5. The Butterfly Effect (2004)

Movies with terrible hidden messages - Ashton Kutcher as Evan in The Butterfly Effect

In all honesty, The Butterfly Effect is a pretty forgettable movie. It stars Ashton Kutcher as Evan, a young man who has suffered mysterious blackouts since he was a child. One day, he learns that he can relive the lost time, reshaping his present by altering his own past. It’s an interesting concept, but it’s absolutely riddled with ridiculous plot holes.

The film has an alternate ending that offers the worst hidden message by far, but the whole story is pretty messed up. After repeatedly fiddling with the past to improve the lives of the people he cares about, Evan only manages to succeed in damaging his own brain and hurting everyone around him. Eventually, he comes to realize that the only way to fix things is to let go. In the theatrical ending, he lets the love of his life forget him entirely in order to keep her safe. In the director’s cut, he travels back to the moment of his birth and strangles himself with his umbilical cord.

Basically, the message that it puts out is that sometimes, your loved ones are better off without you. It’s one of those terrible hidden messages that clearly wasn’t thought through, because it’s so potentially harmful to the audience (particularly those living with mental illness or mental health issues). Not only is it irresponsible, but it’s utter nonsense. It’s worth noting that The Butterfly Effect was largely panned by critics.