10 Great Psychological Horror Films – CBR – Comic Book Resources

A good horror movie spooks the audience. A great horror movie messes with their minds.
Halloween is just around the corner, and fans are eager for frightful movie nights to set the tone. Horror junkies rave about the stimulation they get from watching different genres, but most films will still fall short when it comes to pleasing a crowd. Paranormal movies aren't scary to skeptics, and gore-focused films like Saw or Hostile are unwatchable to the squeamish.
RELATED: 10 Horror Movies That Changed The Game
Over the years, the horror genre has focused on many trends, but psychological horror movies have had lasting effects. Old or new, there are countless psychological horror flicks to mess with viewers' minds during the next watch party or scary movie marathon.
Smile was a breath of fresh air to horror fans. The film's advertising added a level of mystery that evolved throughout the film, and left viewers scared yet delighted. The movie follows Dr.Rose Cotter after she witnesses a traumatic and violent incident with one of her latest patients who warned the doctor of what she was seeing. The presence her patient was tormented by follows Cotter throughout the rest of the film.
Cotter sacrifices relationships and her own sanity in attempts to end the cycle caused by this grief-fueled entity. Seasoned horror fanatics suspect Smile is loosely based off real events, and the film boasts a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes.
American Psycho follows Christian Bale as the handsome and charismatic Patrick Bateman. The film, based off of the popular Bret Easton Ellis novel, takes place in the late 1980s, giving it the classic horror tone right away. American Psycho has recently gained popularity again, and many fans share that they're long overdue for a rewatch.
RELATED: 10 Best Horror-Comedy Movies
The star power involved in American Psycho is undeniable, featuring the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Jared Leto, and Willem Dafoe alongside Bale. The film mixes genres like horror and comedy, and focuses on the phycology behind Bateman's horrific actions. American Psycho is a staple for many horror fans, but recent months have shown many more people have yet to see it, making it a perfect Halloween watch.
There are few horror movies with the same staying power as Silence of The Lambs. The 1991 classic is an adaptation of Thomas Harris' novel and focuses on an FBI agent hunting a brutal serial killer with the help of someone just as awful. This film was what made "Hannibal Lecter" a household name.
Hannibal Lecter is a cannibal killer and a psychiatrist, adding a unique point of view to the character. What makes Anthony Hopkins' appearance as Lecter so amazing is that the actor is only on-screen for sixteen minutes, but that was more than enough time to give audiences nightmares. Silence of The Lambs is often cited as one of the most influential horror movies of all time, and it set the tone for many future psychological horrors to come.
Midsommar has been deemed a horror success story since the day it was released. The film, directed by Ari Aster, features a group of friends traveling to Sweden for a summer festival. What follows is a slow descent into violent and twisted pagan-inspired rituals, leaving viewers having nightmares long after the movie is over.
Midsommar stars fan-favorite actress Florence Pugh. The 2019 film released during Pugh's breakout year, and the character's initial apprehension is sure to draw viewers in, just to see what happens. Midsommar might take place in the hotter seasons, but it deserves its spot among the Halloween horror classics.
It Follows is as much of a horror movie as it is a cautionary tale or p.s.a. The film follows a teenager named Jay escaping a dangerous, shape-shifting entity after she has intercourse with her boyfriend. The only way for the teen to pass on the entity is to give it to someone else by having sex with them.
The intensity of It Follows comes from the entity being able to take the form of anyone. Overall, It Follows is the perfect film for those who are spooked by the idea of a looming threat. It reaches deep into characters' and viewers' minds, making them distrustful of what is coming next.
Hereditary took theaters by storm during its 2018 release. The movie follows a family after the passing of the eldest member as they uncover a dark truth about their ancestry. The family is haunted by a demon that is passed down from one generation to the next.
RELATED: 10 Creepiest Psychological Horror Movies
Hereditary features imagery that is not for the faint of heart. While the plot of demon possession is common in many movies, addressing the human psyche, generational trauma, and processing grief are rare citing in one film. Hereditary's scares come from the realistic and traumatic issues that it depicts, leaving a lasting effect on its viewers.
At first glance, Darren Aronofsky's Mother! is just another violent horror flick. The film was surrounded by controversy due to its graphic nature. When coupled with the fact that the film had many environmental allegories, upon release many casual horror fans were on the fence about it. However, after its theatrical release, more viewers began to watch it and appreciate the film for various reasons.
Whether viewers see the religious undertones, like the spine-chilling imagery, or just want to watch a stellar cast, Mother! delivers on all fronts. The film doesn't hold the audience's hand in explaining the deeper plot points, making it a unique experience for every viewer with a different point of view.
Like many of the best horror films, Misery was an adaptation of a novel by the same name. The Stephen King story shows Annie Wilkes' controlling and horrific obsession with her favorite author Paul Sheldon, as she manipulates and abuses him. Annie begins off simply trying to help the author, but in the end she is anything but hospitable.
The main antagonist is played by Kathy Bates, and the film is one of the most well-received King adaptations of all time, though it has not gained much limelight in recent years. Watching Annie as she messes with Sheldon and turns into a complete monster messes with Sheldon's mind as much as it will mess with viewers, making it the perfect addition to a horror movie marathon.
Following his directorial debut, Get Out, Peele wanted to make a movie that was unquestionably horror. Us delivers in the same ways as Get Out, but leaves viewers with chills even after the credits roll. This film takes real-life events like "Hands Across America" and adds a layer of lore, mystery, and danger to it all.
RELATED: 10 Times Jordan Peele Revolutionized Cinema
Whether fans are watching for the first time, or it's a Halloween staple, there's always more to see with each screening of Us. The film's twist was one of the most hyped reveals in recent years, leaving everyone wanting more by the end. Peele hasn't said if there'd be a sequel to the film, but the eerie "what if" feeling after watching Us will leave chills down viewers' spines.
Featuring superstars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse focuses on an issue that plagued many throughout history. The film's focus is on two lighthouse keepers as they attempt to maintain their sanity. The film is a modern adaptation of the Greek story of Proteus and Prometheus. The fantastical elements make it a unique watch, and viewers are constantly left on the edge of their seats.
The Lighthouse is one of the most unique films of the last decade. The cinematography and symbolism are compelling and keep viewers interested throughout. While some symbolism may be lost upon less detail-oriented viewers, it is certain to have viewers questioning their own mental fortitude for days to come after watching.
READ NEXT: 10 Best Psychological Movies That Mess With Your Mind
Lifelong nerd, STEM graduate turned film student, streamer, writer, and personal trainer. I’ve got a passion for anything comics, games, and tv, and can’t remember a time when I didn’t. I’ve been cosplaying for over 12 years, and have done everything from judge competitions to being a speaker in panels at NYCC. While I strive to do a healthy amount of everything I love, the common thread is always having a geek flare to it. As a black queer author I like to shine light on our history in the pop culture realm, and love to see diverse storytelling. You can find me on almost any platform under @legendofanakin or my writing and reviews under @idlescreen.afk
Subscribe to the CBR newsletter for exclusive comics, TV & movie news, reviews, interviews & much more!


About Summ

Check Also

The best movies leaving Netflix, HBO, and more in March to watch now – Polygon

Use your Google Account Forgot email?Not your computer? Use a private browsing window to sign …