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.

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? 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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9.956 2.093
The Silence of the Lambs is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Silence of the Lambs Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American thriller film that blends elements of the crime and horror genres. Directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Scott ...more

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8.639 1.796
Seven is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Seven Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman Seven is a 1995 American psychological thriller film directed by David Fincher. The film stars Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, with Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, John C. McGinley, and Kevin ...more

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6.586 2.073
The Sixth Sense is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Sixth Sense Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American supernatural thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film tells the story of Cole Sear, a troubled, isolated boy who is able to see and ...more

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5.607 1.259
The Shining is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Shining Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers The Shining is a 1980 British-American psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, ...more

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7.785 1.884
Shutter Island is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Shutter Island Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo Shutter Island is a 2010 American psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese. The film is based on Dennis Lehane's 2003 novel of the same name. Production started in March 2008. ...more

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5.162 2.061
Memento is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Memento Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan. The screenplay was written by Nolan based on his younger brother Jonathan Nolan's short story ...more

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6.716 2.060
Fight Club is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Fight Club Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, Helena Bonham Carter Fight Club is a 1999 film based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The film was directed by David Fincher, and stars Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter. Norton ...more

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4.609 1.387
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins Psycho is a 1960 Psychological thriller and horror film written by Joseph Stefano and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

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4.279 1.292
The Usual Suspects is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Usual Suspects Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne The Usual Suspects is a 1995 German-American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Bryan Singer and written by Christopher McQuarrie. It stars Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del ...more

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5.430 1.635
Inception is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Inception Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard Inception is a 2010 science fiction heist thriller film written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars a large ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, ...more

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2.408 1.074
Rear Window is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Rear Window Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written by John Michael Hayes based on Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story "It Had to Be Murder". ...more

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Misery is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Misery Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates, James Caan Misery is a 1990 American psychological thriller film based on Stephen King's 1987 novel of the same name and starring James Caan, Kathy Bates, Lauren Bacall, Richard Farnsworth, and Frances ...more

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3.360 1.359
American Psycho is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
American Psycho Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe American Psycho is a 2000 American psychological thriller comedy film co-written and directed by Mary Harron, based on Bret Easton Ellis's 1991 novel of the same name. It stars Christian Bale, ...more

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Vertigo is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Vertigo James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock Vertigo is a 1958 American psychological thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock. The story was based on the 1954 novel D'entre les morts by Boileau-Narcejac. The screenplay was ...more

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2.829 1.142
The Game is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Game Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Spike Jonze The Game is a 1997 American mystery thriller film directed by David Fincher, starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn, and produced by Propaganda Films and PolyGram Filmed Entertainment. It tells ...more

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3.324 1.557
Black Swan is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Black Swan Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller-horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, and Mila Kunis. The plot revolves around a production ...more

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2.122 1.006
Taxi Driver is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Taxi Driver Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese Taxi Driver is a 1976 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader. Set in New York City soon after the end of the Vietnam War, the film ...more

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Gone Girl is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
ryanmcw added Gone Girl Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry Gone Girl is a 2014 American psychological thriller film directed by David Fincher and adapted by Gillian Flynn from her 2012 novel of the same name. It stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Set ...more

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Fatal Attraction is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Fatal Attraction Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Jane Krakowski Fatal Attraction is a 1987 American psychological thriller film directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, and Anne Archer. The film centers on a married Manhattan man ...more

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1.925 675
Primal Fear is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Primal Fear Edward Norton, Richard Gere, Laura Linney Primal Fear is a 1996 American neo-noir crime-thriller film, based on William Diehl's 1993 novel of the same name and directed by Gregory Hoblit. The film tells the story of Chicago defense ...more

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2.662 1.046
Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Zodiac Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo Zodiac is a 2007 American mystery-thriller film directed by David Fincher and based on Robert Graysmith's non-fiction book of the same name. The Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. joint ...more

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The Machinist is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Machinist Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside The Machinist is a 2004 English-language Spanish psychological thriller film directed by Brad Anderson and written by Scott Kosar. The film stars Christian Bale with Jennifer Jason Leigh, John ...more

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Mystic River is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
AndrewW.Curley added Mystic River Emmy Rossum, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon Mystic River is a 2003 American mystery drama film directed and scored by Clint Eastwood. It stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, and Laura Linney. ...more

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No Country for Old Men is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
No Country for Old Men Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson No Country for Old Men is a 2007 American neo-western neo-noir thriller film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy. Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter ...more

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The Others is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
drkaramaniac added The Others Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Michelle Fairley The Others is a 2001 horror-thriller film written, directed and scored by Alejandro Amenábar. It stars Nicole Kidman and Fionnula Flanagan. It won eight Goya Awards, including awards for ...more

