vote on everything
Watchworthy
51.0k voters

The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

Updated October 7, 2020 504.1k votes 51.0k voters 3.6m views242 items

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

Here is 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, good 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 Hollywood has to offer? Could some even be considered the best thriller movies ever?

Many of the top 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 thrilling 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. Several of these films are critically acclaimed psychological thrillers.

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.

Photo:
...more
  • 1
    Seven is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    15,874
    2,982

    Seven

    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow

    Released1995

    Directed byDavid Fincher

    amazon_watch buy button

    More Seven 

    #92 of 1,647 The Most Rewatchable Movies#30 of 149 Movies That Should Never Be Remade

  • 2
    The Silence of the Lambs is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    17,623
    3,339

    The Silence of the Lambs

    Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins

    Released1991

    Directed byJonathan Demme

    amazon_watch buy button

    More The Silence of the Lambs 

    Small Details And Trivia From 'The Silence Of The Lambs' That Left Us Hungry For MoreYou've Been Watching Silence Of The Lambs Wrong For Years: It's A Comedy

  • 3
    The Shining is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    11,095
    2,706

    The Shining

    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall

    Released1980

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    amazon_watch buy button

    More The Shining 

    Behind-The-Scenes Stories About Shelley Duvall From 'The Shining'The Making Of 'The Shining' Was A Bigger Nightmare Than The Film's Story

  • 4
    Misery is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    7,897
    2,004

    Misery

    Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates

    Released1990

    Directed byRob Reiner

    amazon_watch buy button

    More Misery 

    Behind The Scenes Of Annie Wilkes Hobbling Paul Sheldon In 'Misery'#503 of 1,189 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

  • 5
    Shutter Island is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    14,481
    3,819

    Shutter Island

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams

    Released2010

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    amazon_watch buy button
  • 6
    The Sixth Sense is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    13,082
    3,507

    The Sixth Sense

    Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton

    Released1999

    Directed byM. Night Shyamalan

    amazon_watch buy button
  • 7
    Psycho is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    8,550
    2,629

    Psycho

    Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh

    Released1960

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    amazon_watch buy button
  • 8
    Fight Club is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    11,646
    3,695

    Fight Club

    Brad Pitt, Jared Leto

    Released1999

    Directed byDavid Fincher

    amazon_watch buy button

    More Fight Club 

    'Fight Club' Fan Theories That Just Might Be True20 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Fight Club

  • 9
    The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    4,558
    1,169

    The Exorcist

    Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn

    Released1973

    Directed byWilliam Friedkin

    amazon_watch buy button

    More The Exorcist 

    The Story Of Roland Doe Inspired The Exorcist – But It's Way More Terrifying Than The MovieDid A Malevolent Spirit Actually Curse 'The Exorcist' From The Get-Go?

  • 10
    The Usual Suspects is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    7,588
    2,523

    The Usual Suspects

    Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro

    Released1994

    Directed byBryan Singer

    amazon_watch buy button
  • 11
    Inception is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    9,770
    3,266

    Inception

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy

    Released2010

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    amazon_watch buy button

    More Inception 

    List of Movies Like Inception#24 of 164 The Best Science Fiction Action Movies

  • 12
    Gone Girl is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    7,223
    2,310

    Gone Girl

    Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris

    Released2014

    Directed byDavid Fincher

    amazon_watch buy button

    More Gone Girl 

    #336 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movies#12 of 15 Bartenders In Movies, Ranked By Whether You'd Want Them To Pour You Another One

  • 13
    What Lies Beneath is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    1,008
    295

    What Lies Beneath

    Michelle Pfeiffer, Harrison Ford

    Released2000

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

    amazon_watch buy button

    More What Lies Beneath 

    #548 of 836 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made#17 of 144 The Best and Scariest Psychological Thrillers of All Time

  • 14
    No Country for Old Men is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    4,904
    1,827

    No Country for Old Men

    Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones

    Released2007

    Directed byEthan Coen, Joel Coen

    amazon_watch buy button
  • 15
    Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    5,254
    1,992

    Zodiac

    Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal

    Released2007

    Directed byDavid Fincher

    amazon_watch buy button
  • 16
    Primal Fear is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    4,139
    1,565

    Primal Fear

    Edward Norton, Richard Gere

    Released1996

    Directed byGregory Hoblit

    amazon_watch buy button

    More Primal Fear 

    #227 of 364 The Best Movies Based On Books#10 of 280 The Best Whodunit Movies

  • 17
    The Conjuring is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    889
    227

    The Conjuring

    Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson

    Released2013

    Directed byJames Wan

    amazon_watch buy button

    More The Conjuring 

    Why Do People Stop Watching 'The Conjuring' At The Moment Lorraine Falls Through The Floor?#12 of 714 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

  • 18
    Split is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    1,802
    509

    Split

    James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy

    Released2016

    Directed byM. Night Shyamalan

    amazon_watch buy button

    More Split 

    #60 of 174 The Best Superhero Movies Ever Made#29 of 114 The Best Intelligent Horror Movies

  • 19
    Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    3,499
    1,064

    Hannibal

    Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman

    Released2001

    Directed byRidley Scott

    amazon_watch buy button

    More Hannibal 

    #368 of 560 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies#180 of 225 The Worst Sequels Of All Time

  • 20
    The Devil's Advocate is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    998
    227

    The Devil's Advocate

    Charlize Theron, Al Pacino

    Released1997

    Directed byTaylor Hackford

    amazon_watch buy button
  • 21
    12 Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    3,009
    1,066

    12 Monkeys

    Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis

    Released1995

    Directed byTerry Gilliam

    amazon_watch buy button
  • 22
    The Bone Collector is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    2,799
    854

    The Bone Collector

    Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington

    Released1999

    Directed byPhillip Noyce

    amazon_watch buy button
  • 23
    Identity is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    3,593
    1,363

    Identity

    Amanda Peet, John Cusack

    Released2003

    Directed byJames Mangold

    amazon_watch buy button
  • 24
    American Psycho is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    6,505
    2,622

    American Psycho

    Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe

    Released2000

    Directed byMary Harron

    amazon_watch buy button
  • 25
    Fargo is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
    997
    325

    Fargo

    Steve Buscemi, William H. Macy

    Released1996

    Directed byEthan Coen, Joel Coen

    amazon_watch buy button

    More Fargo 

    Small Details, Trivia, And Interesting Tidbits About 'Fargo' That Made Us Say 'You Betcha!'Theories About Why The Coen Bros. Had Marge Gunderson Go On A Date In Fargo

FilmsFilmEntertainmentThrillerspollBest Movies