There's nothing worse than a predictable story with underdeveloped characters. One subgenre that rarely disappoints is psychological thrillers, which explore the psychological turmoil of a character as they try to navigate their circumstances and the world around them. These 15 gripping psychological thrillers avoid giving anything away too soon.
1. Vertigo (1958)
A former detective suffering from acrophobia is hired to follow a woman who appears to be possessed by the spirit of her dead ancestor. However, as he becomes obsessed with her, his fears and the past come back to haunt him. As he unravels the truth about the woman, he discovers that nothing is as it seems and that his desires have clouded his judgment.
2. Copycat (1995)
A criminal psychologist who retired after being attacked by a serial killer is called back into action when a new killer starts mimicking the crimes of famous serial killers. She has to use her knowledge to stop them. However, the killer seems to be one step ahead of her at every turn, and she begins to question her sanity.
3. Black Swan (2010)
A ballerina gets the lead role in a production of Swan Lake, but as the pressure builds, she starts to lose touch with reality and becomes more and more like the character she's playing. As she spirals out of control, she must confront the dark side of herself and the competitive world of ballet. This white swan mentally and physically transforms into the black swan.
4. Identity (2003)
Ten strangers find themselves stranded at a remote motel during a storm. However, when the guests die one by one mysteriously, the remaining survivors realize they share a deeper connection than they initially believed. Desperately trying to reveal the killer's identity, they soon uncover shocking secrets about their pasts that may hold the key to their survival.
5. A Simple Favor (2018)
A mommy vlogger investigates the sudden disappearance of her best friend, who seems to have a lot of secrets and a mysterious past. However, as she gets closer to the truth, she realizes that her life is in danger and that her friend may not be who she thought she was.
6. The Machinist (2004)
A factory worker suffering from severe insomnia and guilt starts to lose his grip on reality as he becomes obsessed with a co-worker and starts seeing strange visions. As his mind unravels, he must confront the truth about his past and the terrible secret he's been hiding.
7. Don't Look Now (1973)
A couple grieving the loss of their daughter takes a trip to Venice, where they start experiencing strange occurrences and seeing a figure in a red coat that may be connected to their daughter's death. As they try to make sense of what's happening, they question their sanity and whether they can trust each other.
8. Possession (1981)
A man tries to uncover the reason for his wife's sudden and strange behavior but finds a dark and disturbing secret. As he unravels the mystery, he discovers that the truth is more horrifying than he ever imagined.
9. Get Out (2017)
A black man visits his white girlfriend's family, but things quickly take a dark turn as he uncovers the sinister truth about what's happening. As he fights for his life, he must also confront the deep-seated racism and prejudice he faces daily.
10. Jacob's Ladder (1990)
A Vietnam veteran experiences strange and horrifying hallucinations as he tries to piece together what happened to him and his unit in the war. As his grip on reality slips, he has to confront the demons of his past and the truth about what he saw and did during the war.
11. I See You (2019)
A small-town detective investigates a series of kidnappings, but strange things happen in his home as the case progresses. However, in the race to solve the case, dark secrets about the family are revealed, and the kidnappings turn out to be closer than home than first led on. This is an underrated modern gem with plot twists abound.
12. Prisoners (2013)
A father takes matters into his own hands when his daughter and her friend go missing, but as he delves deeper into the investigation, he discovers that the case is more complex than he ever could have imagined. As he races against time to find his daughter, he must also confront his morality and the line between justice and vengeance.
13. Coherence (2013)
On the night of an astronomical anomaly, a group of friends gathers for a dinner party, but when a comet passes overhead, strange things begin to happen. As the group begins to experience bizarre phenomena and alternate realities, they must confront themselves and the consequences of their actions. As tensions rise and relationships are tested, they race to find a way to set things right before it's too late.
14. Chinatown (1974)
Chinatown is a popular movie from the 1970s about a private detective who was hired to expose an adulterer, but as he tries to expose the criminal, the detective is caught up in a difficult and thrilling web of deceit and corruption.
15. Parasite (2019)
A wonderful film about class differences and the struggle to change your status in society, Parasite is about two families: one who is doing everything they can to just live while another is rich beyond belief. But the relationship between the two families becomes parasitical as they need one another for work and help.
Jaimee Marshall is a culture writer, avid movie buff, and political junkie. She spends the bulk of her time watching and critiquing films, writing political op-eds, and dabbling in philosophy. She has a Communication Studies degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she flirted with several different majors before deciding to pursue writing. As a result, she has a diverse educational background, having studied economics, political science, psychology, business admin, rhetoric, and debate.
At Wealth of Geeks, Jaimee places an emphasis on film and television analysis, ranking the best [and worst] in media so you can find more diamonds in the rough and waste less time on box-office duds. You can find her articles on politics and culture in Evie Magazine, Katie Couric Media, Lotus Eaters, and Her Campus. You can also find her find her episode of Popcorned Planet, where she analyzes the Johnny Depp & Amber Heard trial. She has written extensively about due process, free speech, and pop culture.