Surreal, Dreamlike, Maybe Reminiscent of a Silent Hill Game

I’d like to discover more films like these.

Jacob's Ladder

A direct inspiration for the Silent Hill games. A Vietnam War veteran suffers from nightmarish hallucinations and attempts to make sense of events in his life.


As in Silent Hill 2, the characters experience events and encounter “monsters” that are highly symbolic. There’s a fancy new Blu-ray release of this that I’d like to get one day.

Inland Empire

Or Lost Highway or Mulholland Drive. Inland Empire just happens to be my most recently-watched of these David Lynch films. (“I like pancakes.”) I think it’s hard to find a better portrayal of internally-consistent dream logic that on the surface appears to be random nonsense.

Being John Malcovich

A friend told me to see this when I was in high school. It was years later (just recently) that I finally did. This one’s more of a comedy than the others I’ve listed, but I don’t know that any of these really fit a genre.

Time Bandits

I could just have easily included Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, but Time Bandits is my favorite Terry Gilliam film. These veer even farther into comedy and are more straightforward, but they still have elements of what I’m referring to in places.

I might have also included The Cell, Vanilla Sky, Santa Sangre, or Holy Motors, but I didn’t care as much for those ones (for various reasons). I guess The Machinist might belong in this list as well.

Any other recommendations?


The Taste of Tea

And Funky Forest, by the same director. Probably some of the best in dreamlike genuinely surrealist/fabulist imagery.


I found much of Funky Forest kind of tiresome, though I appreciated what it was trying to do and liked some parts. I’d give the director another chance. That screen capture looks promising.

Another one I forgot to mention is

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams

You can't get much more dreamlike than a re-enacted dream journal, I suppose. Although it was so slow-moving in places that it almost put me to sleep (I watched it late at night), I enjoyed it.

Since you basically just listed “Gilliam,” he has a new one (2013) called Zero Theorem that I just watched. It stars Christoph Walz and I’ve literally never heard anyone say one word about it. It’s on Netflix. It’s not as good as Brazil, but it’s still pretty damn good.


The second-greatest film ever made, it opens into a dream. Scenes move between the present reality (of a director making a movie) and the past (memories of his formative experiences). Symbolic characters follow the narrative as it moves. And it’s entertaining!


I like The Zero Theorem. I only excluded it because I guess it’s a little more grounded than some of his others, in relation to what I was aiming for here. Or maybe not. Anyway, I’d also recommend that one for sure.

Hmm, there are also all the luis bunuel movies, though I really only approve of un chien andalou

Where do you rate a movie like The Enemy, because for me it totally captures the dreamlike silent hill vibe you describe here (though tbf I didnt like the movie in the end, it does cultivate an atmosphere)

There is also the lacuna itt of german expressionist films, branded to kill, dead man, and city of lost children which all slot into this vibe to varying degrees, all with plots that operate on dream logic and striking imagery

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(I mean duh, but still. this trailer rules)

First thing i thought of when i saw this thread was Jacob’s Ladder, but you got that right away (looove that mooovie)

second thing i thought of was
Paperhouse (1988)

It’s very much a children’s horror movie, and is a bit clunky and saccharine in places, but has great atmosphere and gorgeous, creepy imagery. The plot is practically Silent Hill for kids.


@wourme, you mentioned Santa Sangre. i take it you’ve also seen:

The Holy Mountain (1973) (NSFW)

@vikram i fucking love God Told Me To

@Tulpa I wonder why you don’t approve of Bunuel. Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Milky Way, and the Phantom of Liberty are precisely this.

Also, Jan Svankmajer’s short films are good. His features are good too (Alice is probably the best and best known), but his shorts are cleaner and more focused. Here are a couple: 1st may be a little NSFW.

Also, along the lines of the Holy Mountain, Dusan Makavejev made a couple of freak-outs: Sweet Movie and WR: Mysteries of the Organism. Heck, if you’re going down that route, the Monkees’ Head is pretty surreal.

Oh, and Oingo Boingo’s The Forbidden Zone! Everybody forgets that one.

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@GanjaHess me too! it makes a great double feature with Q: The Winged Serpent, also by Larry Cohen.

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I never have seen that one, or El Topo. I always thought they’d be a little too much for me. One reason I watched Santa Sangre is that I wanted to see something by Jodorowsky and it sounded like a relatively tame option.

I’ll definitely try to track these down.

Not L’Age d’Or?

Obligatory twin peaks mention

Kwaidan is very dreamlike, not exactly Silent Hill esque though

Rebels of the Neon God and Tsai Ming-Liang in general-Often dreamlike, but not really surreal. That soundtrack though. One of the half-plots of this movie involves stealing circuit boards from arcade games so I feel like it’s an honorary SB classic.

I haven’t seen it but I feel like fans of Silent Hill would probably like It Follows

Rouge is A less horrific but still very dreamlike and mysterious ghost story. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch the whole thing on youtube right here. Worth it for Leslie Cheung and the soundtrack:

OK, now that I have contributed to the thread @Father.Torque @Wourme … What on earth was good about The Zero Theorem. I just watched it and I can honestly say I hated almost every minute of it. I usually love terry gilliam but this just felt like … everything that is kind of dumb about his movies with very little else to redeem it? And the whole story was so predictable and lifeless. It felt like a screenwriting template / mad libs with all of the nouns filled in with utter nonsense.


Jan Svankmajer and Larry Cohen are a couple of my favorite filmmakers guys.

Not sure i’d recommend it exactly, but the film my handle comes from is pretty fucked up and occasionally brilliant:

Ganja and Hess (1973)

There’s no trailer i can find but here’s a good if spoilery review. (NSFW)

I just recently re-watched Twin Peaks. The Amazon Prime streaming version is apparently that new scan because it looks very nice. Apparently, the new scan was possible because it was filmed like a movie, unusual for a television show at the time.

I liked The Zero Theorem mostly because of the design and the general creativity and ambition. I also appreciated the themes, even if he really didn’t do much with them. (It’s always disappointing when a story in any form kind of seems to confuse mentioning a theme with exploring it.) I guess I’d rank it above The Brothers Grimm but below most of his others.

I just thought of another film I saw recently that I thought I would like for the reasons I like other things in this thread, but I didn’t care for it much–Takashi Miike’s Gozu. But I also thought of another couple I should have included in the first place, both by Kiyoshi Kurosawa:


Definitely something that a Silent Hill fan might appreciate. Though I don’t necessarily want to confine things so narrowly for everything in this list.


This one has an atmosphere that gets heavier as it goes along, and I appreciate its subtlety.

I’m guessing Marebito works,

Some Tsukamoto movies probably (only acted in Marebito), but not so close I’m feeling? edit: yeah nevemind, I missed the maybe on the “maybe remiscent of SH”, definitely most of Tsukamoto fit the bill on surreal

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Gozu occurred to me over night, but you already beat me to it. I haven’t seen too much of Miike’s other stuff, but I hear Visitor Q has the same vibe.

Shocked Nightmare on Elm Street hasn’t come up yet…


A pirate TV producer intercepts a strange broadcast, his girlfriend moves into his TV, he starts shooting people, psychosis.

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