The 20 Best Psychological Thriller Movies of All Time — And Where to Watch Them

Psychological thrillers are filled with diversity. These captivating, mesmerizing, and enthralling films keep us on the edge of our seats, waiting to see what happens next. In some psychological thrillers, we see the disturbing undercurrent of seemingly happy relationships that are anything but exposed in their toxic dynamics. This opens up avenues for suspense and mystery as viewers wait with bated breath to learn the secrets of pathological characters with dark personality traits and their victims. Memory gaps, hallucinations, and the effects of trauma are also often illuminated in such plots. Some thrillers contain elements of the supernatural or advanced technology, showcasing inventions or even spirits that affect the human psyche in terrifying ways, while others capture the attention of viewers in seemingly ordinary circumstances  with continuous plot twists that play mind games with audiences. Whatever your favorite brand of psychological thriller is, this list covers them all and you are sure to find one that suits your unique needs. Here are the twenty best psychological thriller movies throughout film history that will keep you on your toes, and where to watch them.


What if you could enter people’s dreams and uncover the secrets of their subconscious? In Inception, infiltrating other people’s minds becomes a form of corporate espionage as characters Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur use “dream-sharing” technology to extract information from their targets. Apart from the beautifully masterful “world-building” scenes in the film to depict the process of dream infiltration, DiCaprio’s character Cobb is dealing with a past trauma regarding his wife locked in his own subconscious that “leaks out” throughout the film, allowing viewers to only piece together the horrifying truth at the end. This is what makes it such a suspenseful psychological thriller as well as a cinematic masterpiece, penetrating the depths of the human psyche. Inception is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Invitation

In a slow-burn psychological thriller for the ages, The Invitation (2015) is one of the most subtly gripping psychological thriller movies in film history. Will and his wife Kira are invited by his ex-wife to a dinner party. But what seems like a casual dinner party gradually escalates into a living nightmare as he and his wife are thrust into the creepy, cult-like antics of the dinner guests, and tension builds in chilling ways. The Invitation will make you question what you’re seeing on screen until the very end. The Invitation is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Invisible Man

Part science fiction horror film and part psychological thriller, Invisible Man is a disturbing movie about a woman who is stalked by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Elizabeth Moss plays Cecilia Kass, a woman entangled in a relationship with optics engineer Adrian Griffith. Adrian manages a human-computer augmentation company and keeps her trapped in his high-security house. She escapes with the help of her sister, but when Adrian seemingly commits suicide, she suspects he’s not really dead and may still be tracking her every move using an invisible bodysuit he’s invented. Cecilia has to outsmart her abuser if she wants to survive. Invisible Man is available to watch on Amazon Prime.


David Kim, a father (played by John Cho) looks for his missing daughter, Margot, in a movie that primarily uses smartphones, computers, and social media as the primary mode of investigation. David discovers that Margot belongs to a streaming site known as YouCast and was friends with a mysterious young woman, Hannah, who lives in a different state – the only problem is, Hannah is just a persona and she is not truly the person behind the online mask, and those who are responsible for Margot’s disappearance may be closer to him than he thinks. Searching is one of the most suspenseful mystery psychological thrillers of all time, and to add to its uniqueness, it is a cyber-thriller that will grip you and leave you on the edge of your seat at every part of the film. Searching is available to watch on Hulu.

The Double

What if there was another version of “you” that strolled into your life and made you question your entire existence? In the black comedy psychological thriller The Double, Jesse Eisenberg stars as Simon James, a meek employee who is often overlooked by his colleagues, and he experiences exactly that when a confident new co-worker, James Simon, is hired. However, there’s one problem: James Simon looks exactly like him. Whereas Simon is more withdrawn, however, James is respected and gains the attention of his colleagues and even the woman Simon has a crush on. As James tries to coach Simon to become more assertive, it remains unclear to viewers whether James is real – or if it’s all in Simon’s head. The Double is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Black Swan

In another movie that seems to touch on the topic of creepy doppelgangers, Natalie Portman stars as New York City Ballet ballerina Nina Sayers in Black Swan, as she competes with her opponent, Lily (played by Mila Kunis), for the part of Odile in Swan Lake. Both look similar to one another, but Lily is more carefree and bold in contrast to Nina, and more fitting for the “black swan” role than Nina is. Throughout the film, Nina begins to experience seeming hallucinations that warp her sense of reality as she delves deeper into her distraught obsessiveness and the pressure to perform. Black Swan is an Academy-Award nominated film that is both darkly provocative and meaningful, holding a poignant message about the price of perfection. You can watch Black Swan on Hulu.

