Psychological thrillers are one of my favourite film genres. They build up tension, keep you guessing, and often have a twist at the end that cements the film’s legacy.
Things escalate and continue to become more and more grim as the holiday because one of desperate survival and cat and mouse chase until the unrelentingly bitter end.
This is a list of recommendations of psychological thrillers that introverts will love and some of which I personally recommend.
Donnie Darko is a quiet masterpiece: it has early 2000s Jake Gyllenhaal; it is a coming of age film and has multiple interpretations or theories surrounding the time travel narrative.
Personally, I love films that have open endings which invite a range of interpretations from both critics and audiences alike and Donnie Darko is no exception.
The film follows Donnie who is plagued by visions of Doomsday. He can’t concentrate in class, his parents have taken him to a therapist, and yet these troubles persist.
In a film about dreams and the concept of dreaming as well as time travel, the question of what is real arises. This leads to many interpretations of the film involving the concept of alternate universes and planes of time and space.
A memorable and mesmerising film, however, I strongly recommend viewing it twice.
Starring Colin Farrell, Phone Booth is a tense psychological thriller from 2003 about a man trying to hide his affair from his wife until things blow out of proportion.
Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s style of filmmaking and writing, Phone Booth is a brilliant film to watch on a movie night with friends and a big bowl of popcorn.
Coming in at a short 81 minutes in length, do not be deceived – the film is constantly tense and keeps the audience guessing.
Eden Lake is one of the most terrifying films I’ve seen in recent years and has stayed with me ever since. More of a horror than a thriller but still deeply psychological, Eden Lake tells the story of a middle-class heterosexual couple wanting to get away for the weekend.
They travel to a remote lake but keep getting harassed by teenagers who are smoking, drinking and blasting their music, ruining the couple’s peaceful getaway.
The couple try to reason with the rowdy teenagers but over time they notice that their tent is filled with bugs, their keys, wallet and then car are missing.
Things escalate and continue to become more and more grim as the holiday because one of desperate survival and cat and mouse chase until the unrelentingly bitter end. This is not a film for the faint-hearted.
Hide and Seek
Hide and Seek features incredible performances from Robert De Niro and a young Dakota Fanning as a father and daughter who are bereaved from losing their wife and mother.
Dakota’s character Emily starts to play games with an imaginary friend called Charlie which disturbs her father as much as their friends.
Charlie the imaginary friend starts to accumulate a body count and from there the story becomes more and more sinister.
There is a twist in this film however I don’t want to spoil it because I think it’s a great film to watch with others and enjoy the plot together.
2011’s Source Code stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a U.S. Army captain sent into a computed reality to find a bomber.
Similarly to Donnie Darko, we are invited to question what is reality and what is computed reality, something that becomes harder and harder to do as the film progresses.
It is also a film about what makes us human, what makes us, us? Source Code is a ‘smart, satisfying sci-fi thriller’ that messes with your head but leaves you wanting more.
Comparable to Groundhog Day, Source Code is a time-warping mind game which has been described as being similar to Christopher Nolan’s Memento.
I thoroughly recommend this film if you like films such as The Matrix and Inception.
Orphan is a perfect film to watch at Halloween: it is freaky, violent and memorable. The narrative focuses on a couple who are traumatised after the death of their unborn child, so they decide to adopt a 9-year-old girl from Russia named Esther.
The couple also have a daughter Max who is 5 and Daniel who is 12 who react to her presence in the family home very differently.
The couple are convinced that something is wrong with Esther as she is violent, mean and volatile. The violence and trauma both begin to escalate until keeping the family alive becomes a matter of life or death.
I recommend this film to anyone who wants to watch an exciting horror-thriller which will entice and intrigue them until long after the end credits.
House at the End of the Street
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, this 2012 psychological thriller tells the story of Elissa who moves to a new house to a small neighbourhood with her mother who is newly divorced.
They discover that there was, in fact, a gruesome murder in the house at the end of the street which leaves them anxious.
The mother-daughter relationship becomes strained as Elissa starts seeing Ryan who is linked to the murder as a victim.
If you’re a fan of films like Misery and Psycho, this more modern film is inspired by both of these classic thrillers.
I think that introverts are naturally drawn to these kinds of films because a good psychological thriller tests the audience’s nerve, mind and awareness.
An introvert gets their energy and spirit from being by themselves so a film that requires concentration and patience is ideal for those with an introverted personality.
As mentioned before, these films are also ideal to watch with a small group of people purely because of how provocative and frightening some of these films are.
I’m Izzy and I love talking and writing about cinema. I’m a huge fan of Jordan Peele and his contributions to the horror genre. I’m also a big fan of live comedy and enjoy going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I graduated from Warwick University with a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Literature
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