Soaked in tension and suspense, these seven twisted movies will blow your mind.
Shutter Island is considered a modern classic for many reasons. For starters, it is a product of Martin Scorsese’s brilliant filmmaking. He isn’t a director who makes psychological thrillers often but when he did, he hit the bullseye. Shutter Island boasts an unforgettable performance by Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role. Besides DiCaprio, this movie also features a stacked ensemble cast including Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, and Max von Sydow, among many others.
Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, the psychological thriller follows the story of U.S Marshal Edward “Teddy” Daniels (DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aule (Ruffalo), running an investigation into a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island, where a patient has gone missing. After a series of disturbing events, Teddy realizes that there’s more to the institution than meets the eye.
When Shutter Island was released in 2010, it blew the audience's mind and became one of the most twisted, nerve-wracking thrillers of the late-aughts, something fans haven’t forgotten to date. With a mind-bending plot, peppered with horrifying moments, it is a heavy watch and yet it's also thoroughly entertaining. This movie has a haunting vibe that sticks with you, even years after you have seen it. It encourages the audience to get involved and solve the mystery and seek the truth, which can only be a result of masterful filmmaking. So, it’s obvious that fans of Shutter Island would seek something similar. While there are many movies made with similarly intense storytelling and incredible direction, we have a few favorites that are must-watch films, if you like movies that seriously push the limits of your mind. With conspiracies, layered characters, super twisted plotlines, and eerie atmospheres, here are the seven best psychological thrillers like Shutter Island that you cannot miss.
You can never go wrong with a Stephen King story. And when it’s a movie based on his story, you know that it's going to drive you crazy (in a good way!). 2004’s Secret Window is one such psychological thriller, penetrating and provocative. Directed by David Koepp, the movie features Johnny Depp in the lead role as Mort Rainey, a writer struggling with writer’s block while dealing with his wife’s infidelity.
Things start getting interesting when he retreats to his lakeside cabin and tries to work on his latest novel. A lot of unsavory details from his past comes to light and eventually lead to very disturbing experiences for Mort. The reason Secret Window relates to Shutter Island is that both stories see the protagonist fighting their minds to come to terms with their past and present. Watch it for Stephen King or Johnny Depp; either way, this movie will not disappoint you.
The '90s was an era of very dark, gory, and super-psychological horror thrillers. Jacob’s Ladder is among the top of that list. But be warned, this is not for the weak-hearted. The psychological drama, starring Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, and Danny Aiello, follows the story of Vietnam war veteran Jacob Singer (Robbins) and his PTSD. Singer is haunted by his wartime experiences with frequent hallucinations and struggles to navigate them.
Jacob’s Ladder is a story of a man trapped in his own mind, quite similar to what Shutter Island also explores. But this '90s thriller does not go much deeper into Singer’s psychology. Instead, it deals with his current state – stuck in a place between reality and his imagination. It’s an underrated movie but very well-made and mind-bending.
This 2006 adult animation movie covers a lot of genres in one story – psychological thriller, sci-fi, and crime drama. Based on the 1977 eponymous novel by Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly is set in a near-future, dystopic society, where Bob Arctor/Fred (Keanu Reeves), an undercover agent, investigates the drug trade. But soon he gets too invested in his role and gets involved with a new drug in the market that changes everything for him.
Besides Reeves in the lead role, the movie also features Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, and Winona Ryder. What’s most interesting about this movie is the way it is made. Digitally shot, it used rotoscope animation, which gives it a surreal look that only enhances the bizarreness of the movie. Whether it’s because of the ensemble cast, the distinctive style, or the blend of sci-fi and psychological horror, A Scanner Darkly is a great watch and will leave you with questions, just like Shutter Island did.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, this psychological drama thriller has some elements in common with Shutter Island. From the classic noir environment to doubtful perceptions and the protagonist’s questionable state of mind, there’s a lot of puzzles to solve in both. Changeling follows the story of a mother in 1928 Los Angeles whose son gets kidnapped. Though she eventually finds her son with help from the LAPD, there’s a problem: it’s not her son. That’s when things take a dark turn.
The chilling story also explores a woman’s fight against police corruption and a mother’s search for her son’s reality, while dealing with her own trauma. The award-winning movie boasts an ensemble cast led by Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins, along with John Malkovich, Michael Kelly, Jeffrey Donovan, Amy Ryan, and Colm Feore, among others.
Dark, disturbing, and gut-wrenching, Fight Club is based on Chuck Palahniuk's debut novel of the same name. It would be an understatement to call Fight Club a movie. It is a walk through a man’s mind, making you live his life with him. Starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, it’s a story told by the unnamed Narrator (Norton) – an automobile recall specialist and an insomniac, with a mundane, work-home-work life. And he is frustrated, no doubt. Then he meets Tyler Durden, a soap maker, and things start to change.
The two men become friends and create an underground fight club to unleash all the pent-up anger and anguish they have towards life and society at large. But it’s not as simple as it reads or sounds. Fascinating performances by Norton and Pitt and a shocking revelation at the end will make you want to go back and watch it all over again. The challenge is whether or not you’ll figure out what exactly happened at the end!
Do you like movies that shake you to your core? Then you probably should have watched Mulholland Drive already. The neo-noir mystery thriller directed by David Lynch is surreal, to say the least, and very thought-provoking. It follows the story of Betty Elms (Naomi Watts), who goes to Hollywood with the dream of becoming an actress. Soon, Betty meets Rita (Laura Elena Harring), a car-crash survivor suffering from amnesia, and the two women connect instantly. Betty tries to help Rita find out about her past but her discovery only leads Betty to dark and strange places. There are many reasons why Mulholland Drive and Shutter Island have some shared DNA – identity crisis, escapism, guilt, and truths that would rattle you. But where Mulholland Drive changes lanes is with its dark satire of Hollywood life and the unique female relationship at its heart.
The 2001 thriller film also stars Justin Theroux, Ann Miller, Mark Pellegrino, and Robert Forster. It’s colorful, sexy, feminine, and makes you feel like you are in a bizarre dream. And just a warning: it will make you think twice about your own mind!
Directed by Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan follows the story of Nina (Natalie Portman) who gets the lead role in a production of Swan Lake. But there’s a lot for her to deal with – her bottled-up emotions, her manipulative mother, her career – all of which she must navigate while performing in the role of a lifetime. The Academy Award-winning 2010 movie is like watching a darker version of the Swan Lake ballet. Or is it just the darker side of the life of a ballerina?
Cinematic and poetic, this dark, psychological drama almost blends reality with the story of Swan Lake. But how it relates to Shutter Island, that's something you’ll have to watch Black Swan to fully understand.
Keep Reading:'Shutter Island' Is Still a Cautionary Tale About the Power of False, Comforting Narratives
Remus is a freelance resource writer at Collider. He’s a writer, journalist, and author who dreams of one day creating the greatest X-Men comic book of all time. Until that day, he’s happy to write about movies and TV shows, with a particular interest in sci-fi and pop culture. In his spare time, he cooks, reads books, researches obscure trivia, and makes plans for world domination. That last one’s a secret, shh!
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Soaked in tension and suspense, these seven twisted movies will blow your mind.