It’s movie night. Sometimes, you want to bawl about thwarted love over a bowl of popcorn. Other times, you want to laugh so hard you spill the popcorn. And then there are nights when you want an adrenaline rush so severe, you lose your appetite for popcorn.
In those instances, you must call upon the psychological thriller genre to sate your craving for mind-blowing twists, unreliable narrators, and intelligent scares. Unlike normal thrillers, films in the “psychological thriller” category don’t rely on cheap tricks and jump shots to get under the viewer’s skin. Instead, they use protagonists’ unstable mental states as a landscape for twists and turns. Characters’ crumbling senses of reality make for topsy-turvy, intriguing worlds.
Have we convinced you to abandon your Friday night plans and succumb to the unstable mental states of movie characters? Prepare to get “Inceptioned” with each of these Netflix movies.
There are good ideas, like eating ice cream. And there are bad ideas, like moving your family to a Colorado ski hotel cut off from the world in the winter season. Of The Shining ’s many scares, which are born from the mind of Jack Torrance, and which are products of the hotel’s supernatural sheen? Proceed to room 237 your own risk.
Queen Of Earth(2015)
For the second year in a row, two childhood friends retreat to a lake house a few miles outside of New York City. But in the week that ensues, Catherine and Virginia realize their differences run deep. Following the death of her father, a famous painter, Catherine’s fragile and on the brink of insanity. The rural setting unleashes her inner demons.
We Need To Talk About Kevin(2011)
Try as she might, Eva (Tilda Swinton) has never gotten along with her firstborn son, Kevin (Ezra Miller). And in this gripping drama with a shocking event at its core, we soon find out why. Through exploring Eva and Kevin’s 15-year relationship, the movie brings up uncomfortable questions of nature and nurture. Can Eva be blamed for her son’s horrific actions? Can a person be born evil?
Books are known to unleash new worlds. In The Babadook, books also unleash monsters. In this terrifying Australian film, a troubled widow discovers her son might be telling the truth when he says the mysterious book on their doorstep welcomed a monster into their dark house. As with all good psychological thrillers, The Babadook keeps the audience guessing over how much is reality and how much is imagined.
All of these psychological thrillers have Hitchcock to thank for pioneering the genre of character-driven instability. In Rear Window, a wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors — and becomes convinced that one committed a murder. To be taken seriously, Jeff Jeffries has to convince his girlfriend, a nurse, and and the police that he isn’t making these claims up. It’s been over 50 years since Rear Window was made, but we doubt whether there’s been a film as suspenseful since.
In this drawn-out character study, Janie is trapped under the stifling care and wellness regimen of her nanny and caretaker. After Janie seems a bit better, Irma relaxes her grip and lets Janie out of the house. That’s when Janie meets — and becomes obsessed with — Savannah, a charismatic stranger. But the appeal of Sun Choke isn’t in the narrative. Rather, it’s in the disorienting editing, pervasive mood, and character development that builds throughout the film.
The Invitation (2015)
Will hasn’t seen his ex-wife Eden in years, especially since she spent the last few years traipsing around Mexico. Out of the blue, Will receives an ornate invitation for a dinner party intended to reunite Will and Eden’s old friend group. He goes reluctantly.
While the festivities proceed in the beautiful California mansion, Will can’t shake the feeling that there’s something sinister at this dinner party, no matter how normally everyone else is acting.
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