Have you ever left a movie feeling strange or unsettled in ways that you couldn’t quite explain? If so, then it’s possible that you were subjected to subliminal messaging. Subliminal messages are tiny visual or acoustic effects that are too subtle for our conscious minds to register. Nonetheless, they are more than capable of influencing us subconsciously, and it’s for this reason that they caused a moral panic in the ’50s.
But while a recent BBC study suggests that the technique doesn’t actually alter our thought processes in any significant way, that has never stopped filmmakers playing around with it. Here are 20 movies that have been secretly sending you subliminal messages while you were obliviously munching on your popcorn…
19. Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club, the ’90s parable about disillusioned men rebelling against society through violence, is filled with mischievous secret messages. Along with a naughty single frame of a penis, there are also five frames of anti-hero Tyler before he even appears in the plot, signifying his growth in the narrator’s troubled psyche.
18. What Lies Beneath (2000)
Robert Zemeckis’ largely forgotten horror flick What Lies Beneath is a chilling thriller in which the ghost of a drowned woman haunts a seemingly content couple – and the film is simply dripping with spooky imagery. One significant shot that’s easy to miss, however, is the vague outline of a face in the snow in the very last frame of the movie. Perhaps an unsettling sign that the spirit hasn’t yet found peace?