Best Movie Genres The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time  

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Ranker Video The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

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. With that in mind, what do you think are the best psychological thriller movies? Could some even be considered the best thriller movies ever?

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 best thriller movies of all time. It is open and vote ranked, so be sure to vote for your favorites and add any other movies that may be missing at the bottom of the page. Got an opinion on great thriller movies? Vote for your favorite psychological suspense movies ever! And, if you love scary material, check out this list of the best current crime shows as well. 

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1,020 339
The Bone Collector is listed (or ranked) 51 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
ImaadShahrukh added The Bone Collector Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, Queen Latifah The Bone Collector is a 1999 psychological thriller film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie, directed by Phillip Noyce and produced by Martin Bregman. The movie was based on the crime ...more

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1,334 393
Pulp Fiction is listed (or ranked) 52 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
carolyn-branan added Pulp Fiction John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American black comedy crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, from a story by Tarantino and Roger Avary. The film is known for its eclectic dialogue, ironic ...more

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947 278
Halloween is listed (or ranked) 53 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
drkaramaniac added Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence Halloween is a 1978 American independent slasher horror film directed and scored by John Carpenter, co-written with producer Debra Hill, and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her ...more

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900 435
Fracture is listed (or ranked) 54 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Fracture Ryan Gosling, Anthony Hopkins, Rosamund Pike Fracture is a 2007 American-German crime-mystery thriller film, directed by Gregory Hoblit and starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. It tells the story of a man accused of attempted murder ...more

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1,033 322
Reservoir Dogs is listed (or ranked) 55 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Reservoir Dogs Quentin Tarantino, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth Reservoir Dogs is a 1992 American ensemble crime film that depicts the events before and after a botched diamond heist. The film was the debut of director and writer Quentin Tarantino, and stars ...more

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Play Misty for Me is listed (or ranked) 56 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Play Misty for Me Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter Play Misty for Me is a 1971 American psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, in his directorial debut. Jessica Walter and Donna Mills co-star. The original music ...more

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810 497
Mr. Brooks is listed (or ranked) 57 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Mr. Brooks Demi Moore, Kevin Costner, Danielle Panabaker Mr. Brooks is a 2007 American psychological thriller film directed by Bruce A. Evans starring Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Dane Cook, and William Hurt. It was released on June 1, 2007. The film ...more

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769 365
Jacob's Ladder is listed (or ranked) 58 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Jacob's Ladder Macaulay Culkin, Tim Robbins, Jason Alexander Jacob's Ladder is a 1990 American psychological horror film directed by Adrian Lyne, written and produced by Bruce Joel Rubin and starring Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña and Danny Aiello. ...more

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638 507
Moon is listed (or ranked) 59 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Moon Kevin Spacey, Mary Tyler Moore, Kaya Scodelario Moon is a 2009 British science fiction drama film co-written and directed by Duncan Jones. The film follows Sam Bell, a man who experiences a personal crisis as he nears the end of a three-year ...more

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420 484
The Conversation is listed (or ranked) 60 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Conversation Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman The Conversation is a 1974 American psychological thriller film written, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Gene Hackman with supporting roles by John Cazale, Allen ...more

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Panic Room is listed (or ranked) 61 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Panic Room Kristen Stewart, Nicole Kidman, Jodie Foster Panic Room is a 2002 American thriller film directed by David Fincher and written by David Koepp. The film stars Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart as a mother and daughter whose new home is ...more

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotle... is listed (or ranked) 62 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Carrey Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science-fiction comedy-drama film about an estranged couple who have each other erased from their memories, written by Charlie ...more

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The Skeleton Key is listed (or ranked) 63 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
harleyquinn3381 added The Skeleton Key Kate Hudson, John Hurt, Joy Bryant The Skeleton Key is a 2005 American supernatural horror film starring Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, and Joy Bryant. The film centers on a young hospice nurse who ...more

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Gone Baby Gone is listed (or ranked) 64 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
ryanmcw added Gone Baby Gone Morgan Freeman, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris Gone Baby Gone is a 2007 American neo-noir mystery film directed by Ben Affleck and starring his brother Casey Affleck. The screenplay by Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard is based on the novel of ...more

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Law Abiding Citizen is listed (or ranked) 65 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
JulianAndresBeltran added Law Abiding Citizen Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx, Viola Davis Law Abiding Citizen is a 2009 American thriller film directed by F. Gary Gray from a screenplay written by Kurt Wimmer and stars Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler. The film takes place in ...more

