12 Most Stressful Films in the History of Anxiety Induced Panic Attacks

Your palms sweat, and your heart races as you yell at the character's on the screen in apprehension. One person on the internet mentioned they recently viewed After Hours (1985) and were impressed with how anxious they felt during the film. They asked for recommendations on other stress-riddled pieces of cinema.  

1. Shiva Baby (2020)

Shiva Baby Rachel Sennott
Image Credit: Utopia.

Emma Seligman's Shiva Baby traverses all states of an anxiety attack. The film begins with Danielle, a college student, meeting with her sugar daddy, Max. After the affair, Danielle attends a shiva, a Jewish funeral service, to appease her parents, who believe she needs direction and purpose.

While attending the shiva, she runs into Max, who knows her father and has a wife and a newborn baby. Max's wife offers to hire Danielle, but the tension overcomes her, and she retreats.

Other Shiva attendees include Danielle's ex-girlfriend, who foils her with a career path and respectable table manners. 

2. 127 Hours (2010)

127 Hours James Franco
Image Credit: Warner Bros. and Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Aron Ralston, an American mountaineer, survived a climbing trip in Utah where a boulder trapped him for 127 hours. The film adaptation features James Franco exploring the cavern when a large rock lands on his arm and traps him. Aron must choose between submitting to the boulder or planning an escape route.

127 Hours follows Ralston through five days of terror, contemplation, and hallucinations. 

3. Prisoners (2013)

Image Credit: Summit Entertainment.

When a young child, Anna, goes missing, the prime suspect is arrested by Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) but released due to unfounded evidence. Anna's father becomes frustrated with the police force behind the case, so he kidnaps the main suspect and tortures him on his own time, hoping for a confession. To me, this is Jake Gyllenhaal's best performance. 

One movie reviewer says Prisoners stressed them out so much they looked up spoilers to cool down. 

4. Free Solo (2018)

Free Solo Alex Honnold
Image Credit: National Geographic Documentary Films.

This one isn't for those with a fear of heights. Free Solo is a true story about Alex Honnold's attempted free solo climb up El Capitan in Yosemite. A free solo climb is without any extraneous materials: no rope and no protection against potential falls. Alex scales up the mountain, hoping to become the first free climber to complete the climb successfully. 

5. Fall (2022)

Fall Virginia Gardner
Image Credit: Lionsgate and Signature Entertainment.

There's a reason climbing movies are the basis of several anxiety-inducing films. Fall focuses on two girls who love climbing, but one of them, Becky, takes a break after she loses her boyfriend on a climb. Hunter convinces Becky to revive her adoration for climbing by attempting to summit a 2,000-foot looming, abandoned cellphone tower. The duo packs their bags and head to the tower.

However, on the way up, the main ladder breaks, trapping them on the top of the vertical building. 

6. Boiling Point (2021)

Boiling Point
Image Credit: Vertigo Releasing.

Boiling Point is a one-shot film centered around head chef Andy Jones and a day on the job. He strives to maintain his reputation and restaurant, but tensions rise when a health inspector pops by.

A film buff writes, ” I thought it was going to be a horror movie just by the way the first 30 minutes are directed. It’s a really cool film.”

7. Whiplash (2014) 

Whiplash J. K. Simmons
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Classics.

I can't rewatch Whiplash because it evokes memories of my brutal high school band teacher, but I will never disagree with its praise.

Miles Teller, Andrew, earns himself a spot in a prestigious music academy with a despicable conductor. Andrew shows up to each rehearsal, determined to become the best drummer the conductor's ever encountered.

He develops an obsession with his playing, ruining his interpersonal relationships and ignoring his health to continue his strive for perfection. 

8. Good Time (2017)

Good Time Robert Pattinson
Image Credit: A24.

The Safdie Bros. don't have a bad movie. 

Good Time stars Robert Pattinson as Connie, a criminal and big brother to Nick (Benny Safdie), who has a few disabilities. After the two rob a bank, Connie escapes, but Nick goes to prison. Connie sets out to rescue his brother by traipsing through New York City's criminal scene.  

9. Eden Lake (2008)

Eden Lake Michael Fassbender
Image Credit: Optimum Releasing.

A couple travels to a remote cabin for a weekend getaway. What could go wrong?

They encounter a group of kids determined to terrorize and rob the couple. The first mistake the pair makes is mentioning the rambunctious youth's behavior to a local waitress. She snaps back, claiming that her children are wonderful and aren't capable of mistreatment. Turns out everyone is in on the foul behavior. 

“There is no hope in that movie whatsoever,” someone expresses. 

10. Come and See (1985) 

Come and See
Image Credit: underDOC Film.

This masterpiece tops Letterboxd charts 38 years after its release. The haunting film places the viewer in Byelorussia, where a German fleet invades and forces a young boy to join their army, going against everything his family wants for him. After fighting, he comes back to his family to find that tragedy and destruction have flooded his home.

Many claim they will never watch this film again. 

11. Frozen (2010)

Frozen Emma Bell
Image Credit: Anchor Bay Films.

Something about single-location films severely stresses me out. Frozen focuses on three friends who head up to a weekend ski resort. The ski lift calls the last call for the night, and the trio happily hops on the shuttle. Since the three friends seem to be the only people at the understaffed resort, they make it halfway up before the lift operator shuts the machine down for the week. The group sits hoisted in the air as a winter storm rumbles through the unoccupied ski resort. 

12. Sorcerer (1977)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures.

Four men encounter someone willing to grant them citizenship and a chunk of change if they successfully deliver a drug package a few hundred miles away. 

“I don't think I have ever been as close to the edge of my seat in any other movie as I have with this thing on the bridge,” one watcher shares. 

“The tightness in my chest was almost unbearable,” another admits. 

This thread inspired this article.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks