The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time Films

The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

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List of the best psychological thrillers and mystery films ever made. 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 films 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 very best films from the psychological thriller genre. 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.
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  Name
Score
  1. 1
    Up 670
    Down 97

    the people's #1
    The Silence of the Lambs

    1991 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 526
    Down 103
    1995 More
    97
  3. 3
    Up 410
    Down 109

    ranked high on reranks
    Memento

    2000 More
    92
  4. 4
    Up 419
    Down 120

    often listed
    The Sixth Sense

    1999 More
    91
  5. 5
    Up 282
    Down 81

    most listed &ranked high on reranks
    Psycho

    1960 More
    90
  6. 6
    Up 439
    Down 107

    ranked low on reranks
    Fight Club

    1999 More
    89
  7. 7
    Up 334
    Down 77
    1994 More
    89
  8. 8
    Up 445
    Down 135
    2010 More
    84
  9. 9
    Up 252
    Down 104

    often listed
    American Psycho

    2000 More
    84
  10. 10
    Up 227
    Down 74
    1954 More
    83
  11. 11
    Up 205
    Down 34

    ranked low on reranks
    The Shining

    1980 More
    83
  12. 12
    Up 190
    Down 64
    1958 More
    81
  13. 13
    Up 187
    Down 36

    ranked low on reranks
    Misery

    81
  14. 14
    Up 122
    Down 64

    often listed
    Fatal Attraction

    1987 More
    74
  15. 15
    Up 166
    Down 71
    1976 More
    74
  16. 16
    Up 192
    Down 101

    often listed
    Black Swan

    2010 More
    74
  17. 17
    Up 193
    Down 70
    2004 More
    73
  18. 18
    Up 228
    Down 93

    often listed &ranked low on reranks
    The Game

    1997 More
    72
  19. 19
    Up 107
    Down 37

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Mystic River

    2003 More
    70
    added by: AndrewW.Curley
  20. 20
    Up 236
    Down 102
    2001 More
    69
  21. 21
    Up 164
    Down 28
    2010 More
    69
  22. 22
    Up 148
    Down 25

    ranked low on reranks
    The Prestige

    2006 More
    69
    added by: wiabux
  23. 23
    Up 163
    Down 80
    2007 More
    66
  24. 24
    Up 67
    Down 41

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Dial M for Murder

    1954 More
    65
  25. 25
    Up 108
    Down 59
    1999 More
    65
  26. 26
    Up 89
    Down 75

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    The Manchurian Candidate

    1962 More
    64
  27. 27
    Up 93
    Down 46

    ranked low on reranks
    Falling Down

    1993 More
    64
  28. 28
    Up 135
    Down 79

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Oldboy

    2003 More
    63
  29. 29
    Up 124
    Down 28

    ranked low on reranks
    The Game (1997)

    63
  30. 30
    Up 105
    Down 25
    2001 More
    62
    added by: KeshanHareshu
  31. 31
    Up 130
    Down 77
    2001 More
    61
  32. 32
    Up 62
    Down 29

    ranked high on reranks
    Fracture

    2007 More
    58
  33. 33
    Up 56
    Down 58

    often listed &controversial
    Play Misty for Me

    1971 More
    57
  34. 34
    Up 44
    Down 14

    ranked low on reranks &niche appeal
    Primal Fear

    1996 More
    57
  35. 35
    Up 66
    Down 64

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Signs

    2002 More
    56
    added by: AndrewW.Curley
  36. 36
    Up 67
    Down 20
    1991 More
    56
  37. 37
    Up 62
    Down 61

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Rebecca

    1940 More
    56
  38. 38
    Up 62
    Down 24
    2003 More
    55
    added by: ChangesDownClub
  39. 39
    Up 50
    Down 30

    niche appeal
    Stir of Echoes

    1999 More
    55
  40. 40
    Up 65
    Down 14

    ranked low on reranks
    Red Dragon

    2002 More
    55
    added by: KeshanHareshu
  41. 41
    Up 48
    Down 63

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    The Conversation

    1974 More
    54
  42. 42
    Up 83
    Down 65

    niche appeal
    Frailty

    2001 More
    54
  43. 43
    Up 34
    Down 19

    niche appeal
    Stigmata

    1999 More
    52
    added by: ChangesDownClub
  44. 44
    Up 21
    Down 13

    ranked high on reranks
    Manhunter

    1986 More
    52
    added by: deanroloff
  45. 45
    Up 36
    Down 25
    No image

    ranked high on reranks
    Side Effects

    2005 More
    52
    added by: KeshanHareshu
  46. 46
    Up 73
    Down 62

    ranked low on reranks &niche appeal
    Pi

    1998 More
    52
  47. 47
    Up 29
    Down 18
    2002 More
    51
    added by: ChangesDownClub
  48. 48
    Up 30
    Down 18

    ranked low on reranks
    Orphan

    2009 More
    50
    added by: Mavsc79
  49. 49
    Up 44
    Down 54

    often listed &niche appeal
    Moon

    2009 More
    47
  50. 50
    Up 8
    Down 8
    2004 More
    46
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