Five of the Best Psychological Thriller Movies

What are the best psychological thriller movies?

Back by popular demand it’s Five of the Best from Not Salt Popcorn. In this edition we are looking at the best psychological thriller movies, the type that left you beyond spooked and not because they made you jump every 30 seconds. Our best psychological thriller movies list will leave you feeling unnerved, paranoid and perhaps a little frightened.

Now’s your chance to look away…


Donnie Darko (Kelly, 2001)

Five of the Best Psychological Thriller Movies - Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko opens our five of the best psychological thriller list because I believe it to be essential viewing for any major movie fan out there. Why? It’s themes range from fear to love, morality to mortality and it manages to pack its intricate web of themes into a bumper 2 hour 15 minutes worth of intense and thrilling viewing. Every single time that I watch this movie, I find that I’m gripped by its eerie exploration into the idea that in reality not everything is as we perceive it.

It’s true that this movie kick-started Jake Gyllenhaal’s rise up the Hollywood movie star chain, whilst Drew Barrymore and Patrick Swayze took up surprising support roles that differed from their conventional outings in movies before Donnie Darko’s release.


The Game (Fincher, 1997)

Five of the Best Psychological Thriller Movies - The Game

Michael Douglas takes the lead role in a film that utilises the separate elements of psychological and thriller and combines them to produce a mind-twisting and incredibly sinister look into the breakdown of a controlling investment banker. The Game makes Douglas’ character Gordon Gekko from Wall Street look like Mickey Mouse.

Take an investment banker with zero emotional attachment to anyone in their day-to-day world and throw them into a game about their life. Except, this isn’t a friendly game and Michael Douglas is about to find out what happens if you take a wrong turn or you don’t follow the rules.


Shutter Island (Scorsese, 2010)

Five of the Best Psychological Thriller Movies - Shutter Island

I saw Shutter Island at the cinema when it was released and it was different to what I had come to expect from a film directed by Martin Scorsese. With Taxi Driver, Scorsese made a chilling account of a disturbed and lonely protagonist detached from reality (played by Robert DeNiro) and then sprinkled it with Scorsese violence. With The Aviator¬†we are presented with another lonely, disturbed protagonist who is often bewildered in the depths of his surroundings. However Shutter Island doesn’t start this way. It’s very definite in its cause to pick apart a mysterious happening in a creepy asylum and an investigation headed up by a U.S marshal who is not uncertain of his place in helping solve the mystery. Until things begin to unravel.

Shutter Island twists, turns and tiptoes towards its cliffhanger ending but the real question is, has Teddy Daniels been playing us all along?


Fatal Attraction (Lyne, 1987)

Five of the Best Psychological Thriller Movies - Fatal Attraction

This is one of the all time classics and it had to be on this list. Fatal Attraction is so synonymous in popular culture that perhaps rather than being considered a psychological thriller, it should just be known as a chiller movie. It certainly sends chills down my spine.

Here we have Michael Douglas working in a New York office (again) seemingly in a happy marriage with a wife and kid, good job etc etc. Along comes Glenn Close (with a crazy perm) at a works party and the two formally introduce themselves to one another. Fast forward 2 hours and our main protagonist has gotten himself into extremely hot boiling water and can’t escape the clutches of his one or two-time, one night stand.

Creepy but thrilling!


The Talented Mr Ripley (Minghella, 1999)

Five of the Best Psychological Thriller Movies - The Talented Mr Ripley

A film about obsession, more specifically Matt Damon’s obsession with Jude Law. The lifestyle of the rich and somewhat famous is what Damon chases throughout this thrilling ensemble set in the stunning backdrop of a 1950’s glistening summer seasoned Italy. What makes this film etch its way unnervingly into my mind is the gentle pace at which its focus turns from presenting an imperfect friendship between comrades from different sides of the tracks to a chaotic world of jealousy, demise and darkness.

The Talented Mr Ripley isn’t your conventional psychological thriller but it certainly moves in a way that will leave you feeling uneasy towards its dramatic finale.


Do you agree with our Five of the Best psychological thriller movies? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.


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