Be prepared to be perched on the edge of your seat as we roll through 10 of the best psychological thriller movies ever made – just as terrifying as any horror movie, and in many cases even more so. A horror scene might have you jumping out of your seat as you’re startled for a moment, but a good thriller will have you installing an extra set of locks on your door. Whether you enjoy genres such as film noir or magical realism, these movies will warp and enthrall your mind.
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Stephen King’s novel was adapted into this chilling 1990 movie, starring Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes and James Caan as author Paul Sheldon. After completing another romance novel, Paul crashes in the snow, near to Annie’s house. She is his number one fan and is also frighteningly deranged. She rescues him but then keeps him hostage by using violent measures and administering a horrifying “treatment” that will make you squirm!
2) Rear Window
A great classic, this 1954 movie directed by Master of Suspense – Alfred Hitchcock – stars James Stewart as Jeff and Grace Kelly as Lisa. Jeff is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, spending most of his time in his bedroom. He spies on his neighbors through binoculars and becomes obsessed with the idea that he’s witnessed a murder. He sends Lisa to investigate, which results in a gripping climax.
3) The Silence of the Lambs
A tight and intelligent thriller, this classic 1991 movie stars Anthony Hopkins as the cleverly horrifying Dr. Hannibal Lecter, once the doctor for serial killer Buffalo Bill – who likes to skin his victims. Special Agent Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster, is sent to Hannibal, now incarcerated for his cannibalism – to pick his brains in order to track Buffalo Bill. Prepare for many twists and turns and flesh crawling moments!
4) The Sixth Sense
With a shock ending, this 1999 movie stars Haley Joel Osment as young Cole Sear – who can “see dead people” and struggles with his “gift.” The only adult he trusts with his secret is child psychologist Malcolm Crowe played by Bruce Willis, who helps him deal with the unresolved issues presented by the tortured ghosts who often visit him. Wonderful performances in a great supernatural thriller with a masterful twist.
5) Taxi Driver
Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert DeNiro as iconic anti-hero Travis Bickle, this gritty 1976 drama follows Travis after his honorable discharge from the Marines and becoming a New York taxi driver. After being rejected by Betsy, a campaign worker played by Cybil Shepherd, he slowly devolves into a paranoiac who decides he must clean up the city streets and save Iris, a young prostitute played by Jodie Foster.
6) The Talented Mr. Ripley
This 1999 movie stars Matt Damon as the obsessive Tom Ripley, who yearns for the idyllic lifestyle that playboy Dickie Greenleaf leads. Played by Jude Law, Dickie lives the high-life in Italy with his girlfriend Marge, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. When Dickie’s father enlists Tom to travel to Italy and bring Dickie back home, it becomes apparent that he will do whatever it takes to become one of the elite.
7) Black Swan
Directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman as Nina and Mila Kunis as Lily, this 2010 thriller tells the story of Nina, a ballerina who suffers from hallucinations. She struggles with performing both the white and black swans in a production of Swan Lake and competing with Lily, who exudes the qualities needed for the Black Swan. We see the lines between reality and fantasy blur as she unravels.
8) Fight Club
Edward Norton is the nameless narrator who becomes entangled in the life of the nefarious Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt. This 1999 movie has us following the narrator as he battles with insomnia and loses his apartment. When he meets Tyler he is introduced to a new way of thinking, via entry into the an underground Fight Club, where reality becomes blurred, leading to a surprise revelation at the end.
This 1958 movie was directed – again – by Alfred Hitchcock, resulting in a classic exploration into mental illness. Detective Scottie Ferguson is played by James Stewart, who has a fear of heights, which results in him losing his job. His friend asks him to follow his wife, played by Kim Novak, as she is exhibiting strange behavior. When she dies suddenly, a double appears, causing Scottie to question his own sanity.
Released in 2001, this sleeper became a cult-classic, starring Guy Pearce as Leonard, who is investigating the rape and death of his wife. He is thwarted by his own impairment, which is a rare form of amnesia. Covered in tattoos, which he uses to try and find the killer and keep track of the clues, he embarks on a confusing journey that contains thrilling events, complex twists and violent turns.