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Movies To Watch If You Love Ratched

This content was paid for by Netflix and created by Looper.

Ryan Murphy's vision for Ratched, the prequel series featuring One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest's infamous nurse, is a tantalizing take on the nefarious Angel of Mercy. Where the original film deals in the drab tones you'd expect in a hospital, the new series boasts plenty of color in its 1940s picturesque setting — which makes the horrors of Lucia State Hospital that much more prominent. 

It's quickly evident to viewers that the psych ward's cheery nature isn't reflective of the profoundly flawed psychiatric practices conducted in the '40s, starkly contrasting the show's sinister vibe. From a child who receives a lobotomy (based on the true story of Howard Dully) to the torturous hydrotherapy given to nonconforming lesbian patients, Ratched opens the hospital doors to a slew of social issues still prevalent today. Masked in the eerie glow of life in a bygone era, the series tells the story of Ratched's origins while tackling issues like homophobia, sexism, and racism. Ratched makes fans question everything they thought they knew about the titular nurse, offering a modern twist on the decades-old character without trying to rewrite the book and film that came before. 

But while Ratched's ward is closed until season 2 (or until the staff can get the bloodstains out of the carpet), Netflix has a slew of likeminded films to satiate fans until the followup season drops. Between plots surrounding serial killers, sham hospitals, genetic splicing, and another Ryan Murphy project, there's enough material to entertain Ratched fans until the wicked nurse is back in session.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Zac Efron went from charming tweens with projects like High School Musical to raunchy comedies like Dirty Grandpa before he snagged the role of Ted Bundy, one of America's most notorious serial killers. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile unravels through the perspective of Bundy's longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kendall (played by Lily Collins), as she figures out her boyfriend's horrible secret life. According to ET, filmmakers sat down with the real Kendall to ensure the film's vision honored her experiences, giving it an extra level of authenticity. In an updated version of her memoir, titled The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy, she wrote that she and her daughter "were able to face our fears and watch the finished film."

She added that Collins and Efron got it right. The movie is hard to watch during the brutal murder sequences, as Bundy's victims were real people. Yet the film offers an in-depth look at the mind of a killer — and how you can never truly know what's lurking inside someone else. And that's the whole point of the movie: not to romanticize, but to shine on a light on the darkness that can exist in even the most charming people.

Ratched fans fascinated by Edmund Tolleson, and how someone so seemingly kind could do those horrible things, will get a lot out of this Bundy film. The jarring contrast between the seemingly loving stepfather figure to Bundy's animalistic homicides and calculating manipulation of every situation he's in strips away the perceived romanticism that the media has fallen into when it comes to serial killers. By framing the movie in Kendall's perspective, viewers can see firsthand the damage Bundy did to his victims — and everyone in his life.

Session 9

Most patients in Ratched's care are generally worse off after they leave (if they leave at all) than they were when they entered the hospital. The same can be said for the asbestos team tasked with clearing Danvers State Mental Hospital, a local abandoned psychiatric facility in Massachusetts (in real life as well as the film Session 9). While the team isn't committed themselves (or are they?), the darkness enveloping the hospital haunts them as they try to do their job and get out quickly.

Yet even though the patients are long gone, the echoes of their pain and suffering remain in the dilapidated halls of the towering structure — and viewers have to figure out whether the ghostly events of the film actually happened, or if it's all in the protagonist Gordon's head. Session 9 is a stumper without a clear-cut ending, making it the perfect choice for psychological thriller fans who want a truly mind-bending experience.

The 2001 film, starring talents like Netflix's Cursed's Josh Lucas and CSI: Miami's David Caruso, prompted endless fan theories that attempt to explain the film's events. Is it all in Gordon's head? Is the ward haunted by the spirit of a patient with dissociative identity disorder? Was Gordon actually a former patient plagued with repressed memories? Put on your best Ratched hat and figure the mystery out for yourself. However, don't set your GPS for Massachusetts because the 1878 hospital that's rumored to have originated the prefrontal lobotomy was largely demolished in 2006. And all horror fans know how much ghosts just love renovations — just ask Gordon's asbestos crew. Better leave the speculation to the Netflix screen and leave the EMF readers at home. 


