The Top Psychological Thrillers

The Top Psychological Thrillers

The best psychological thrillers stay true to their genre: they’re tense and complex, requiring viewers to stretch their minds while protagonists encounter dangerous situations. Several of Hollywood’s best actors have been in a psycho thriller once or twice, and the genre encompasses a wide range of films.

The Top Psychological Thrillers

We’ll be looking at psychological thrillers that made people’s heads bend and their muscles clench; thrillers that gave birth to twist endings that are still remembered in cinematic history. We’ll go over the top ten psychological thrillers one by one. We’ll look at some of the best films from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as well as the directors on this list and their ability to cement the genre as one of the most appealing types of stories in the industry. The psychological thriller has been distinctively developed by every filmmaker of its time, from Fincher to Nolan, and even up to 2019 with Todd Phillips’ Joker and Bong Joon-Parasite. These films engross us and push us to try to resolve the difficulties before the characters do, no matter which way they twist the tale. These thrillers can not only play tricks on the audience’s brains, but they can also break down our mentality and leave us open to unexpected turns. Analyzing these films might be as difficult as seeing them. However, when everything comes together for a picture in this genre, it is worth remembering. Let’s take a look at the top ten psychological thriller films.

The Sixth Sense

While narrative twists have become a staple of outstanding cinematic storytelling, there was a time when spectators were unfamiliar with the method. M. Night Shyamalan’s 1999 paranormal thriller The Sixth Sense has revolutionised how mainstream culture understands a film’s plot twist, a concept that has been discussed for decades. Despite the film’s largest reveal and cultural influence, avoiding any spoilers, The Sixth Sense is a masterclass in storytelling and confounding expectations. Bruce Willis and a young Hallie Joel Osment star as a child psychologist and a young kid with the terrifying ability to see ghosts, respectively, but that’s far from the surprise. Shyamalan, like a consummate showman, plays with our expectations and knocks us over the head with the film’s central theme: the tension between seeing and believing. Shyamalan hasn’t completely emerged from the shadow of his blockbuster film, but his signature storytelling skills continue to captivate audiences.

American Psycho

A year after The Sixth Sense, a new style of psychological thriller emerged, this time with a stronger social message. The only film on this list created and directed by a woman, American Psycho, makes a point about yuppie (young professional) America. This polished look at an anti-hero who kills for pleasure, starring Christian Bale as the iconic Patrick Bateman, is a polished look at an anti-hero who kills for pleasure. Mary Harron’s psychological cult masterpiece American Psycho keeps spectators guessing by drawing inspiration from films before its time, such as The Shining and Taxi Driver, as well as later material, such as Dexter and Nightcrawler. It’s a satire on corporate America and businessmen’s façade. Through a hyper examination of a corporate yuppie by day, axe killer by night, and their arrogant behaviour. Harron psychologically twists the anti-hero paradigm by digging inside Bateman’s mind and cognitive processes, especially with the help of his cringey but believable narration.

Eyes Wide Shut

Stanley Kubrick’s final picture, Eyes Wide Shut, was released just before his death. This picture, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, is now considered as a definitive epilogue to a legendary career, despite its lack of critical praise at the time of its release. While this isn’t Kubrick’s final film, it is a masterclass in attention to detail, addressing love, desire, cults, and more with a dreamlike tone and pitch-perfect photography. While it is difficult to compare Kubrick’s final picture to predecessors such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, its cultural impact has elevated it to the status of a masterpiece. The performances are fantastic, Kubrick is at his best this late in his career, and he took his time to make a film that ticks all the boxes. Kubrick and co. produce a psychological thriller focused on taboo subject matter like sex and prostitution, and the vulnerability that men have to be enticed by their vices, with cinematographer Larry Smith (Only God Forgives, 2013) behind the camera. Eyes Wide Shut is Kubrick’s final and most heroic cinematic attempt, from its mysterious, famous phrase fidelio to its deep study of the mind of a man entering a “new universe.”


Christopher Nolan, one of the most prominent filmmakers in the genre, has pretty well claimed it for himself and has been experimenting with different narratives within the genre from his early films like Memento. The murder mystery and psychological thriller follows Guy Pearce’s character Leonard Shelby, who suffers from acute short-term memory loss and can only recall events from the previous few hours. Leonard’s infirmity is used by Nolan to take the plot down an unorthodox path. Leonard’s illness leads us through his memories and clues, such as his numerous tattoos. As he searches for the man who murdered his wife, he allows himself to remember earlier interactions. Nolan masters the art of an unordered narrative framework, generating a payoff that will stick with you. Memento would not only influence other directors, but also himself, as he went on to make some of the most unforgettable psycho thrillers of the twenty-first century.


What else can be said about Parasite? It has won every award and has appeared in every top ten list since then. But it’s impossible to ignore Parasite’s multi-faceted investigation of genre, with psychological thriller being one of them. Director Bong Joon-ho breaks down class by presenting the thoughts and deeds of two very different households in South Korea under the microscope. You can see right into the hearts of the characters and quickly decipher their motivations, desires, and demands. While Parasite does not quite measure up to its psycho thriller contemporaries, it comes close. It simply explores various distinct genres, with its recent buzz dubbing it an immediate classic. Dark humour and drama are examples of genres that cannot be categorised or interpreted in a single way. The film, on the other hand, is a terrifying and strange peek into the lives of ordinary individuals from all walks of life. It provides the idea that the viewer can sense the protagonists’ emotions, including their tension and anxiety.

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