These Psychological Horror Movies Will Mess With Your Mind
SESSION 9 (2001)
A team of asbestos cleaners hard up for cash takes on a hazardous rushed gig to clear out an abandoned mental hospital with only one week’s time. Brad Anderson’s thoroughly creepy, slow burn-into insanity starts when each member’s darkest secret surfaces as the days wear out inside the eerie walls of the asylum with a haunting past. The team spirals into a corrosive force of madness when they start listening to the deeply unsettling audio recordings of a patient who suffered from a multiple personality disorder, each new tape more unsettling than the next.
FUNNY GAMES (1997)
Funny Games takes the audience’s minds captive as it follows two deeply disturbed young men who come knocking at the door of a middle-class suburban family and let loose a mental and violent hell on them. Michael Hanneke’s take on home invasion horror puts the audience through the ringer as the misdeeds grow to outright torment. The director makes a bold statement about how light screamers or cheap thrills became acceptable for entertainment through breaking the fourth wall and toying with reality. Some might say that the movie aims to stick the knife in, twist it, and leave it there.
A man with 23 distinct personalities abducts three high school girls in broad daylight. Casey, Claire, and Marcia must be able to escape before the emergence of a terrifying and more threatening 24th personality set to dominate all of the others. M. Night Shyamalan never fails to leave the audience searching for the inevitable twist. The writer-director sets a compelling and unsettling experience from the beginning until the absolute end, making the audience wonder what other tricks are still up his sleeve.
Aaron, a young videographer who is low on cash and full of naiveté, says yes to a cryptic online ad for a one-day job in a remote mountain town to film the last messages of a dying man. His cinematic subject, Josef, seems sincere and has pure intentions but as the day goes on, it solely becomes clear that he is not who he says he is. Patrick Brice’s directorial debut and created by the same producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious, Creep is all about the terrifying uncertainty and the intense interplay between the two protagonists that beats expectations in each turn.
JACOB’S LADDER (1990)
A haunted Vietnam War veteran finds himself caught between hallucinations and reality. Trapped in recurring nightmares from the war, his grief over the death of his son, and a series of recurring visions and panic attacks that leave him trying to regain his grasp of reality, he attempts to unravel his traumatic past while suffering from severe case of dissociation. Adrian Lyne aims to grip the audience tight and take them into a nerve-racking trip down a rabbit hole of Jacob’s mind, which just desperately searches for a moment’s peace.
THE VANISHING (2018)
In 1900, a boat crew set sail for the remote island of Eilean Mor, one of the seven islets of the Flannan Isles in Scotland. Delayed for few days due to bad weather, they arrive at the island with a clear feeling that something was awry — the landing dock has not been made, flagstaff was bare, and none of the keepers came to greet the crew. It appears that the three lighthouse keepers mysteriously disappeared. George Sluizer’s horror classic is based on this true story. The movie leaves the audience questioning their disappearance. Did the treasure chest cause their disappearance or is it Eilean Mor’s peculiarities?
THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER (2017)
A renowned cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Steven Murphy, presides over a spotless household with his ophthalmologist wife and their two exemplary children. Lurking at the margins of his idyllic suburban life is a fatherless teen, Martin, who he has taken under his wing. As he begins to slip into their picture-perfect life slowly in a more unsettling displays, his real intentions becomes insanely clear. Yorgos Lanthimos plays his signature deadpan and absurdism in this unnerving, enigmatic, and staggering film.
Read more: Tatler Review: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011)
A mother struggles to love her strange child with the increasingly threatening things he says and does. Little does she know, Kevin is just getting started and his final act will be beyond she imagines. The audience finds themselves in the mind of Kevin's mother, who is pushed over the edge by her son's actions. Lynne Ramsay creates a visually stunning attack of mental torment filled with metaphors that do not give the audience easy answers.
THE VISIT (2015)
Two siblings head into a remote Pennsylvania farm for a weeklong trip at the home of their maternal grandparents who they will meet for the very first time. All seems well until the two start to notice an increasingly frightening and deeply disturbing behaviour from their Nana and Pop Pop. Entertaining and scary, M. Night Shyamalan combines suspense with horror clichés — dark basements, mysterious sounds, and frightened children among others.
Read more: Thrillers To Binge-Watch This Halloween