Movies, TV shows, and Series are the best sources of entertainment today. Film Industries all over the world entertain us with these shows. There are different types of movies or shows we enjoy. Some prominent genres of movies or shows are drama, crime, horror, war, history, action, fantasy, adventure, science fiction, animation, thriller, and psychological thriller.
Different people love to watch different genres. Among them, psychological thriller is such a genre that everybody loves to enjoy these shows. Yes, we are here to talk about this specific genre. First, we will talk about Psychological Thriller. Then, we will move on to talk about some Psychological Thriller Series you must watch. Let’s begin our thrill of psychology.
Benefits of Watching Psychological Thriller Movies
Thriller movies are one of the most popular genres in Hollywood. Many different kinds of thriller movies have been produced, ranging from horror thrillers to psychological thrillers. For people who enjoy this genre, watching these kinds of films is an entertaining way to pass time. They are often packed with suspenseful scenes that keep viewers on the edge of their seats until the very end, and also feature amazing actors.
Psychological thrillers can be particularly interesting because they focus on depicting the mind and its complexities. They emphasize on suspense and mystery, and they delve into the dark side of human emotions such as fear, anxiety, rage, etc. It is indeed very interesting to watch psychological thriller movies because they give viewers a chance to understand themselves better. Psychological thrillers can offer us valuable lessons about our fears and how we view the world, and also expand our imagination, giving us new perspectives on life.
People who usually watch psychological thriller movies are more imaginative than others. They look for detail in every aspect of life, whether it is a movie or a piece of art. They have a more active imagination and can think about several ideas at the same time. People who watch psychological thrillers usually have a stronger drive, which makes them work harder to achieve their goals.
What Is A Psychological Thriller?
A psychological thriller is a fictional work that thrills us with the inner happenings of the mind of a character or characters. So, a psychological thriller series or movie reveals the conflict of the characters’ minds. Any kind of thriller excites and makes us curious about a story at the very beginning. This very thing thrills us and glues us to the screen. And a psychological thriller is no exception.
We often see a character is in a delusional world, not to be able to determine the real world and his or her hallucinations. Often the viewers are in a state of confusion as well that what they are seeing on the screen, those are happening to the character, or it is just an imagination of the character’s mind. The conflict of the minds of the characters drives the plot forward. Sometimes, a hero must explore the thoughts and happenings of a bad guy’s mind to capture him in a psychological thriller.
Again, a psychological thriller can move forward creating tension between the audience and a character about what they know or they do not know. Shows of this genre allow us to observe a character from a bird’s eye perspective. We can understand people better how they operate in a given situation.
But the most important element of a psychological thriller is its climax. This very thing can turn a show into a masterclass one or vice versa. The ending serves as the final piece of a puzzle for a psychological thriller. The audience keeps guessing and continues to be amused till the very end.
A psychological thriller generally ends with a twist or two that leaves us wondering. But the kings of this genre are those movies that end in a confusing state, let the audience continue their guessing game. Inception and Shutter Island are two examples.
Here we will explain a psychological thriller movie to understand properly what happens in a psychological thriller movie. Then we will move on to make a list of 10 psychological thriller series that you must watch.
Shutter Island Movie Explained
[SPOILER ALERT] This explanation contains a spoiler. Please skip this part if you have not watched this movie yet. Shutter Island is a world-famous psychological thriller movie directed by Martin Scorsese. It was released in 2010. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays the role of Edward ‘Teddy’ Daniels, and Mark Ruffalo plays the role of Chuk. This movie is based on a psychological thriller novel of the same name, written by Dennis Lehane.
The Storyline Of Shutter Island
The movie starts with the arrival of two U.S. Marshal Investigators, Daniels, and Chuck, to an isolated island named Shutter Island. This island is a mental asylum for psycho killers. They are here because a patient, Rachel who killed her children drowning them in the lake, had gone missing. Daniels and Chuk are working together for the first time. Daniels says to Chuck that his wife has died after a fire on their house, 2 years earlier.
Ever since they have arrived on this island, something is not right. Everything is shady and mysterious. The patients are laughing at them as if they know something about them. Daniels and Chuck start the investigation. All clues hint that the authority is experimenting with something evil with the patients.
They do not let anyone off the island. Everybody is captivated. Even Daniels and Chuk are stuck here bad. Daniels finds a piece of paper inscribed “who is 67?” There are only 66 psycho patients here. Daniels feels acute pain in his head and takes medication given by the chief doctor there.
They also give him cigarettes. There is also a lighthouse, that is guarded, and the authority claims Rachel, the lost patient, is not there.
Anyway, Daniels starts having nightmares, a dead little girl claiming that he would have saved her. At one point, he suspects that Chuk is involved with the authority. They all are trying to frame him as insane. He says Chuk that he wants to go and check the lighthouse.
