Psychological Thriller Movies You Must Watch
Since the first official film in the genre was released in 1960, psychological thriller movies have become increasingly popular. Drawing from psychological horror, crime fiction, and suspense, these films take viewers from their usual reality, maintaining a strong level of tension while they tell the story. With complex characters and unpredictable plotlines, psychological thrillers have become immensely popular in the 21st century.
Many psychological thriller movies draw on horror elements, creating suspense and fear, but they do so with a focus on the psychological. They often tell the story from the perspective of a certain character, enabling viewers to see the events and dilemmas as the character does. With unexpected twists, many of these films keep viewers hooked until the very end.
When asked what makes a psychological thriller a must watch, Dr. Jen McWilliams, a professor of Psychology at Carver College, told us, “a great psychological thriller will thrust viewers into the shoes of the characters, often from the protagonist, enabling them to see the events as that character does. This makes viewers feel deeply connected to the outcome of the story, as it can almost become their own story, as they attempt to unravel the mysteries.”
Recent Popular Psychological Thrillers
In recent years, there have been several psychological thrillers that have gained a great deal of attention. These include films such as Memento, Shutter Island, Get Out, and Gone Girl. Each of these films has elements that make viewers feel deeply connected to the characters and is filled with enough twists and turns to make them keep watching until the end.
In 2000, Memento released, quickly becoming a cult classic. With a non-linear story structure and an original plot, Memento follows protagonist Leonard as he attempts to recover a lost memory and seek revenge. It is filled with enough twists and turns to keep viewers guessing until the end, but it does not become confusing, as the story is told backwards, so viewers never feel lost.
In 2010, Shutter Island was released to much fanfare. It follows the story of Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshal who is sent to Shutter Island to solve the disappearance of a missing patient from the psychiatric hospital on the island. Through a gripping and profound story, Shutter Island manages to build a world that engages viewers from start to finish.
In 2016, Get Out was released, quickly becoming a popular hit. It follows protagonist Chris, a black man, as he visits his girlfriend’s family, who seem to harbor a dark secret. Infused with satire and social commentary, Get Out deals with issues such as racial injustice in a subtle, yet powerful way.
In 2014, Gone Girl presented a unique twist on the psychological thriller genre. It tells the story of the disappearance of Nick’s wife, Amy and the subsequent investigation. Through a series of unexpected plotlines, Gone Girl engages viewers in a completely different way form most othe psychological thrillers, as it does not focus on the protagonist and instead presents an alternate perspective.
Classic Psychological Thrillers You Should Watch
Psychological thrillers have been around for quite some time, and there are some classic films that should be watched by all fans of the genre. These include the psychological horror classic Psycho (1960), which revolutionized the genre, giving birth to the modern era of psychological thrillers.
Other classic films in the genre include Three Days of the Condor (1975). This film follows Robert Redford who discovers that his employer is actually a part of a vast conspiracy and he is on the run, hunted by the people behind the conspiracy.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) should also be watched by all psychological thriller fans. This film follows a young FBI agent as she attempts to track down a serial killer and gets the help of a mysterious criminal known as Hannibal Lecter. It is a classic psychological horror, filled with suspense and mystery.
Lastly, The Usual Suspects (1995) should be watched by those who love psychological thrillers. This film follows a group of criminals who are brought together by a mysterious mastermind. The film keeps viewers guessing until the very end, with a twist that makes them reconsider everything they have seen up until that point.
Underrated Psychological Thrillers You Might Not Know About
The psychological thriller genre has moved far beyond the classic films of the 1960s, and there are many underrated films that many viewers might not be aware of. These include films such as The Machinist (2004) which follows a man who suffers from insomnia and starts to become suspicious of the events happening around him. It is filled with mystery and suspense, and it stands out from most films in the genre.
Another underrated psychological thriller is The Lookout (2007). This film follows a man with a damaged memory as he attempts to evade a criminal gang while also protect his best friend. It has an original plotline that keeps viewers guessing until the very end.
The Gift (2015) also stands out in the genre. This film follows a husband and wife who are on the receiving end of small but creepy gifts from an unknown source. It keeps audiences hooked with a gripping story, filled with unexpected twists and turns.
Lastly, breakout hit Unsane (2018) should be a must watch for all fans of psychological thrillers. This film follows a woman who believes that she is being stalked and then is involuntarily committed to a mental institution. It is an intense film, with an unpredictable story that keeps viewers guessing until the very end.
Are Psychological Thrillers the Right Choice for You?
Psychological thrillers are becoming increasingly popular, and many viewers might be wondering if these films are right for them. The answer is yes. These films provide an immersive experience, with complex characters and unpredictable story lines that keep viewers engaged until the very end.
Psychological thrillers usually keep viewers engaged with suspense and mystery, making them far more unpredictable than other genres. They also draw on horror elements, which further adds to their tension and suspense.
Many psychological thrillers also deal with deeper issues, such as morality and justice. These issues are often hidden beneath the surface, making them easy to miss unless viewers are looking for them. This type of subtext makes these films far more enjoyable as viewers can gain a deeper understanding of the characters and the story.
The amount of suspense and mystery can also be an issue. As Dr. McWilliams pointed out, “the tension that is present in these films can be overwhelming at times, so viewers who are sensitive to intense emotions and situations should be careful when watching these films.”
Tips To Skyrocket Your Enjoyment of Psychological Thrillers
Now that you know if psychological thrillers are right for you, let’s look at some tips that can help you fully enjoy your watch. Firstly, make sure you take your time while watching. Don’t rush through and miss out on the finer details and hidden clues.
Secondly, you should watch with someone else. This can help pay attention to details you might otherwise miss. It can also be enjoyable to discuss and debate the film with others.
Thirdly, don’t try to overthink the film. These films usually have complex storylines that often leave viewers scratching their heads. Try to let the film reveal its secrets without trying to force it to open.
Lastly, try to watch again, if possible. This can help you better understand the plot, as many of these films tend to reveal their secrets as the story progresses.
Alternative Genres You Can Try
If psychological thrillers are not quite your cup of tea, then there are plenty of other genres you can explore. These include thriller, horror, and suspense.
Thriller movies often have similar elements as psychological thrillers, such as suspense and suspenseful story lines. However, they are usually not as complex, enabling viewers to easily understand the plot.
Horror movies focus more on jumpscares, gore, and shock value, and they focus less on complex characters and stories.
Suspense movies use tension and suspense to keep viewers hooked. However, they differ from psychological thrillers in terms of characters, as they tend to focus more on the protagonist and his or her actions.
No matter what genre you choose, there are sure to be plenty of movies out there for you to enjoy. So watch some of the classics, or take a chance on some of the newer, underrated films, and see if you can find a new favorite.