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April 27, 2023

Top Ten Most Realistic Depictions of a Psychedelic Trip In Movies

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Whether you’ve taken DMT, LSD, psilocybin, or lesser-known psychedelics like 2C-B and mescaline, you know there’s something unique and often indescribable about a psychedelic trip. Often the movies depict these events as simple blurs of bright, distorted colors that don’t quite capture what it feels like when you’re merrily tripping your way through another universe. Sometimes, they even show us things that are outright wrong (hallucinating that your dog is talking to you, or having a conversation with a doorknob). With that in mind, we’ve gathered our picks for the top ten most accurate and visually interesting depictions of psychedelic trips in movies (and two short films).

Enter the Void (2009)
Oscar Does DMT

Full Movie

Released in 2009, and directed by Gaspar Noe, Enter the Void takes viewers on a dark journey through Tokyo’s seedy underbelly. The lead character, Oscar (portrayed by Nathaniel Brown), is a deeply troubled man with more than a few problems. During one particularly powerful scene, Oscar smokes several hits of N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). This brings us to our main event, which just so happens to be one of the best portrayals of a DMT trip ever shown on the big screen. After a few puffs, Oscar quickly finds himself swept into a dimension of disturbingly organic geometric shapes, all pulsing with weird lights, colors, and always altering patterns. Unfortunately, Oscar’s wild ride is interrupted by a phone call that brings him out of his trip right before we get to meet the oft-discussed DMT “Entities”.

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Raoul Checks Into The Hotel on Acid

Full Movie

Directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp, Benicio del Toro, and Tobey Maguire, this 1998 film based on the works of Hunter S. Thompson is a favorite movie for a wealth of psychonauts. In it, we follow Raoul Duke (played by Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (brilliantly portrayed by Benicio Del Toro) as they embark on a drug-fueled adventure in Las Vegas. After their journey through the desert, this pair of misfits arrive at their Vegas hotel, where Raoul quickly finds himself overwhelmed by the massive quantity of acid he had taken earlier in the film. This brings us to one of the greatest depictions of a LSD trip in cinematic history. While some of the effects may be a little dated by today’s standards, few other directors or actors have captured the feeling of being on an extremely high dose of LSD. From facial distortions, creeping carpets, ruminating on the meaning of life and death, and a brief appearance of Lizard People, no other movie does LSD justice quite as well as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Doctor Strange (2016)
Strange Meets the Ancient One

Full Movie

Doctor Strange has always been one of Marvel’s most psychedelic characters, and the most recent slate of films, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, has been wonderfully strange (pun intended). However, one of the best, if not intentional, depictions of what it’s like to trip on DMT comes from the 2016 Doctor Strange movie. In this particular scene, Strange meets the Ancient One (played by Tilda Swinton), a mentor and leader of incredible (and psychedelically depicted) power. After dishing out a bit too much sass, Strange is disincorporated by the Ancient One and sent traveling through a variety of alternate dimensions. From the beautiful geometric galaxies to the disturbingly wonderful scene of hands growing from hands (and walls), this film has gorgeously captured (perhaps unintentionally) the otherworldly beauty of DMT.

Easy Rider
Acid Trip Sequence

Full Movie

Starring and directed by Dennis Hopper, Easy Rider is an oh-so-American classic about the joys of the open road, freedom of exploration, and more than a few recreational substances. Hopper is joined by an always riveting Jack Nicholson, and (one of the psychedelic world’s favorite sons) Peter Fonda, in a wonderfully enthralling movie that captures the essence of late 1960s America. During this ragtag group’s journey across the United States, they find themselves in a cemetery, where they decide to consume a handful of hits of LSD. The scene perfectly captures what it’s like to take LSD while eschewing the flashy effects and often cliche cinematography of other films. Instead, Hopper focuses on how to capture the feel of LSD through the use of sound, time breaks, moments of disjointed oddity, and the play of light in the camera. All that love and care (plus the fact that the cast actually did LSD) shines through in one of cinema’s greatest trip scenes.

