Escapism by means of movie watching is something we all can appreciate. Sometimes—whether we’d like to admit it or not—messing with our own minds is the best form of entertainment, and psychological thrillers are the creme de la creme of spooky. From Hitchcock classics like Rear Window, to modern mind-benders like the work of Ari Aster, we’ve compiled the most heart-pounding psychological thrillers you can stream online right now.
The Sixth Sense
Even if you haven’t seen The Sixth Sense, you may be familiar with a famous quote from one of the film’s lead characters, Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment): “I see dead people.” Sear’s strange claims lead to intervention from psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), but through their meetings, Crowe discovers more about himself than he could’ve ever imagined.
Ari Aster’s folk-horror/psychological-thriller, Midsommar, is the kind of film that haunts your dreams (and, lets be honest, waking hours), for days to come. The movie tells the story of a group of friends who travel to Sweden for a fabled mid-summer festival. Things start off peaceful, though one of the travelers (Florence Pugh) shows apprehension from the start. The idyllic getaway devolves into a horribly violent nightmare, involving the ancient rituals of a pagan cult.
Many of Stephen King’s novels have been turned into movies, but Gerald’s Game is one we’ve turned to time and time again for some bone-chilling thrills. A husband and wife, Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) decide to spend quality time at a remote lake house in Alabama. The two quickly head to the bedroom, where Gerald restrains Jessie to the bed with handcuffs in an attempt to spice things up. Jessie becomes uncomfortable and asks Gerald to remove them, but within minutes Gerald has a heart attack and dies, leaving Jessie to fend for herself while handcuffed to the bed. Jessie begins hallucinating, and eventually spirals into nights of pure horror.
Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! is a psychological horror that tests the bounds of viewers’ imaginations, while drawing from the Bible and Victorian literature to tell a tale of a woman, “Mother” (Jennifer Lawrence), who is a housewife to a writer (Javier Bardem), known as “Him.” When uninvited guests begin entering their home without Mother’s approval or acceptance, their existence becomes tested, eventually spiraling out of control.
If an elevated heart rate is your mark of success when watching a psychological thriller, then Phone Booth should be added to your watch list ASAP. When Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) picks up a ringing phone in a booth in the heart of New York, an anonymous caller threatens to shoot him if he hangs up or disobeys his rules. What happens from there is a cinematic rollercoaster: he must reveal the many hidden truths of his life—or watch it come to an end.