Entertainment
241 voters

The Most Stressful Movies To Watch

Updated May 18, 2021 1.3k votes 241 voters 9.3k 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
    Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates
    45
    19

    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
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  • 2
    RobLein addedGregory Peck, Lee Remick
    36
    13

    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
  • 3
    Danny Glover, Monica Potter
    40
    18

    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
  • 4
    Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto
    36
    14

    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
  • 5
    Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow
    35
    15

    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
  • 6
    Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins
    45
    26

    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
  • 7
    Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones
    34
    13

    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
  • 8
    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes
    40
    20

    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
  • 9
    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall
    36
    20

    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
  • 10
    Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh
    30
    14

    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
  • 11
    Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson
    28
    14

    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
  • 12
    Ben Affleck, John Goodman
    22
    10

    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
  • 13
    Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
    34
    24

    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
  • 14
    Tom Hanks, Matt Damon
    30
    20

    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
  • 15
    Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss
    25
    16

    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
  • 16
    Philip Seymour Hoffman, Molly Shannon
    21
    11

    Released1998

    Directed byTodd Solondz

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    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
  • 17
    Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke
    23
    15

    Released1971

    Directed byStanley 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 images...  more
  • 18
    Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves
    20
    11

    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
  • 19
    Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte
    19
    11

    Released1991

    Directed byMartin 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 Juliette...  more
  • 20
    Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss
    28
    23

    Released1975

    Directed bySteven 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 watershed...  more
  • 21
    Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton
    21
    17

    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
  • 22
    Quentin Tarantino, Steve Buscemi
    15
    9

    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
  • 23
    Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro
    16
    11

    Released1978

    Directed byMichael 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 Niro,...  more
  • 24
    The Doc addedStephen King, Fred Gwynne
    9
    3

    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
  • 25
    Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum
    20
    20

    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
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List Rules: Any movie (from any genre) that gave you anxiety while you watched it.