A good suspense film successfully seduces the viewer into the film’s world and mysteries making us think that we may know more about the movie’s characters themselves. They make us analyze and notice every aspect of the film to try and guess what events will happen next based on what is shown to us. Although every suspense film will take you on a different route to the end, they all have one goal: surprise us with an ending we never saw coming. Here are 10 of the best suspense movies of all time.
Top 10 Best Suspense Movies of All Time
Caché ( 2005)
Michael Haneke dissolves the line between victim and predator with Cache (2005). The film, considered to be director’s magnum opus, tells the story of a European family terrorized by the mysterious appearance of disturbing video tapes along with morbid drawings revealing that someone has been monitoring their house from afar.
Cache slowly builds suspense through the use of misleading shots making the viewers look more closely in order to see what they are being presented with. What more, the film manages to torture the viewers by depriving them of information almost as much as the family in the film is–a mark of a good suspense film.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Based on a novel of the same name, The Manchurian Candidate (1962) is a suspense thriller film that perfectly captures the era’s communist paranoia.
It stars Laurence Harvey as Raymond Shaw, an army hero who has recently returned to the USA from Korea. However, it is revealed that the veteran was brainwashed and programmed by communists to assassinate a presidential candidate and to eventually aid them in their attempt to overtake the US government.
The Prestige (2006)
The Prestige (2006) is director Christopher Nolan’s best suspense movie which says a lot given that he made this film in between the grueling shooting of the Batman films.
The film follows the story of a magician, played by Hugh Jackman, who’s famous for an act that fascinates and baffles his fellow magicians in Edwardian London. Notorious for its complex and sometimes confusing story, the film features Nolan’s signature non-linear narrative storytelling which takes the viewers on a ride littered with twists and turns which finally lead them to an unexpected end.
Silence of The Lambs (1991)
The world is first introduced to the infamous cannibal serial killer with a doctorate, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, in Silence of the Lambs (1991).
The movie builds both fear and curiosity upon its viewers through the use of psychology and deduction which Lecter also uses for helping the police solve murders and as a murder weapon against people as well. The viewers are put in the shoes of detective Clarice Starling which is both genius and ironic as we realize how clueless we are of what things will happen next despite having the privilege of knowing more than other characters in the film.
Director David Fincher proves why he’s the heir apparent to Alfred Hitchcock’s throne with the dark stylish suspense film, Seven (1995). Seven is one of the best suspense movies of all time.
The film’s premise itself is enough to capture the audience attention to see it through the end. The movie title, Seven refers to the modus operandi of a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as a pattern for killing. It stars Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt as a duo of investigators whose main goal is to capture the elusive serial killer played by Kevin Spacey.
Memories Of Murder (2003)
Memories of Murder (2003) is a Korean arthouse suspense film by director Bong Joon Ho. Set in a 1980s South Korea under military dictatorship, the film follows the story of two countryside policemen and a detective from the city as they try to solve a grisly series of rape-murder cases. These killings are made more frightening by the fact that they are based on the first serial murder crimes that happen in Korea.
The film is both a financial and critical success with it receiving awards and praises from critics both local and international. Quentin Tarantino even included the film on his favorite movie list.
The Third Man (1949)
A gritty yet equally stylish film noir, The Third Man (1949) tells the story of an American in post-war Vienna who comes to the country fill a job offered to him by a friend. However, he arrives to find his friend killed in an accident hours before his arrival. The film focuses on the man’s investigation in an attempt to solve his friend’s possible murder.
The film sets itself apart from other suspense films with its atmospheric cinematography inspired by German expressionism, distorted camera techniques and excellent performance from its actors with Orson Welles in the lead role.
Chinatown (1974) is an almost perfect film noir by director Roman Polanski with Jack Nicholson in the lead role of a private investigator hired to surveil an engineer in Los Angeles. Unexpectedly, he would eventually find himself entangled in the twisted world of Chinatown.
Diabolique (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955)
Just to be clear, we’re talking about the original Diabolique and not that mess of a remake starring Sharon Stone.
Rotten Tomatoes calls Diabolique (1955) as the ‘greatest film Alfred Hitchcock never made’ and it’s not hard to see why. French director Henri-George Clouzot and Hitchcock both have a knack for mystery-driven plots told in suspenseful camera work and music.
Diabolique is a film set in a boarding school where a murder plot to get rid of the headmaster by a teacher (who is also the headmaster’s latest mistress) and his invalid wife ends in the mysterious disappearance of his corpse.
Rear Window (1954)
Rear WIndow is a story about a wheelchair-bound photographer who spends his time spying on his neighbors with a binocular. All seems well in the apartment complex until the photographer witnesses a murder…or did he?
Regarded as Hitchcock’s finest work, Rear Window stars James Stewart and Grace Kelly as leads in a detective-solves-a-mystery type of suspense film. The movie is praised for its fearless exploration of what darkness lies deep inside people’s psyche.
What do you think of the films included on best suspense movies list? What movies would you have ranked higher or lower?