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Brad’s Picks: Reality Shifters

One of my favourite genres of film are what I like to call ‘Reality Shifters’ because reality shifts during the film in such a way that they cause viewers to question the current state of reality in the movie, and possibly in ‘real?’ life as well. They often weave together multiple dimensions, timelines (more on this in my Time Travel roundup), and/or lifetimes.

These movies push our pre-conceived notions of reality: about what is real, and what is illusion. Or if there is any difference at all. These movies are not for everyone, or every mood. I personally have to be in the right mind set to watch one myself, as I need to be mentally prepared to have my boundaries pushed, and that isn’t something I want every day.

Here is a list of my top movies from that genre that are my staff picks at Sid’s Vids. Now you can enjoy them too. Some are popular ones I’m sure you’ve heard of, and others probably not:

  • Altered States
    Altered States (1980)
    Altered States poster Rating: 6.9/10 (23,017 votes)
    Director: Ken Russell
    Writer: Paddy Chayefsky (written for the screen by), Paddy Chayefsky (novel)
    Stars: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid
    Runtime: 102 min
    Rated: R
    Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
    Released: 25 Dec 1980
    Plot: A Harvard scientist conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber that may be causing him to regress genetically.
  • Butterfly Effect
    The Butterfly Effect (2004)
    The Butterfly Effect poster Rating: 7.7/10 (341,377 votes)
    Director: Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber
    Writer: J. Mackye Gruber, Eric Bress
    Stars: Ashton Kutcher, Melora Walters, Amy Smart, Elden Henson
    Runtime: 113 min
    Rated: R
    Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
    Released: 23 Jan 2004
    Plot: A young man blocks out harmful memories of significant events of his life. As he grows up, he finds a way to remember these lost memories and a supernatural way to alter his life.
  • Coherence 
    Coherence (2013)
    Coherence poster Rating: 7.1/10 (46,078 votes)
    Director: James Ward Byrkit
    Writer: James Ward Byrkit (screenplay), James Ward Byrkit (story), Alex Manugian (story)
    Stars: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon, Lorene Scafaria
    Runtime: 89 min
    Rated: N/A
    Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
    Released: 06 Aug 2014
    Plot: Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.
  • Dark City 
    Dark City (1998)
    Dark City poster Rating: 7.7/10 (151,904 votes)
    Director: Alex Proyas
    Writer: Alex Proyas (story), Alex Proyas (screenplay), Lem Dobbs (screenplay), David S. Goyer (screenplay)
    Stars: Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly
    Runtime: 100 min
    Rated: R
    Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
    Released: 27 Feb 1998
    Plot: A man struggles with memories of his past, including a wife he cannot remember, in a nightmarish world with no sun.
  • Enter the Void 
    Enter the Void (2009)
    Enter the Void poster Rating: 7.3/10 (42,022 votes)
    Director: Gaspar Noé
    Writer: Gaspar Noé, Lucile Hadzihalilovic (with the help of)
    Stars: Paz de la Huerta, Nathaniel Brown, Cyril Roy, Olly Alexander
    Runtime: 161 min
    Rated: NOT RATED
    Genre: Drama, Fantasy
    Released: 05 May 2010
    Plot: A U.S. drug dealer living in Tokyo is betrayed by his best friend and killed in a drug deal. His soul, observing the repercussions of his death, seeks resurrection.
  • Existenz 
    eXistenZ (1999)
    eXistenZ poster Rating: 6.8/10 (75,085 votes)
    Director: David Cronenberg
    Writer: David Cronenberg
    Stars: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe
    Runtime: 97 min
    Rated: R
    Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
    Released: 23 Apr 1999
    Plot: A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.
  • Fountain 
    The Fountain (2006)
    The Fountain poster Rating: 7.3/10 (185,389 votes)
    Director: Darren Aronofsky
    Writer: Darren Aronofsky (screenplay), Darren Aronofsky (story), Ari Handel (story)
    Stars: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Mark Margolis
    Runtime: 96 min
    Rated: PG-13
    Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
    Released: 22 Nov 2006
    Plot: As a modern-day scientist, Tommy is struggling with mortality, desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi.
  • Inception 
    Inception (2010)
    Inception poster Rating: 8.8/10 (1,366,602 votes)
    Director: Christopher Nolan
    Writer: Christopher Nolan
    Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy
    Runtime: 148 min
    Rated: PG-13
    Genre: Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi
    Released: 16 Jul 2010
    Plot: A thief who steals corporate secrets through use of the dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO.
  • Matrix Trilogy 
    The Matrix (1999)
    The Matrix poster Rating: 8.7/10 (1,148,739 votes)
    Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
    Writer: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
    Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving
    Runtime: 136 min
    Rated: R
    Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
    Released: 31 Mar 1999
    Plot: A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.
  • Source Code 
    Source Code (2011)
    Source Code poster Rating: 7.5/10 (360,464 votes)
    Director: Duncan Jones
    Writer: Ben Ripley
    Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright
    Runtime: 93 min
    Rated: PG-13
    Genre: Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
    Released: 01 Apr 2011
    Plot: 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.
  • Vanilla Sk
    Vanilla Sky (2001)
    Vanilla Sky poster Rating: 6.9/10 (201,689 votes)
    Director: Cameron Crowe
    Writer: Alejandro Amenábar (film "Abre Los Ojos"), Mateo Gil (film "Abre Los Ojos"), Cameron Crowe (screenplay)
    Stars: Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell
    Runtime: 136 min
    Rated: R
    Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
    Released: 14 Dec 2001
    Plot: A self-indulgent and vain publishing magnate finds his privileged life upended after a vehicular accident with a resentful lover.
  • Waking Life 
    Waking Life (2001)
    Waking Life poster Rating: 7.8/10 (46,698 votes)
    Director: Richard Linklater
    Writer: Richard Linklater
    Stars: Trevor Jack Brooks, Lorelei Linklater, Wiley Wiggins, Glover Gill
    Runtime: 99 min
    Rated: R
    Genre: Animation, Drama, Fantasy
    Released: 16 Nov 2001
    Plot: A man shuffles through a dream meeting various people and discussing the meanings and purposes of the universe.



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