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The Best Psychological Thriller Movies of the 2000s

Updated on November 20, 2013

Psychological Thriller

Psychological Thriller is a sub genre of thriller focusing on the state of mind of characters, their emotions, combined with mystery. Often these movies are crossing the border of thriller movies and entering the field of horror movies focusing on the mind of the audience.

In these movies lead actor is often is a victim of some mind changes, trying desperately to solve a mystery, crime etc. discovering at the and that he is the one that he is trying to found, due to his true identity "the devil inside".

In my opinion 21st century isn't a good time for psychological thrillers. Since 2000 movies are easy to read, the plots are boring and unimaginative. However there are some exceptions.

As a fan of psychological thrillers I give you my favorites in the 21st century:





Shutter Island

Memento should be on this list, but I already wrote about it here, so I did not want to repeat myself.


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.

Elijah Price played by Samuel L. Jackson has a congenital disease,osteogenesis imperfecta, type one which means that his bones are like glass, easy to break. As a child, and as he grow up, he spent a lot of time in hospitals where he read a lot of comic books. Elijah's opinion based on his knowledge of comic books is that if he is so fragile, easy to brake, there must be an opposite human that is strong, unbreakable.

David Dunn played by Bruce Willis is a security guard who gave up his football carrier focusing on his wife Audrey, played by Robin Wright Penn, after a terrible car accident. However their marriage is falling apart. After a job interview in New York, David suffers a terrible train accident, but stays completely unharmed. All dead, only one survives, only David Dunn.

Elijah now believes that David is a super hero, the unbreakable one, and starts to stalk him. At the beginning Daved tries to avoid him. However, Elijah doesn't want to quit his mission and David is being sucked in this superhero story.

Unbreakable Trailer


This American - German - Italian movie was released in 2001, directed by Bill Paxton and starring Matthew McConaughey. Well received by critics, but not so much on the box offices. As I mentioned earlier, this movie is an example how these psychological thrillers cross the the line and become a horror movie. Frailty is even listed as the eleventh best horror movie of all time.

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".

Fenton then tells them a story about his father, who claimed that they were summoned to be God's tool for destroying demons, and the names of those demons were provided by an angel. They've been given a special weapons to fulfil their mission (gloves, lead pipe and an axe).

Meiks said that his father claimed that he can see the victims sins when he touches them.

Although his brother Adam follows his fater's path, Fenton is refusing to do that, and in some cases he tries to help the captured victims (demons). However, there is something about Fenton that FBA doesn't know.

Frailty Trailer


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

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. Although Dormer is a famous detective, respected, he is now under the investigation of Internal Affairs because of some case in LA.

Using his detective skills Dormer lures this murderer to the murder scene in order to catch him. However the murderer escapes in fog, and Dormer ends up killing his partner by mistake. He of course tries to hide it, but there was a witness, the murderer that Dormer is chasing. So, the murder of Dormer's partner becomes a bond between the murderer and the detective who is trying to catch him.

Insomnia Trailer

The Machinist

The Machinist is a English - language Spanish psychological thriller directed by Brad Anderson, released in 2004, starring Christian Bale. In my opinion Bale's best performans ever. His commitment and devotion in acting is outstanding. Just for comparison, The Machinist came out in 2004, and Batman begins in 2005. In The Machinist Bale lost his weight to 54 kg (120 lb), and in Batman he had 90 kg (198 lb). 36 kg (78 lb) in a year, just for a movie part. Huge sacrifice.

Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) suffers from a chronic insomnia for a year. His insomnia affected his job as a machinist. At one point, Ivan, a former worker appears, and distracts Trevors's attention which led to the accident at the factory when his collage lost his arm. Trevor blamed Ivan, but everyone else blamed him.

Trevor started seeing some stuff that he couldn't explain, clues on his fridge etc. All of that led to Trevor being fired. He becomes obsessed with Ivan, and starts stalking him.

The Machinist 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, good critics, and box offices results.

The plot is set in 1954, two USA marshals Edward Teddy Daniles (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are traveling 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.

But after some time, affected by this island, Teddy Daniles has started to lose his mind. He started to suffer serious migraines, but he was persistent to do his job. At some point he is convinced that some illegal experiments are taking place somewhere on the island, and that even his partner has turned against him. Edward is now on a mission, alone against everyone, still not knowing what is going on.

Shutter Island

Which of these psychological thrillers is your favorite?

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    • 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.

    • zeke2100 profile image

      zeke2100 4 years ago

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

    • Michelle Ascani profile image

      Michelle Ascani 2 years ago from Deep in the Heart of Texas

      Shutter Island and Inception are def my favs!!

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