Movies have always been a medium to showcase different characters and their stories. One of the most fascinating types of characters are ones who start charismatic and charming but eventually reveal their dark, manipulative side.
Naturally, we wanted to recommend some of the most compelling movies featuring characters with a charismatic veneer who end up being deeply, darkly manipulative.
1. The Social Network (2010)
The Social Network is a biographical drama portraying the originating of the social networking website Facebook and the resulting lawsuits. It stars Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Tyler Winklevoss, and Max Minghella also star.
2. We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)
We Need to Talk About Kevin is a dark psychological thriller starring Tilda Swinton as Kevin's mother. The story is shared from her perspective as she struggles to come to terms with her sociopathic son (Ezra Miller) and the horrors he has committed.
3. No Country for Old Men (2007)
No Country for Old Men is a neo-Western crime thriller following a hunter in the Rio Grande who discovers a drug deal gone wrong. And the more than two million dollars in cash left behind. Set in the desert landscape of 1980 West Texas. It stars Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin. It's been rated by viewers as a 10/10 must-see before-you-die movie.
4. Ex Machina (2014)
Ex Machina is a science fiction film following a computer programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) winning a contest enabling him to spend a week at the private estate of his firm's brilliant CEO (Oscar Isaac). He's chosen to assess whether a humanoid robot (Alicia Vikander) is sentient. She proves to be more self-aware and deceptive than anticipated. It also stars Sonoya Mizuno.
5. There Will Be Blood (2007)
There Will Be Blood is an epic period drama loosely based on Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel Oil! It follows a silver miner turned oilman (Daniel Day-Lewis) ruthlessly seeking wealth during Southern California's late 19th and early 20th centuries oil boom. It stars Paul Dano, Kevin J. O'Connor, Ciarán Hinds, and Dillon Freasier.
6. Se7en (1995)
Se7en is a neo-noir psychological crime thriller following two detectives partnering up to find a serial killing maniac who kills based on the seven deadly sins. It stars Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow, and John C. McGinley.
7. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The Silence of the Lambs is a psychological thriller horror film following a young FBI trainee (Jodie Foster) working with Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), an imprisoned brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer. He helps her understand how to catch another serial killer, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine).
8. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
The Talented Mr. Ripley is a psychological thriller based on Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel. Set in late 1950s New York, it follows a deadbeat sent to Italy to retrieve an obnoxious millionaire womanizer. It stars Matt Damon, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
9. Gone Girl (2014)
David Fincher's Gone Girl is a psychological thriller based on Gillian Flynn's 2012 novel of the same name. It follows a man (Ben Affleck) who becomes the prime suspect in the sudden disappearance of his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), on their fifth wedding anniversary.
10. Nightcrawler (2014)
Nightcrawler is a neo-noir psychological thriller following a con man (Jake Gyllenhaal) desperate for work. He works himself into the world of L.A. crime journalism. However, the line blurs between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.
11. Thoroughbreds (2017)
Amanda (Olivia Cooke) is a diagnosed sociopath with a moral code. Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a typical but terrible person. The two have an interesting dynamic as they plot to off their stepfather.
12. Carrie (2013)
Though there are a few remakes of this film, one thing is sure, the shy girl who was outcast by her schoolmates unleashes fury with her telekinetic powers. The movie is based on Stephen King’s 1974 novel, Carrie.
13. I Care A Lot (2020)
Two devious characters go face-to-face in I Care A Lot as a woman who is the court-appointed guardian for the elderly is draining their account through legal loopholes. But when she sets her sites on a new victim, she doesn't realize that she's in for a new game to play.
14. Primal Fear (1996)
In a story that has several layers of truth, stories, and lies, Primal Fear is centered around a young man who is accused of killing a priest. But as his story comes out, the reasons why he committed such a horrible crime might be more understandable.