The Best Psychological Thriller Movies [Updated 2022]


Psychological thrillers are one of the most popular genres in literature, with many people enjoying them for their suspenseful plots and twists. This list is a collection of some of the best psychological thriller movies of all time. Some of them are based on real cases, while others will leave you guessing about the truth until the end.

Here are the best psychological thriller movies on Netflix

The Machinist (2004)

Director: Brad Anderson

Writer: Scott Kosar, Michael B. Gordon

Cast: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón

IMDb Rating: 7.7/10

The Machinist is a psychological thriller about Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale), who works as an insomniac factory worker in the middle of America with extensive facial scars and a sleep disorder. Because of the mental torture from his past, Reznik is haunted by hallucinations that lead him to discover a mysterious stranger who seems to have an agenda against him.

Donny Darko (2001)

Director: Richard Kelly

Writer: Richard Kelly, Michael B. Kelley

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Holmes Osborne, Daveigh Chase

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10

It’s a complicated movie to explain and has many hidden meanings that can be interpreted in different ways. But the general premise of Donny Darko follows a high school student as he is visited by an imaginary friend in the form of a six-foot tall rabbit named Frank, who tells him that the world will end in 28 days 06 hours 42 minutes and 12 seconds.

Psycho (1960)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Writer: Joseph Stefano, Robert Bloch

Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John Gavin

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

Psycho is an American psychological horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written by Joseph Stefano. It stars Anthony Perkins as the troubled Norman Bates and Janet Leigh as the woman who steals from him and is murdered. Norman’s mother, portrayed in a well-known landmark of film suspense by Vera Miles, discovers her son’s crime and exacts revenge with horror that anyone could ever imagine.

Shutter Island (2010)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Laeta Kalogridis, Dennis Lehane

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

Shutter Island is a psychological thriller directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Laeta Kalogridis and Dennis Lehane. It’s about two U.S Marshals who travel to a remote and isolated island off the coast of Massachusetts in 1954 to investigate the disappearance of an inmate from an asylum for the criminally insane there but soon find themselves trapped on this eerie island as they uncover more than they bargained for.

The Butterfly Effect (2004)

Director: Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber

Writer: J. Mackye Gruber, Eric Bress, Ryne Douglas Pearson

Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Melora Walters

IMDb Rating: 7.6

The Butterfly Effect is a psychological thriller about a man who has a unique ability to travel back in time and change the course of events for himself and others. The film follows several characters whose lives have been touched by his gift, including an old man with Alzheimer’s disease, a concerned teacher trying to help him make sense of it all, and two megalomaniacal siblings willing to kill to possess his time-bending powers.

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Writer: M. Night Shyamalan, M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American supernatural horror film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. He produced the film with Bruce Willis and Barry Mendel. The film tells the story of Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a troubled child who can connect with the dead, and an equally troubled child psychologist named Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), who tries to help him.

The Prestige (2006)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Jonathan, Christopher Nolan, Christopher Priest

Cast: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

The Prestige is a 2006 British-American psychological thriller directed by Christopher Nolan from a screenplay adapted by his brother Jonathan Nolan from Christopher Priest’s 1995 novel of the same name. The story follows Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, rival stage magicians in London at the end of the 19th century who engage in competitive one-upmanship with tragic results.

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Director: David Lynch

Writer: David Lynch, Barry Gifford

Cast: Naomi Watts, Laura Herring, Justin Theroux

IMDb Rating: 7.9/10

David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive is a psychological thriller film set in the city of Los Angeles and tells the story of an aspiring actress named Betty Elms, newly arrived in Hollywood. She meets and befriends an amnesiac hiding in her aunt’s apartment.

Get Out (2017)

Director: Jordan Peele

Writer: Jordan Peele, Jordan Peele

Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford

IMDb Rating: 7.7/10

A young African-American man visits his white girlfriend’s cursed family estate. He finds out that many of its residents, who are black, have gone missing in the past. Jordan Peele’s Get Out is a psychological horror film that dives deeper into racial terrors and touches on blackness as an illness.

Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Writer: Hubert Selby Jr., Sarah Polley, Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

When Sara Goldfarb receives a television set for her birthday, she becomes obsessed with the idea of losing weight in time for an upcoming show about people getting ready for the summer season. So she stops taking care of herself and uses her savings to buy amphetamines that make her hungry all the time. Meanwhile, her son Harry is a heroin addict who dreams of becoming a famous jazz drummer while spending nights working as a drug dealer.

What Lies Beneath (2000)

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: Clark Gregg, Sarah Kernochan, Harrison H. Schmitt

Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Harrison Ford, Diana Scarwid

IMDb Rating: 6.6/10

Claire Spencer starts having nightmares about a mysterious woman in her house. She then sees a woman that looks like the one from her nightmares and disappears into thin air after she is startled by Claire’s presence. When strange things start happening around their house as well, Claire begins to suspect that her husband may be hiding something about it all.

