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10 Psychological Thrillers That Will Make You Scream

Who doesn’t love movies? They take you to a different land, they tell stories of people that resonate with your life, make you forget all your troubles, and do a lot more.

They motivate us, make us laugh, make us cry, and mess with our brains like the psychological thrillers. They are not horror flicks but will surely keep you on the edge of your seat. If you are hunting for some creepy psychological thrillers, do check the entire list. Let us begin.

#1. The Shining

A 1980 psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick will stay with you for days, if not weeks. This movie made us doubt our parents. The image of parents being the best caretakers of their children was tossed in the dustbin in this movie.

Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic and aspiring writer, gets the position of caretaker of the old Overlook Hotel. Accompanying him are his wife, Wendy Torrance, and their son Danny Torrance.

Danny gets possessed with the shining and could see the awful past of the hotel and could also telepathically talk to the hotel cook, Dick Hallorann. The creepiness has just begun. It is learned that the previous caretaker went insane and killed his family and himself.

Will history repeat itself? We have given enough spoilers for you. If you haven’t watched it yet, you need to watch it ASAP. If you have already watched it, then there is no harm in reliving the horror again.

#2. The Machinist

If there is any movie that aptly depicts how your guilt can take you down, then it must be this movie. Christian Bale was so convincing as Trevor Reznik that you can feel the confusion, frustration, and helplessness.

A machinist, Trevor Reznik, suffers from insomnia and suffered extreme weight loss. He starts encountering Ivan, a mysterious man who goes unnoticed in everybody’s eyes.

A set of vague, inconsistent incidents takes place, which makes him question the reality. He tries to follow Ivan many times but in vain.

Finally, it is revealed that one year earlier, he ran over a boy and decided to forget it and move on. But his guilt never let him go free. There we learn that Ivan was none other than a manifestation of himself before the accident.

He goes to the police station, where it is shown that Ivan approved Trevor’s decision and waved goodbye. He surrenders himself to the police and states that he wishes to sleep – the thing that he couldn’t do for a year!

#3. Gone Girl

Watching this movie may make you doubt your spouse! Just kidding, but Rosamund Pike nailed the role of Amy so well that her one look can send chills down your spine. Nick Dunne finds his wife Amy missing.

Amy’s disappearance gets media coverage as Amy’s parents penned the famous Amazing Amy children’s books. Rhonda Boney, a detective, finds evidence against Nick. Every evidence proves that Nick is guilty of murdering his wife, Amy.

The biggest plot twist is that Amy is supposedly alive and healthy and is hiding in one of the campgrounds of Ozarks. Nick gathers information against Amy, who has earlier framed her ex-boyfriends of raping her.

He contacts one of them and reveals the information to the detective and his sister. Amy’s neighbors in the campground rob her of her money, which forces her to go to Desi, one of her ex-boyfriends. Nick goes on to give an interview where he apologizes for being a bad husband for luring Amy.

His plan works, and Amy plans against Desi and uses evidence to prove that Desi kidnapped her and raped her. She seduces Desi and kills him. She returns to Nick and states that she is pregnant. With a new responsibility, Nick is forced to stay in the marriage.

#4. Persona

If you like movies with a confusing climax and want to interpret the movie in your way, then this one is for you. It is the story of two women – Elizabeth, an established actress who struggles with her own set of anxieties and issues.

There is Alma, a nurse who loves her job. Elizabeth is so distressed that she stopped moving and talking out of her will. Alma is appointed as Elizabeth’s nurse. The doctor sends Elizabeth to a cottage with Alma thinking she would recover sooner there.

Alma pours her heart out to Elizabeth, knowing that Elizabeth won’t and can’t talk. A series of events take place, which makes the audience doubt that Elizabeth and Alma are one. Alma is everything that Elizabeth wanted to be.

Alma loves her fiancé, loves her job, and aborted an unwanted child. Elizabeth, on the other hand, is stuck with a man in a loveless marriage, doesn’t like her job, and she gave birth to a boy that she never wanted. It will surely mess up your brain. Watch it and do tell us your interpretations of the story.

#5. Black Swan

Who can forget this movie? Natalie Portman played the role of Nina Sayers. She was so convincing as Nina that most of us knew that she would bag the Oscars that year. Nina Sayers is a 28-year-old girl who wanted to be the Swan Queen.

To be the Swan Queen, she has to enact both the swans – an innocent White Swan and a cunning and sensual Black Swan. She was perfect for White Swan, and on the other hand, her competitor, Lily, perfectly embodied Black Swan.

What we see in the movie is how Nina gets obsessed with dance and being Queen Swan that other aspects of her life go for a toss. She starts hallucinating and suspects Lily trying to snatch away her role. In an imaginary fight with Lily, Nina stabs herself. Even in that condition, she gives a thunderous performance as both White Swan and Black Swan.

She loses consciousness, and the screen fades to bright white light. Yes, that’s the ending. You don’t know whether she died or not. What do you think? Did Nina mature into a woman from a little girl, as Portman said, or you think she died, or do you think the whole stabbing scene was her hallucination?

#6. Vertigo

This psychological thriller is one of the best movies of Alfred Hitchcock. After a rooftop chase and his colleague policeman falling to his death, Scottie develops vertigo – fear of heights.

His friend, Midge Wood, explains that another severe shock could only cure his fear. His college friend, Gavin asks Scottie to follow his wife, Madeleine. Gavin states that her great-grandmother, Carlotta Valdes, possesses Madeleine.