That day, he notices that Chuck’s burning cigarette is at the edge of a high cliff, looking down he sees the dead body of Chuck, seemingly fallen from the cliff. When he climbs down the cliff, there was nobody.
Now, Daniels does not know what is real and what is his hallucination anymore. We can understand that his mind is tormenting inside. Now, this is the beauty of a psychological thriller. Even the audience does not know what is going on with Daniels, he is insane or the authority is framing him not to leave the island.
Then, he finds a woman in a cave on the hill. She claims that the authority is trying to kill her, and they are experimenting and killing the patient. At this point, the audience is in a state of conflict whether Daniels is talking to this woman or it is just his imagination.
Now, he goes to the lighthouse, ceasing a rifle from a guard. There he finds the chief doctor and tries to shoot him. The doctor claims there are no bullets. And the situation of Daniels has become worse as he is not taking the medications. He has been here for the past 2 years as a mental patient, not for 2 days. And Chuck is not his assistant, but a doctor monitoring him.
Ending Of Shutter Island
The director of Shutter Island movie proves that Edward Daniels is not here for the investigation of Rachel, he was just a mental patient from the very beginning who thinks himself to be an investigator. His real name is Andrew Laeddis that he transforms into Edward Daniels in his imaginary world. His wife was Dolores Chanal who was mentally unstable and killed their children drowning in the lake, 2 years ago.
When he returned home, he was so sad and shocked to see this. He killed his wife with a gun and became mentally sick. He blamed himself for this tragedy as he stayed drunk most of the time. After that, Daniels is a patient there from 2 years earlier. He changed his wife’s name Dolores Chanal into Rachel Solando in his imaginary world. And he thinks that Rachel is a mental patient here who is missing, and he is here to investigate. Daniels is the number 67 patient of Shutter Island. The woman he saw in the cave was his hallucination.
Daniels remembers everything when the chief doctor showed him the pictures of his dead children. The chief doctor and Chuck have played a roleplaying game all along to keep Daniels nonviolent, letting him live in his imaginary world which he created in his mind.
Now the doctors demand Daniels accept everything and live with the truth, only then he is cured of his mental trauma. Daniels seems to comply. But the next morning, Daniels says to Chuck that they are stuck on this evil island and they need to leave. This thing frustrates Chuck, who is a doctor, realizing that Daniels is anything but cured.
The Real Twist Of Shutter Island
The real twist is not that Daniels is a patient. The real twist lays in the very last dialogue of the movie where Daniels asks Chuck, “Which would be worse: To live as a monster or to die as a good man?” This single dialogue creates a whole new dimension to the movie. It also keeps the audience guessing about the mental state of Daniels. This dialogue hints that Daniels is now cured.
Yet he is choosing to live in his imaginary world. This is because, in his real world, he is a monster who kills his insane wife. He cannot live with this trauma. So, he chooses to play along with his imaginary world, though he knows that he will be taken under lobotomy surgery. That would help him to forget his traumatic past, or that would end up killing him.
This is what is a perfect psychological thriller. This movie evaluates the psychology of a character who has a traumatized past. It shows how a character can escape from his real world. And the remarkable last dialogue leaves the audience wondering whether he is pretending again to be an investigator on purpose or not.
10 Psychological Thriller Series You Must Watch
Now we know that psychological thriller is a wonderful genre that thrills the audience providing an insight into a character’s mind. This genre is sure to entertain you and make you wonder-struck. Here is a list of psychological thriller series you must watch.
1. The Alienist
The first psychological thriller series on our list is The Alienist. It stars Daniel Bruhl, who plays the role of a criminal psychologist named Doctor Laszlo. The Alienist has a 7.7 IMDB rating. In this series, a serial killer emerges in late 19th century New York and starts killing boy prostitutes. The city was shocked by the gruesome murders one by one that seems to be connected.
Then the police commissioner appointed Doctor Laszlo, John Moore who is a reporter of the New York Times, and a young detective lady Sara Howard for the investigation. Doctor Laszlo must explore the psychology of this serial killer to catch him. This psychological thriller series has only 1 season with 10 thrilling episodes, released in 2018.
This psychological thriller series directly deals with criminal psychology. The story is set in the 70s. The term ‘serial killer’ has yet not been coined. FBI agent Holden Ford notices that the nature of crime has changed. He realizes it is necessary to explore the criminal minds to understand them better, to understand their motives. A pattern must be created so that it can help to solve open cases.
FBI agents Ford and Bill along with Doctor Wendy, who is a psychologist, opens the FBI behavioral science unit and start interviewing incarcerated infamous killers of the time. They try to find commonalities and dissimilarities by evaluating their past, and the working of the minds. This is a 2 season psychological thriller series released in 2017. It has an 8.6 IMDB rating on more than 200k votes. This masterpiece is directed by David Fincher.
