Top 10 Best Serial Killer Movies of All Time

Best Serial Killer Movies

Serial killers have been the source of both fear and fascination from the American public and the filmmaking industry. There’s just something really intriguing and visceral about a person who clandestinely kills for the thrill of it, isn’t there?

To further feed your morbid curiosity, we give you a list of the 10 best serial killer movies of all time.

Top 10 Best Serial Killer Movies of All Time

10Zodiac (2007)

Best Serial Killer Movies Zodiac (2007)
Mark Ruffalo in Zodiac (2007)

The Zodiac serial killer’s identity is perhaps our era’s most intriguing mystery. Bold and clandestine, the Zodiac got away with killing and taunting the Californian police for almost two decades without ever being caught.

In Zodiac (2007), we are treated to a gripping mystery thriller about the true to life story of a cartoonist’s disturbing obsession with the elusive Zodiac killer.

The film is praised by critics for being a realistic portrayal of murder investigations and for valuing substance over sensationalized graphic violence which is often unheard of in other runs of the mill serial killer movies.

9Monster (2004)

Best Serial Killer Movies Monster (2003)
Charlize Theron and Patty Jenkins in Monster (2003)

Monster (2004) features an almost unrecognizable Charlize Theron as real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a roadside prostitute with a history of abuse whose sexual relations with men turn into something more sinister.

Theron received praise for her portrayal of Wuornos earning an Oscar for best actress and cementing her name as a serious actress who’s more than just her pretty looks. The film is also notable for its complex take on what could easily be a story crucifying the troubled Wuornos who some people have dubbed to be the most evil woman alive.

8The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Best Serial Killer Movies The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Of course, the list of best serial killer movies won’t be complete without a mention of this superb film.

First of the series of film adaptations of the series of books by Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs (1991) introduced us to Anthony Hopkins as the infamous genius cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

Here we see him manipulate people despite being behind bars. Even Clarice Starling, one of the FBI’s best trainees seems to be no match for him. But her mission is to get the cunning Lecter to help the FBI find a notorious serial killer Buffalo Bill who remains at large.

7Psycho (1960)

The film that made us feel unsafe while showering.

Psycho (1960) is a psychological thriller film about an isolated man who runs (and kills the tenants of) a roadside motel.

Decades after the film’s release, it remains an influential work from which other films take inspiration from.

If you haven’t watched this one yet, we won’t spoil it too much for you. But be warned of a totally bone-chilling ending scene. Norman Bates gives a new meaning to the phrase, momma’s boy.

6Seven (1995)

Best Serial Killer Movies of all time Se7en (1995)
Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Spacey in Se7en (1995)

David Fincher’s Seven (1995) is one of those movies about psychopathic killers inspired by The Silence of the Lambs.

In Seven, the psychopath killer has a creative modus operandi. He kills people based on his impression if they embody one of the seven deadly sins. His case is discovered by a near retirement police detective played by Morgan Freeman and a young police officer played by Brad Pitt. Together, they seek to put a stop to the serial killer.

5Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Best Serial Killer Movies Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Michael Rooker in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Notorious for being given an X rating by the American Board of Censorship, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) tells the story of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas who has confessed to killing a shocking 300 people.

The film is not so much a look at the psychology behind serial killers but a mere instrument for the trauma that portrays the pointlessness of the killer’s murder. A must watch for every serial killer enthusiast, this is a disturbing film that deserved its rating.

4American Psycho (2000)

Best Serial Killer Movies of all time American Psycho (2000)
Christian Bale in American Psycho (2000)

Before he was Batman, Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, a privileged New York yuppie who’s literally indistinguishable from the horde of other yuppies he works with except for the fact that he has a propensity for killing.

Bateman’s killing rampage began when he is presented with a ‘superior’ business card by one of his colleagues. He starts with minor homicidal activities which escalate into multiple murders as he seems to lose his grip of reality.

The film is fascinating as it managed to turn what originally is a ‘rigid thesis’ and commentary against the hollowness of yuppie life into a near-perfect work of art that’s still relevant until today.

3Snowtown (2011)

Snowtown (2011) shows something a little bit different as compared to the other films on this list. It focuses on the insidious events leading up to the serial killer’s descent into the point of no return: killing sprees.

The film is based on the true story of the Snowtown murders which happened in Australia in the span of almost eight years as perpetrated by four men.

2Badlands (1973)

Best Serial Killer Movies Badlands (1973)
Martin Sheen in Badlands (1973)

There’s just something unnerving and thrilling about films which are based on real-life crimes of real-life psychopaths.

So in his directorial debut, director Terrence Malick decided to make a film based on a true to life story of a James Deen wannabe teen who went on a murder spree with his girlfriend in the American midwest.

Despite reading like a typical pulp fiction crime story, the film is notable for its originality and eloquent storytelling and commentary on the romanticization of crime in the media and how it affects the process of American myth-making.

1M (1931)

M (1931) is one of the genre’s first movies and is often dubbed as the first ever serial killer movie. It tells the story of the chase for a child murderer roaming the streets of Berlin.

Despite being made in the early 1930s, we’re sure every serial killer enthusiast will find it a great watch because of its simple but effective suspense build up and masterful use of atmosphere.

What movies do you think we should have included on our Best movies list? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!