Updated: Jan 29
There is nothing like that thrill of anticipation one gets when watching physiological thrillers. That anxious yearning to know what's next is exciting! That's why we love thrillers, you can't be bored! What's your favorite psychological thriller ever?
10. The Neon Demon (2016)
To start this list off, we wanted to give Nicolas Winding Refn credit and his creative use of suspense. In The Neon Demon, Refn addresses the horrors involved within society’s objectification of the female body. Refn masterfully accomplishes this feat through surreal visuals and little dialogue. The film stars a young Elle Fanning, who plays an innocent up-and-coming model in Hollywood. Her character, lost without guidance, must discover who her enemies are and eventually unveils that Hollywood’s dog-eat-dog nature.
9. It Comes At Night (2017)
As havoc wreaks throughout the world, a family attempts to shelter themselves from a malignant disease. Their fears of the outside world are put to the test when the other family arrives seeking refuge. Throughout the couple of days, the two families grow wary of one another until their anxieties explode in a circumstance of life or death. Only through dialogue and conversation are we able to understand the struggles that both families are going through. Hats off to Trey Edward Shults for this unique psychological horror that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
8. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Jacob’s Ladder revolves around a Vietnam War Veteran who is slowly slipping into madness after the war. Jacob Singer begins to see nightmarish hallucinations and is eventually unable to tell the difference between his imagination and reality. Jacob’s Ladder references the biblical connection between heaven and earth, but in Singer’s case, it is his connection between the real world and his nightmares.
7. Climax (2018)
Of course, a Gaspar Noé film had to make an appearance on this list. Noé’s Climax revolves around a group of dancers rehearsing at an abandoned school right before a big tour. The group celebrates after their final rehearsal but quickly realize that they have all been laced with LCD. The truth to human nature is tested as members of the group struggle with the inevitability of madness and death. Noé uses the concepts of death, nihilism, rape, sex, incest, birth, drugs, and self-expression to create a sense of dread within the audience. Watcher beware! This film may leave you in need of a hug.
6. Perfect Blue (1997)
As a Japanese pop star attempts to transition her career to acting, she manifests an alter ego. The film twists the audience’s expectations throughout the film and will leave you question everything. Being Satoshi Kon’s only horror/thriller feature has left his audience wanting more. It is best to watch this film without looking into it. Just know that it will make your head spin.
5. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer (2017)
Director Yorgos Lanthimos has a unique methodology of world-building. Many of his characters talk in monotone voices and show little emotion, making it perfect for establishing suspense. The acting in The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is done so well that it leaves you wondering if the cast is just a bunch of strange speaking aliens. This one is a slow burn, but the pay off is definitely worth the time and patience.
4. Hereditary (2018)
The simplistic story of a family plagued by a demon in their house, very cliche, right? Ari Aster took this high concept and turned it into an in-depth account of family strife with underlying themes of death and fate. Aster wrote every word so well that you will still be discovering things you missed even after multiple watches.
3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Even though this is not Hannibal Lecter’s first appearance on the big screen, it was Anthony Hopkins’s first time portraying him. Hopkins’s portrayal of Lecter is so terrifying that it will have you sleeping with the lights on. The film itself may not seem psychologically scary, but Lecter’s haunting eyes will stick with you for the rest of your life.
2. Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele’s Get Out is the perfect film to remind you that movies can still leave all of us second-guessing. Every scene is written by Peele in precise order so that the audience can following alongside the main character, Chris Washington. Washington is invited to his girlfriend’s estate for a getaway weekend. As Washinton starts to question the sanity of the people around him, he attempts to leave, but that is easier said than done. Before viewing this film, you should avoid any spoilers. You will thank us later.
1. The Shining (1980)
To wrap it all up is Stanley Kubrick’s 1980s version of “The Shining,” based on Stephen Kings’ novel by the same title. Though Kubrick’s adaptation had many vital differences from the original, it was still a smash hit at its release. Many film and horror buffs regard this film as one of the significant turning points in the horror genre. Jack Nicholson perfectly encompasses the role of a father slowly driven mad and pushed to the point of killing his family. A genuinely terrifying film where every scene makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.