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Cape Fear is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Cape Fear Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange Cape Fear is a 1991 American psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese and a remake of the 1962 film of the same name. It stars Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange and ...more

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The Talented Mr. Ripley is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Talented Mr. Ripley Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon The Talented Mr. Ripley is a 1999 American psychological thriller written for the screen and directed by Anthony Minghella. An adaptation of the 1955 Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name, ...more

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The Butterfly Effect is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added The Butterfly Effect Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Logan Lerman The Butterfly Effect is a 2004 American psychological thriller film that was written and directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, starring Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart. The title refers to ...more

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Oldboy is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Oldboy Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Oh Dal-su Oldboy is a 2003 South Korean mystery thriller neo-noir film directed by Park Chan-wook. It is based on the Japanese manga of the same name written by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya. ...more

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Identity is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Identity Amanda Peet, John Cusack, Alfred Molina Identity is a 2003 American psychological thriller film directed by James Mangold from a screenplay written by Michael Cooney. The film stars John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Alfred Molina, ...more

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1.208 669
Falling Down is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Falling Down Robert Duvall, Michael Douglas, Tuesday Weld Falling Down is a 1993 drama film directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Ebbe Roe Smith. The film stars Michael Douglas in the lead role of William Foster, a divorcé and unemployed ...more

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Mulholland Drive is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Mulholland Drive Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George Mulholland Drive is a 2001 American neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch and starring Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, and Justin Theroux. It tells the story of an aspiring ...more

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Dial M for Murder is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Dial M for Murder Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland Dial M for Murder is a 1954 3-D American crime thriller film in Warnercolor directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, and Robert Cummings. The screenplay and the ...more

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1.246 644
Insomnia is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Insomnia Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank Insomnia is a 2002 American crime thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank. It tells the story of two Los Angeles homicide detectives ...more

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887 607
The Manchurian Candidate is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Manchurian Candidate Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh The Manchurian Candidate is a 1962 American Cold War suspense thriller directed by John Frankenheimer that stars Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Janet Leigh and co-stars Angela Lansbury, ...more

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1.515 387
The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name. The book, inspired by the 1949 ...more

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1.691 475
Prisoners is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Prisoners Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello Prisoners is a 2013 crime drama thriller film written by Aaron Guzikowski and directed by Denis Villeneuve.

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Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Rebecca Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine Rebecca is a 1940 American psychological thriller-drama film. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it was his first American project, and his first film produced under contract with David O. Selznick. ...more

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1.536 539
Red Dragon is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
KeshanHareshu added Red Dragon Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton Red Dragon is a 2002 American psychological thriller film based on Thomas Harris' novel of the same name, featuring psychiatrist and serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter. It is a prequel to The ...more

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1.138 383
12 Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
jared-telsa added 12 Monkeys Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Christopher Plummer 12 Monkeys, also known as Twelve Monkeys, is a 1995 American science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short film La Jetée, and starring Bruce ...more

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1.004 472
Stir of Echoes is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Stir of Echoes Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas Stir of Echoes is a supernatural horror-thriller released in the US in 1999, starring Kevin Bacon and directed by David Koepp. The film is loosely based on the novel A Stir of Echoes by Richard ...more

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1.033 225
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nes... is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
DonnyCillianoMcCarthyMcCarth added One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 drama film written by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman and directed by MiloŇ° Forman.

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Signs is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
AndrewW.Curley added Signs Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin Signs is a 2002 American science fiction thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Executive producers for the film comprised Shyamalan, Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy and Sam ...more

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1.445 513
Requiem for a Dream is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Requiem for a Dream Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn Requiem for a Dream is a 2000 American psychological drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans. The film is based on ...more

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1.581 471
Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Hannibal Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins Hannibal is a 2001 American crime thriller film directed by Ridley Scott, adapted from the novel of the same name by Thomas Harris. It is the sequel to the 1991 Academy Award-winning film The ...more

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Secret Window is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Secret Window Johnny Depp, Maria Bello, John Turturro Secret Window is a 2004 American psychological thriller film starring Johnny Depp and John Turturro. It was written and directed by David Koepp, based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden ...more

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Frailty is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Frailty Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe Frailty is a 2002 psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Bill Paxton, and co-starring Matthew McConaughey. It marks Paxton's directorial debut. The plot focuses on the strange ...more

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Unbreakable is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
looksharp added Unbreakable Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright Unbreakable is a 2000 American superhero drama film written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. The film tells the story of ...more

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965 261
Jaws is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
but chickens double d added Jaws Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. The prototypical summer blockbuster, its release is regarded as a ...more

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The Bone Collector is listed (or ranked) 50 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