Shutter Island

Teddy Daniels (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is a U.S. Marshall who is asked to go with his partner Chuck Aule, on a ferry boat to Shutter Island, so they can investigate the disappearance of a patient at Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane. The patient is Rachel Solando, a mother imprisoned for drowning her three children. Teddy also wants to find the man who killed his wife while at the hospital, a man named Andrew Laeddis. The storyline is rich with twists and turns and is a true psychological thriller in every sense of the word. When I first watched Shutter Island in theaters, I am proud to say I figured out the plot twist near the beginning of the film. However, it’s still a very unsettling plot twist and one that is sure to enthrall viewers upon first watch. Shutter Island is available to watch on Pluto TV.

What Lies Beneath

Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer star in What Lies Beneath, a supernatural thriller about toxic relationships that takes viewers on an eerie emotional rollercoaster and down to the depths of truth. Claire and her husband Norman discover what appears to be a ghost haunting their house – but this is a haunting that holds the power to expose darker secrets about Claire’s husband. In the film, one victim helps the other come to the truth about what lies beneath the surface through a series of unsettling paranormal events. This is a powerfully moving gesture – even if that help does come from beyond the grave. This movie is exquisitely crafted to creatively portray the subtle ways manipulation tactics like gaslighting can be used to pathologize victims of deception, distort their reality and keep the wool over their eyes. What Lies Beneath is available on Amazon Prime.

Silence of the Lambs

Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a budding FBI agent in training, assigned to interview the infamous Hannibal Lecter, a former psychiatrist turned cannibal who may have insights into a serial killer known as “Buffalo Bill.” After Buffalo Bill abducts the daughter of a U.S. senator, information about his true identity to track his whereabouts are urgently needed, and Hannibal agrees to exchange clues about the serial killer in exchange for personal details about Clarice. This begins a hauntingly morbid yet memorable “partnership” that will be remembered throughout film history. Silence of the Lambs is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Gone Girl

In Gone Girl, a wife goes missing and a husband comes under public scrutiny for her alleged murder. But is she really dead or was the victim the villain all along? Rosamund Pike delivers a chillingly stellar performance in Gone Girl, playing scorned wife Amy Dunne, as she crafts her own “whodunnit” to make her husband pay for his actions. The film makes viewers question what is real and what has been fabricated as it uncovers the horrifying truths about a toxic marriage between a psychopath and their victim, while still offering nuance and a much-needed commentary on gender roles in modern relationships. You can watch Gone Girl on Apple TV.


In Christopher Nolan’s Memento, a man named Leonard Shelby suffers from anterograde amnesia which causes him to be unable to retain recent memories as he solves the mystery of his wife’s murder using a series of Polaroids, tattoos, and his own notes to himself as he continually “forgets” the clues he uncovers.  Memento is a neo-noir film with two different sequences: one is in black and white seemingly in chronological order while the scenes in color appear to be in reverse chronological order, which creatively suspends the viewer from coherently understanding what is occurring, mirroring the protagonist’s own loss of memory and his attempts to put together a narrative of the events that occurred. Memento will make you become deeply immersed in a “whodunnit” mystery that messes with your mind. You can watch Memento on Amazon Prime.


In Intrusion, therapist Meera and her architect husband Henry Parsons seem to have a happy life. But when they buy a new dream home and experience a dangerous home invasion, it’s clear not all is what it seems. Meera begins to experience strange events that make her question her perception of reality and the motives and character of her own husband. If you like movies about charming predators being exposed in a slow-burn psychological thriller where both you and the main character feel like you’re going mad, this one’s for you. This movie validates the experience of gaslighting and gives viewers a shocking and unexpected plot twist they could not have foreseen. You can view Intrusion on Netflix.

Get Out

In the horror psychological thriller film Get Out, photographer Chris Washington travels to upstate New York to meet his girlfriend Rose’s wealthy white family. However, during his time there, he experiences bizarre racist comments and is pushed to experience hypnosis to uncover subconscious traumas. He starts to notice that another man at the annual family get-together, Logan King, seems oddly familiar. Strangely terrifying events begin to transpire, and viewers become both horrified and entranced by the twisted ways the Armitage family hold on to their “legacy.” You can stream Get Out on Peacock.

The Sixth Sense

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense is a classic riveting psychological thriller that never gets old, no matter how many times you watch it. It’s just that perfectly executed. Child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (played by Bruce Willis) is treating young patient Cole Sear (played by Haley Joel Osment) who claims to have the supernatural gift of hearing and seeing dead people. As Malcolm navigates Cole’s unique gift and uses it to help other “ghost” children like Kyra Collins, he discovers chilling truths about his own personal life that culminate in one of the biggest plot twists in movie history. The Sixth Sense is available on Amazon Prime.

