In general, psychological thrillers integrate personal character elements into mystery and suspense films , essentially toeing the line between a dramatic character study and the sort of plot structure you'd expect from a detective movie. With that in mind, what do you think are the best psychological thriller movies? Could some even be considered the best thriller movies ever? Many psychological thrillers resemble traditional thrillers or suspense films, only with a personal, internal antagonist rather than a traditional movie villain.
For example, Repulsion or The Conversation , in which the plot is moved forward by the main character's growing paranoia and madness. In many films of this type, the solution to the main character's conflict comes in the form of altering their perspective or discovering some buried truth about themselves and their past, rather than winning a fight or battling an opponent.
Many psychological thrillers play around with the main character's back story, or make use of an unreliable narrator. Films like Christopher Nolan's Memento present the audience with one perspective on the story, and then generate suspense by showing the ways in which "reality" contrasts to this perspective.
This sometimes, but not always, results in a "twist" or surprise ending based on the difference between the main character's perception and that of outside observers. This list contains the best thriller movies of all time. It is open and vote ranked, so be sure to vote for your favorites and add any other movies that may be missing at the bottom of the page.
Got an opinion on great thriller movies? Vote for your favorite psychological suspense movies ever! And, if you love scary material, check out this list of the best current crime shows as well. Lee Ermey, John C. The film tells the story of Cole Sear, a troubled, isolated boy who is able to see and Attorney Arthur Edens Tom Wilkinson gets reduced to a manic-depressive wreck.
Gilroy maintains a fine balance as he portrays the lives of these three lonely souls while keeping his intricately crafted plot in constant motion. Blending elements of crime drama, paralegal thriller, and a dash of the espionage action he perfected while working on the Bourne trilogy, Gilroy delivers a script that reflects his rare ability to pose complex moral questions while simultaneously drawing his audience deeper and deeper into the action. A Dark Song Year: Paced to near perfection, A Dark Song is ostensibly a horror film but operates as a dread-laden procedural, mounting tension while translating the process of bereavement as patient, excruciating manual labor.
In the end, something definitely happens, but its implications are so steeped in the blurry lines between Christianity and the occult that I still wonder what kind of alternate realms of existence Gavin is getting at. But A Dark Song thrives in that uncertainty, feeding off of monotony. Sophia may hear phantasmagorical noise coming from beneath the floorboards, but then substantial spans of time pass without anything else happening, and we begin to question, as she does, whether it was something she did wrong maybe, when tasked with not moving from inside a small chalk circle for days at a time, she screwed up that portion of the ritual by allowing her urine to dribble outside of the boundary or whether her grief has blinded her to an expensive con.
Jennifer Kent Between It Follows and The Babadook , was a strong one for indie horror films breaking free from their trappings to enter the public consciousness. Between the two, The Babadook is perhaps less purely entertaining but makes up for that with cerebral scares and complex emotion. In a world of shifting alliances, unexpected romances and too many double-crosses to keep track of, the charismatic flight attendant finds herself in the middle of it all.
Starring the likes of Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams , Liev Schreiber and John Slattery, Spotlight is about nothing more than watching smart, passionate reporters do their job, digging into a story and using their savvy and moxie to bring it to the world. The Hateful Eight Year: Tarantino may lay his timely allegory on thick, but The Hateful Eight bears it out in subtle ways, too: Frontier justice does quench our thirst, but the themes of social justice that drive the film are more satiating by far. It all adds up to a towering work, as profound as it is profane.
The mystery here is not about whether or not William was murdered; the mystery is what lies at the heart of community bonds and national identity, and how allegiances change as communities grow larger. Under the Shadow Year: Seething with macho resentment, Stanley Baker leads an exceptional cast of British acting stalwarts including Sean Connery and Patrick McGoohan who ably square up to the reckless action sequences and no-nonsense realism. Someone is sending them surveillance videos of their Paris apartment. High and Low , set in s Yokohama, offers a true test of nobility.
The adventure lies in seeing which way a good man will turn, and whether he can retain his goodness, despite its absence around him. A race against the clock. The final shootout romps through the town, leaving a trail of burned out barns and panicked horses in its wake. A psychopath takes two friends captive after they offer him a ride, tormenting them mentally and turning them against each other, on a trip across the Mexican border.
Inspired by the story of spree killer Billy Cook, The Hitch-hiker is a brutally chilling movie, and the first film noir to be directed by a woman, former actor Ida Lupino. The girl cried wolf, the pack turned on its own. A textbook example of the all-star conspiracy thriller.
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Director and co-writer Erik Skjoldbjaerg expertly utilises his atmospheric Norwegian location for this tense murder mystery. Stellan Skarsgard is Swedish murder investigator Jonas Engstrom, who, struggling to cope with the 24 hours of daylight, makes a terrible mistake that has dramatic implications on the case. Christopher Nolan helmed an English language remake in A veteran Italian star of spaghetti westerns, Gian Maria Volonte plays a nasty, calculating police chief in this vicious satire of police corruption.
