My Top 3 Psychological Horror Movies

We’re ONE WEEK AWAY from Halloween! I can’t believe it. I’m so stoked. But I’m also not ready for this month to be over, and I’m not ready to see all the pumpkins and cobwebs and scarecrows tossed aside for Christmas lights and tinsel and trees. But we can enjoy it while it lasts, right?

If you’ve missed the last three posts, I’ve been dedicating each week of October to my favorite films of each horror subgenre. So far, I’ve covered gore, monsters, and the supernatural. This week’s focus is one of my personal favorites: psychological horror films!

Psychological movies are my go-tos before any other genre, so this list was a lot harder to narrow down than some of the others! But I somehow managed. (As soon as I hit “publish” I’m going to suddenly remember another great one that I somehow managed to forget, but as of right now, this list stands!)

Psychological Movie #3:

It Follows (2015)

Putting this movie on the list was a tough decision for me. Not because I wasn’t sure if it had a place on this list, but simply because I just couldn’t decide what place it should go in. It initially sat in second place while I was compiling this list, but I eventually knocked it down to third place not because it’s not as good of a film as the second winner or because I liked it any less, they just both have very different effects that contribute to why I love them both.

But please don’t let this trivial demotion fool you. It Follows is an incredible movie. I’ve watched it at least three times, if not more, and I’ve found that the experience of watching it never weakens, regardless of which way you approach it.

You can take the film for what it is at face value without digging any deeper  and just soak in the tension and suspense, perhaps simply wondering what you would do if you found yourself in such a bizarre position. Or you can find a half a million parallels to unpack and overanalyze until you’ve gotten so far off track that you forgot what the monster primitively is. (I’ve done both, and they’re equally enjoyable.)

And putting aside the ‘monster’ and it’s psychological effects on its victims (and audience), It Follows serves up another layer of perfection through its aesthetics. The dynamic of the relationships between these characters feels relatable, while the atmosphere seems, at times, otherworldly. It’s almost familiar, but something always just feels off– it’s current but timeless, relatable yet obscure. It’s just so good.

I would gladly watch this movie again and again (and with relief, knowing that I can still sleep after it). It’s not terrifying, but it is creepy in all the best ways, and the concept itself is, in various ways, horrifying. Also, the soundtrack by Disasterpeace is absolutely amazeballs. I could go on and on about this film and all that comes with it. Just… watch it. And pass it on. 

Psychological Movie #2:

The Strangers (2008)

Similar to my gore horror movies list, I’m putting another film that is technically a slasher under a different subgenre. But of all the horrors and thrillers I have seen in my life, The Strangers is the only one that I would honestly say messed me up long term.

Every time I watch this movie, I struggle to sleep well for at least the next two nights. (tbh I didn’t sleep at all the first night I watched it.) Sure, I’ve experienced the typical little bit of restlessness or lingering fear after certain horror movies, but that always goes away after a day or two, once you’ve forgotten about it. But this one was and still is different for me.

The Strangers permanently unlocked a paranoia in me that no measures of safety and security can relieve. I am constantly aware of all entryways to any room that I am in, and I glance at them often, refusing to be caught off guard or surprised by someone. If I’m home alone, I won’t leave a room without my cellphone in hand or pocket. I will peer through any peephole or window I can before opening the door for someone, even if it’s for the delivery of a pizza that I’ve ordered.

And as much as I love the woods and as much as I’d love to have land to roam and build a life on, I can’t stomach the idea of living in the middle of nowhere or anywhere near it, because of the fear (aka wisdom) that this movie instilled in me when I was younger.

Every time I watch the Strangers it just refreshes the paranoia in me, so I hate watching it. But it’s also one of my favorites, because it makes me hate it so much. When I think of horror, I think of movies that actually scare me, and the Strangers is one of the only ones to truly achieve that, truly messing me up psychologically. 

Psychological Movie #1:

The Shining (1980)

Come on. You didn’t really think that my number one favorite psychological horror movie would be anything other than the Shining, did you?

Everything about this movie is perfect. It’s got an enormous and snow logged but beautiful hotel. It’s got textures and patterns and colors from a western eighties dreamscape. It’s got premonitions and foreshadowing. It’s got drinks and ghosts and elevators full of blood. It’s got a wide-eyed and frail woman, a clairvoyant-telepathic kid with a bike that would make Billy the Puppet jealous, and an axe-wielding psychopath with writer’s block.

It’s aesthetic. It’s iconic. It’s a work of art. It’s a pop culture staple. It’s so quotable. 

It’s just an incredible movie. In all honesty, it’s not just my favorite psychological horror movie or even just one of my favorite movies in the whole horror genre. I’d happily say that it’s one of my favorite movies of all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

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So there you have it, my top 3 favorite psychological horror movies of all time! In case you missed them, here are my gore, monster, and supernatural lists!

Next week is Halloween, and it’s the last week of the month, so I’ll be going in on my favorite horror subgenre of them all: slashers! If you have a favorite psychological film that you think I should see, or if you think you can guess my three favorite slashers, tweet me!

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// ABOUT :

Morgan of House Geek, First of Her Name, Mother of a Ton of Funkos, Collector of Things, Writer of Stories, Designer of Websites, Watcher of Films, and Player of Games.

INTJ. Libra-Scorpio Cusp. Slytherin.

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// FUN FACT :

I prefer purchasing trades & volumes more than single issues. I find them to be more durable, so I can enjoy them more and they can easily stand on my display shelves without boards.

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