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Unspeakable Crimes The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer  

Ranker Film
119 votes 45 voters 3.2k views

List Rules Vote up the top films that feature detectives on the hunt for elusive serial killers.

Serial killers can be chillingly crafty when it comes to evading the law, but, in time, smart detectives always crack the case. The best movies about the search for a serial killer feature dedicated cops using every tool available to stop more killings from taking place. This is a list of the top movies featuring a hunt for a serial killer, including everything from No Country for Old Men to American Psycho to Zodiac.

What active serial killer movies frighten you the most? There's no denying the terrifying power of The Silence of the Lambs. FBI cadet Clarice Starling (Jodi Foster) enlists the help of imprisoned murderer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to assist her in stopping the Buffalo Bill serial killer from striking again. The film earned Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Seven is another acclaimed film about detectives searching for a serial killer. Everyone in New York City was on the look out for the Son of Sam serial killer in Spike Lee's film Summer of Sam. Other good movies featured on this list include Frailty, M, and Kiss the Girls.

Do you have a favorite film about a detective hunting a serial killer? Give the best movies a thumbs up and add any scary flicks that are missing.

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The Silence of the Lambs is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
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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9 1
Seven is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
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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11 5
Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
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. Zodiac tells the story of the manhunt for a person ...more

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Manhunter is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Brian Cox, Garcelle Beauvais, Joan Allen
Manhunter is a 1986 American 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 as ...more

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6 3
Kiss the Girls is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Mena Suvari
Kiss the Girls is a 1997 American psychological thriller film directed by Gary Fleder and starring Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, and Cary Elwes. The screenplay by David Klass is based on the ...more

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6 3
American Psycho is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
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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4 1
Frailty is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
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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5 3
I Saw the Devil is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Lee Byung-hun, Choi Min-sik, Cheon Ho-Jin
I Saw the Devil is a 2010 South Korean psychological thriller/horror film directed by Kim Ji-woon, written by Park Hoon-jung, and starring Choi Min-sik and Lee Byung-hun. The film introduces the ...more

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4 2
M is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Peter Lorre, Theo Lingen, Georg John
M is a 1931 German drama-thriller film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre. It was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou and was the director's first sound film. Now ...more

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4 2
The Bone Collector is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
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 novel ...more

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Insomnia is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank
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 ...more

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4 3
No Country for Old Men is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
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. Mayhem ensue after a hunter (Josh Brolin) ...more

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2 1
Copycat is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter, Harry Connick
Copycat is a 1995 American psychological thriller, starring Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter and Dermot Mulroney. The film was directed by Jon Amiel, with a score composed by Christopher Young.

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No Way to Treat a Lady is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Rod Steiger, George Segal, Lee Remick
No Way to Treat a Lady is a darkly comic thriller directed by Jack Smight, with a screenplay by John Gay adapted from William Goldman's novel of the same name. The film starred Rod Steiger, Lee ...more

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1 0
Blood Work is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Clint Eastwood, Anjelica Huston, Jeff Daniels
Blood Work is a 2002 American mystery thriller film produced, directed by, and starring Clint Eastwood. The film co-stars Jeff Daniels, Wanda De Jesús, and Anjelica Huston. It is based on ...more

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2 2
Summer of Sam is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Mira Sorvino, Jennifer Esposito, Adrien Brody
Summer of Sam is a 1999 American thriller film that recounts the Son of Sam. It was directed and produced by Spike Lee and stars John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, and Jennifer

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1 1
Mindhunters is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Val Kilmer, LL Cool J, Christian Slater
Mindhunters is a 2004 American-British thriller film directed by Renny Harlin and starring Jonny Lee Miller, Kathryn Morris, LL Cool J, Patricia Velásquez, Clifton Collins, Jr., Christian ...more

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Frenzy is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Alfred Hitchcock, Anna Massey, Bernard Cribbins
Frenzy is a 1972 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The screenplay by Anthony Shaffer was based on the novel Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square by Arthur La Bern. The ...more

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The Boston Strangler is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis, George Kennedy
The Boston Strangler is a 1968 American film based on the true story of the Boston Strangler and the book by Gerold Frank. It was directed by Richard Fleischer, and stars Tony Curtis as Albert ...more

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Behind the Mask is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Kevin Jonas, Paul Watson, John Feldmann
Behind the Mask: The Story Of The People Who Risk Everything To Save Animals is a 2006 documentary film about the Animal Liberation Front. It took three years of filming, interviewing, and ...more

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Marshland is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Javier Gutiérrez, Raúl Arévalo, María Varod

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From Hell is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies About the Search for a Serial Killer
Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane
From Hell is a 2001 American horror mystery film directed by the Hughes brothers and loosely based on the graphic novel From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell about the Jack the Ripper