Somewhere between outright gore and deep horror lies the interesting and mysterious psychological thriller. This kind of movie is a bridge between the two, managing to make you tense without being too violent. It also has enough plot twists to get the more intellectual of us hooked. We sit there with bated breath waiting to see what comes next.
Here are my 10 creepy psychological thrillers you will be thinking about long after you’ve watched them.
10. Black Swan (Aronofsky, 2010)
This movie, from director Darren Aronofsky, is pretty much what you get when you try to make Fight Club a little more female. Our protagonist has a lot more to her than you would think. She’s working on a ballet production and the psychological pressures affect her, well, psychologically. You’ll end up questioning reality by the end of Black Swan.
9. Fight Club (Fincher, 1999)
This one plays on the famous unreliable narrator trope and does it pretty well, becoming one of the most famous movies of the 2000s. It looks into the mind of the narrator, who becomes addicted to support groups. He then meets a man that is his direct opposite, who changes his life forever. He is introduced to the ultimate support group, Fight Club, and the rest is a psychological rollercoaster you have to watch to appreciate.
8. Memento (Nolan, 2000)
This one is from the acclaimed director of the Dark Knight series, Christopher Nolan. Memento, unlike The Dark Knight, was a sleeper hit. In it, we meet a man who suffers from some kind of amnesia that doesn’t let him use his short-term memory. So the tattoos all over his body are clues he puts on his body to help him figure out who murdered his wife. It’s confusing, complicated, and violent. It also has some fanastic twists.
7. The Sixth Sense (Shyamalan, 1999)
This movie is right there, toeing the line between a psychological thriller and a horror movie. It has become rather infamous for the controversial ending and features one of the best twisted horror movie moments. Cole is a kid with lots of emotional issues but his doctor isn’t perfect either. In the movie, we get acquainted with Cole’s ghost friends as the movie slowly, but entertainingly, unfolds.
6. Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954)
Here we see the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, at work. Jeff has a broken leg and is rather bored in his apartment. All he has are some binoculars that he keeps himself busy with. Even his beautiful girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), isn’t enough to keep him occupied. He begins to develop an obsession with spying on his neighbours and is pretty sure something isn’t right in a nearby apartment. Eventually, his girlfriend goes over to find out some more. The rest will have you on the edge of your seat for the rest of the movie.
5. Misery (Reiner, 1990)
This one was adapted from the eponymous novel by the king of horror himself: Stephen King. It’s more of a horror movie, but the psychological thrill is there just as well. It looks into the life of Annie Wilkes, who tries to convince a novelist to finish a romantic series he was writing while holding him hostage in her home. She’s a little too dedicated to this cause, however, and will stop at nothing. This is one of the scariest movies I’ve ever watched. It made me have a healthy fear of sledgehammers ever since.
4. Gone Girl (Fincher, 2014)
This movie comes from a famous 2012 novel that captivated many. Only two years later it was turned into a screenplay that didn’t disappoint. The movie is told in a narrative style that happens in bits. Nick’s wife is missing and the presumption is that she was murdered and Nick is responsible. Nick insists that he is innocent and the movie begins to take some dark turns as we learn we can trust no one and nothing. Through this movie, we get a horrifying peek into the mind of a psychopath.
3. Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976)
This one’s a classic and features Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster. In the movie, a former US Marine becomes a taxi driver so he can fight his insomnia that simply won’t go away. He later meets a teenage prostitute who he befriends and he takes it upon himself to free her from her tyrant of a pimp. This movie is deep and it’s interesting to note that Foster was still 13 when she shot this movie.
2. The Talented Mr. Ripley (Minghella, 1999)
This one features Matt Damon and is based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith. Ripley is pretty desperate to live on the fast lane and wants to be close to the famous and the rich. He devotes himself to a spoiled young man and his girlfriend and the nature of their relationship will get the hairs on the back of your neck standing. As he gets more and more obsessed with his rich friend, we realise with growing horror he’s going for a lot more than just being his best friend.
1. The Silence Of The Lambs (Demme, 1991)
The two leads in this film, Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster really deliver powerhouse performances. For that, it got universal critical acclaim. However, it is about a lot more than that and is a great film all around. It blends the psychological thriller with the kind of slow creeping terror that gets you on the edge of your seat with goosebumps spreading all over your skin. It also deeply gnaws at your deepest darkest fears about how much control you have over yourself.
Right at the core of this film is a terrifying journey into the mind of a psychopathic serial killer and his relationship with a Special Agent. The movie is pretty much a game of cat and mouse and unfolds in a slow but interesting way, leading to a shocking, unforgettable conclusion.
Over to you: what are your fave psychological thriller films?