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The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Psychological Thrillers  

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531 votes 75 voters 3.7k views 25 items

List Rules Vote up the movies that define the genre and should be required viewing for beginners in an Intro to Psychological Thrillers class.

A lot of films can scare an audience. From slasher films to horror films filled with jump scares, it isn't that hard to make someone scream. However, psychological thrillers don't just terrify. They make us think with complex plots that often serve as metaphors for contemporary issues or human nature in general. The must-see psychological thrillers listed below are not the type of films that are easily forgotten. If you want a film you'll be pondering for months - possibly years - these famous films will meet that need. 

Sure, many of the characters in these movies get hacked and slashed like the best of them, but the real torture is the psychological terror put upon them before they meet their ultimate demise. Many of the films that qualify as psychological thrillers can be slotted into other genres such as mystery, horror, and suspense. However, there are some essential psychological thrillers out there that deserve a list all their own! These are thought provoking films everyone should watch.  

If you're new to the genre, you can consider this list an intro to psychological thrillers. These are popular thrillers for beginners, that will help you get accustomed to the world of psychological terror.

Check out the films below and be sure to vote your favorites to the top of the list! Then, check to see if these good thrillers are on Netflix.

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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 stars Robert De Niro and features Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Cybill Shepherd, Peter Boyle, and Albert Brooks. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, + more

Released: 1976

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

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Seven is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Psychological Thrillers
Photo:  Seven/New Line Cinema
6

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 Spacey in supporting roles. It was directed by David Fincher based on a screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker. The newly transferred David Mills and the soon-to-retire William Somerset are homicide detectives who become deeply involved in the case of a sadistic madman whose meticulously planned events that correspond to the "seven deadly sins": gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, lust, and envy. The film was released in the United States on September 22, 1995. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, R. Lee Ermey, + more

Released: 1995

Directed by: David Fincher

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Memento is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Psychological Thrillers
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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 "Memento Mori". It stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano. Memento is presented as two different sequences of scenes interspersed during the film: a series in black-and-white that is shown chronologically, and a series of color sequences shown in reverse order. The two sequences "meet" at the end of the film, producing one complete and cohesive narrative. Memento premiered on September 5, 2000, at the Venice International Film Festival and was released in European theaters starting in ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Jorja Fox, Stephen Tobolowsky, + more

Released: 2000

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

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Insomnia is a 2002 American 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 investigating in an Alaskan town. A remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name, Insomnia was released on May 24, 2002, to critical acclaim and commercial success, grossing $113 million worldwide. To date, this is the only film that Christopher Nolan has directed without receiving at least a share of one of the writing credits, even though he wrote the final draft of the script. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank, Maura Tierney, Katharine Isabelle, + more

Released: 2002

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

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