49 Psychological Thrillers on Netflix That Will Have You on the Edge of Your Seat
If you're a fan of scary movies, you know that there are several different types of terror within the overall genre of horror movies. The genre is sweeping; from monsters and slashers to zombies and paranormal activity — the list goes on. Some viewers prefer a certain subsection of horror movies to others, but they're all the same in offering a little feeling of fright that you may crave. In short, there are lots of different creative ways to approach a scary movie or TV show.
With that being said, it's one thing to pull off a quick jump scare but a different thing entirely to create a psychological thriller that burrows deep into the viewer's subconscious and oftentimes refuses to leave for days on end. These films stay in our heads (and keep us in the sunken place) long after they end and the credits roll, making us rethink that really quiet neighbor living next door with curtained windows or that casual invitation to a wilderness camping trip. If you're hungry for some terrifying horror or looking for inspiration for a truly scary Halloween costume, there are plenty of psychological thrillers on Netflix that are sure to creep you out. Read on to see our picks, and get ready to be spooked like never before.
— Additional reporting by Lauren Harano, Haley Lyndes, Corinne Sullivan, Sheneca Sharpe, Emily Cappiello, Kalyn Womack, and Charlotte Kho
One night of passion in Las Vegas quickly turns into a nightmare for a successful, married sports agent (Michael Ealy) when the sexy stranger he cheats with (Hilary Swank), who's secretly a police detective, wreaks havoc on his perfect life.
"I Care a Lot"
Starring Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Chris Messina, and Dianne Wiest, "I Care a Lot" follows a con woman who makes a living by becoming the court-appointed guardian to vulnerable elders. She convinces the courts that they're unable to take care of themselves so she can seize their assets. However, her luck appears to run out when she ends up becoming the guardian of a crime lord's mom.
"Run Rabbit Run"
Sarah Snook gives a formidable performance in this disconcerting feature, which follows a mother whose own mental health is already declining when her daughter starts drawing extremely disturbing images. As her daughter grows more and more sure that she remembers another life, horrifying secrets about the family's past start to emerge from the shadows.
"Emily the Criminal"
Aubrey Plaza stars as a woman struggling with student debt in this slow-burning thriller. What begins as a dip into credit card fraud leads her character Emily down a rabbit hole of criminal activity and violence, and ultimately it's a surprising and deep character study that showcases Plaza's range.
"Psycho" basically set the standard for psychological thrillers when it premiered in 1960, and it remains a classic. It follows a motel owner named Norman Bates, who runs into trouble when a guest named Marion stays the night. Complications with Bates's mother ensue.
An influencer moves back into his childhood home with his young family in this Belgian thriller. Once he begins looking into an accident involving his father that occurred at a nearby factory, he starts learning more than he bargained for.
Psychological thriller "Solace" follows two FBI agents who "enlist the help of a clairvoyant doctor to help them track down a serial killer who's targeting terminally ill patients," per the film's description.
In "Weathering," a short film, a woman (played by Alexis Louder) grapples with the death of her baby in childbirth as she begins to experience disturbing visions while grieving at home.
"The Strays," one of the latest psychological thrillers on Netflix, combines commentary about race, privilege, and generational trauma for a truly terrifying flick. The true life-inspired British social thriller follows the life of Cheryl (Ashley Madekwe), who packs her bags one day and decides to start a new life for herself where she's now married with two kids. However, her picture-perfect life soon unravels when two strangers pop up in her quiet suburban town.
"Intrusion," one of many psychological thrillers on Netflix, follows a married couple that moves into their dream home in a small town. But after a home invasion leaves the wife traumatized and searching for answers, she soon realizes those around her might not be who they say they are.
Feeling stuck both personally and professionally, a young woman named Jenn (Kate Siegel) enlists the help of a mysterious hypnotherapist but, instead, finds herself trapped in a deadly game of mind manipulation.
"Spiderhead" is one of a few psychological thrillers on Netflix that released on the streamer in 2022. Inspired by The New Yorker's 2010 "Escape From Spiderhead" short story, the futuristic thriller follows a scientist named Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth) who manipulates his incarcerated subjects, Jeff (Miles Teller) and Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett), into participating in his inhumane psych experiments.
"The Wrath of God"
Based on Guillermo Martínez's book "Slow Death Of Luciana B," the Argentinian thriller, also known as "La Ira de Dios," follows a young woman named Luciana (Macarena Achaga) involved in a string of mysterious family deaths. After suspecting that her boss has something to do with them, Luciana stops at nothing to protect her and her only remaining relative — her sister Valentina.
"Disappearance at Clifton Hill"
"Disappearance at Clifton Hill" is one of many psychological thrillers on Netflix. The film follows a troubled young woman being tormented by a disturbing childhood memory who returns to her hometown of Niagara Falls to uncover the terrifying details behind a boy's abduction.
Based on Austin Wright's novel "Tony and Susan," this drama follows a woman (Amy Adams) who becomes obsessed with the threatening symbolism of her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal)'s manuscript.
"The Devil All the Time"
A young man (Tom Holland) devoted to his family must protect his loved ones from corruption and sinister members of the postwar backwoods town they live in.
In this psychological thriller from Spain, a man who's left using a wheelchair after an injury decides to seek vengeance on those who turned their backs on him — including the woman who left him when he needed her most.
Another Spanish thriller, this time of the sci-fi variety, "The Platform" balances dark violence with scathing class commentary. It introduces us to a dystopian future where prisoners in higher cells are fed, while those below starve with scraps.
The Spanish thriller "The Occupant" tells the story of an out-of-work ad executive creepily following the people living in his old home, which he can no longer afford to live in.
Another film based on a Stephen King book, "1922" stars Thomas Jane as a farmer who confesses to the murder of his wife. But that's just putting it lightly.
