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A common gripe about modern movies is that they’re unoriginal. Most of them simply rehash tired stories we’ve seen a million times before or repackage a bunch of clichés drawn from various existing films. The most egregious case in recent memory may be The Force Awakens which (as South Park tells us) mostly recycled the plot of A New Hope.
Nevertheless, a few films do strive to break the mold and attempt something new. They flout convention and serve up zany, unpredictable plot lines that are unlike anything else. With this in mind, Redditors recently got together on r/movies, the largest film subreddit, to discuss which movies have the most unique storylines of all.
10 ‘Holy Motors’ (2012)
This surreal film from Annette director Leos Carax centers on Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), a mysterious actor who takes on various roles. Over the course of a single day, Oscar morphs into several personas, from a businessman to a motion-capture artist to an accordion-playing beggar. These bizarre episodes unfold against the backdrop of a shadowy and dreamlike Paris, blurring the lines between reality and performance.
“The protagonist goes to his ‘job’ every day,” Redditor neonroli47 explains. “He dresses up as different characters throughout the day. But it’s not like he is cosplaying, but actually living as those characters for the duration of time he is dressed as them.”
9 ‘The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz’ (2000)
The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz follows the titular character (Tom Fisher) across various encounters, where he interacts with oddball characters, supernatural phenomena, and even the apocalypse itself. It’s all rather absurd, but the film stands out with its unconventional narrative and darkly comedic tone. It was directed by Ben Hopkins, whose most recent film is this year’s Inside starring Willem Defoe.
“[The] main character is an inscrutable being who arrives in London on the final day of Existence, and as he spends a single day traveling across the city, he ‘becomes’ various people he encounters, experiencing their various lives,” said user ZorroMeansFox. “[It] feels something like an inspiration for Holy Motors.”
8 ‘What Dreams May Come’ (1998)
Robin Williams stars in this visually stunning fantasy drama as Chris Nielsen, a loving husband and father who tragically dies in a car accident, leaving behind his grieving wife, Annie (Annabella Sciorra). In the afterlife, Chris discovers a vibrant realm that is shaped by his own imagination.
However, it soon transpires that Annie has committed suicide, so Chris sets out to rescue her – a quest that will take him to the depths of hell itself. What Dreams May Come is worth watching just for its depiction of the afterlife, which earned it an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. “It’s a very surreal movie,” said Redditor Blueflame_1.
7 ‘The Illusionist’ (2006)
In 19th-century Vienna, magician Eisenheim (Edward Norton) uses seemingly supernatural tricks to captivate audiences. His act draws the attention of Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), who becomes embroiled in a love triangle with Eisenheim and his childhood sweetheart, Duchess Sophie von Teschen (Jessica Biel).
At the same time, Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) grows suspicious of Eisenheim’s illusions. “[The Illusionist is] from a screenplay by Jacques Tati, which he wasn’t able to make before he died,” user ZorroMeansFox explains, “The [main] character is basically Tati’s famous character Mr. Hulot.”
6 ‘Wolfcop’ (2014)
In this campy comedy-horror, lazy alcoholic cop Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) undergoes an unintentional lifestyle change: he becomes a werewolf. Embracing his new supernatural abilities, Lou sets out to clean up his crime-ridden town. In the process, he uncovers a plot to unleash a horde of shape-shifting creatures.
Wolfcop is gory, quirky, and unabashedly slapstick; a future cult favorite. It revels in its B-movie absurdity and commitment to practical effects. “[It’s the] only movie I’ve ever seen where a werewolf shoots someone in the balls,” said user Gingerchaun.
5 ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ (2006)
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) is a skilled perfume maker with an extraordinary sense of smell and an unquenchable desire to capture the ultimate scent. However, this mission leads him down a dark path. As his mind unravels, begins murdering young women to extract their unique fragrances.
Perfume is a grim, gorgeous historical thriller, anchored by a terrific performance from Whishaw that is a far cry from the rest of his filmography. “It’s a wonderful movie that looks beautiful, great cast, well acted, and is really dark and twisted and amazing,” said Redditor Reuit611.
4 ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’ (1926)
This silent animated film holds the distinction of being one of the earliest surviving feature-length animated movies. The Adventures of Prince Achmed is told via silhouette animation, involving cut-paper figures, similar to shadow puppets, and draws on the Arabian Nights tales.
It depicts the prince’s extraordinary adventures, including encounters with an evil sorcerer, a beautiful princess, a magical flying horse, and a host of mythical creatures. “It’s very beautiful and you can see where it influenced a lot of later movies like Aladdin and The Thief and The Cobbler,” said user Vio_.
3 ‘Electroma’ (2006)
Electroma is an avant-garde sci-fi directed by the electronic music duo Daft Punk (Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo). It’s about two robots, played by the directors themselves, who set out on an existential journey to become human. What it lacks in dialogue it makes for in striking imagery and eclectic music.
“I love recommending Electroma to people,” said Redditor latestagepersonhood. “It’s basically a series of what were going to be Daft Punk music videos that were then combined into a full-length Silent film with a soundtrack by… not Daft Punk?” Indeed, the soundtrack consists of songs by Brian Eno, Curtis Mayfield, and Chopin, among others.
2 ‘Cat Soup’ (2001)
Cat Soup is a poetic anime film from Tatsuo Sato, who also directed Ninja Scroll: The Series. The movie is contemplative, eschewing a traditional narrative for a more abstract structure exploring themes of life, death, and the cyclical nature of existence. It was adapted from the manga by Nekojiru.
“It’s an anime movie with no dialogue about a cat on his travel to the land of the dead in order to save his sister’s soul, which was ripped in two when the cat tried to save her from Death,” said Redditor Ryuuyami47. “[Cat Soup] is dreamy, lovely, and tinged with nastiness,” added user ZorroMeansFox.
1 ‘Tetsuo: The Iron Man’ (1989)
This cyberpunk cult classic follows an unnamed man (Tomorowo Taguchi) as he transforms into a grotesque hybrid of man and machine, with shards of metal emerging from his body. As his body mutates, he becomes obsessed with the industrial world and ultimately faces off against another man who has undergone a similar transformation.
In the lineage of David Lynch and David Cronenberg, Tetsuo: The Iron Man is frenetic and experimental, with black-and-white cinematography, rapid editing, and a pounding industrial soundtrack. User ZorroMeansFox praised its “allegorical tone” and “propulsive dynamism”. “It was one of the most upsetting experiences I’ve ever had!” added Redditor Gordon_Gano.
NEXT: 10 Movies With the Most Abrupt Endings, According to Reddit