Making a psychological thriller is a tricky job. The best thrillers are clever and inventive, while the worst thrillers are easily overlooked. The formula of these movies usually includes paranoia, dubious realities, and moral dilemmas. The main character is probably going through some sort of mental breakdown, whether he realizes it or not.
Hit movies like this can have twisted endings or jump into the minds of bad guys. Many rely on things like amnesia and flashbacks, but even with those plot devices, the film could still end up being unnecessarily complicated rather than sophisticatedly complex. Thrillers have to captivate an audience, bring them to the edge of their seat, and leave them wanting more. Failing psychological thrillers often leave audiences with headaches and nagging questions.
ten Five takes the campsite from the public (3.4)
Five follows a group of friends who go camping before drifting apart. The main character, Belinda, deals with the death of her sister, Emily. Four friends, including Emily’s ex-boyfriend, accompany Belinda on vacation. They all have ongoing conflicts and things quickly spiral out of control when an unknown truth is revealed.
The film tries to be clever, but ultimately becomes too abstract and complicated. Nothing is explained to the public. Did the director simply not understand the project or did he deliberately confuse his audience? Viewers were left with no definitive answers.
9 Cover Me is an advertisement for Playboy (3.4)
Holly Jacobson is an undercover police officer in the 1995 direct-to-video film Cover me. She poses as an erotic model for an adult magazine to capture a serial killer who targets strippers and sex workers. It stars 80s action star Rick Rossovich and 90s actor Courtney Taylor.
Critics recognize that this film is only an advertisement for Playboy; it was the first of many direct-to-video films produced by the company. The one thing praised about this movie is Taylor, who brings a ladylike attitude to the often naked and racy Holly Jacobson. Cover me is unintentionally comedic, entirely predictable, and has even been described as soft-core porn.
8 They/They Stars Veteran Slasher Kevin Bacon (3.3)
This Cleverly Titled LGBTQ+ Empowerment Film They they (they cut them) is Peacock’s last original film. It takes place in a gay conversion camp called Whistler. It’s run by Owen and his wife, Dr. Cora, who welcome a handful of new campers of diverse gender identities and sexualities. However, the story quickly becomes overloaded with characters and stories.
It’s meant to be a classic summer camp slasher starring Kevin Bacon in the same vein as Friday 13. Its portrayal of conversion methods is chilling, but it clashes with the horror tropes it tries to include. All in all, it might be a fun watch, but it’s definitely not one of Blumhouse’s best.
seven The decoy did not attract the public (3.2)
the lure is a psychological thriller released in 2019. Garret visits his family’s old vacation home to find lost memories. It was one of the most anticipated Panic Fest titles of 2019, and it received very mixed reviews. Some reviewers enjoyed the interspersed dark humor, while others found the film rambling and random.
A traumatic incident happened when the protagonist was 10 years old, but he has amnesia after the experience. As Garret’s memories return, the truth is more evil than expected. The idea was good, but random items added for creepy reasons prevented the lure to become one of the scariest thrillers of 2010.
6 Wake Up delves into a child’s diary (3.0)
Wake up, also known as Dear Diary, is about a psychiatrist working on a case in which a little girl, Molly, bludgeoned her entire family. Her best lead is her diary which informs her that she suffers from horrible insomnia. It’s a low budget movie so the quality isn’t the best, but the script is also lacking.
Molly thinks killing her family was just a dream. As the doctor delves deeper into his diary, he begins to experience the same symptomatic delusions that led the child to homicide. The acting is woody and bland which spoils the authenticity of the story. It tries to do too many things at once, and the film’s potentially weird plot gets confusing and even cheesy.
5 Altered perception is about mind-enhancing drugs (2.9)
Four couples offer to be human test subjects for a new drug in 2017 Perception altered. The government-invented supplement is designed to heal any sort of tension or trauma by altering consumer perception. Although it’s incredibly challenging, it gets very confusing and the characters aren’t well developed.
At first, the human trials seem successful as their perceptions become clearer, but things go south fast. They begin to perceive things at an alarming rate, which also alters their memories. Audiences apparently enjoy this film, but critics see through its thin plot. Most viewers agree that the bad casting is the main problem.
4 Inhuman has a scientist gone rogue (2.8)
Inhuman concerns an unethical drug trial conducted on particularly violent prisoners. Scientist Rachel Moreno threw herself into the project after the death of her fiancé. It’s not an original idea, and it’s made even worse because of how slow and boring it is.
Rachel begins to lose control and abandons all moral responsibility, but even during the climax it’s still a bland movie. There are no twists, shocking revelations or engaging actors, which are normally staples of successful psychological thrillers. Viewers are mostly disappointed simply because nothing ever seems to happen.
3 Mysterious Island 2 introduces Chinese mythology (2.4)
Mysterious Island 2 is a 2013 Chinese film set in modern-day Bangkok. It follows a woman who visits her psychiatrist complaining of ghostly visions and bloody nightmares. The woman disappears and her younger sister sets out to investigate her disappearance. The film is the sequel to mysterious island released in 2011, but it’s completely independent.
The film is not well known and does very poorly compared to its predecessor. There are few to no reviews of the film and only 20 users have rated it on IMDb. The film’s low popularity is likely due to its incredibly thin and utterly inconsistent script.
2 The return of the curse stinks of inexperience (2.3)
2006 The return of the curse doesn’t have a strong online presence at all with very few reviews. It’s a paranormal movie about an ancient curse that drives those affected by it mad. Many critics claim that audience members will also lose their minds.
The plot follows Kathy and Willie as they research the cause of death of their friends and family. It is a cast of unknown actors and was written and directed by the inexperienced Chris Penney, although he has since done more successful projects like Two pistols and a body bag and garden island. Globally, The return of the curse looks like a first draft rather than a finished project.
1 Zodiac curse has no redeeming qualities (1.3)
Critics Describe 2007 curse of the zodiac as incongruous, overtly sexual and “cinematic abuse”. It’s based on the infamous serial killer Zodiac Killer, one of the most intriguing unsolved cases, but the movie somehow makes it completely uninteresting. In the 1970s, San Francisco was terrorized by a killer known as “Zodiac” who left cryptic clues at every crime scene.
More than the film, critics lashed out at director Uli Lommel. Lommel has enjoyed success in The bogeyman and has since directed several poorly rated horror films. curse of the zodiac has exclusively scathing reviews, mostly because it’s homophobic, misogynistic, racist, and just plain boring compared to other, more successful adaptations.
NEXT: 10 Scariest Movies Not In The Horror Genre