Thriller movies can utilize many tools to thrill viewers, such as terrifying antagonists, heart-stopping chase scenes, and fast-paced action sequences. And then there’s the psychological thriller genre, which is packed with movies that might use the same plot devices, but are mainly targeting the minds of the audiences often by using unhinged and disturbed protagonists, and building up paranoia and unrest before an often unexpected climax.
If you enjoy disturbing yourself with secondhand anxiety through cinema, here’s a roundup of psychological thriller movies you might want to watch on your next movie night.
Jordan Peele’s thriller-slash-commentary film begins with Chris, a young black man, who goes on a weekend getaway to meet his white girlfriend’s parents. While he feels uneasy that her parents don’t know about their interracial relationship, Chris would soon learn that there’s so much more he needs to be worried about, like surviving.
Director Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as two lighthouse keepers who are trying to keep their sanity while being stuck on a remote New England island in the 1890s.
After being invited to a dinner party by his ex-wife Eden and her new husband David, Will revisits his old home with his girlfriend Kira. But as the night progresses, Will gets the feeling that Eden and David are planning something sinister for all of the guests.
In the Academy Award-winning film Parasite by Bong Joon-ho, a poor family slowly infiltrates a rich family’s home through a series of clever deceptions. But as more secrets unravel, they will soon find themselves facing unexpected consequences.
In 1954, US Marshall Teddy Daniels and his partner take a trip to Ashecliffe Hospital, an institution for the criminally insane located on a remote island, to investigate the escape of a murderer. But as he gets deeper into the case, a shocking conspiracy unfolds.
In Memento, a man named Leonard tries to track down the criminal who raped and murdered his wife to finally take his revenge. But this becomes more challenging due to the fact that he suffers from a rare type of memory loss. While he recalls details of his life before the accident, he loses his new memories every fifteen minutes.
The Silence of the Lambs
The Silence of the Lambs is the acclaimed thriller that brought Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter to the big screen. It follows Clarice Starling, FBI’s top student, who interviews the notorious Lecter for his background in psychology and experience in psychopathy in the hopes that it could help her track down a dangerous serial killer on the loose.
New York-based writer Nick Dunne seems to have the perfect marriage with his wife Amy. But on their fifth anniversary, Amy goes missing. With the public pressure and media frenzy pointing their fingers at Nick, the man’s innocence and the truth behind their marriage are slowly unraveled.
The famous Batman villain’s solo film received high acclaim for its grounded story that veered away from the superhero genre. Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a failed comedian who suffers from a disorder that causes him to laugh uncontrollably. As society continues to neglect and degrade him, Arthur soon descends into madness.
Jacob’s Ladder tells the story of Jacob Singer, a postal worker who still struggles to get past his PTSD after being part of the bloody war in Vietnam. During a trip on the subway, Jacob sees a tentacle from under one of the seats and he is soon plagued with visions of nightmarish creatures. Is this all in his head, or is there something more sinister at play here?