The next up is Luther. It is a psychological thriller series of 5 seasons. The first season was released in 2010. It has an 8.4 IMDB rating on more than 100k votes. This series stars Idris Elba who plays the role of John Luther. John Luther, a passionate and near-genius police detective who has a troubled private life. He befriends a psycho killer to get into his mind to know this type better. He solves many cases along with the help of this killer. The director of the series, Sam Miller, shows us the insight of the minds of psychopaths as well as the mind of a police detective who has a troubled private life, from a bird’s eyes perspective.
4. Black Mirror
Our next psychological thriller series is Black Mirror. It is a 5-season psychological thriller anthology, directed by Owen Harris. It has a huge 8.8 IMDB rating with almost half a million votes. This series shows the conflict between human minds and technology.
Human beings are so obsessed with rapidly growing technological equipment that they did not question the dark side of technological development. As a result, a high-tech multiverse develops and initiates a never-ending war between humans and technology.
5. Behind Her Eyes
This is a one-season psychological thriller series released in February 2021. It is directed by Eric Richter Strand. Behind Her Eyes has a 7.2 IMDB rating with almost 50k votes. In this series, a woman named Louise, a single mother with a child, develops a love relationship with her new psychiatrist boss.
Then she befriends the wife of the boss and enters a world of mind games. This series thrills us and gives us insight into these three characters. Give it a go and you will not be disappointed.
6. Orphan Black
Orphan Black is a 5-season psychological thriller series released in 2013. It has an 8.3 IMDB rating with more than 100k votes. It tells a thrilling story of a girl named Sarah Manning, an orphan young lady. One day, she witnesses the suicide of a girl who looks just like her.
Soon she realizes something evil is happening. What makes the girl to suicide? Whether there is any connection between Sarah and that girl or not. This story shows how Sarah is operating with the upcoming dangers.
The next up on our list is a psychological thriller named You. It is a series of 2 seasons released in 2018. It has a 7.7 IMDB rating under its belt with more than 150k votes. This thriller tells the story of a modern-day love obsession. A charming bookstore manager develops a crush for a sweet female writer.
Soon, the crush becomes a strong obsession. He uses every tool of modern days like the internet and social media to get close to her. How far can he go to achieve her? Will he turn evil to achieve his goal? This excellent psychological thriller gives us insight into a love-obsessed psychopath.
Broadchurch is a psychological thriller series of 3 seasons, released in 2013. It has an 8.4 IMDB rating with more the 100k votes. This series stars David Tennant as Alec Hardy, who is a detective for the police. In the series, a boy is killed in a calm and beautiful seashore town named Broadchurch.
Alec Hardy comes to investigate along with his partner Ellie Miller. As the investigation goes on, it reveals that several townspeople and family members of the murdered boy have a motive. Soon the once peaceful people turn violent on each other. The detective duo must crack the case the sooner the better.
Safe is a thrilling psychological story. This series has only one season, released in 2018. It has a 7.3 IMDB rating with almost 50k votes. The series tells the story of Tom Delaney, a surgeon. He has lost his wife due to cancer. Since then, he is looking after his two daughters.
His life seems organized until one of his daughters goes missing. Tom gets the help of Sophie, his girlfriend who is a police detective, to investigate the matter. Soon he finds sinister secrets of the people closest to him.
Last but not least on our list is Hannibal. This psychological thriller series is a must-watch. It has a huge 8.5 IMDB rating with almost 250k votes. It is a 3 seasons thriller released in 2013. This series stars Mads Mikkelsen as Doctor Hannibal Lecter, who is a forensic psychiatrist. A young FBI agent named Will Graham is impressed by the Doctor as he can sympathize with the serial killers. But he has no idea about the doctor’s dark secret.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Is The Best Psychological Thriller Of All Time?
Well, there’s no accounting for taste and we would never want to attempt to say which is the best. However, we’d be surprised if you hadn’t seen at least one of these films before so let us know in the comments below which you think deserves the accolade. The Machinist (2004).
Who Are The Characters In A Psychological Thriller?
A psychological thriller is a type of film which focuses on the mental and emotional state of the protagonist. As such, its characters are often ordinary people who become capable of extreme and seemingly impossible acts under certain circumstances.
How Do You Watch A Psychological Thriller?
Psychological thrillers rely on the emotions and thoughts of the protagonist and antagonist in order to create tension unlike typical Hollywood movies. Your own imagination is usually scarier than what you see on screen, so we recommend watching psychologically thrilling movies with the lights turned low and uninterrupted by external distractions.
Are There Any Psychological Thrillers On Netflix That Make You Question Your Sanity?
That’s a question for our subscribers, but here are five psychological thrillers on Netflix that will certainly keep you on the edge of your seat. See all thriller movies on Netflix.
What Is A Psychological Thriller?
A psychological thriller is a film in which mind games and complex, unreliable characters play an important role in creating tension.