Chilling twists and turns. Shocking endings.
A good thriller sticks with you long after the final page or scene. There are so many choices out there, though, on streaming services and Amazon Prime. It can be exhausting to slog through movies and shows in search of that perfect psychological thriller that will creep you out and build the tension you're looking for.
Look no further, though. I've compiled a list of my top five choices. If you love authors like Ruth Ware, Gillian Flynn, and B.A. Paris, these twisted psychological thrillers will stick with you long after the credits start rolling.
1. Stonehearst Asylum
This is my favorite slow-burning thriller movie of all time. This movie is set in an insane asylum. We follow a young asylum doctor who is interning at Stonehearst Asylum. While there, though, he learns there are many secrets to uncover.
This movie, though, is so strong in its plotting and twist. The clues are subtle but deep; once you learn the twists, you will realize the hints were there all along. I promise you that when you think the movie is done presenting twists, it will present some more. You will NOT guess the ending but will love it.
This movie is based on an Edgar Allan Poe story and features an eerie backdrop, ever present tension, and, again, a look at what reality really means. I love movies that explore mental illness and what madness means. I think if you love thrillers that are emotional and complex with an atmosphere straight out of a Poe story, you will fall in love with this one.
2. The Babadook
This one technically falls under horror, but the ending, for me, throws it into a psychological thriller sort of status. Again, although it is technically creature horror, its dealings with unreliable narrators, what reality is, and heavy emotions makes it a great watch if you love a slow burn.
The ending is, again, a shocking, twisted ending that has high interpretive value that will keep you talking long after the last scene.
I was flipping through Netflix arguing with my husband about what to watch as married life sort of dictates when I came across this eerie tale. Usually, I am admittedly a subtitle snob (I hate reading subtitles. I know, I know, uncultured). But this plotline really caught my eye.
In a world where families are starving, an invitation to a ball is a prized treasure similar to Charlie getting the golden ticket. Thus, when the protagonists get to go to the actual ball, they feel like they've won the lottery. Fine foods, fancy dining, and a lifestyle they aren't used to awaits them.
However, they quickly start to realize that things in the mansion are anything but normal as a horrifying "play" unfolds. The maze-like status of the building creates a sinister backdrop to a mystery both the characters and viewer must solve. The ending provides an unforgettable scene of malevolence.
My husband and I talked about the ending of this one endlessly because it does leave a lot of questions. It is a movie with a slow build that creates that eerie feeling you find in the pages of a psychological suspense. I definitely think this one is worth checking out.
4. The Handmaid's Tale
I rave about this literally anytime I get a chance. The Handmaid's Tale, based on Margaret Atwood's book, is a twisted, horrifying apocalyptical tale that will truly freak you out. Although it certainly could fall into the horror genre, the psychological and emotional terror along with the twisting and turning storyline is sure to satisfy suspense readers' needs. It has such an engaging plotline but also lets us in June's head for the entire show. It really does an excellent job at bringing Atwood's horrifying world to life.
June, named Offred in the world she lives in, is being held captive in Gilead after a faction takes over the US. The new powers are essentially a cult who follow the Bible literally when it comes to reproduction. Handmaids, those women able to reproduce, are essentially kept as slaves and forced to bear children for the wealthier families.
The show features gorgeous, award-winning film-making techniques. The plot will keep you horrified but also wanting to know more. Viewers both want to look away and can't stop watching because of the engaging plot and the extremely high tension.
5. The Woman in the Window
I will confess... I haven't had a chance to read this twisted psychological thriller. I had heard there was a major twist ending, though, and that the premise was creepy. When it hit Netflix, thus, I decided to give it a try.
This follows the story of a therapist who has become agoraphobic (afraid to go out in public). The story is told from her perspective as she watches the flat across the way. You start to sense that something deeply troubling happened to her. I thought that was the twist originally and sort of discounted the movie. However, as it unfolds and the storyline weaves in and out of unreliable narrators and crazy things happening, you start to realize there might be more at play. The ending totally caught me by surprise in the best way and changed my mind about the whole movie.
This movie definitely has "The Yellow Wallpaper" vibes to it with the unreliable narrator and the psychological turmoil. I have heard those who read the book say it isn't as good as the book, of course, bu I haven't had a time to verify that yet (let me know if the comments if you have).
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door, The Diary of a Serial Killer's Daughter, and other creepy thriller books