Drama, feature, LISTS & RANTS, Thriller

5 Psychological movies for those who love the human mind


Do you make a habit of exploring the human psyche through psychological movies? Questioning why people do what they do? What makes a twisted human mind? So do I. I absolutely love movies that delves into the grim side of human psychology, and these 5 movies do a superb achievement in doing just that. It’s something so interesting about character studies that examine what makes us do what we do and analyzes why we are who we are.

These movies explore everything you can imagine when it comes to a distorted psyche. Such as, what drives a person to commit an awful crime? What leads a person to go mad? What causes someone to seek vengeance? If these are the questions you want answered, then this list is for you! Here are the top 5 Psychological movies for those who love the human mind!

Hard Candy (2005)

Hard Candy twisted psychological movie

Having only done short films previously, Hard Candy was David Slade’s feature film director debut, and wow – he knocked it out of the park! In the movie’s making they decided it was best to keep the budget under 1 million $. A decision made to have the last cut and avoid any disagreements from the studio. Studios really have a terrible habit of destroying controversial movies like these, so this was perhaps the best decision they could ever make.

Hard Candy centers on an adolescent girl, 14-year-old Hailey (Ellen Page) who agrees to meet up with  32-year-old photographer Jeff (Patrick Wilson) who she met in an online chat-room. After meeting in a neutral place, a coffee shop, Hailey brings up the suggestion to go Jeff’s home. Seems like another Lolita movie, right? It’s really not. The move takes a twisted turn when we find out that this was Hailey’s plan all along. This seemingly naive girl had a very twisted, calculated plan of her own. Her intention is to expose Jeff, whom she believes is a pedophile that abducts pubescent girls. As the tables turn deviant mind games and sadistic physical torture are soon put in motion as Hailey’s plan carries out.

It’s an unsettling psychological movie to watch. Knowing that Page was only 17 years old when she starred in it adds even further to the controversy. But it is a brilliant movie with beautiful cinematography, twisted but epic dialogue and some remarkable acting.

The Machinist (2004)

The Machinist twisted thriller movie

Brad Andersons movie The Machinist has been renowned for Christan Bale’s insane weight loss. He shed about 27kg (60 pounds) to get into character for the role. A decision he took by his own free will, seeing as the director never asked it of him. It’s evident on screen, a Bale we no longer recognize, with a hollow face, see-through skin, and visible veins coloring him almost blueish.

Trevor (Christian Bale) can’t sleep. In fact, he hasn’t slept in over a year, only a few minutes here and there. His mental and physical health has visibly taken a beating, resulting in him weighing less than 50kg (110 pounds), and causing an accident at his workplace that resulted in his co-worker loosing a hand. Trevor works as a machinist and following the accident, his weird appearance and behaviour, he’s pretty disliked amongst his colleagues. This causes Trevor to become suspicious of his colleagues, feeling as if everyone is out to get him. Strange post-it-notes appear in his home, and Trevor’s paranoia is soon fully fledged.

The Machinist is not so much about the plot as it is about conveying a state of mind. The psychological movie does this masterfully and we take for granted the world seen through Trevor’s eyes only to get our minds blown by the realisation that everyone’s sees their life through a subjective filter.

Victoria (2015)

Victoria 2015 underrated one take movie

They shoot this highly underrated movie masterpiece in one take. ONE take! It’s not like many light-version one-take movies such as Birdman, 1917 – which are just edited to look like a one shot movie. They filmed Victoria in one continuous take. A craft requiring some extraordinary planning, choreography and emotional investment. And this shows! With the actors not being allowed any breaks, they live this reality and the emotional investment is evident. The scene where Victoria cries is the realest, rawest, purest scene I’ve ever seen in a film.

Victoria, a 20-something woman, meets 4 guys outside of a nightclub in Berlin. Sonne and his friends are genuine “Berliners”. Having grown up in the city, they offer Victoria a tour of the real Berlin. But what Victoria doesn’t know when agreeing to join them for a night of fun, is that one of the guys owes someone a favour. A favour that must be repaid the very same night. With romance sparking between Sonne and Victoria, she decides to join their dangerous mission. What started as an amazing early morning in Berlin soon takes a very grim, twisted turn.

Being filmed in one continuous take, Victoria gives the feeling as if you’re having a staring contest with someone and may not blink. It is so incredibly intense, following this story in real time and not cutting a scene a single time. This movie is the definition of suspense.

Joker (2019)

Joker Oscar Winner

I was so excited to find out Joker would get his own movie, but bummed out knowing Todd Phillips would be its Director. A director who had previously done light-hearted comedy movies such as the Hangover trilogy. But “The cowl does not make the monk” really apply here, and Joker later got an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Phillips’ proved once and for all that there are many tricks up his sleeve.

Joker takes place in Gotham during 1981 and centers on Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), an unsuccessful self proclaimed comedian battling mental health issues. Arthur lives with his mom in a worn out house, moonlights as a clown and struggles with a condition that causes him to laugh uncontrollably. These laugh attacks unfortunately often occur in the most inappropriate of times, leaving Arthur in a vulnerable position. After one too many attacks Arthur arms himself with a gun, which eventually starts the twisted transformation into what becomes the Joker.

It’s such an unique comic-movie, with a character study so profound that you can’t help but feel for Arthur throughout the entire movie.The idea was to have Arthur(Joker) either be overweight or underweight, since it’s a common side effect of medications. Phoenix initially wanted to gain weight, but was overruled and lost 23kg (52 pounds) in just a few months. Few movies make me cry, but this one did. Joker brings a roller coaster of emotions, and you really feel compassion and understanding for Arthur, all the while also feeling fear and detest. A psychological comic movie unlike any other!

Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl a twisted story

Everyones expectations were high when Gone Girl hit the cinemas. Not only because the book was amazing, but because director David Fincher, the man behind “Se7en”, “Fight club” and “Zodiac” would be the creator of this adaptation. Let’s just say, he didn’t disappoint. Gone Girl became yet another masterful movie added to his already epic resume.

Nick (Ben Affleck) arrives home on his 5th wedding anniversary only to find that his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has disappeared without a trace. After reporting his wife missing, a media storm takes over. Nick’s portrayal of a seemingly happy marriage becomes less and less believable. It doesn’t take long before the question on everyone’s minds become: “Did Nick kill his wife?”. The truth is far more twisted than anyone (who didn’t read the book) could have imagined.

Gone Girl is an amazing character-study that quickly takes a turn from an ordinary melodrama to a twisted psychological thriller. I wasn’t too happy when it was first announced Ben Affleck would be one protagonist in Gone Girl. Luckily, my mind definitely changed after watching the film. Both Affleck’s and Pike’s performances were exemplary.

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I've always had a deep love and fascination for movies, being an especially strong advocate for the weird, foreign, underrated, under-budgeted and unfairly NC17 rated films of our world. Cinesister is the embodiment of this passion (which some might call an obsession).

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