The 10 Best Psychological Horror Movies Of The 2010s, According To IMDb – Screen Rant

The 2010s was a great decade for psychological horror, with movies like Gerald’s Game and Get Out receiving high scores from reviewers on IMDb.
Ghosts, demons, monsters, and slashers are the norm for horror movies. The recent Halloween Ends attests to that fact. However, the major success of the movie Smile shows that it’s not just the supernatural that scares people. Sometimes, it’s their own minds.
Psychological horror has been a staple of the horror genre, albeit more subtly than its knife-wielding cohorts. Those dark thoughts that everybody has at their lowest are often more terrifying than any monster. Add actual monsters to the mix, and it’s an assault of unsettling scares.
Gerald’s Game is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of a Stephen King novel of the same name. A couple goes to a remote house for some relaxation. In a consensual bondage game, the titular Gerald handcuffs his wife Jessie to the bed, before suddenly dying from a heart attack.
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Tied to a bed with no way of escaping, the psychological horror practically writes itself. Add a mysterious moonlit man who may or may not be a hallucination, and what follows is one of the most effective minimalist horror movies in recent memory. The seemingly weird, even hilarious premise, is taken deadly seriously.
The remake of Dario Argentos classic surrealist horror film Suspiria introduces audiences to a different brand of horror. While the framing device of cults and witches is present, it takes a backseat to exploring the deep trauma and mental scars that all the characters face in the story.
Much of the reason why they’re vulnerable to the manipulation of witches in the first place is because of the horrors they encountered in their pasts. The fact that one of the main characters is a grieving elderly psychologist further adds to those themes. It makes the rare supernatural horror that does occur hit that much harder.
Saint Maud focuses on the titular Maud, a devoted Catholic caretaker who becomes convinced that one of her patients needs their soul to be saved. As the movie goes on, however, her messianic attitude takes a horrible turn, and the line between reality and delusion becomes blurred.
Saint Maud never outright states if it's supernatural or not. There are terrifying scenes that are impossible in reality but would be perfectly at home in the mind of an insane zealot. It deconstructs how self-centered the more toxic parts of the Church can be, believing themselves to be prophets to explain the sad lives they have.
Well before Hereditary tackled the terrors of familial trauma and mental illness, The Babadook shocked audiences with its unorthodox take on the “Haunting” genre. The Babadook focuses on a single mother whose husband died six years prior in a car accident. Stressed out by work and her child’s phobias, she slowly starts to lose grip on reality.
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The Babadook is a horror movie about parenthood. It exaggerates and adds sinister elements to very real worries and thoughts that stressed-out parents have. The idea that one’s life is no longer their own once they have a child is a strong theme of the movie. The tension comes from how the main character copes with these uncomfortable truths.
The Witch is director Robert Eggers’ cinematic debut. As far as horror movie debuts go, only Jordan Peele’s Get Out can compare in recent memory. The Witch follows a family of Puritans who has been banished from their village, because of their father being too much of a puritan, even by the standards of the times.
As they settle on a humble farm near the dark treeline, strange things start happening to their family. The Witch is a gorgeously shot historical drama as much as it is a horror movie. Most of the horror comes from the mundane difficulties that the family has to face in the 1600s. The psychological aspect comes from how the movie explores themes of womanhood through a Puritan lens.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer follows an accomplished surgeon whose family’s lives are threatened when a strange boy tells them that all of them will die unless the father kills one of his family. A sort of “modern” take on the tale of the Greek myth, Killing of a Sacred Deer is an oppressively bleak movie.
Despite the fantastical premise, the rest of the movie is quite the opposite. The curse may be real, but at the end of the day, this is a father being told that they’d have to kill one of their loved ones to save the rest. This is a situation that everybody would find terrifying, and much of the tension comes from the choice that the father will inevitably make.
The Platform is a Twilight Zone-esque horror thriller that takes place in an impossible huge vertical prison. A man wakes up in one of these cells, given the challenge of spending six months inside to have their entire life set for the next decade. However, the isolation and human malice he encounters make him question his choices.
The Platform is an immediately unrealistic premise that predicates very real tenets of human nature. The titular platform exists because humans are inherently selfish. The Platform is a deep dive into social inequality, and how opportunity becomes a fight for survival. The psychological aspect comes from the main character struggling to maintain their humanity in such inhumane conditions.
Hereditary is the movie that put Ari Aster’s macabre style of storytelling to a wide audience, and it certainly earned its reputation well. Hereditary follows a family grieving the death of their matriarch. The film follows the slow descent of the family into insanity as more details about the deceased grandmother’s past are unveiled, and it starts to affect their family.
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While Hereditary teases the supernatural, it is a movie about generational trauma and mental illness. Hereditary explores how deeply abuse and mental illness can affect families in ways that are far from supernatural. It doesn’t matter if there actually are demons. The tragedies that befall them are unfortunately all too real.
The Lighthouse is Robert Eggers’ second foray into the cinematic world, and it’s a callback to the horror movies of old. This isn’t just a stylistic flourish for its own sake, but an intentional way to give the viewer feelings of claustrophobia. The story focuses on two lighthouse keepers, with the younger of the two holding dark secrets.
Soon, the isolation leads to their relationship getting increasingly toxic, and the mystery of what lies at the top of the tower looms. The Lighthouse is a very abstract movie, tackling themes of toxic masculinity and closeted homosexuality in subtle ways, and ways that are decidedly not. The Lighthouse defies genre, as it’s a lowbrow comedy at one point and a gripping period piece at the next.
Arguably, Get Out paved the way for psychological horror to make a comeback to the mainstream, especially after years of ghosts haunting the blockbuster. Get Out follows an interracial couple visiting the white girlfriend’s parents. Though awkward at first, they do seem harmless. The idyllic suburban facade slowly starts to crumble, and a horrific reveal sickens audiences to the core.
Get Out is a very bold horror movie that directly uses racism as its main source of horror. It’s not the typical kind of slasher horror, of a white supremacist targeting minorities. It’s a far more sinister form, the casual racism that exists to oppress minorities in ways that the majority turn a blind eye to. Racism, whatever form it takes, hijacks people’s lives. Get Out is a stark reminder of how much work still needs to be done.
NEXT: Jordan Peele's 8 Favorite Horror Movies Of All Time
Gab Hernandez is a freelance writer who spends way too much time talking about stuff they watch instead of watching more things. They started writing on their personal blog in 2018, a few days after their birthday. Since then, they have made thousands of posts about all the things they love. Be it anime, current events, or just general word vomit, Gab talked about all of it on their blog. Still, they needed to find some way to fund their media-watching habits. That’s when Gab decided to go all in on the writing thing. They started writing professionally as a freelancer. Although it started with not-so-fun stuff like writing about SEO, Gab managed to find his niche in talking about movies, TV, and video games. Now, with years of freelance experience under their belt, Gab joined ScreenRant to find an even bigger audience to read their takes on the latest media: whether they want to or not.


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