Let me just start off by saying that The Shining and The Silence of the Lambs get the top spots in so many people’s minds, that I’m leaving them completely off this list. That said, they will always set the bar for every other psych thriller, and surely inspired many of these hits we’re going to talk about today, some of which you may or may not have seen. But what makes a psych thriller a good one, anyway? Primarily, a twist that messes with your mind and keeps you up at night. That’s where we’re heading today with the 10 great psychological thrillers of the last 25 years.
1. Shutter Island (2010)
Shutter Island is hands down one of the best psychological thrillers ever made. The entire film keeps you guessing the entire way through. When a murderess escapes a secluded insane asylum, only one man can help find her. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels investigates a case that confronts every dark fear he’s ever witnessed. Will he dig just a little bit too deep?
2. Se7en (1995)
Now here is one classic that I had to honor. One of the best things about Se7en is the tension built up starting from the first scenes. In the movie (in case you haven’t seen it) a murderer picks his victims based off the seven deadly sins. It’s up to two detectives to stop him before any more lives are lost. Can they save the victim of wrath?
3. The Butterfly Effect (2004) – 10 Great Psychological Thrillers of the Last 25 Years
Who knew that Ashton Kutcher had it in him to play such a serious role? While The Butterfly Effect isn’t quite as intense as some of the other psych thrillers, it definitely deserves a spot. The movie does keep you on your toes as the main character hops through time, altering the past, present, and future. But at what cost? The Butterfly Effect teaches us that every little thing that we do makes a big impact on the world.
4. The Machinist (2004)
Christian Bale’s physique is quite frightening enough as it is, but adding an enigmatic friend (think A Beautiful Mind) to the mix really takes this one over the top. From Taxi Driver to Insomnia, movies about insomnia rarely fail us. Perhaps it’s because hallucinations are one of the most common signs of insomnia. The Machinist keeps us guessing from the start, and edge-of-the-seat thrillers will always hold a spot in our hearts.
5. Get Out (2017)
This psych thriller is so horrific, that many consider it a full-on horror film. What happens when racism becomes something far more sinister that prejudice? That’s what Get Out asks, and boy, does it deliver. When Rose invites her boyfriend to spend the weekend with her family, we’re not even sure if she knows what he’s getting himself into.
6. Identity (2003) – 10 Great Psychological Thrillers of the Last 25 Years
Without giving anything away, I truly believe that Identity set the bar for other movies of its kind. In a rainstorm, ten motel guests become stranded. That in itself is enough to set the mood. But when people show up murdered one-by-one, well, someone is going to have to find out who the killer is before only one remains. Tick tock.
7. The Prestige (2006)
An exquisite piece of work The Prestige is, two rival magicians fighting to become number one. Brought together by a woman, pulled apart by her death. Batman (Christian Bale) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) experiment with so many dangerous techniques, that even by the end of the movie…we’re not completely sure who is the real winner.
8. Inception (2010)
Inception is not a movie for those who do not pay attention. Every move matters, every dream matters. One of Leo’s best performances, Inception shows us that fine line between our minds and reality. A must-see for any movie lover. Might want to check your top after watching this one. Is it still spinning?
9. Gone Girl (2014) – 10 Great Psychological Thrillers of the Last 25 Years
A classic “who dun it” film with an exciting twist. A perfect marriage is torn apart when one man’s wife goes missing and of course, he becomes the prime suspect. Her diaries and his lack of details known about his wife point every finger toward him. But did he do it? One thing is clear…someone is definitely in need of a mental health check.
10. Split (2016)
One of the best movies of the last five years, Split takes us on the open journey of one man with multiple personalities. With the walls beginning to shatter between these personalities, one of them compels the original owner to kidnap three girls. What he does after that is up to the rest of them. But who will come out on top?