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Stigmata is listed (or ranked) 66 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Stigmata Portia de Rossi, Patricia Arquette, Nia Long Stigmata is a 1999 supernatural horror film directed by Rupert Wainwright and starring Patricia Arquette as an atheist hairdresser from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who is afflicted with the ...more

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The Illusionist is listed (or ranked) 67 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
looksharp added The Illusionist Jessica Biel, Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti The Illusionist is a 2006 American period drama film written and directed by Neil Burger and starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Jessica Biel. It is based loosely on Steven Millhauser's ...more

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The Cell is listed (or ranked) 68 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Cell Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'Onofrio The Cell is a 2000 horror film directed by Tarsem Singh, and starring Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn and Vincent D'Onofrio.

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Ex Machina is listed (or ranked) 69 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
puddin added Ex Machina Ex Machina is a 2015 independent science fiction psychological thriller film directed by Alex Garland. A young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) is selected to participate in a ground-breaking ...more

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Pet Sematary is listed (or ranked) 70 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
but chickens double d added Pet Sematary Stephen King, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby Pet Sematary is a 1989 American horror film adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name. Directed by Mary Lambert and written by King, the film features Dale Midkiff as Louis Creed, ...more

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The Village is listed (or ranked) 71 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
looksharp added The Village Bryce Dallas Howard, Sigourney Weaver, Joaquin Phoenix The Village is a 2004 American psychological thriller film, written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt ...more

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Hard Candy is listed (or ranked) 72 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Hard Candy Ellen Page, Sandra Oh, Patrick Wilson Hard Candy is a 2005 vigilante thriller film focusing on the torture of a suspected sexual predator by a 14-year-old female vigilante. The film was directed by David Slade, written by Brian ...more

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Eyes Wide Shut is listed (or ranked) 73 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Eyes Wide Shut Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Stanley Kubrick Eyes Wide Shut is a 1999 American erotic thriller film loosely based upon Arthur Schnitzler's 1926 novella Dream Story. The film was directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick. It was ...more

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Basic Instinct is listed (or ranked) 74 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Richard Dumas added Basic Instinct Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas, Jeanne Tripplehorn Basic Instinct is a 1992 French-American neo-noir erotic thriller film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Joe Eszterhas, and starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone. The film is about a ...more

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North by Northwest is listed (or ranked) 75 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
but chickens double d added North by Northwest Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, Eva Marie Saint North by Northwest is a 1959 American spy thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. The screenplay was written by Ernest Lehman, who ...more

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Interstellar is listed (or ranked) 76 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
harleyquinn3381 added Interstellar Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Damon Interstellar is a British-American 2014 science fiction epic film directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine. The film ...more

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1408 is listed (or ranked) 77 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
MeganGrothem added 1408 Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack, Kate Walsh 1408 is a 2007 American psychological horror film based on the Stephen King 1999 short story of the same name directed by Swedish director Mikael Håfström, who earlier had directed ...more

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Hide and Seek is listed (or ranked) 78 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
ShaundaPetty added Hide and Seek Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen Hide and Seek is a 2005 American horror film starring Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning. It was directed by John Polson. The film opened in the United States on January 28, 2005 and was a ...more

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Cape Fear is listed (or ranked) 79 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Cape Fear Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Telly Savalas Cape Fear is a 1962 American psychological thriller film starring Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Martin Balsam and Polly Bergen. It was adapted by James R. Webb from the novel The Executioners by ...more

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Gothika is listed (or ranked) 80 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
harleyquinn3381 added Gothika Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., Penélope Cruz Gothika is a 2003 supernatural horror film directed by Mathieu Kassovitz and written by Sebastian Gutierrez. Halle Berry plays a psychiatrist in a women's mental hospital who wakes up one day to ...more

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The Good Son is listed (or ranked) 81 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Good Son Macaulay Culkin, Elijah Wood, David Morse The Good Son is a 1993 American psychological thriller film directed by Joseph Ruben and written by English novelist Ian McEwan. The film stars Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood.