The Girl on the Train

Emily Blunt plays Rachel Watson in The Girl on the Train, a recently divorced woman who spends her days drinking and riding the train. During her train rides, she begins noticing and tracking the life of a seemingly happy couple, living next door to her own ex-husband and his new wife. One day, she witnesses something startling in this seemingly ideal relationship that causes her to become entangled in a homicide investigation, unraveling her life and forcing her to confront the truth about what really happened in her marriage. The Girl on The Train is a terrific psychological thriller about gaslighting that covers many of the key elements of underhanded manipulation and coercion. The Girl on the Train is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.


Fear is a classic psychological thriller about 16-year-old Nicole (played by Reese Witherspoon) who becomes ensnared in the manipulation of a narcissistic psychopath named David (played by Mark Wahlberg) who love bombs her into a romantic relationship. As her family tries to protect her from David, Nicole becomes more enmeshed with David, who develops a fixated obsession on Nicole. This obsession continues even after she ends the relationship after witnessing David’s increasingly violent behavior. The movie escalates into a fight for survival as David and his friends plot revenge and stage a home invasion to retaliate against Nicole and her family. Fear demonstrates how psychopathic predators infiltrates the lives of their victims while isolating them from their loved ones. It highlights the consequences of getting involved with a manipulator who eventually takes over your entire life. Fear is available to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The Weekend Away

In The Weekend Away, two best friends, Beth and Kate, go for a vacation in Croatia, only for her friend Kate to go missing. As Beth (played by Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester) investigates her best friend’s disappearance, she comes across many different versions of events and struggles to identify what is real and what isn’t – and what really happened that night. As she begins to question the people she loves and trusts the most as well as the strangers that offer her help, the movie twists and turns the mind of the viewer as it makes it seem as if we have the full story – only to uncover even more horrifying revelations. The Weekend Away is perfect for anyone who’s ever had a toxic, narcissistic friend (or romantic partner) and anyone who just enjoys a suspenseful thriller with many plot twists. You can watch The Weekend Away on Netflix.

Berlin Syndrome

In Berlin Syndrome, tourist Clare and Andi have a one-night stand, and what appears to be an enjoyably steamy night turns into her worst nightmare when she realizes Andi has locked her in his highly secured apartment – with no way out. Berlin Syndrome is a very unsettling thriller that explores what occurs when you trust the wrong person, and the resourcefulness required to escape a malignant narcissist who is invested in controlling your every move. Watch Berlin Syndrome on Netflix.

The Woman In The Window

A psychologist (played by Amy Adams) is plagued by agoraphobia (a fear of going outside) so she confines herself to her Manhattan brownstone. Recently separated from her husband, Anna spends her time observing her neighbors through her window. Anna is quite isolated, and tends to drink heavily with her medications, which paints her as a potentially unreliable narrator to viewers. She starts a friendship with Jane Russell and her son, Ethan who visit her. One evening, Anna witnesses Jane being seemingly murdered through her windows. However, when she contacts the police, no one believes her, and viewers are held in suspense while Anna begins doubting her own reality and what she saw. You can watch The Woman in the Window on Netflix.

Where the Crawdads Sing

If you’re looking for a movie that’s part mystery drama and part slow-paced thriller, Where the Crawdads Sing is a beautiful masterpiece that does a remarkable job of showcasing the resilience and resourcefulness needed to survive exploitative communities.  What gives this movie elements of a psychological thriller is that the audience doesn’t get the full story of what occurred until the film’s final scenes, and the motives of the character remain elusive throughout. This film follows the personal growth of its main character Kya (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones), who is abandoned by her abusive father and her family to raise herself alone as a young woman in the marshes of North Carolina. Labeled and scapegoated by her surrounding toxic community as “Marsh Girl,” Kya is isolated and becomes easy prey to predatory manipulators.  After her lover, Tate Walker teaches her how to read and write and then abandons her, Kya becomes involved in a romance with quarterback Chase Andrews.

Chase is a manipulator and player who charms Kya into sleeping with him by promising her marriage, but Kya discovers he’s already engaged to another young woman. When Kya tries to flee the relationship however, Chase destroys her home and tries to assault her, retaliating as narcissistic people tend to do when they lose control. Days later, Chase is found dead and Kya is accused of murder – but no one actually knows if she did it, and neither does the viewer throughout the film. The ending holds a shocking twist that leaves viewers captivated right up to the movie’s conclusion. Where the Crawdads Sing is available to watch on Hulu.

Shahida is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University. She is a published researcher and author of Power: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse and Breaking Trauma Bonds with Narcissists and Psychopaths. Her books have been translated into 16+ languages all over the world. Her work has been featured on Salon, HuffPost, Inc., Bustle, Psychology Today, Healthline, VICE, NYDaily News and more. For more inspiration and insight on manipulation and red flags, follow her on Instagram here.

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