Top 5 Movies Defying Film Genres

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: April 17, 2023 (Last updated: last month)
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Defying movie genres has become an artistic nuance in the world of cinema. The idea is to appeal to those who aren’t afraid of being exposed to something bold and unknown.

Creating a piece of cinema that is unique gives it that extra boost to being successful. There is perhaps nothing more unique in the world of cinema than movies that defy genre completely. Some movies from the past have become cult classics simply because they stepped outside the genre bubble to create something special.

Finding these genre-defying movies can be a difficult task, as so many movies follow a certain formula. However, we have you covered with this list of the top 5 must-see movies that defy typical genre conventions.

Must-see genre defying movies

A Clockwork Orange (1972)

This Stanley Kubrick movie is considered by many to be a cinematic masterpiece. The film, based on an Anthony Burgess novel from 1962, is set in a dismal, dystopian England and follows Alex DeLarge. He is a juvenile delinquent who undergoes state-sponsored psychological rehabilitation for his aberrant behaviour and gang violence. 

What makes the film so unique is its strong focus on the human psyche. This creates a fascinating and truly captivating series of events.

The film debates moral choice, personal freedom and behavioural modification. However, what makes it a unique experience for the viewer is the anti-totalitarian message that is conveyed. This cult classic manages to blur the boundaries of a number of genres. The inability to pigeonhole the movie makes it all the more special and distinctive.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

Charlie Kauffman movies are often something out of the ordinary, and this film is no exception. He has often been outspoken about his distaste for genres and how most of them fit into a certain formula. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) seems to break out of the horror shackles making it transform into something that you cannot pinpoint as a specific genre.

At its core, the film follows a young woman, who is addressed by many names throughout. She is having an internal debate about whether she should end her relationship with her boyfriend or not. Before this, she must visit her boyfriend’s parents for the first time. However, not everything is as it seems.

The film purposely messes with our brains, as we face inner questions as to what’s real and what’s not. Identity and morality issues are explored throughout the film to leave the audience in a state of uncertainty. Although it could be considered a horror film, it is too unconventional to be solely classified as such.

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968)

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968) is basically a film within a documentary. The director, William Greaves, asks one part of his crew to film another part of the crew as they work on the film within the film. 

Are you confused yet? Well, there’s more. He then has a third part of the crew record the second crew, who are recording the first crew. There are a lot of elements at play in this absurd piece of cinema.

The various personalities make it an interesting watch, with Greaves playing himself as the director in the film. Or is it really himself? The lines are blurred so much that we aren’t really sure if it’s fact or fiction. This makes it impossible to categorise the film in any genre, even as a documentary. 

This model of filmmaking is unstable but intoxicating at the same time. If you’re looking for a challenging movie to watch, this might be perfect for you.

Tangerine (2014)

Tangerine (2014) follows two transgender women, Sin-Dee and Alexandra. Having been released from jail, Sin-Dee is on a mission to find the woman with whom her man cheated on her with. The film is shot entirely on an iPhone 5S giving it a rugged, life-life look. 

A variety of different musical choices are used throughout the film to create a sense of confusion. EDM, classical, hypnotic beats, hardcore dubstep and alternative rock are all present.

Tangerine is definitely not the most serious genre of film. With the movie’s utterly ridiculous plot and unapologetic humour, it’s no surprise that it took the Sundance Film Festival by storm upon its release. We consider it to be a blend of a number of genres, as everything about it is unconventional.

The film was a major step forward in transgender influence on film. It also gave hope to all small budget movie makers that they could make a hit. If you are looking for something fresh and bold, this is the movie for you.

El Topo (1970)

The film that defied genre so much that a new genre had to be made for it. El Topo (1970) is a film directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. At the time of its release, it was seen as an extravagant defiance of form, as it didn’t follow the typical film formula. Even though it was seen as a western, it defied the genre so much that the acid western was born.

In this postmodern classic, dream and reality are intertwined to form a chaotic relationship. It went completely against westerns of the past by following El Topo in his guided enlightenment through psychedelic means. The film aims to take the viewer down a road never travelled, as it gives a unique look into the world of western cinema.

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