We all know that I love my horror movies and books and well…anything. However, although blood and gore rocks my world, I don’t mind a good psychological thriller from time to time.
Psychological thrillers, whether books or movies, are special. If done correctly, it could really keep the reader or viewer engaged and on the edge of their seats (or pages). This subgenre of the broader ranging thrilling category could often include some or all elements of mystery, horror, action, and drama.
A psychological thriller is a story based upon the minds and unstable emotional states of its characters. Even in its name, we automatically go into it knowing that someone is crazy or at least screwed up in some kind of way.
When I was younger, one of the first psychological thrillers I’d ever read was Silence of the Lambs. I know everyone has probably seen the movie, but the book is much more intense. Not only does Dr. Hannibal Lecter scare you, he gets into your mind and makes you absolutely terrified to ever come across a man like him in real life.
And that’s the beauty of reading psychological thrillers – you have the ability to really be inside the character’s screwed up mind, and it truly gets under your skin.
One of my most favorite components of this subgenre is illusion. Most of the time when you’re watching one of these movies, the story begins with a seemingly normal protagonist. Things appear fine on the outside, but soon you discover there is more than meets the eye…or some kind of secret, hidden, creepy room down in the basement where he or she stores decapitated heads. There is the potential of throwing off the viewer with unpredictability, which can really go a long way when the writer is trying to make the viewer emotionally involved with the character.
I recently watched a movie called Triangle one late night when I couldn’t fall asleep. This was probably a mistake, because I was a little sleepy for one…and this movie far exceeded the meaning of psychological to me. Immediately after watching it, I had to jump on the internet to find forums about the movie regarding hidden meanings and honestly, what the hell was going on! But it was definitely worth it.
Dream House, starring Daniel Craig and Naomi Watts, was another one of my favorites. This film did exactly what I mentioned earlier and gave illusion to its main character. It flowed well and really had you wondering, thinking, and at the end genuinely shocked.
As a writer and author, I really respect the writers who create these types of books and films. It truly takes a creative mind and out-of-the-box thinking. I believe to achieve success in this subgenre, you really need to know how to work with twists and turns, and keeping the reader or viewer hooked from beginning to end.
I’m not sure if I could ever write something like that, but then again I have never tried. In the meantime, how about I just give you a list of books and movies that fit the bill.
What are some of your favorite psychological thriller movies or books?