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Pi is listed (or ranked) 82 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Pi Mark Margolis, Ajay Naidu, Clint Mansell Pi, also titled π, is a 1998 American surrealist psychological thriller film written and directed by Darren Aronofsky in his directorial debut. The film earned Aronofsky the Directing Award at ...more

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The Mothman Prophecies is listed (or ranked) 83 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
looksharp added The Mothman Prophecies Richard Gere, Debra Messing, Laura Linney The Mothman Prophecies is a 2002 supernatural thriller film directed by Mark Pellington, based on the 1975 book of the same name by parapsychologist and Fortean author John Keel. The screenplay ...more

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is listed (or ranked) 84 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a 1998 American dark comedy film co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam, starring Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke and Benicio del Toro as Dr. Gonzo. It was adapted ...more

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2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 85 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop 2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was partially inspired by ...more

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Limitless is listed (or ranked) 86 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
looksharp added Limitless Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Bruce Lee Limitless is a 2011 American thriller film directed by Neil Burger and starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, and Robert De Niro. It is based on the novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn.

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Side Effects is listed (or ranked) 87 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
KeshanHareshu added Side Effects Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jude Law, Channing Tatum Side Effects is a 2013 American psychological thriller film directed by Steven Soderbergh from a screenplay written by Scott Z. Burns. The film stars Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, ...more

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Flatliners is listed (or ranked) 88 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
carolyn-branan added Flatliners Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland Flatliners is a 1990 American sci-fi horror thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher, starring Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt. Five medical ...more

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber... is listed (or ranked) 89 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a 2007 musical slasher film directed by Tim Burton. It is an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Tony Award-winning 1979 musical ...more

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The Gift is listed (or ranked) 90 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
LanaYoshii added The Gift Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton The Gift is a 2015 American-Australian psychological horror-thriller film written, co-produced, and directed by Joel Edgerton in his directorial debut. The film stars Jason Bateman and Rebecca ...more

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362 221
Chinatown is listed (or ranked) 91 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
but chickens double d added Chinatown Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, Roman Polanski Chinatown is a 1974 American neo-noir mystery film, directed by Roman Polanski from a screenplay by Robert Towne, starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. The film was inspired by the ...more

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361 262
Blue Velvet is listed (or ranked) 92 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
but chickens double d added Blue Velvet Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern Blue Velvet is a 1986 American mystery thriller flm, written and directed by David Lynch. The film stars Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper and Laura Dern. The title is taken ...more

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Cube is listed (or ranked) 93 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
CarlosPepin added Cube Nicole de Boer, Julian Richings, David Hewlett Cube is a 1997 Canadian science fiction psychological horror film, directed and co-written by Vincenzo Natali. The film was a successful product of the Canadian Film Centre's First Feature

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The Girl with the Dragon Tatto... is listed (or ranked) 94 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
carolyn-branan added The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Robin Wright The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a 2011 Swedish-American mystery thriller film based on the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson. This film adaptation was directed by David Fincher and ...more

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The Shawshank Redemption is listed (or ranked) 95 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
AshrafulKaderMahin added The Shawshank Redemption Morgan Freeman, Rita Hayworth, Tim Robbins The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. Adapted from the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and ...more

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Straw Dogs is listed (or ranked) 96 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Straw Dogs Dustin Hoffman, David Warner, Peter Vaughan Straw Dogs is a 1971 psychological thriller directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George. The screenplay by Peckinpah and David Zelag Goodman is based upon Gordon M. ...more

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Les Diaboliques is listed (or ranked) 97 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Les Diaboliques Simone Signoret, Michel Serrault, Paul Meurisse Les Diaboliques, released as Diabolique in the United States and variously translated as The Devils or The Fiends, is a 1955 French black-and-white psychological thriller feature film directed ...more

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Manhunter is listed (or ranked) 98 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
deanroloff added Manhunter Brian Cox, Garcelle Beauvais, Joan Allen Manhunter is a 1986 American crime thriller film based on Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon. Written and directed by Michael Mann, it stars William Petersen as Will Graham and features Brian Cox ...more

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The Negotiator is listed (or ranked) 99 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
looksharp added The Negotiator Kevin Spacey, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Giamatti The Negotiator is a 1998 action thriller film directed by F. Gary Gray, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. It takes place in Chicago and was released on July 29, 1998. The original ...more

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Session 9 is listed (or ranked) 100 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Session 9 Josh Lucas, David Caruso, 피터 뮬란 Session 9 is a 2001 American independent psychological horror film directed by Brad Anderson and written by Anderson and Stephen Gevedon. The film stars David Caruso, Peter Mullan, Stephen ...more