"In the Tall Grass"
When a pregnant woman and her brother hear a young boy in the fields, they go out to try and find him. Once they're in the fields, they're disoriented by a sinister force and realize that being lost in the tall grass is better than being found.
A secluded cabin by the lake sounds romantic — but when you add a husband dead as the result of some kinky bondage gone wrong, it suddenly becomes a nightmare. Based on Stephen King's book, this film starring Carla Gugino from "The Haunting of Hill House" brings psychological warfare in spades.
The 2018 Netflix original film "Cam" tells the story of a cam girl who logs in to her account only to find that some dopplegänger has stolen her identity and fan base. A meditation on what the industry has done to our sense of self, it's sure to shake you to your core.
A math genius discovers a pattern of deaths at a local gas station and uses his knowledge to warn the next victim — a 10-year-old who knows his life is in danger, even though no one seems to believe him.
"Hold the Dark"
Netflix's original film "Hold the Dark" stars Jeffrey Wright ("Westworld"), Alexander Skarsgård ("Big Little Lies"), and James Badge Dale. When a local boy is killed in the Alaskan woods, a naturalist is tasked with finding the wolf responsible — but it turns out the woods hold secrets far scarier than wolves.
Released in 2018, this Netflix original film will take hiking off your list of favorite activities. Four friends decide to brave the Swedish wilderness in honor of their murdered friend — but their trip doesn't end up being the Cheryl Strayed experience they were hoping for.
Former Disney Channel darling Brenda Song stars in this psychological thriller as Jennifer, a young woman who suffers from amnesia following a violent attack. As her memories start to come back, she finds that she no longer knows who to trust.
We want Sandra Bullock to be around in a crisis — her character in "Bird Box" kicks serious butt. When the world sinks into terrifying, supernatural chaos, the only way to stay alive is to remain blindfolded and keep noises to a minimum. It's terrifying and will make you question the safety of the world around you.
In this Spanish sci-fi thriller, a happily married mother named Vera learns that there is a possibility of saving the life of a boy who lived in her home 25 years earlier. This good deed, however, provokes a chain reaction — and Vera wakes up in a new reality in which her daughter has never been born and her husband doesn't even know her.
"TAU" is about a woman who is kidnapped by an inventor and used as a test subject to perfect his robotic AI. She tries to escape her prison — but it's not going to be easy.
This 2016 thriller follows two long-lost college friends: Kyle, a suburban father, and Zack, who just started a self-actualization program. When Kyle goes on a weekend-long retreat with the program, he falls down a violent, seductive hole.
Allison Williams stars in this intense thriller as a cello prodigy who abandons music after a family tragedy, only to return to the stage years later with the help of a rising star (and an insanely freaky reunion).
"The Weekend Away"
While on a girls' trip in Croatia, Beth's best friend vanishes. She races to find her and figure out what happened. But as she starts putting together clues, things seem to make less and less sense.
Netflix's original film "Calibre" focuses on two lifelong friends who take a hunting trip to Scotland. Things get out of control, and the two find their morals and friendship called into question.
In this Argentinian thriller, a 50-year-old painter named Lorenzo attempts to rebuild his life while he anxiously awaits the arrival of his first son. His pregnant wife, however, exhibits increasingly aggressive and obsessive behavior, threatening their relationship and his relationship with his son.
In this thriller, Sam Worthington plays Ray, a father who rushes his daughter to the hospital after she breaks her arm during a road trip — only to wake up in the waiting room to find that no one in the hospital has any recollection of his family ever having checked in.
"In the Shadow of the Moon"
This psychological thriller starring Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, and Michael C. Hall follows a police officer in 1988 Philadelphia as he struggles with his lifelong obsession with a mysterious serial killer. Is anyone else getting some "Dexter" vibes?
In this 2016 thriller, a photographer suffers memory loss after an accident. After looking through her photos, she learns that she might be the reason her family is dead.
While still struggling with the after-effects of a terrifying attack, the psychiatrist in the 2017 Netflix original film "Clinical" must help a patient who was disfigured in an accident. Get ready to fangirl, because the movie stars Vinessa Shaw from "Hocus Pocus."
"Black Mirror: Bandersnatch"
From the producers of "Black Mirror," this mind-bending, interactive film allows audience members to decide the fate of main character Stefan Butler with a touch of the remote. He might succeed in adapting his favorite dark novel into a video game or lose his sense of reality — you decide.
"The Woman in the Window"
Based on the bestselling novel, Amy Adams plays an agoraphobic psychologist who witnesses a brutal crime from her window. While working to investigate the truth, she begins to confuse her phobia with reality.
Ellie Warren is trying to keep her family afloat after her husband suffers injuries from a car accident. After rekindling a flame with an ex-lover from college, she learns that he is more dangerous than he appears.
Fifty people wake up in a dark room arranged into a circle. They can only use hand gestures to decide who among them will live or die.
After Kim Seo-yeon loses her cell phone, she uses an old phone and comes in contact with a woman claiming she lives in the same house as her — but in 1999. The two work together to save Kim from a serial killer.
"The Girl on the Train"
This Bollywood adaptation shows a young divorcee who becomes fixated on a perfect couple living nearby — until a fatal turn of events prompts her to investigate the truth.
"The Last Thing He Wanted"
A reporter becomes entangled in the story she's working on after helping her father broker an arms deal in another country.
A novelist with writer's block hires a seemingly perfect nanny. However, her trouble differentiate reality from fiction makes her question the intentions of the person she hired.
"Choose or Die"
Asa Butterfield stars in this movie about a man who hacks into a computer game — only to unleash a terrible evil. When a college student and her computer-hacker friend get involved, things spiral from there.