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Best Suspense Movies - Top 5 Suspense Movies of All Time

Updated on July 4, 2011

Suspense movies are great because they don't beat around the bush or be something they're not. They have one purpose and they either fulfill that purpose, a do so with flare and a great story, or they don't - thus falling wayward like thousands of other average movies.

What makes a good suspense film?

  • A strong, thoughtful plot. Some of the best suspense films are movies that make you think.
  • A good mystery; not knowing the answer adds the most tension.
  • Characters we can care about. What's the point of having a tense situation if you we don't care at all about the characters?
  • Music. The music has to set the mood perfectly. The best suspense movies of all time all had music that was fatally convincing.
  • An antagonist that is vicious is more ways than one.
  • Last, but not least, to be a great suspense movie, there has to be, well, lots of suspense. Not all thrillers are suspense movies, just like not all suspense movies are horror movies. Suspense can be created in a variety of different ways - and that's what the best suspense movies will do: create suspense when you least expect it.


With these points in mind here is my list of the top 5 suspense movies of all time:


Anthony Hopkins creates suspense all on his own.
Anthony Hopkins creates suspense all on his own. | Source

Silence of the Lambs

Classic. If there's one word that describes this tour de force movies it's classic. Silence of the Lambs is genre defining and the most defining part is it's just for one genre. Noted as a horror movie, a drama movie, and a suspense movie, Silence of the Lambs is one of the most chilling movies of all time.

Starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, Silence of the Lambs is a story about an FBI agent who is helped by a locked-up serial killer help find another serial killer. Anthony Hopkins is incredible as a manic, yet genius character.

This is one of the best suspense movies because from the first scene you are at the edge of your seat. The movie plays it's part perfectly; the fact that you know from the opening credits how cruel and twisted the character Anthony Hopkins plays is creates a feeling that lasts with you the entire movie. Every encounter between Hopkins and Foster is both terrifying and tense.


In the Sixth Sense the main character can see dead people.
In the Sixth Sense the main character can see dead people. | Source

Sixth Sense

Remember this movie? Many of us do as it's one of the few shining point in M. Night Shamalans career. The Sixth sense is a suspense film which creates it's suspense much differently than a movie like Silence of the Lambs. Where Lambs has a manic character which can will the tension into the scene, the Sixth sense does it with mystery and atmosphere.

The Sixth sense, one of the best suspense movies created, follows a boy and and a psychologist who's trying to help him. The twist? The boy can see dead people. Couple that fact with errie music throughout the movie and you're left with two hours of pure suspense.

I won't spoil the end - just know the climax of the movie solidifies it as one of the top 5 suspense movies of all time.


Fight Club honored at the Guy Movie Hall of Fame.
Fight Club honored at the Guy Movie Hall of Fame. | Source

Fight Club

Another movie that doesn't really have one genre, Fight Club is not only one of the best suspense movies, but one the best movies ever. The way the story weaves together, it's ominous plot points, the characters that change simultaneously, makes one of the most suspense movies of our generation.

From the beginning of Fight Club you feel as something is missing from the story, that the director is hiding something, but you can't figure it out. As the story dives deeper - it follows two people who are the founders of fight club, a secret club where people duel it out - you become more involved with the characters.

The final twenty minutes are heart pounding - a thriller drama that is forever etched in edge of your seat suspense.


Hitchcock was the master at creating good suspense.
Hitchcock was the master at creating good suspense. | Source


The masterpiece by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Psycho, a movie deemed one of the greatest horrors of our time, defined the genre psychological thriller. Need I say more?

If anything Psycho set up the basic rules of how to make a great suspense film. It had a protagonist who was normal; it had an antagonist who was cruel and twisted; it had an isolated setting that was made that much creepier with original music; and it had the mystery and puzzlement of why.

This deserves to be on the top 5 suspense movies of all time list if only because it paved away for other four best suspense movies on the list.


Fear is always present in the suspense movie, Alien.
Fear is always present in the suspense movie, Alien. | Source


In my mind one of the most suspenseful movies of all time. The fact that the antagonist is not human, but an alien adds a whole other layer of fear and mystery.

The music is chilling; you can feel the fear injected in each and every character.

The question that remains in your head throughout the movie - who is going to live?

This is one of the best suspense movies ever.


Suspense, Suspense, Suspense

There are many, many more movies which could fit on this list of the top 5 suspense movies of all time.  But not many of them mesh together plot, characters and tension so well and so significantly as the movies mentioned above.

Watch any of the above five and you will instantly see why it's considered one of the top suspense movies.  You'll be on the edge of your seat watching, waiting... listening. 


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    • profile image


      6 years ago from Missouri

      Great list!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great article and choice. When I first started reading I just knew Hitchcock movie had to be in there. Seen all of them apart from sixth sense which sounds good and it's on my list. Thanks for sharing.


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