20 best psychological thrillers

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As nice as it might be to watch a bloody horror movie with the lights off while you crouch under the covers praying that a clown doesn’t eat you alive, sometimes you want less blood and more … brain. Enter: the psychological thriller, a genre that is all about scaring you mentally and emotionally while terrifying you in the process. What’s not to like? ??

Psychological thrillers are ideal for people who are not inclined to be afraid of jumps and the paranormal, but still want to speed up their heart rate and possibly have eternal nightmares. And let’s face it, sometimes the fragility of the human psyche is even more terrifying than killer sharks. To quote psychological thriller master Alfred Hitchcock, “There is a distinct difference between ‘suspense’ and ‘surprise’, yet many images continually confuse the two.” Then again, apparently this guy also said “Always make the audience suffer as much as possible”, so … yeah.

The Hitchcock films pretty much dominate this genre with classics like Vertigo and Rebecca, but there are also a ton of contemporary psychological thrillers ready to freak you out, from Black Swan and AAmerican psycho, To Eyes wide closed and Missing girl.

Check out 20 of our favorite psychological thrillers below if you’re in the mood to be ~ intellectually scared ~.

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1

‘Psycho’

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Obviously, you cannot organize a list of psychological thrillers without including psychopath. It’s right there in the name. Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous film is about a woman who stays in the scariest motel in the world run by a man named Norman Bates, a man who is … uh … way too obsessed with his mother.

2

‘The brilliant’

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Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel essentially ruined rugs, tricycles, twins, and hallways for me. It’s a truly terrifying journey through a man’s descent into madness, and no, I haven’t recovered. REDRUM.

3

“The shuttered island”

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Just a laid back movie about Leonardo DiCaprio heading to an insane asylum on an island where a murderer recently escaped. WHERE IS IT?! Like all good thrillers, literally nothing in this movie is as it seems, and you only find out what really happens at the very end, how completely and completely terrified you will be. Enjoy!

4

‘Get out’

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Get out contains elements of psychological thriller, horror, and suspense, but the movie – about a black man visiting his white girlfriend’s horrific family in the upstate – can’t really be defined by one genre. Jordan Peele said Vulture he considers Get out like a social thriller, saying, “The bad guy is society – those things that are innate in all of us, and provide good things, but ultimately prove that humans are always going to be barbaric, to some extent.”

5

‘Thesilenceofthelambs’

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You would think that a movie about a cannibal who spends his time eating people would fall more into the blood category, but Thesilenceofthelambs is another genre challenge, which involves understanding the dark spirit of Hannibal Lecter, a man who loves the taste of human flesh. Literally shivering.

6

‘Butterfly Effect’

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It’s an early thriller starring Ashton Kutcher, what more do you want? Oh, a plot involving his ability to time travel through his traumatic memories of the past and change the future? And then he slowly loses his mind in the process? Congratulations, you have ARRIVED.

7

‘Fight club’

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To explain why this movie is a psychological thriller would be like ruining its ending completely for the 0.001% of you who haven’t seen it before. So I guess I’ll just say this: The first rule of Fight Club is not to talk about Fight Club.

8

“The girl on the train”

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This one takes the concept of an “unreliable narrator” to the absolute maximum thanks to the main character not being able to trust his own memory. Who tends be a problem when people around you disappear and you wake up covered in blood …

9

‘Creation’

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I can barely understand the plot of this movie, but basically it stars our man Leonardo DiCaprio as a thief who can get into people’s dreams and steal items from their subconscious. I still don’t know if the movie was a dream … in a dream … in a dream, but FWIW, director Christopher Nolan said this about the latest iconic shot: “It’s important to people because that this is the goal of reality. Reality matters.

For my part, I am psychologically delighted.

ten

‘The Sixth Sense’

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Yeah, it’s technically a ghost movie about a creepy little kid who sees dead people, but if you know the famous twist of the movie, you know why it’s included on our list of psychological thrillers, mmmkay?

11

“Gas light”

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Have you ever wondered where the term “gas lighting” comes from? This film! Gas lamp is about a woman whose horrible husband manipulates her into believing she is going mad. The title refers to a particular moment in the film where she sees gas lamps flickering and her husband convinces her that she imagined them.

12

‘Vertigo’

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Vertigo is Hitchcock at his best. As you’ve probably guessed, this movie is about a man suffering from vertigo and features all the usual tropes of the genre: false identities, sanatoriums, and a few occasional follies. But the best part of Vertigo is the dream setting of the 1950s in Northern California.

13

‘Memento’

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Don’t give too much, but Memento basically follows Guy Pearce as a man suffering from short term memory loss. Which is hard in all circumstances but especially because he tries to find out who murdered his wife. The film is both black and white and color to signify two different time periods that ultimately synchronize at the end. It is absolutely brilliant.

14

‘Rebecca’

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Oh, hello again, Hitchcock. This film won the Oscar for Best Picture and it’s easy to see why. Rebecca looks at the set of the “haunted memory of a guy’s first wife haunts his new wife” trope (similar to that of Jane Austen Jane eyre), and the plot is absolutely Savage.

15

“What happened to Baby Jane?” “

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Arguably Bette Davis’ most famous film, What happened to Baby Jane? is about an aging child actress who holds her sister in a wheelchair hostage in an old Hollywood mansion. But like everyone who’s watched Ryan Murphy’s Quarrel knows, the juiciest part of this movie is what happened behind the scenes: the mad beef between actresses Bette and Joan Crawford, who were notorious rivals.

16

‘Black Swan’

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Natalie Portman’s turn – by that I mean pirouette, haha ​​- as a ballet dancer who loses her grip on reality in Black Swan, was so intense and over the top that it won him an Oscar. More details would completely ruin the plot for people who haven’t seen it, but be prepared for a major twist and occasional peeling skin. It’s good!

17

‘American Psycho’

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Kay, so American psychopath is a little less of a psychological thriller and a little more psychological horror thanks to, you know, a few chainsaw deaths, but I still count him on this list to support my husband Christian Bale. And it proves that nothing is scarier than a bored investment banking bureau brother.

18

“Eyes wide closed”

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Remember when Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman got married? MDR. Either way, they made this iconic erotic flick before they went their separate ways, which is basically about Tom accidentally joining a dangerous masked orgy club (wow, relatable) and witnessing a bunch of wild shit. There’s also a lot of psychological thriller stuff going on, but mostly orgies.

19

‘Missing girl’

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Otherwise known as the film where Ben Affleck does frontal nudity, this one is about a man who becomes suspect after the disappearance of his wife. Obviously, literally nothing is what it seems. Except Ben’s nude scene, which is exactly what it looks like.

20

‘Fatal attraction’

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Fatal attraction is a fun ’80s movie about a woman who becomes obsessed with a married man she’s had an affair with. If you are not in the mood, watch Obsessed because it’s basically the same but with the added benefit of Queen Bey and Ali Larter.

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