Is there anyone out there who knows what it means to be a psychopath? According to Wikipedia, psychopathy is a personality condition that is characterized by antisocial behavior, a lack of empathy or guilt, and an absence of restraint. In the majority of cases, the term “psycho” or “psychos” is used to refer to people who are irrational or insane. But in actuality, they are hazardous because they have a better understanding of human psychology than most individuals. These psychopaths have long piqued the interest of filmmakers, who have made a number of films about them. The following is a collection of some of the most memorable film representations of psychopaths that have given us the shivers, the screams, and the frights. Ultimately, they convinced us that they were real.
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As of now, I believe that the term “psychopath” is being used wrongly and without proper comprehension of its pathology. Many conditions are grouped under the word “psychopath,” including psychopathy, psychosis, dementia, and dissociative identity disorder, however these are only a handful. Movies with serial killers are sometimes referred to as “psychopath films,” although this isn’t always the case. For all you know, a psychopath can appear quiet and inconspicuous, even harmless, in some contexts unless provoked in some way. To put it simply, a psychopath lacks empathy for his activities, no matter how heinous they may be, whether they be mental or physical.
In order to provide you with a comprehensive guide of the best films on psychopaths, we’ve stayed away from any and all psychiatric or medical connotations. In this collection, you’ll find films about psychopath murderers, as well as scary and suspenseful flicks about psychopaths. On Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, you can find some of the best psychopath movies.
1. Seven Psychopaths (2012)
“Seven Psychopaths” was a refreshing change from the recent spate of scary and violent films about psychopaths. In my opinion, the seven oddballs aren’t textbook psychopaths, and may even be toned down psychopaths compared to other films on this list. There’s no arguing with the fact that “Seven Psychopaths,” the film adaptation of the Stephen King novel based on them, is a pretty terrific one, and the fact that it even made me laugh out loud at its cruel and flaming dark humor is all to its credit.
Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken star in this dark comedy, which boasts a fantastic cast that all appears to be having a good time. This lends much levity to both the plot and the absurd violence that is frequently associated with a dark comedy of this type. The film’s ridiculous plot should be enough of a reason to watch it, but if you saw Martin McDonagh’s outstanding 2008 picture “In Bruges,” you’ll grasp it and appreciate it for what it is.
2. Basic Instinct (1992)
“Basic Instinct” is also Sharon Stone’s claim to international fame for her portrayal of the murdering femme fatale Catherine Tramell, the only film on our list featuring a prominent female psychopath holding the reins. The film’s famous interrogation scene has made Sharon Stone a global symbol of sexuality, and as a result, the character’s more intellectual features are generally overlooked in favor of the physical ones. She is confident, bold, apathetic, and cold and manipulative as ice (pun intended).
Many of the characters on this list go through an outwardly psychopathic violent eruption, but her calm, calculated attitude is what really places her in the top ranks of the best cinematic psychopaths, despite a strong and sexy persona. What annoys me the most about her character is the all-too-common trope of the femme fatale psychopath: her blatant use of sexual prowess. Apart from that, there is a lot to like about this sleazy movie and Sharon Stone’s scene-stealing performance.
3. Wall Street (1987)
If you’re going to encounter a psychopath, Gordon Gekko is the one you’re most likely to encounter in your day-to-day life and the one you’re most likely to meet face-to-face. He’s not the guy to resort to murder and mayhem. Gordon Gekko, a suave and successful Wall Street exec whose inherent psychopathic characteristics emerge throughout the course of the film, may be a welcome diversion from the psychopath films’ focus on serial killers. A lack of empathy and responsibility for the actions he performs in his pursuit of the goal, which also represents the capitalistic nature of the business society we live in, is demonstrated in this character’s depiction of greed. At the same time, his “greed is good” speech, which showcased Michael Douglas’ flair, positioned him as an enemy.
Gordon Gekko’s crafty, manipulative, and even dangerously egotistical act is a flawlessly underplayed, uncanny ruse, and that’s what should give you the jitters as a portrayal of a psychopath on film.
4. Misery (1990)
Is a story about a fan who kidnaps her favorite author for killing a character in Stephen King’s work. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her performance as a calculating and nasty Annie Wilkes in Misery. While tormenting her victim, she behaves like a textbook example of a psychopath, remaining calm and rational the entire time.
