Countdown to Halloween: Psychological Horror Watchlist

Last week, PCR celebrated the creatures that delivered to us some of the greatest on-screen scares in film history (see our Monster Movie Watchlist). Whether it was being traumatized by the evil dancing clown Pennywise, anxiously awaiting shark attacks, or being terrified of even the most normal animals like birds, monster movies have been an integral part of the horror genre’s legacy.

This week, we’re celebrating the movies that get inside our minds. It’s psychological horror week! These are the films that use emotional and mental anguish to showcase just how disturbing and frightening the dark side of the human psyche could be. So without further ado, here are our psychological horror films of the week:

8 – The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick)


“Some places are like people: some shine and some don’t.”

One of the most influential horror films of all time, Kubrick’s THE SHINING is equally a psychologically traumatizing experience as it is a simple ghost story. Witnessing Jack Torrance’s descent into madness is an iconic usage of mental anguish that we at Pop Culture Reviews can’t help but love. Thus, it has earned its spot on our Halloween Watchlist.

9 – Mother! (2017, Darren Aronofsky)

“You never loved me. You just loved how much I loved you.”

MOTHER! is one of the most polarizing horror films of recent times, and we at PCR couldn’t be more on the side that loves it. Aronofsky’s mentally tormenting movie features a brilliant performance from Jennifer Lawrence, who perfectly conveys emotional frustration and mental exhaustion from the traumas she experiences. And as a result, this bold story became unlike anything we’ve ever seen or felt before.

10 – Rosemary’s Baby (1968, Roman Polanski)


“This isn’t a dream. This is really happening!”

ROSEMARY’S BABY, one of the all-time greats, has impacted the horror genre significantly. Roman Polanski’s directorial style is chilling in every sense of the word, giving rise to a watching experience that is imaginative and uneasy. The ‘unconventional’ fears presented throughout the film lead to sequences that are diabolical by nature; but its tapestry of paranoia and mental morbidity makes it one of PCR’s favorite psychological horror movies of all time.

11 – Get Out (2017, Jordan Peele)


“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is among one of 2017’s best horror films. GET OUT is filled with interesting symbolic imagery, and it’s worth watching for Daniel Kaluuya’s breakout performance alone. But its handling of persecution complexes and disguised racism has crept into the minds of audiences everywhere, leading to a final product that is funny yet uncomfortable. Therefore, we can’t help but to celebrate the film for its effect during psychological horror week.

12 – Shutter Island (2010, Martin Scorsese)

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Which would be worse: to live as a monster, or to die as a good man?”

In 2010, Scorsese showed us just how disturbing a neo-noir film could be in SHUTTER ISLAND. Its twisted, shocking and horrifying elements provide a watching experience that will keep you guessing all the way until the end. But above all, Scorsese’s experimentation with perception and uncertainty prove that psychosis is indeed frightening.

13 – Excision (2012, Richard Bates Jr.)


Solely based on the definition, I don’t know a teenager that doesn’t profile as a sociopath.”

One could argue that 2012’s EXCISION belongs in the body gore category, but with its horror stemming from the perpetual mental frailty of its main character, it is so deserving of its place on this list. The film’s creepiness and gory content are capable of getting under your skin, but it is the motivation for these gruesome features that is bound to stay in and play with your mind. So, PCR highly recommends this one in celebration of psychological horror week.

14 – A Cure for Wellness (2017, Gore Verbinski)

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Do you know what the cure for the human condition is? Disease. Because that’s the only way one could hope for a cure.”

Verbinski’s A CURE FOR WELLNESS contains a visual style that might mask its story/plot for the general audience. But under all of the graphic flair lies the uncomfortable juxtapositions of reality vs. illusion, well being vs. illness, and will vs. force. The overwhelming, mental uneasiness that comes with watching A CURE FOR WELLNESS is the exact reason it is among some of our favorite psychological horror films!

We hope you enjoy Psychological Horror Week! Tweet us @PopCultureRevs using the hashtag #PCRsHalloweenCountdown to share which horror movies creep and linger in your mind. And stay tuned to find out which sub-genre we’ll be celebrating next! 🙂

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