The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

111k votes 12k voters 1.5M views 247 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Vote up and add any movies that send chills down your spine leave you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

A list of the best psychological thrillers of all time, ranked by fans who may or may not be trying to mess with your head! Though a variety of definitions for the "psychological thriller" genre have been offered, there is no universally accepted set of guidelines. In general, psychological thrillers integrate personal character elements into mystery and suspense films, essentially toeing the line between a dramatic character study and the sort of plot structure you'd expect from a detective movie.

Many psychological thrillers resemble traditional thrillers or suspense films, only with a personal, internal antagonist rather than a traditional movie villain. (For example, Repulsion or The Conversation, in which the plot is moved forward by the main character's growing paranoia and madness.) In many films of this type, the solution to the main character's conflict comes in the form of altering their perspective or discovering some buried truth about themselves and their past, rather than winning a fight or battling an opponent.

Many psychological thrillers play around with the main character's back story, or make use of an unreliable narrator. Films like Christopher Nolan's Memento present the audience with one perspective on the story, and then generate suspense by showing the ways in which "reality" contrasts to this perspective. (This sometimes, but not always, results in a "twist" or surprise ending based on the difference between the main character's perception and that of outside observers.) Several Alfred Hitchcock movies utilize this technique, particularly movies like Spellbound and Marnie, in which the story concerns a character becoming mentally well after years of madness and confusion.

This list contains the top thriller movies of all time. It is open and voteranked, so be sure to vote for your favorites and add any other movies we missed at the bottom of the page. Got an opinion on great thriller movies? We want to hear it! Leave comments below or make your voice heard by voting for your favorite psychological suspense movies ever!
Collection Photo: user uploaded image
  • 49 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • 2 See list ranked by
Z
G Options B Comments & Embed 2rerank list
  1. 1
    + 4,502
    - 653

    the people's #1
    Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak

    ;
  2. 2
    + 3,938
    - 549
    Seven is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman

    ;
  3. 3
    + 2,576
    - 765

    most listed
    Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

    ;
  4. 4
    + 2,830
    - 715
    The Sixth Sense is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment

    ;
  5. 5
    + 2,948
    - 688
    Fight Club is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham Carter

    ;
  6. 6
    + 1,961
    - 456


    Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

    ;
  7. 7
    + 1,964
    - 493


    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

    ;
  8. 8
    + 3,309
    - 664
    Shutter Island is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo

    ;
  9. 9
    + 2,236
    - 429


    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

    ;
  10. 10
    + 2,264
    - 536


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard

    ;
  11. 11
    + 1,145
    - 422
    Rear Window is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

    often listed
    Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

    ;
  12. 12
    + 1,533
    - 590
    American Psycho is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe

    ;
  13. 13
    + 1,589
    - 416

    added by wiabux
    Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Hugh Jackman

    ;
  14. 14
    + 1,610
    - 321

    ranked low on reranks
    Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates, James Caan

    ;
  15. 15
    + 950
    - 387
    Vertigo is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

    ;
  16. 16
    + 1,332
    - 443


    Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze

    ;
  17. 17
    + 1,492
    - 504
    Donnie Darko is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

    ;
  18. 18
    + 971
    - 409


    Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese

    ;
  19. 19
    + 1,518
    - 647


    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

    ;
  20. 20
    + 1,130
    - 396
    The Machinist is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

    ;
  21. 21
    + 1,062
    - 347

    added by KeshanHareshu
    Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard

    ;
  22. 22
    + 1,055
    - 400
    Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo

    ;
  23. 23
    + 841
    - 320

    added by AndrewW.Curley
    Emmy Rossum, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon

    ;
  24. 24
    + 750
    - 355

    often listed
    Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Jane Krakowski

    ;
  25. 25
    + 704
    - 216


    Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney

    ;
  26. 26
    + 932
    - 211

    ranked low on reranks & added by ryanmcw
    Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

    ;
  27. 27
    + 831
    - 258

    added by ShaundaPetty
    Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, Steven Berkoff

    ;
  28. 28
    + 482
    - 228


    Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

    ;
  29. 29
    + 709
    - 328
    Oldboy is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Oh Dal-su

    ;
  30. 30
    + 1,101
    - 339

    ranked low on reranks & added by ChangesDownClub
    Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Logan Lerman

    ;
  31. 31
    + 706
    - 346


    Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

    ;
  32. 32
    + 612
    - 367
    Mulholland Drive is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time


    Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George

    ;
  33. 33
    + 655
    - 213


    Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange

    ;
  34. 34
    + 512
    - 246

    often listed & added by ChangesDownClub
    Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

    ;
  35. 35
    + 426
    - 278
    The Manchurian Candidate is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

    ;
  36. 36
    + 527
    - 269

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Robert Duvall, Michael Douglas, Tuesday Weld

    ;
  37. 37
    + 566
    - 174

    ranked low on reranks & added by ShaundaPetty
    Stanley Kubrick, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey

    ;
  38. 38
    + 444
    - 91

    ranked low on reranks & added by drkaramaniac
    Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Michelle Fairley

    ;
  39. 39
    + 754
    - 226

    added by ChangesDownClub
    Amanda Peet, John Cusack, Alfred Molina

    ;
  40. 40
    + 610
    - 194

    added by april.macaulay
    Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson

    ;
  41. 41
    + 315
    - 270
    Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

    ;
  42. 42
    + 693
    - 192

    added by KeshanHareshu
    Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton

    ;
  43. 43
    + 480
    - 139


    Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello

    ;
  44. 44
    + 602
    - 429

    often listed & added by AndrewW.Curley
    Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin

    ;
  45. 45
    + 471
    - 156


    Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss

    ;
  46. 46
    + 541
    - 158

    added by april.macaulay
    Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn

    ;
  47. 47
    + 475
    - 192


    Jim Carrey, Paul Giamatti, Ed Harris

    ;
  48. 48
    + 427
    - 182


    Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas

    ;
  49. 49
    + 282
    - 216

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter

    ;
  50. 50
    + 509
    - 216

    added by Mavsc79
    Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Margo Martindale

    ;
248 +

Something missing? Add it!

L List Options 2 Rerank List B Comments & Embed z Share Next List >