When the chief kills his mistress, he leaves a trail of clues in his wake to see if he can actually get arrested for his crime. Petri and Volonte shared a leftist sensibility, and here they work to ferociously indict the endemic hypocrisy of the Italian powers-that-be.
Due for an imminent remake, Ittefaq — shot by Yash Chopra in 28 days as a distraction from a postponed project — was not typical Bollywood. It opts for sleuthy fun over noirish brooding every time, fired up by a feverish Rajesh Khanna performance that kickstarted his career. Vidya Balan — who already had a strong track record of female-centric works — turns Kolkata upside-down as a pregnant woman searching for her husband in the wake of a terrorist attack. Ambiguity is the name of the game in the first of Alan J.
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In Klute , he combines old-timey noir tropes and a thoroughly liberated attitude towards sex in the story of a high-class call girl Jane Fonda who helps a careworn detective Donald Sutherland to solve a mysterious homicide. Set during a weekend sailing trip, it claustrophobically exploits its setting to expose the paranoia, cruelty and folly of a middle-aged sportswriter seeking to impress his wife by humiliating a teenage student. In this pre-war Hitchcock thriller , Margaret Lockwood is a tourist crossing Europe by train who suddenly notices that one of her travelling companions, an eccentric old lady, is missing.
None of the other passengers recall having seen her friend before. Is she going mad, or is there a wider conspiracy at work? Tierney is Laura, a beautiful Madison Avenue advertising executive. When she is found dead, the detective investigating her murder Dana Andrews becomes the latest man to fall in love with her, and to be betrayed by her. A paranoid New York murder mystery with a twist… in the middle. The set-up is that of classic film noir: He counters the jumpy suspense of the situation with percussive cuts and a celebrated, sensual jazz score by Miles Davis.
This realistic depiction of German Democratic Republic-era spy tactics on civilians and the trauma it caused is a poignant character study as well as a thriller.
Taken with the dismal settings of East Germany and its grey-green colour palette, this is a thriller of unusual historical specificity. An inaction thriller , set entirely on the drive from Birmingham to London. Ivan Locke Tom Hardy has bunked off a job laying foundations to attend the birth of his baby, conceived during an extramarital affair. As The Avenger slaughters blonde women in foggy London, a landlady suspects that her genteel tenant, Ivor Novello , has a dark and terrible secret. That she is embroiled in a plot to murder him adds a level of double-crossing intrigue to an already powerful emotional thriller.
Peter Lorre gives an unforgettable, humane performance as a child killer stalking Berlin. His crimes are presented elliptically, but Lang lingers on the hysteria surrounding them, and the epic police manhunt. For a film with themes drilled into its times, The Manchurian Candidate flopped surprisingly hard on release.
Frank Sinatra plays Captain Bennett Marco, on the trail of a platoon-mate, who, when triggered by the queen of diamonds playing card, becomes a mindless killing machine. The idea was insidious. Mind control has commandeered the plots of everything from the Bourne franchise to Zoolander since. With no ability to create short-term memories, he tries to outfox his broken recall in order to find her killer. Their incompetence and brutality supplies black comedy, which mutates into an indictment of s South Korean nationalism, then fades finally into a mute fatalism that scars each protagonist.
Ray Milland steps out of an asylum and into a whole heap of trouble in this delirious espionage thriller.
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In the topsy-turvy setting of London during the Blitz completely imagined on Hollywood soundstages , cakes conceal microfilm, suitcases conceal bombs, and doorframes and windows constrain the characters in a dread world where nothing is as it seems. One of them made the end of the road the end of the world. Harry Anthony Edwards falls for Julie Mare Winningham at an exhibition about the extinction of the dinosaurs. Then, as suddenly as it might happen in real life, nuclear war breaks out. The bombs start falling. Harry and Julie try to outrun the inevitable.
Combining searing social realism, melodrama and explosive set-pieces, this is a giddying snapshot of the poverty, crime, corruption and violence debilitating Mexican society. The most dangerous game is man, as heinous huntsman Count Zaroff discovers when he sets his sights upon island castaways Joel McCrea and Fay Wray. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom like a malignant, more damaged version of the obsessive cartoonist he portrayed in Zodiac Bloom is a thief, a morally questionable opportunist and a shrewd camera op with a nose for what the TV stations require to really excite — and scare — their viewers.
Set in a remote region of western Spain, The Night of the Sunflowers adopts a Rashomon-like structure to unravel its story of a rape and the complicated aftermath from various perspectives. On a crowded sleeper train to Hel the Baltic resort, not the hot place , two strangers — one of whom may be a murderer — are forced to share a compartment. Beaten, arrested and targeted by a low-flying crop-duster plane, he finds comfort only in the arms of Eva-Marie Saint , a characteristically cool Hitchcock blonde. Robert Newton stars as Dr Clive Riordan, whose discovery that his wife is cheating on him pushes him to extreme action.
Though tame by modern standards, excellent performances and a chilling atmosphere ensure this still packs a punch.