Entertainment
239 voters

The Most Stressful Movies To Watch

Updated May 18, 2021 1.6k votes 239 voters 9.2k views33 items

List RulesAny movie (from any genre) that gave you anxiety while you watched it.

What makes for the most stressful movies ever? Imagine that a total psychopath has wired a Los Angeles city bus to explode if the speedometer drops below 50 MPH. Now imagine that the bus driver is not a bus driver at all, but just an inexperienced passenger pressed into duty. Speed may be just a popcorn flick, but the taut thriller is so well-paced and exhilarating, that it’s one of the most stressful films to watch unfold. Don’t think Speed is all that agita-inducing, there’s more where that came from. Here are the most stressful movies ever.

Suspenseful movies are a dime a dozen in Hollywood. Most filmmakers want to do everything possible to hook an audience and keep them on the edge of their seats. But is there anything quite like a film that is so stressful that it causes your heart to beat fast enough that it actually causes panic and sweat?

Some of the suspenseful films on this list are from the horror genre - a category of movies that is specifically designed to make a spectator jump from their seat and become so petrified of the monster, that they have to cover their eyes.

Of course, several of these movies are actual suspense films. A genre of film rooted entirely upon the premise of making a spectator feel anxious and uncertain, because they don’t know what is about to happen, and there’s nothing that they can do to help. What’s in the box that John Doe has sent to Detective Mills (Seven)? What do the scary ghosts want with Cole (The Sixth Sense)? Will the undercover cop be discovered and killed by the brutal Irish Gang (The Departed)?

But suspense comes in all genres (you've seen The Polar Express, right?). It’s often the root of drama and provides white-knuckle conflict within the story. Who knows for sure why, but there’s a piece in all of us that feels pleasure when we watch unpredictable, nerve-wracking movies.

Be sure to vote up the movies that stressed you out the most, and not in a good way.
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  • 1
    35
    12

    The Omen

    Gregory Peck, Lee Remick

    Released1976

    Directed byRichard Donner

    The Omen is a 1976 British/American supernatural horror film directed by Richard Donner. The film stars Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Spencer Stephens, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick...  more
  • 2
    40
    18

    Saw

    Danny Glover, Monica Potter

    Released2004

    Directed byJames Wan

    Saw is a 2004 horror film written by Leigh Whannell and directed by James Wan, in Wan's directorial debut. In the film, Adam (Whannell) and Lawrence (Cary Elwes) awaken chained in a large dilapidated...  more
  • 3
    35
    14

    Requiem for a Dream

    Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto

    Released2000

    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

    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 the...  more
  • 4
    32
    13

    No Country for Old Men

    Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones

    Released2007

    Directed byEthan Coen, Joel Coen

    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) stumbles...  more
  • 5
    36
    20

    The Shining

    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall

    Released1980

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    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, Danny...  more
  • 6
    29
    14

    Psycho

    Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh

    Released1960

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Psycho is a 1960 American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film centers on an encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane, who ends up at a secluded motel after taking money from her...  more
  • 7
    28
    13

    The Departed

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson

    Released2006

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    The Departed is a 2006 American crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, and a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. Irish Mob boss Francis "Frank" Costello (Jack Nicholson) plants...  more
  • 8
    22
    9

    Argo

    Ben Affleck, John Goodman

    Released2012

    Directed byBen Affleck

    Argo is a 2012 American political thriller film directed by Ben Affleck. The film is adapted from U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative Tony Mendez's book The Master of Disguise and Joshuah...  more
  • 9
    32
    24

    Gravity

    Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

    Released2013

    Directed byAlfonso Cuarón

    Gravity is a 2013 science fiction thriller film directed, co-written, and produced by Alfonso Cuarón. It stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts, and sees them stranded in space after...  more
  • 10
    30
    22

    Saving Private Ryan

    Tom Hanks, Matt Damon

    Released1998

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic drama war film directed by Steven Spielberg. Set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II, the film is notable for its graphic and realistic...  more
  • 11
    25
    15

    Memento

    Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss

    Released2000

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    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...  more
  • 12
    21
    11

    Happiness

    Philip Seymour Hoffman, Molly Shannon

    Released1998

    Directed byTodd Solondz

    Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial
    Happiness is a 1998 American comedy-drama film directed by Todd Solondz. The lives of three siblings, their families and those around them intersect in strange and inspiring ways....  more
  • 13
    19
    11

    Speed

    Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves

    Released1994

    Directed byJan de Bont

    Speed is a 1994 American action film directed by Jan de Bont in his feature film directorial debut. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Joe Morton, and Jeff Daniels. A...  more
  • 14
    45
    44

    Misery

    Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates

    Released1990

    Directed byRob Reiner

    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
  • 15
    35
    34

    Seven

    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow

    Released1995

    Directed byDavid Fincher

    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...  more
  • 16
    21
    17

    Aliens

    Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton

    Released1986

    Directed byJames Cameron

    Aliens is a 1986 American science-fiction action horror film written and directed by James Cameron, produced by his then-wife Gale Anne Hurd, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael...  more
  • 17
    10
    4

    Pet Sematary

    Stephen King, Fred Gwynne

    Released1989

    Directed byMary Lambert

    Pet Sematary is a 1989 American horror film adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name. Directed by Mary Lambert and written by King. Andrew Hubatsek was cast for Zelda's role. Author King...  more
  • 18
    21
    20

    Jurassic Park

    Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum

    Released1993

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Jurassic Park is a 1993 American science fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is the first installment of the Jurassic Park franchise. It is based on the 1990 novel of the same...  more
  • 19
    15
    14

    127 Hours

    James Franco, Kate Mara

    Released2010

    Directed byDanny Boyle

    127 Hours is a 2010 British-American biographical survival drama film directed, co-written and produced by Danny Boyle. The film stars James Franco as real-life canyoneer Aron Ralston, who became...  more
  • 20
    15
    16

    Vertigo

    James Stewart, Kim Novak

    Released1958

    Directed byAlfred 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
  • 21
    39
    49

    Schindler's List

    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes

    Released1993

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas...  more
  • 22
    11
    12

    Sophie's Choice

    Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline

    Released1982

    Directed byAlan J. Pakula

    Sophie's Choice is a 1982 American drama film directed by Alan J. Pakula, who adapted William Styron's novel of the same name. Meryl Streep stars as Sophie, a Polish immigrant who shares a boarding...  more
  • 23
    43
    60

    The Silence of the Lambs

    Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins

    Released1991

    Directed byJonathan Demme

    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 Glenn,...  more
  • 24
    10
    13

    Million Dollar Baby

    Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman

    Released2004

    Directed byClint Eastwood

    Million Dollar Baby is a 2004 American sports drama film directed, co-produced and scored by Clint Eastwood, and starring Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. This film is about an...  more
  • 25
    15
    22

    Reservoir Dogs

    Quentin Tarantino, Steve Buscemi

    Released1992

    Directed byQuentin Tarantino

    Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial
    Reservoir Dogs is a 1992 American ensemble crime film that depicts the events before and after a botched diamond heist. The film was the debut of director and writer Quentin Tarantino, and stars...  more
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List Rules: Any movie (from any genre) that gave you anxiety while you watched it.