Hannibal (2001)

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Thomas Harris, David Mamet, Steven Zaillian, Jay Cocks

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman

IMDb Rating: 6.8/10

Dr. Hannibal Lecter is a psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer that has been imprisoned in a mental asylum for nine years when he is approached by an FBI agent who seeks his assistance to track down another serial killer that has been targeting the families of cops.

Gerald’s Game (2017)

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writer: Stephen King, Jeff Howard, Scott Lumpkin, Eric Kripke

Cast: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Henry Thomas

IMDb Rating: 6.5/10

Jessie Burlingame and her husband Gerald have decided to celebrate their wedding anniversary in a house by the lake. However, after Gerald tries to surprise her with some sexy games, Jessie finds out that he has handcuffed himself to their bed and she is left helplessly chained up in an isolated cabin where someone may have been brutally murdered three years ago.

Searching (2018)

Director: Aneesh Chaganty

Writer: Sev Ohanian, Aneesh Chaganty

Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Michelle La

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

David Kim is a father who has been recently separated from his wife. After he discovers that his daughter goes missing, he begins searching for her using clues that are left in the search history of his computer.

The Skin I Live In (2011)

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Writer: Rafael Azcona, Agustín Albarracin, Pedro Almodóvar

Cast: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes

IMDb Rating: 7.6

Dr. Robert Ledgard is a plastic surgeon who has come up with a way to give his patients new skin using artificial skin that was created from the DNA of pigs. However, when he learns about one of his patient’s death, he is left wondering if she had faked her identity in order to seek revenge for something that happened long ago.

Oldboy (2003)

Director: Park Chan-wook

Writer: Garon Tsuchiya, Nobuaki Minegishi, Hwang Jo-Yoon, Lee Woo-Jung

Cast: Choi Min-Sik, Yoo Ji-Tae, Kang Hye-Jeong

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

After being imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released without explanation. He takes the opportunity to try and find out who had him locked up so he can get his revenge on them. But things take a turn when he meets Mido, a young woman that works in her father’s dry cleaning shop, and she may hold the key to what had happened.

Black Swan (2010)

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Writer: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John McLaughlin, Mark Heyman

Cast: Nathalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10

Nina is a ballerina who has been chosen to dance the role of the Swan Queen in a production of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.” But as rehearsals progress, Nina starts developing dangerous and disturbing hallucinations.

Das Experiment (2001)

Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel

Writer: Mario Giordano, Bernd Eichinger, Mario Giordano

Cast: Moritz Bleibtreu, Christian Berkel, Justus von Dohnanyi

IMDb Rating: 7.7/10

Tarek Fahd is a man who has lost everything. He is contacted by Professor Klaus Thon about taking part in an experiment that will pay the participants if they agree to be locked up for 14 days in a prison where there are complete strangers allowed to act as guards; no one is allowed to leave.

Fight Club (1999)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Jim Uhls, Chuck Palahniuk

Cast: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter

IMDb Rating: 8.8/10

The unnamed protagonist is a depressed insomniac who spends his days helping insurance companies get out of having to pay their claimants. His time is spent hanging out with soap maker Tyler Durden and trying to get over the recent ending of a relationship. But things start to change when one night at a support group for the testicular cancer survivor.

Moon (2009)

Director: Duncan Jones

Writer: Nathan Parker, Duncan Jones

Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

After three long years on the Moon working for a corporation that mines Helium-III from lunar soil in order to supply Earth with a clean alternative to fossil fuels, Sam Bell is almost at the end of his contract. But when he requests an extension and starts seeing things that could be signs that someone else is working there in addition to him.

The Imposter (2012)

Director: Bart Layton

Writer: Tim Fywell, Frédéric Bourdin

Cast: Frederic Bourdin, Nicholas Barclay, Carey Gibson

IMDb Rating: 7.5/10

Frederic Bourdin is a French serial impostor who has managed to convince officials worldwide that he was an adolescent boy named Nicholas Barclay, who had disappeared in 1994. He successfully fooled FBI agents and made his way into the United States, where he convinced several people, including the missing boy’s own family members, that he really was their missing son.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Director: Anthony Minghella

Writer: Anthony Minghella, Patricia Highsmith

Cast: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

Tom Ripley is a struggling young man who will do anything to get what he wants. When a wealthy ship owner dies and then leaves an enormous amount of money to his only son, Tom sees this as a way out of the poor life that has been forced upon him all these years. So when Matt Damon is invited to go on a trip from Italy back home in America, Toms convinces him to let him tag along.

Gone Girl (2014)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Gillian Flynn, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Bruna Papandrea

Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris

IMDb Rating: 8.1

Nick Dunne and his wife Amy are the perfect couple, until one day Amy goes missing. The police question Nick on her whereabouts, but he refuses to answer any of their questions because they have no evidence against him besides his suspicious behavior. But as the investigation continues and suspicion rises, more information begins to surface.

Joshua Garner

Joshua calls himself nerd+geek who is also passionate about football. He enjoys comics, animes, and science fiction. He finds his comfort in writing about suspense, thrillers and science fiction shows and movies.

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