A series of incidents fall in line with the possession part, and Scottie and Madeleine fall in love. Madeleine dies by falling from the bell tower of Mission San Juan Bautista. Scottie gets admitted to a sanatorium.

Upon his release, he chances upon Judy, who is like a replica of Madeleine. After a series of events, Scottie takes Judy to the same place and forces her to confess that she was Madeleine, and Gavin paid her to act as his wife. They both hug each other.

Happy ending? No way, this is a psychological thriller for God’s sake. Judy gets startled by a shadow and falls to her death, this time for real. Why Scottie, why the bell tower for confession? It is the only question that I felt like asking after watching the movie.

#7. Taxi Driver

The movie has to be a masterpiece when Martin Scorsese directs it and Robert de Niro plays the lead role. Travis, a U.S. Marine veteran, turns to drive a taxi because of his insomnia. He frequented porn theatres. He gets infatuated with Betsy, a volunteer for the presidential candidate, Charles.

Upon showing her a porn film, Betsy leaves disgusted. Reconciliation attempts go in vain. His frustration keeps on increasing with each passing day. In a series of events, we learn that his frustration takes physical shape, and he attempts at killing Charles. He then fantasizes about saving Iris, a child prostitute.

When his assassination attempt fails, he goes straight to Iris’s pimp and murders three people out there. He gets shot himself and goes into a coma. He is lauded as a hero who killed a mafia boss, and everyone forgets about the fact that he killed three people.

The movie ends with Travis driving Betsy to her home and refusing to take any money and leaving her behind. Just like Black Swan, we don’t know if the last scene is a dream of Travis, or he was a changed man.

#8. Oldboy

This South Korean psychological thriller touches many chords of human relationships and behaviors. It also reflects how a small incident during childhood can shape your entire life or destroy life on the other hand. Dae-Su, a businessman, gets arrested for drunkenness and misses his daughter’s birthday.

Joo-hwan bails him out, and he wakes up in prison and learns that his wife is dead. He is given the same food every day. He remains in jail for 15 years before being released. Few incidents take place, which leads Dae-Su to Mi-do, a chef.

They develop feelings for each other. Upon learning that his daughter got adopted, he stops his search for her. He locates the restaurant that prepared his food when he was in jail. He reaches the prison where he was kept through the deliveryman.

Here, the captor of Dae-Su is a wealthy businessman, Lee Woo-jin. Lee throws a challenge to Dae-Su to uncover the motive behind imprisoning him within 5 days. If he succeeds, then Lee would kill himself else Lee will kill Mi-do.

Finally, he realizes that he and Lee were classmates and Dae-Su caught Lee having sex with his sister. He circulated the news to everyone, and Lee’s sister committed suicide. Dae-Su goes to face Lee, and Lee informs him that Mi-do is his daughter.

Lastly, Dae-Su cuts his tongue out as penance, and after taking revenge, Lee shoots himself. Dae-Su asks the hypnotist to erase the memory that Mi-do is his daughter. The movie ends with Mi-do hugging Dae-Su, where he smiles, and soon it replaces with a look of pain. Did he forget that Mi-do is his daughter?

#9. Se7en

What can we say about this masterpiece? The awesome screenplay, power-packed performances by Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and the eerily calm Kevin Spacey’s acting has transformed this movie to gold.

The way Kevin shouts “Detective” sends chills down my spine to this day. John Doe proves that you need not be loud-mouthed to scare people. Your calm and creepy behavior is good enough to unnerve people.

William Somerset, an about to retire detective, has to team up with David Mills to solve a set of murders. Tracey Mills, the wife of David Mills, confesses that she is pregnant and doesn’t want to live in NYC. The murders are supposedly inspired by seven sins – gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy, and wrath.

What unfolds next is the sheer brutality and psychopathy of John Doe. He kills a man by overfeeding him, representing gluttony. He kills another man after forcing him to cut a piece of flesh from himself representing greed. He surrenders after committing six murders.

He gives an option to the two detectives – the detectives should go with Doe where he would show his last two victims, or he would plead insanity. The detectives agree, and Doe takes them to deserted land where a man delivers a box to Somerset.

I still remember how anxious I was to know what’s in the box the first time I saw. Doe kills Mill’s wife, and in rage, Mills shoots Doe, representing the last sin of the seven sins – wrath (basically the fifth sin but in order of the sins in the movie, it is the last).

#10. The Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins, as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, just nailed the role. The role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter stayed with people for quite some time. An FBI trainee, Clarice Starling, is asked to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter regarding a serial killer infamously called the Buffalo Bill.

Bill kills young women and skins them. What unravels in the movie is the relationship between Lecter and Starling, and the case. She learns that Bill kidnapped a U.S. senator’s daughter, Catherine Martin. Starling requests Hannibal to give details, and after a series of events, Lecter indirectly helps her.

Lecter escapes the place. While interviewing friends of the last victim (before the senator’s daughter), she realizes that one of the victim’s friends is the serial killer. She succeeds in killing the serial killer.

The movie ends with Lecter calling Clarice asking her not to follow him while he would return the favor (of not following her) and mentions that he is “having an old friend for dinner,” and he is seen following Dr. Chilton.

Sources: IMDB, Cafe Mom, The Culture Trip, Cosmopoliton, Scoopwhoop

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