Watchworthy

The Most Stressful Movies to Watch 

Ranker Film
Updated September 16, 2019 1.1k votes 226 voters 8.6k views 33 items

List Rules Any 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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list ordered by
1
Misery is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates, James Caan

Released: 1990

Directed by: Rob 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
2
Saw is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Danny Glover, Monica Potter, Shawnee Smith

Released: 2004

Directed by: James 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 ...more
3
Requiem for a Dream is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn

Released: 2000

Directed by: Darren 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 ...more
4
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

Released: 1993

Directed by: Steven 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
5
The Silence of the Lambs... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak

Released: 1991

Directed by: Jonathan 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 ...more
6
Seven is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman

Released: 1995

Directed by: David 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 ...more
7
The Shining is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

Released: 1980

Directed by: Stanley 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, ...more
8
No Country for Old Men ... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson

Released: 2007

Directed by: Ethan 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) ...more
9
Saving Private Ryan is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel

Released: 1998

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic drama war film set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat, the film is notable for ...more
10
Gravity is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris

Released: 2013

Directed by: Alfonso 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 ...more
11
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

Released: 1960

Directed by: Alfred 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 ...more
12
A Clockwork Orange is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, Steven Berkoff

Released: 1971

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime film adapted, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on Anthony Burgess's 1962 novella A Clockwork Orange. It employs disturbing, violent ...more
13
Jaws is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider

Released: 1975

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. The prototypical summer blockbuster, its release is regarded as a ...more
14
Aliens is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn

Released: 1986

Directed by: James 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
15
The Deer Hunter is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken

Released: 1978

Directed by: Michael Cimino

The Deer Hunter is a 1978 American epic drama film co-written and directed by Michael Cimino about a trio of Russian American steelworkers and their service in Vietnam. The film stars Robert De ...more
16
Cape Fear is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange

Released: 1991

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Cape Fear is a 1991 American psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese and a remake of the 1962 film of the same name. It stars Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange and ...more
17
Ranker Video
RobLein added Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner

Released: 1976

Directed by: Richard 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
18
Ranker Video
The Doc added Stephen King, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby

Released: 1989

Directed by: Mary 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 ...more
19
Jurassic Park is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

Released: 1993

Directed by: Steven 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 ...more
20
Vertigo is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

Released: 1958

Directed by: Alfred 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
Reservoir Dogs is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Quentin Tarantino, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth

Released: 1992

Directed by: Quentin 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
22
Rosemary's Baby is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Mia Farrow, Tony Curtis, John Cassavetes

Released: 1968

Directed by: Roman Polanski

Rosemary's Baby is a 1968 American psychological horror film written and directed by Roman Polanski, based on the bestselling 1967 novel of the same name by Ira Levin. The cast includes Mia ...more
23
The Departed is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin

Released: 2006

Directed by: Martin 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 ...more
24
Argo is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston

Released: 2012

Directed by: Ben 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
25
127 Hours is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Stressful Movies to Watch
James Franco, Kate Mara, Lizzy Caplan

Released: 2010

Directed by: Danny 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 ...more