If you're looking for a wild science fiction ride, look no further than 2009's Splice, in which every sexual and moral taboo in the books meets a fiery vengeance. Literally. The film, a cheeky homage to Frankenstein, chronicles the unpleasant events that happen when scientists try to play God. Even the main characters' names tease the Frankenstein parallel — with Elsa presumably being named after the Bride of Frankenstein actress Elsa Lanchester and Clive after her co-star Colin Clive. Coincidence? Probably not.

In Splice, Elsa (Sarah Polley) and Clive (Adrien Brody) are on a mission to mix human and animal DNA to create a hybrid creature that could transform medicine and science. Unsurprisingly, their attempts to don't exactly go as planned and the scientists end up doing more harm than good on their subject, named Dren — on a scientific as well as psychological level. While there's certainly no gene splicing (that we know of) in Ratched, the premise of deadly experimentation shapes the series.

Like Nurse Ratched, Elsa and Clive's dubious morals undermine their misguided quest to save the world. Even when they question if what they're doing is truly for the greater good, their thirst for power, credit, and their respective savior complexes rule every decision, and they never seem to learn. Similar to Ratched, bits and pieces of humanity surface in our protagonists, but it's not enough — no matter the cost to human and animal-kind alike.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Of course, any Ratched movie marathon has to include the wretched nurse's original onscreen appearance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Released in 1975 and set in the early '60s, the classic film revolves around the petty crook Randall Patrick McMurphy and his scam to evade incarceration by pleading insanity and getting locked up in the local psychiatric hospital. If only he'd known that Nurse Mildred Ratched's ward would be darker than any prison cell.

Like Ratched, the film seeks to shed light on the inhumane psychiatric practices (like lobotomies and forced electroshock) that were prevalent during the time. While many of the "treatments" shown in the film and series have since been abolished in most countries, both succeed in shining a light on the stigma attached to mental health that's still an issue today. Jack Nicholson's captivating performance as McMurphy and Louise Fletcher's chilling portrayal of Ratched earned them Oscars. Other top-tier talents like Danny DeVito joined the dynamic duo — along with real patients from Oregon State Hospital, the psychiatric hospital where filming took place.

This Oscar-winning film has long since cemented itself as a classic. Its impact is mirrored in Ratched's success — which has been trending in Netflix's Top Ten since its release. The world isn't done with Mildred Ratched... and Mildred Ratched isn't yet done with the world.


Another movie for the experimental science books is the Netflix Original Eli, which takes the cake for plot twists galore. Viewers will toggle back and forth on whether this movie is rooted in science or something eerier during every scene. All the while, the audience has to manage jarring jump scares while they try to peg the motives of creepy doctors and parents that they just can't quite figure out along the way.

The story revolves around a young boy named Eli (Charlie Shotwell) who's allergic to the air (and everything else) — forced to live in a bubble as his parents desperately search for a cure. Think Bubble Boy except 20 times creepier. Cue doctor Horn (Lili Taylor) and her sketchy mansion-turned-hospital as she conducts experimental procedures on the young boy to try to cure him.

Between the possible ghosts, the skeevy doctor, and the mysterious young girl (played by Stranger Things' Sadie Sink) who shows up to lend a (helping?) hand, Eli is a stumper until the very end. But for horror and psychological thriller fans who like a neat ending, Sinister 2 director Ciarán Foy serves the movie's shocking twist end on a fiery platter with little room to debate what really happened. Sometimes, fans just need an ending spelled out without doing mental gymnastics to figure out the conclusion.


For fans whose favorite part of Ratched is the actual (albeit poor) mental health treatment and psychological thrills, the slow-burn Netflix original film Clinical should be next on the binge list. Much of the 2017 movie centers around protagonist Dr. Jane Mathis (Vinessa Shaw), and her journey to work through the trauma of watching a patient brutally cut her own throat. Viewers face the hard-to-watch scene early in the film as it plays out onscreen, haunting the audience just as much as its main character.