5. Funny Games (1997)
A affluent Austrian family is kidnapped while on vacation in the country by their unassuming next-door neighbors. Captives are bet that they won’t be able to hold out until the next morning in a vicious game of suffering. As part of its famed ‘fourth-wall-breaking’ premise, this film features the offenders communicating to the viewers. The film offers one of the most surprising endings, therefore shattering all kinds of storytelling formulas.
6. There will be Blood (2007)
One can now have a plaque erected in honor of Daniel Day Lewis, one of the greatest performers of our time, and one of his finest performances, “There Will Be Blood.” Daniel Plainview’s character has been widely praised for its psychopathic nature, its many levels, and Day-Lewis’ portrayal of it to eerie, uttermost perfection by multiple critics.
Throughout the film, Plainview’s calm, cold mannerisms and ruthless business tactics, as well as his apathetic relationship with his adopted sun HW, all point to him as a psychopath.
7. Saw (2004)
‘Saw,’ the first in a string of progressively worse films, was by far the most entertaining. They wake up bound to their feet in a room with two hacksaws and a dead body for company. What’s the problem? They both have to leave at once while the other needs to kill him for his family. Backstory is revealed through flashbacks, all as the enslaved people contemplate the hacksaw they will use to cut off their chained feet. An attempt by novice filmmaker James Wan to combine the horror genres of the slasher films with those of the slasher films of the slasher films was a weird but successful one.
8. Bronson (2008)
A biographical film about the life of Charles Bronson, better known by his stage name Michael Peterson, is titled “Bronson.” It’s said in the film’s closing sentence that Bronson had spent 34 years in prison (in 2008), with 30 of those years spent in solitary confinement. Despite simply being convicted of armed robbery, he gained reputation for his violent interactions with other inmates and guards, as well as a slew of kidnappings that took place within the walls of the jail.
For a film that deals with the life of a violent and non-complacent prisoner, ‘Bronson’ is one of the more enjoyable ones to watch, thanks to Tom Hardy’s performance and its stylistic treatment by the director. When the credits roll and we see Charles Bronson battered and bloodied in solitary confinement, it’s enough to give anyone heart palpitations. Today, he calls himself an artist and writes quite a few books to prove it. In addition to his philanthropic work, Charles Bronson is also a former bare-knuckle boxer, which is where the moniker ‘Charles Bronson’ comes from.
9. Natural Born Killers (1994)
The word controversial is hidden in the title of this film if you look hard enough. With its narrative of a murderous duo on murdering sprees that are brutal, gory and even gut-churning in an instance or two and the media’s preoccupation with crime as easily marketable fodder, ‘Natural Born Killers’ was immediately in difficulty. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis’ performances in the film make it work as a comedy, a crime-fueled story, or even a romance with a murderous backdrop, if you like.
After learning that the script and screenplay were authored by Quentin Tarantino himself and were toned down (!) by the director, I began to wonder what horrors the original script contained. The film “Natural Born Killers” is also notorious for inspiring a series of truly horrifying copycat crimes. It shows two psychopaths turned serial killers in the truest sense of the word, showing no signs of remorse, and it remains one of the most divisive films in terms of personal choice, yet one of the most definitive on the subject of psychopathology. If you’re into that sort of thing, don’t miss this.
10. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Take this for granted if you don’t believe me: it’s all for the film. Henry and ‘The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover’ were two of the films that prompted the MPAA to change its X rating to NC-17, signaling that the films were not pornographic but rather intended for an adult audience. Although it has been out for years, many people still see it as the greatest representation of a true psychopath, if not the best. Despite the fact that the film’s two major characters, the killers, are based on real individuals, it manages to numb every muscle and sense in the body.
Aside from not attempting to understand what compelled Henry to carry out his heinous deeds, the film says nothing about the nature of the homicides. When you see the movie, you take on the role of that invisible but all-knowing bystander. As a simple observer, I witnessed the terrible events taking on around me.
Henry and Otis massacre a helpless family on videotape. While this is not an actual horror film, the scene is gut-wrenching and terrifying all at the same time. Adding insult to injury, the murdering duo watched the footage afterwards, and I don’t believe that the constrained medicalization of psychiatric words can ever properly capture this behavior.