1. History of the Psychological Thriller Movie
Psychological thriller is a sub genre of thriller and can be differentiated by the heavy focus on the
unstable emotions of the characters within the movies. Psychological thrillers still incorporate the
common elements of mystery and drama but emotional status is the main focus within the genre.
Horror is a genre that can overlap with psychological thriller; creating psychological horrors.
The mental state of the character is more important than the physical nature of the characters in
psychological thrillers and it is often the case the character is battling with their own mind. The
story can be told in the form of a first person narrative of the character going over the events in the
story or in essence, talking to themselves, this could also be a convention of a psychological movie
and this emphasizes the mind state of the character further.
There are set themes within the psychological thriller genre that include: black comedy, identity,
death, mind, perception, reality and existence. These main themes shape the characters in the
psychological thriller and depending on the theme; the personality of the characters is very
Some of the most popular psychological thrillers include:
- Black Swan
- Fight Club
- The Sixth Sense
- Secret Window
Rear Window was a key psychological thriller from the 1950’s, directed my Alfred Hitchcock. After
breaking his leg photographing a racetrack accident, professional photographer L.B. "Jeff"
Jefferies (James Stewart) is confined in his Greenwich Village apartment, using a wheelchair while
he recuperates. His rear window looks out onto a small courtyard and several other
apartments.During a summer heat wave, he passes the time by watching his neighbors, who keep
their windows open to stay cool. During the film he witnesses his neighbor murdering his wife.
Psycho, directed again by Alfred
Hitchcock, was a highlight of the 1960’s.
The film depicts the encounter between a
secretary, Marion Crane (Leigh), who goes
to a secluded motel after
embezzling money from her employer,
and the motel's disturbed owner and
manager, Norman Bates (Perkins), and
the aftermath of their encounter. This film
has included one of thrillers greasiest
scenes, this would be the shower scene,
where we see Marion showering to which a shadowy figure greets her, and she is then stabbed to
death. Psycho is now considered Hitchcock’s greatest film after mixed views on the film were
reviewed and it won multiple awards.
Night Flight from Moscow is a French thriller made in 1973. It was produced
and directed by Henri Verneuil. The main plot entails: In this convoluted
spy thriller, a Russian ambassador places his life on the line when he steals
classified documents and defects to the U.S. The papers he carries could
rock the free world. Unfortunately, the C.I.A. must first prove that they are
Dead Ringers is a 1988 psychological drama film starring Jeremy Irons in a
dual role as identical twin gynecologists. This was a highlight film of the 1980’s,
directed by David Cronenberg. The Mantle brothers are both doctors - both
gynecologists - and identical twins. Mentally however, one of them is more
confident than the other, and always manages to seduce the women he meets.
When he's tired of his current partner, she is passed on to the other brother -
without her knowing. Everything runs smoothly, until an actress visits their
clinic, and the shy brother is the first to fall in love.
Stir of Echoes was a supernatural horror-thriller with aspects of a
psychological thriller. The movie was directed by David Koepp and the plot
is: After being hypnotized by his sister in law, a man begins seeing haunting
visions of a girl's ghost and a mystery begins to unfold around her.
The Mist was amongst one of the best rated
films of the 2000’s, directed by Frank Darabont. A freak storm
unleashes a species of bloodthirsty creatures on a small town,
where a small band of citizens hole up in a supermarket and fight
for their lives.