As Dr. Mathis works with her own psychiatrist to escape her guilt and put the traumatizing event behind her, she begins seeing patients again. In particular, one patient aggressively seeks her out to help him work through an accident that deformed his face, and Dr. Mathis has to decide if the prospect of helping the traumatized man is worth the boundaries he continually tries to cross.

It's unclear whether she's haunted by real ghosts, the memories that plague her, or something else entirely. The doctor's ethics fly out the window completely when she steals prescriptions from her psychiatrist and begins self-medicating — further muddying the difference between reality and fiction. While Dr. Mathis' intentions are pure, it's unclear throughout the film who the real villain is. How responsible is the good doctor for the deadly events that keep following her around? Did she create her demons, or did her demons create her? Dr. Mathis and Ratched would have a lot to talk about.

The Boys in the Band

Ratched fans may notice a vaguely familiar face when tuning into the Netflix Original The Boys in the Band. Charlie Carver, whose face is badly burned from the war in Ratched, plays Cowboy in this movie, adapted from the Broadway play of the same name. Just as with his work on Ratched, producer Ryan Murphy (also known for The Politician, American Horror Story, and Glee) pulls out of all of the stops to create a compelling period piece with Boys in the Band. As is usually the case with Murphy's catalog of work, the film (and its source material) make a statement on society's continued mistreatment of the LBTQ+ community and the deadly damage it can cause — also a heavy theme in Ratched.

While there aren't any power-hungry nurses in the film, any Ratched fan will appreciate the brilliant costume and set design that mirrors life in the '60s. At its core, it's a movie about a group of gay men discovering who they are while navigating the prejudices of the time. Fans of the Broadway show won't be disappointed with the casting, either, as the film reunited the original ensemble. Included in the star-studded cast are Zachary Quinto (NOS4A2 and Star Trek), Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), and Matt Bomer (American Horror Story, Magic Mike). That's a lot of talent for one screen — and it shows. 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind chronicles the topsy-turvy relationship between Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) that plays out of order onscreen, the way people play out real memories in their minds. Memory isn't precisely linear, and the film amps up that notion as viewers experience the couple's highs and lows. This romantic drama with a dose of science fiction imagines what would happen if there was a way to erase someone from your memory entirely. Would we be better off — or even the same person — without all of the memories and experiences that make us who we are?

The shady memory wiping company that claims Carrey and Winslet's characters as clients has a heap of A-list actors playing employees: From Kirsten Dunst and Elijah Wood to Mark Ruffalo and Tom Wilson, Lacuna Inc. is the place to be (unless you value your life's experiences). If Edmond and Ratched had Lacuna Inc., maybe they could have forgotten their horrifying childhood and prevented their slide into horrific malpractice. Then again, if Joel and Clementine have taught us anything, it's that memories have a way of coming back — whether we want them to or not.

The Devil All the Time

The idea of exploring faith in relation to corruption is a theme woven into Ratched as well as the Netflix Original film The Devil All the Time. The World War II-set story (which takes place around the same time as Ratched) focuses on multiple characters' lives as they fit together to tell a larger story. Among the impressive cast is Spider-Man: Homecoming's Tom Holland, It's Bill Skarsgård, and Robert Pattinson, star of The Batman.

Despite the heavy focus on faith in both projects, as we see with Ratched's many flawed characters, the devil the characters are fighting all the time is actually inside. Suffering from the PTSD of watching soldiers crucified on the battlefield, a man's view of religion is warped, and he goes on a crime spree with his future wife a la Bonnie and Clyde. This arc parallels Ratched's Edmund Tolleson and his vengeance on the priest who attacked his mother and his subsequent crime spree with Dolly. There's a lot to unpack when it comes to the parallels between The Devil All the Time and Ratched, but they're much more fun to uncover after an all-night binge session.