Top 15 Psychological Thrillers Exploring Evil Characters
News > Top 15 Psychological Thrillers Exploring Evil Characters
Psychological thrillers offer a different kind of thrill than action-packed movies. Rather than focusing on external threats, these films delve into the inner worlds of evil characters. Expect to see themes of paranoia, delusions, and phobias that will leave you both on edge and psychologically unnerved. In this article, we've compiled a list of the top 15 psychological thrillers that will keep you on the edge of your seat. From classic films to contemporary hits, these movies offer a unique blend of suspense and psychological horror. So, grab some popcorn and get ready to be both scared and captivated by these masterpieces of the genre!
1. Gaslight (1944)
Gaslight is not only a psychological thriller, but also a film full of manipulation and horror. The name of this film even entered the popular dictionary to describe a form of psychological harassment. In the film, a man and a woman get married, but as soon as they move to London, their relationship turns into a nightmare.
Director: George Cukor
Cast: Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten
2. Rear Window (1954)
A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window in a Greenwich Village courtyard and is convinced that one of them has committed murder, despite the skepticism of his model girlfriend.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey
3. Diabolique (1955)
The wife and mistress of a hated school principal plot to kill him with what they believe is the perfect alibi. The two female characters in the film, one sensitive and guilt-ridden, the other cold-blooded and ice-cold, are thrown into increasingly bizarre circumstances and choices together.
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Cast: Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot, Paul Meuris If
4. The Bad Seed (1956)
Everyone likes to think that their children are perfect, even if they sometimes do bad things. But 8-year-old Rhoda, who lives in the seemingly suburban world of The Bad Seed, is not a little naughty sometimes. She is a serial killer who knows how to make adults believe that she is a precious little angel.
Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Cast: Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Gage Clarke
5. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
In this strange and grotesque film, director Robert Aldrich talks about what seems to be a deep hatred of the entertainment industry, especially its lifelong toll on young actors. The film tells the story of Jane Hudson, a child star of the 1920s, who lags behind her sister Blanche, who became an outstanding actor at the end of her career.
Director: Robert Aldrich
Cast: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono
6. Shock Corridor (1963)
Samuel Fuller has crossed these boundaries in the psychological thriller Shock Corridor, which pushes the boundaries of narrative. In the film, Johnny Barrett, a journalist obsessed with winning the Pulitzer Prize and embarking on an audacious plan to catch a headline, will disguise himself in a mental hospital, live among prisoners and crack the basis of an unsolved murder.
Director: Samuel Fuller
Cast: Peter Breck, Constance Towers, Gene Evans
7. Repulsion (1965)
In the film, Carol is a woman who lives with her sister Helen and is thrown in the face of life's difficulties. When Helen suddenly leaves the city for a romantic getaway, Carol is left to herself and suddenly finds herself in her own anxieties, phobias and, gradually, hallucinations.
Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser
8. Sisters (1972)
The Sisters' story takes many sharp turns, starting with a fun voyeurism, moving towards love, jealousy and then murder, and then turning to voyeurism once again. As a brave young reporter, Nancy Drew investigates a murder that she is sure was committed by her identical twin brother.
Director: Brian De Palma
Cast: Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt, Charles Durning
9. The Baby (1973)
In one of the strangest psychological thrillers you will ever see, and oddly one of the best, the film tells the story of a social worker named Anne, whose last assignment is the Wadsworth family: an abusive mother, two abusive sisters and an adult man named 'Baby' who lives in a crib. He wears a diaper, can't talk, and disability checks keep the family afloat.
Director: Ted Post
Cast: Anjanette Comer, Ruth Roman, Marianna Hill
10. The Conversation (1974)
In between the productions of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II in the early 1970s, this is one of Francis Ford Coppola's best ever psychological thrillers. The Conversation focuses on Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who records a conversation between two young lovers and obsessively studies and reexamines the audio, thinking it may have uncovered a deadly conspiracy.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield
11. Manhunter (1986)
The film stars Will Graham, an FBI profiler who is talented enough to lose his own personality and drown in the dark when it comes to entering the mind of a murderer. Will is after a unique serial killer and home invader, the 'Tooth Fairy', and once again begins to lose himself in business at the expense of his own soul.
