20 Movies to Show Your Kids to Get Them into Psychological Thrillers 

Ranker Film
Updated April 2, 2018 431 votes 99 voters 3.6k views 20 items

List Rules Vote up the classic films appropriate for kids and teens that will teach them to love and respect psychological thrillers.

As kids get older, they'll get tired of the latest Disney flicks and crave something more substantial. Unfortunately, teens and tweens often assume an R-rating guarantees mature content. Sure, there are some R-rated masterpieces, but gore is not inherently sophisticated and - not to mention - certain thrillers or horror films are not necessarily appropriate for a prepubescent audience. Fear not! We have the psychological thriller, psychological being the operative word. These movies don't just make you scream - they make you think! There are plenty of psychological thriller movies for beginners that are perfectly appropriate - and even enriching - for a younger audience! Below, you'll find some suggestions of excellent films to get kids into psychological thrillers. 

There are plenty of classic psychological thriller movies kids can watch without picking up any colorful language or seeing anything too, too graphic. The Sixth Sense features some spooky specters, but there's also some intellectually intelligent themes about cultural erasure and communication. The Ring may be terrifying, but it's definitely a film that keeps audiences thinking to solve the mystery and the gore is pretty minimal. With a little fishing, you should be able to find a great psychological thriller to show your kids. 

Which movies do you think are the best films to introduce kids to the psychological thriller genre? Vote up your favorites below! 

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Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Hugh Jackman

Released: 2006

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

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Rear Window is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 20 Movies to Show Your Kids to Get Them into Psychological Thrillers
Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock

Released: 1954

Directed by: 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. Originally released by Paramount ...more

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Johnny Depp, Maria Bello, John Turturro

Released: 2004

Directed by: David Koepp

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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Jim Caviezel, Elizabeth Mitchell, Dennis Quaid

Released: 2000

Directed by: Gregory Hoblit

Frequency is a 2000 American science fiction thriller film. It was co-produced and directed by Gregory Hoblit and written and co-produced by Toby Emmerich. The film stars Dennis Quaid and Jim ...more

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Richard Gere, Debra Messing, Laura Linney

Released: 2002

Directed by: Mark Pellington

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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Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon, John C. Reilly

Released: 1994

Directed by: Curtis Hanson

The River Wild is a 1994 adventure thriller film directed by Curtis Hanson and starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon, David Strathairn, John C. Reilly, Benjamin Bratt and Joseph Mazzello as Roarke. ...more
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Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox

Released: 2005

Directed by: Wes Craven

Red Eye is a 2005 American thriller film directed by Wes Craven and starring Rachel McAdams as a hotel manager ensnared in a plot by a terrorist while aboard a red-eye flight to Miami. The film ...more
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Sandra Bullock, Jeremy Northam, Tony Perez

Released: 1995

Directed by: Irwin Winkler

The Net is a 1995 American cyber mystery thriller film directed by Irwin Winkler. A computer programmer (Sandra Bullock) stumbles upon a conspiracy, putting her life and the lives of those ...more

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Donnie Darko is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list 20 Movies to Show Your Kids to Get Them into Psychological Thrillers
Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal

Released: 2001

Directed by: Richard Kelly

Donnie Darko is a 2001 American supernatural drama film written and directed by Richard Kelly and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wyle, Jena ...more

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Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

Released: 1999

Directed by: Anthony Minghella

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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Jodie Foster, Matt Bomer, Sean Bean

Released: 2005

Directed by: Robert Schwentke

Flightplan is a 2005 mystery-thriller film directed by German film director Robert Schwentke and starring Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Erika Christensen, Kate Beahan, Greta Scacchi, and Sean ...more

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January Jones, Diane Lane, Leelee Sobieski

Released: 2001

Directed by: Daniel Sackheim

The Glass House is a 2001 American psychological thriller film directed by Daniel Sackheim and written by Wesley Strick. The film stars Leelee Sobieski, Diane Lane, Stellan Skarsgård, ...more

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Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz, Daniel Craig

Released: 2011

Directed by: Jim Sheridan

Dream House is a 2011 American psychological thriller written by David Loucka directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts and Marton Csokas. It was released on ...more

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Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Bruce Lee

Released: 2011

Directed by: Neil Burger

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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Gattaca is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list 20 Movies to Show Your Kids to Get Them into Psychological Thrillers
Uma Thurman, Jude Law, Ethan Hawke

Released: 1997

Directed by: Andrew Niccol

Gattaca is a 1997 American science fiction film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It stars Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, with Jude Law, Loren Dean, Ernest Borgnine, Gore Vidal, and Alan ...more

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Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

Released: 1962

Directed by: John Frankenheimer

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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Murder on the Orient Exp... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list 20 Movies to Show Your Kids to Get Them into Psychological Thrillers
Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall

Released: 1974

Directed by: Sidney Lumet

This film is a 1974 British Technicolor mystery film directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot, and based on the 1934 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie.

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Pierce Brosnan, Ewan McGregor, Kim Cattrall

Released: 2010

Directed by: Roman Polanski

The Ghost Writer is 2010 thriller film written by Robert Harris and Roman Polanski and directed by Roman Polanski.

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Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen

Released: 2016

Directed by: Morten Tyldum

Passengers is a 2016 romantic science fiction thriller film directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Jon Spaihts. It stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as two people who awake, 90 years too ...more

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Jennifer Lopez, Juliette Lewis, Noah Wyle

Released: 2002

Directed by: Michael Apted

Enough is a 2002 American drama-thriller film directed by Michael Apted. The movie is based on the 1998 novel Black and Blue, by Anna Quindlen, which was a New York Times bestseller. It stars ...more

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