can find themselves in while watching a time travel film. It does not help that main character, as played by Bruce Willis, is plagued by vivid nightmares. So, the line between the real and the unreal are blurred in this time travel, sci-fi thriller, making this movie even more deserving of multiple viewings.
12. The Usual Suspects (1995)
The Usual Suspects is a classic “everything is not as it seems” piece of cinema. Dialogue, character exchanges, mannerisms, and backstories take on an entirely new meaning upon multiple viewings.
The end of the film, when it is revealed that Kevin Spacey’s character is in fact the infamous Keyser Söze, changes everything moviegoers think they knew about the film up until this point – including but not limited to the entire dynamic of the film. When viewing the film a second time, it is amazing how well that this story fits together while simultaneously hiding Keyser Söze’s secret. Questions are also raised concerning the actual stories and various origin myths of the Söze character.
11. Psycho (1960)
An entire film class could be taught on the techniques, as displayed in this film of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. The shower scene alone could fill up an entire lecture. Any fans and lovers of cinema (especially the thriller genre) owe it to themselves to visit, and revisit, Hitchcock classics (Psycho most certainly included) as many times as possible.
Of course, there is the last act twist at the end of the film in which character origins are revealed, but that is not the only reason to revisit this film. Even the less regarded Alfred Hitchcock films have plenty to analyze, observe, and interpret. Techniques that are either directly or indirectly inspired by Hitchcock films can be seen films today – almost 50 to 70 years later. Psycho is the type of film that you can read an article about, watch a documentary on, or revisit over and over, and still find more to hold your interest.
10. The Prestige (2006)
Telling the story of two rival magicians who strive to create the ultimate illusion, The Prestige is a movie that begs to be viewed again and again. Just when moviegoers think the final plot twist has been revealed, the film reveals that it still has some more tricks up its sleeve.
Even if it were just for the third act plot twists, this would still be a film that would require multiple viewings, but in classic Christopher Nolan fashion, scenes move at a rapid pace and the writer/director does not necessarily wait for the audience to catch up with the plot. Whatever the reason, The Prestige is absolutely a film that deserves to be viewed more than once.
9. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2001: A Space Odyssey is widely considered one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made, yet it is as long as it is complicated – neither of which are complaints. Much like the rest of the movies in the filmography of the legendary Stanley Kubrick, the film contains many details and concepts that are hard to grasp on their own. Not to mention, the ambiguous ending has caused many a viewer to scratch their head and wonder what they just saw.
Aside from the fact that 2001: A Space Odyssey deserves a second watch due to it being a classic, it demands another viewing because of its complicated themes. As a whole, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a film that tells the story of space exploration and the evolution of mankind, but diving a little bit past the surface, moviegoers find that there is a lot more to explore than that.
8. Donnie Darko (2001)
At the very least, you have to watch Donnie Darko a second time, because most likely, you spent part of your first viewing hiding behind your blankets. This eerie, sci-fi thriller is a film with layers and layers of atmospheric and dense narrative that are hard to grasp upon a first viewing.
Just to understand the ending, this film needs to be revisited at least one additional time. Donnie Darko is a truly intellectual film that deserves discussion, revisiting, and perhaps some inner contemplation to truly get the whole experience. A film that has amassed a cult following, along with an early, great performance by one of today’s finest actors, Jake Gyllenhaal, are just a couple more reasons to visit this film, and perhaps revisit it one more time after that.
7. Shutter Island (2010)
Shutter Island is yet another team-up of legendary director, Martin Scorsese, and his favorite actor of the last decade or so, Leonardo DiCaprio. Set in the 1950s, the film is a throwback to thrillers past, and has plenty left to keep audiences guessing up until the very end.
What is endlessly fascinating about this film is the fact that the plot’s resolution can be spun in multiple ways. It is enjoyable to view the movie through all sorts of lenses. One of the best parts about revisiting Shutter Island is how plot lends itself to multiple interpretations. A quick Google search will reveal just how many fan theories there are out there on this not-so-simple psychological thriller.
6. Primer (2004)
Primer is one of those films in which it is easy for moviegoers to find themselves a bit lost. The dialogue moves rapidly and the movie does not wait for the audience to play catch up. Primer is a low-budget sci-fi film about a small group of engineers that unwittingly make a time machine.
What ensues is a series of paradoxes and a slew of past, present, and future selves that is enough to make anyone’s head spin. While trying to not drastically alter the future (or present), the two main protagonists, as well as the audience, find that there is a lot more to the business of time travel than just hopping in a DeLorean and pressing the pedal to the floor.
5. Fight Club (1999)
Aside from the obvious reason to revisit Fight Club, the last act plot twist involving Tyler’s true identity, there is more than enough content in this movie to make it worth a second, third, or even fourth viewing.
Fight Club is a film that has amassed a large cult following over the years, and many have raised this film to ‘masterpiece’ status. The story of this film is ingeniously told through its use of narration the physical acting by lead actors: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter. Fight Club is yet another story that begs to be found out, but hides itself from moviegoers in plain view – or through the use of subliminal messaging.
4. The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Sixth Sense is yet another example of a game changing third act twist that brings to light the subversion of the entire movie up until this point. When it is revealed that Bruce Willis’ character is in fact dead throughout most of the movie, and is only seen as a ghost through the eyes of this troubled child, it changes everything moviegoers have experienced throughout the movie until that point.
Upon the film’s second viewing, audiences are baffled to realize that the plot begs to be found out. At every turn, it appears obvious that he character is in fact dead, but at the same time, it is ingenious how the film is able to hide this secret from prospective viewers in plain sight.
3. Memento (2000)
Memento is a Christopher Nolan written and directed story told in reverse. That sentence in and of itself should be enough to tell any prospective moviegoer that this film is going to require multiple viewings.
The result is everything that one would expect from Nolan, and pretty much every bit as complex and fast paced as the films he has since directed. Christopher Nolan is a writer who does not talk down to his audience, and creates vast worlds and characters that feel grounded, even in the most inspired and unique of settings. Memento is no different from his later films in its inventive storylines as well as the hard-to-follow plot turns that demand this film, as well as other entries in his amazing filmography, to be watched at least twice.
2. The Shining (1997)
If you fashion yourself an expert on the Stanley Kubrick classic The Shining, then you either are in fact an expert, or perhaps you have yet to see the corresponding documentary, Room 237.
The Shining is an absolute masterpiece that reveals new nuggets to audiences upon each and every new viewing. Whether it be missing artifacts in the background that mysteriously reappear in the next shot, or the many, many possible theories that fans have speculated for decades, this film has something new to offer should you choose to watch it for the first, second, or twentieth time.
1. Inception (2010)
It has been said (in this article in fact) that Christopher Nolan is a writer and a director who does not like to speak down to his audience. Even still, Inception is a film in which a lot of narrative description is required. Even though Nolan explains this concept in an ingenious way, mostly through the use of Ellen Page’s character, who is new to the world of navigating dreams, the film may still find some moviegoers a bit confused during a few scenes.
Inception tells the story of a group of dream raiders who invade the sub-conscience of people’s minds in order to extract information. The job gets even more difficult, and confusing, when they are hired for a slightly different gig, planting an idea in the mind of a wealthy businessman. Dreams within dreams within dreams, and much more explanatory narration is a little too much to expect anyone to follow for a two and a half hour movie (although the entire product is absolutely worth it), making Inception a movie that definitely needs to be viewed at least twice.
Do you agree with our list? Let us know some films that you think require multiple viewings in the comments section below.