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: William Petersen, Kim Greist, Joan Allen
12. The Stepfather (1987)
Jerry Blake says to his wife, 'Wait a minute,'. 'Who am I here?' The film is about Jerry, a serial killer who introduces himself into the lives of single mothers, marries them and tries to live a perfect American suburban life. Jerry begins to impress the next single mother, living two lives at once and eventually killing the family that offended him.
Director: Joseph Ruben
Cast: Terry Her, Jill Schoelen, Shelley Hack
13. Dead Ringers (1988)
Twin gynecologists take full advantage of the fact that no one can separate them until their relationship begins to deteriorate because of a woman.
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Jeremy Irons, Geneviève Bujold, Heidi von Palleske
14. The Vanishing (1988)
George Sluizer's gripping Dutch thriller Spoorloos tells the story of a young couple who go on a road trip. In the middle of a break, Saskia goes to get a drink, but does not return. Years later, still unable to solve the mystery, Rex is obsessed with solving the mystery of her disappearance.
Director: George Sluizer
Cast: Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege
15. Jacob's Ladder (1990)
Jacob Singer is a mild-mannered postal worker who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after the Vietnam War. His family is no longer with him, his son died many years ago, and while he is barely getting his life together with his new girlfriend, he sees mysterious men with blurred faces.
Director: Adrian Lyne
Cast: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello
16. 301, 302 (1995)
Park Chul-soo's gripping thriller 301 follows the story of a pair of neighbors in 302. Song-hee lives in apartment 301 and is an up-and-coming chef. Yoon-hee also lives in apartment 302 and is a writer with a phobia of food. Song-hee is offended when she tries to make Yoon-hee beautiful by cooking delicious dishes for her, but realizes that her neighbor threw them in the trash without eating them.
Director: Cheol-su Park
Cast: Pang Eun-jin, Sin-hye Hwang, Chu-Ryun Kim
17. The Cure (1997)
The Cure tells the story of a detective tasked with solving an impossible series of murders. In each case, a person is killed, and the killer is found nearby, without remembering what happened and why. The only connection between them is a mysterious person named Mamiya, who doesn't even know who he is or where he is.
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Masato Hagiwara, Kôji Yakusho, Tsuyoshi Ujiki
18. Perfect Blue (1997)
The very short directorial career of the Japanese animator Satoshi Kon consisted of only four feature films and the incredibly ingenious mini-series Paranoia Agent before his death. The psychotropic thriller Perfect Blue was his debut. The film is a harbinger of techno horror, revealing the dangers of modern celebrity culture and the dangers of losing oneself in their work.
Director: Satoshi Kon
Voice Actors: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji
19. American Psycho (2000)
American Psycho is superficially a serial killer story. Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a handsome man who works in the financd industry in the 1980s, takes extremely good care of his body and lives in absurd luxury. He is also homicidal and kills his co-workers, sex workers, throughout the film.
Director: Mary Harron
Cast: Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas
20. Memento (2000)
In Christopher Nolan's second and groundbreaking feature film, Guy Pearce stars as Leonard Shelby, who has amnesia and is unable to make new memories. Shelby needs to reorient himself every few minutes, ask where he is and what he is doing.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
21. Mulholland Drive (2001)
After a car accident on winding Mulholland Drive makes a woman forgetful, she finds herself searching for clues and answers in a convoluted adventure beyond dreams and reality in Hollywood, Los Angeles.
Director: David Lynch
Cast: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux
22. Oldboy (2003)
Oh Dae-Su is released after being kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years. However, he learns that in order for his freedom, he must find the person who is holding him captive within five days.
Director: Park Chan-wook
Cast: Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jeong
23. Caché (2005)
Georges and Anne are an extraordinary, upper-class French couple who discover with horror that they are being watched. Every day, a video arrives at their door containing images of the facade of their house. No threats, no messages, just a person's obsession with tracking them.
Director: Michael Haneke
Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Bénichou
24. Gone Girl (2014)
The film is about the story of a married couple, Amy and Nick. This is not a happy marriage, so when Amy suddenly disappears under suspicious circumstances, the media onslaught quickly turns on Nick and makes him the prime suspect. He puts her in the trap of an oppressive high-profile network, exactly the kind that has trapped Amy for years.
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
25. Searching (2018)
Aneesh Chaganty's first feature film is set entirely on computer screens and mobile phone screens. The film is about a single father whose teenage daughter disappears and he has to examine all her private chats, connections and social media accounts to investigate her disappearance.
Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee
Which one of these psychological thrillers have you seen before? Tell us in the comments!