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If you’re looking for movies like 'Tenet', no film makes more sense to start with than 'Inception'. Check out these other mind-bending thrillers.

Need more crazy movies like ‘Tenet’? Try these mind-melting thrillers next

Christopher Nolan seems to have the non-Marvel blockbuster market cornered in the 2020s, having already famously made his comic book stint in The Dark Knight trilogy years ago. 

Perhaps best known for spearheading the success of Heath Ledger’s most famous role in 2008’s The Dark Knight, Nolan has moved on to rock the world of thriller fans everywhere before & during his Batman trilogy with movies like 2010’s Inception & 2017’s Dunkirk

2020’s Tenet is the latest supernova coming from Nolan, as the film still managed to rake in over $100 million at the box office despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shutting down theaters around the globe. 

Tenet drew in fans with another mind-melting Nolan hit last year, but Tenet wasn’t the first movie to take a psychological spin on the American thriller. Check out our list of other mind-bending thrillers, without which perhaps Tenet wouldn’t exist.


If you’re looking for movies like Tenet, no film makes more sense to start with than Inception. Christopher Nolan dropped Inception ten years before Tenet, and Inception no doubt gave the director a dry run for the 2020 picture with his most heady thriller since 2000’s Memento.

Leo Dicaprio stars in the nearly two-and-a-half-hour journey through the minds of its ensemble cast in the film telling a tale of an information thief grabbing secrets from important minds. 

If you’ve heard anything about Inception, you know the film takes audiences through a dream within a dream within a dream. Needless to say, Inception isn’t a film you can follow half-watching while folding laundry. However, your attention to Inception will reap rewards in the form of mind-blowing twists & turns if you’re looking for Tenet-adjacent movies.

Shutter Island

Moving right along with an easy segue, Leo Dicaprio stars in what many feel to be a sister film to Inception: 2010’s Shutter Island. Martin Scorcese brought audiences Shutter Island the same year Inception dropped, with another DiCaprio-starring thriller in which what we see isn’t anywhere near black & white.

DiCaprio plays Deputy U.S. Marshal Edward “Teddy” Daniels as he investigates a psychiatric hospital on an isolated island near Boston. Once the film’s yarn starts to unravel, we’re compelled to discover what is going on in Daniels’s investigation, and once all is revealed, we find the mystery is not as simple as it once seemed.

The Game

Long before movies like Inception captivated thriller fans everywhere, David Fincher gave us one of the most fun psychological thrillers of the 1990s with 1997’s The Game

Michael Douglass stars in the film as Nicholas Van Orton, yet another haunted rich man in Douglass’s filmography, and he’s set in his ways until his brother Conrad (Sean Penn) gives him the gift for the man who has everything on Orton’s forty-eighth birthday.

The gift Conrad gives is the film’s titular game. However, this isn’t a game of make believe; the game Orton gets sucked into is one of real life, a game which takes him on a wild ride where the line between what’s real and what’s just part of the game is totally blurry. The Game is thrilling, fun, and totally unhinged. Furthermore, the film paved the way for movies like Tenet.

American Psycho

Finally, American Psycho doesn’t seem in the wheelhouse of Tenet if you only know the film from screenshots on Instagram & memes on Twitter; the cult film’s iconic blood-soaked sequences rightfully present American Psycho as a full-fledged horror movie. 

American Psycho is assuredly scary, and one of Christian Bale’s most celebrated films. However, if you’ve seen American Psycho, you know the story isn’t as straightforward as a tale of an unhinged murderous finance bro. By the film’s end, viewers see a twist making them question everything the movie presents. 

If you’re looking to scratch your Tenet itch, throw on American Psycho, but be warned: Christian Bale’s bloodiest movie is not for the faint of heart.

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