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The Best Psychological Thriller Movies of the 2000s

Updated on June 11, 2017

It is hard to determine what exactly is drawing people to the psychological thriller genre. Is it suspension, unexpected reveals or interesting human stories? Maybe even healthy amount of fear, since best ones are usually crossing the border from an actual thriller into the horror movie territory.

The 21st century wasn't kind to this genre, and with that came a lot of failures, but luckily it brought to us some true gems. If you're looking for titles worth watching, you'll find them down bellow.

Unbreakable

Released in 2000. Unbreakable is a movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson and Robin Wright Penn. Movie was well received by critics and on the box office.

Plot:

Elijah Price played by Samuel L. Jackson is a victim of a disease that makes his bones easy to break. While practically living in hospitals, he built his world around comic books. In them, he found comfort that everything has its opposite. Every plus has a minus, every positive has negative.

And if he is so fragile, there must be someone unbreakable out there.

In the meantime, David Dunn (played by Bruce Willis) is the only survivor of the terrible train accident. Shaken from the accident David comes home, unaware that he'll soon be pushed into Elijah's superhero story.

***

Bruce Willis came into 21st century as an established die hard action movie actor. However with this piece he proved to us that he is not a one genre actor.

Unbreakable Trailer

Frailty

As mentioned before, psychological thrillers often transition into real horror movies. This American - German - Italian movie is a true example. Released in 2001, this master piece by Bill Paxton gave us a new face of Matthew McConaughey. Well know by his romantic comedies, he set foot into the psychological thriller world, and conquered it.

Plot:

Fenton Meiks played by Matthew McConaughey enters the FBA office in Dallas, Texas claiming that his brother, Adam is the serial killer known as "God's hand".

As a story unravels we find out that his father believes to be a God's tool against demons. The passion he tried to pass on to his sons.

He even said that his father claimed he can see the victims' sins when he touches them.

Although his brother Adam follows his father's path, Fenton is refusing to do that, and in some cases he tries to help the captured victims.

Frailty Trailer

Insomnia

Directed by Christopher Nolan, Insomnia is a remake of the Norwegian film. It came out in 2002, starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hillary Swank. Great crew for a great movie. Very well received by critics.

Plot:

Kay Connel, a 17 - year - old girl was murdered in a small town of Nightmute, Alaska. Two detectives from LAPD were sent to assist the investigation, Will Dormer, played by Al Pacino and Hap Echart.

Dormer is a famous and respected detective. However, he found himself in the middle of a scandal with the internal affairs. Since the end of his career is getting closer, he is trying to prove to others and himself that he is still a great detective.

In order to catch the murderer, Dormer uses his skills to lure him to the murder scene. However the murderer escapes in fog, and Dormer ends up killing his partner by mistake. Worried about his legacy, he tries to hide it, but there was a witness, the murderer himself.

Dormer now has to choose between saving his career and catching a killer.

The Machinist

Have you ever seen a picture on Christian Bale after he lost all of that weight for this particular role? That is the devotion this actor put into this movie. And it payed off.

The movie was released in 2004, and directed by Brad Anderson.

Plot:

Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) suffers from a chronic insomnia for a year. His mental health starts affecting his job as a machinist.

One day, his former colleague, Ivan, shows up during Trevor's shift. At this occasion, Ivan distracts Trevor's attention which led to the accident at the factory. Due to the accident, his colleague lost an arm. Trevor blamed Ivan, but everyone else blamed him.

After this, Trevor starts seeing some things he couldn't explain. Finally, he loses his job due to his paranoia. He becomes obsessed and starts stalking Ivan.

Insomnia Trailer

Shutter Island

Shutter Island is a movie based on Dennis Lehane's novel of the same name. Directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley and Michelle Williams. Movie was released in 2010 and received good critics as well as good box offices results.

The plot is set in 1954, when two USA marshals: Edward Teddy Daniles (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) traveled to the Ashecliffe Hospital for criminally insane. This hospital is located on Shutter Island in Boston Harbor. Their missions is to investigate a disappearance of a female patient Rachel Solando, a murderer who drowned her three children.

After some time on the island, Teddy Daniles becomes affected by it, and starts losing his mind. He starts to suffer from serious migraines, but he was persistent to finish the job. At one point he is convinced that illegal experiments are taking place somewhere on the island, and even that his partner has turned against him. Edward is now on a mission, alone against everyone, still not knowing what is he fighting against.

The Machinist Trailer

Shutter Island

Which of these psychological thrillers is your favorite?

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    • Michelle Ascani profile image

      Michelle Ascani 3 years ago from Deep in the Heart of Texas

      Shutter Island and Inception are def my favs!!

    • zeke2100 profile image

      zeke2100 4 years ago

      What about the movie, The Others (2001). That was a psychological thriller.

    • kikibruce profile image

      kikibruce 4 years ago from New York

      Good list. Can't think of anything to add to your list. I like how you added the trailers.