Mushroom Field Trip Scene

Full Movie

From director and writer Ari Aster and starring an amazing ensemble cast that includes Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, and Will Poulter, Midsommar is one of the most psychedelic films ever released. The movie follows a group of college friends invited to participate in their Swedish pals’ community Midsommar festival. Although full to bursting with perfectly portrayed scenes of psychedelic magic (sometimes very dark magic), the group’s first foray into a psychedelic journey is also one of the most accurate representations of a psilocybin trip that we’ve ever seen on screen. From the way the trees breathe, to how the grass seems to grow through the cast’s hands, to the inclusion of that one friend that needs everyone to have the same trip, Aster shows audiences just how odd, beautiful, and impactful magic mushrooms can be.


Full Movie

Sometimes described as a “ketamine trip pretending to be a movie,” Mandy is one of the most darkly psychedelic films ever made. Directed by the very talented Panos Cosmatos and starring the always eccentrically entertaining Nicolas Cage, Mandy tells the tale of one man’s revenge-filled rampage to rescue his lover (perfectly portrayed by Andrea Riseborough) from the clutches of a Charles Manson-esque cult leader and his band of terror-hippies. One of the film’s most powerful scenes had Mandy Bloom (Riseborough’s character) endure her first encounter with cult leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache). Right before Sand’s introduction, Bloom is forced to take LSD (using an eyedropper, no less). This leads to one of the best and most disturbing on-screen depictions of a bad LSD trip. Viewers beware: this film doesn’t pull any punches.

The Trip
Paul Goes to a Club on LSD

Full Movie

Written by Jack Nicholson and Directed by Roger Corman, 1967’s The Trip is a roller coaster of self-introspection and discovery. Peter Fonda once again takes the lead as psychedelic novice Paul Groves. The movie takes us through Groves’ LSD-fueled trip as he contemplates his life, decisions, and his relationship with women, drugs, and alcohol. Shortly after taking a hit of LSD, Groves finds himself at a nightclub where things get a little weird. This scene features a gentler take on an LSD trip, but does an excellent job of capturing the sort of self-introspection that psychedelics can inspire.

Renegade (2004)
Mike Blueberry Does Ayahuasca

Full Movie

Brought to us by director Jan Kounen, Renegade is (mostly) a standard early 2000s Western. Set in the 1870s and starring Vincent Cassel as the new lawman in a tiny Arizona frontier town, Renegade tells the story of one man’s struggle to keep peace in the Wild West. The historical accuracy of the film is dubious at best (how did someone end up with Ayahuasca in 1870s Arizona?). Despite the questionable quality of the film in total, it excels in the its depiction of an ayahuasca journey. Complete with visions of spectral animals, and beautiful geometric visuals; Renegade is the only film (that we know of) to capture the essence of the ayahuasca experience.

Day Trip: A Psychedelic Short Film
Their Channel

A departure from the rest of our list, Day Trip: A Psychedelic Short Film isn’t your usual big-screen affair. Instead, it’s produced and directed by indie filmmaker Taha Ismail. This wonderful short follows two friends as they embark on a psilocybin-powered adventure at a local park. Ismail does an excellent job of making viewers feel like they’re the ones tripping, while also showcasing some of the more subtle aspects of magic mushrooms, like deep conversations with friends, a touch of anxiety, and a sprinkle of euphoria. Ismail’s other short film, This is Me, is also worth a look for both psychedelic and indie film enthusiasts.



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Loka: High Dose Shrooms Trip Simulation
Their Channel

LokaVision is an interesting and wondrous little youtube channel dedicated to “describing things through video that words cannot.” And boy, do they deliver. Loka’s High Dose Shrooms Trip Simulation is by far the most accurate simulation of a psilocybin trip that I’ve ever seen (watching it in VR can be amazing, if not a little trying). Loka does an excellent job of showing us what a psilocybin experience can feel like. This is a must-see for those interested in psychedelics.

These are a few of our favorite depictions of psychedelic journeys in films, with the overall quality of the movie itself varying. There are likely films you love that we haven’t included here. We’d love to hear about them. You can reach out: @psychedelicsdotcom.

This material is not intended as a replacement or substitute for any legal or medical advice. Always consult a medical professional about your health needs. Psychedelics are widely illegal in the United States, and readers should always be informed about local, state, and federal regulations regarding psychedelics or other drugs.

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