About Shutter Island
Shutter Island is a psychological thriller about a Deputy U.S. Marshal who investigates a patient disappearance on an island whose facility houses the insane and disturbed. As the movie and storyline begins to unfold, it becomes clear to the viewer that all is not as it appears to be. With the reveal at the end cementing Shutter Island as one of Leonardo Di Caprio’s greatest performances!
During a recent re-watch, I started to think of other movies like Shutter Island. Below you’ll find a list of other psychological thrillers that have a similar vibe. Let us know on social media which one is your favorite.
1. The Machinist (2004)
Written by Scott Kosar and directed by Brad Anderson, The Machinist stars Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, John Sharian, and Michael Ironside. It was released in the year 2004.
The Machinist is a dark psychological drama featuring a machinist who is suffering from guilt and paranoid delusions because he hasn’t been able to sleep for an entire year. Fun fact: this is the film in which people started to speculate and worry about Christian Bale’s health as he lost 28 kilos (62 pounds) in order to look the part for the film. I remember loaning the DVD of the Machinist to an old room mate who swiftly returned it after watching with a note attached saying “this is f***ed up.” And if that’s not an accurate review then I don’t know what is.
2. Inception (2010)
Directed by Christopher Nolan, Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine. It was released in the year 2010.
Inception is a science fiction action film written and directed by Christopher Nolan in which Cobb and Arthur perform a form of corporate espionage by infiltrating the dreams of their subjects and placing ideas in their subconscious. The dream-like state is achieved by Nolan and his team through a series of impressive camera and CGI techniques which create a mind-altering state.
3. The Game (1997)
Directed by David Fincher, The Game stars Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger and James Rebhorn. It was released in the year 1997.
The Game is about a wealthy investment banker who receives a gift from his brother which is for a game that begins to take over every aspect of his life. Pretty soon things get out of hand and a larger conspiracy reveals itself. One which appears to be a real threat!
4. The Prestige (2006)
Co-written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan and directed by Christopher Nolan, The Prestige stars Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Andy Serkis, David Bowie, and Piper Perabo. It was released in the year 2006.
The Prestige is about the rivalry between two magicians seeking superiority over each other. Eventually things get ugly and a murder ensues but this movie is far from simple. You won’t know what will happen next in this meeting of the magical minds.
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Written by David Zaillian and directed by David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo stars Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Yorick van Wageningen, and Joely Richardson. It was released in the year 2011.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a psychological thriller based on the best-selling of the same name – which is written by author Stieg Larsson. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is about journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his investigation of a girl who disappeared from his wealthy family 40 years prior to the events of the film. With the help of a hacker named Lisbeth Salander, the pair begin to investigate and find a string of murders that relate to Nazi’s and anti-semitism which takes the story down a truly dark path.
6. Memento (2000)
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Memento stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano. It was released in the year 2000.
Memento follows the investigations of Leonard Shelby, an insurance investigator who suffers from anterograde amnesia which means he can’t form new memories. So he uses notes and tattoos addressed to himself as clues to help him find the person responsible for murdering his wife. There’s also plenty of stars from The Matrix films that appear which made me come up with the conspiracy theory: what if Memento is just another level of The Matrix? I clearly need help.
7. The Girl on the Train (2016)
Directed by Tate Taylor, The Girl on the Train stars Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez, and Lisa Kudrow. It was released in the year 2016.
The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller about a recovering alcoholic named Rachel who rides a train aimlessly after losing her job and her marriage. Rachel begins to fixate on the neighbours of her ex-husband Tom; Scott and Megan, but when Megan goes missing after Rachel spots her kissing a stranger, Rachel decides to investigate on her own and re-inserts herself into the lives of her ex-husband Tom and his new wife Anna. Creating all sorts of drama, turmoil and mistrust for everyone concerned.
8. Fight Club (1999)
Directed by David Fincher, Fight Club stars Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf, and Jared Leto. It was released in the year 1999.
Fight Club follows the downward spiral of a corporate white collar insomniac who develops a friendship with Tyler who is a carefree soap salesman. Together the two of them start Fight Club and a Revolution begins. A revolution which soon enough evolves into a brand new form of homegrown terrorism.
9. Dark City (1998)
Directed by Alex Proyas, Dark City stars Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, Richard O’Brien, Ian Richardson, and William Hurt. It was released in the year 1998.
Dark City is a neo noir science fiction film which starts with a murder by a man with amnesia which quickly descends in an existential dilemma infused epic sci-fi ballad of The Matrix-like proportions. While Dark City was no mainstream success, it certainly deserves its cult-like status and is a worthy addition to this list.
10. Gone Girl (2014)
Written by Gillian Flynn and directed by David Fincher, Gone Girl stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, and Carrie Coon. It was released in the year 2014.
Gone Girl centres on a husband and wife in which the wife disappears without a trace and the whole community (including the media) suspect foul play at the hands of the wife. The film then pivots to reveal that the wife isn’t actually dead and that the husband is far from the “good guy” type we were introduced to at the start of the film. Thanks to the score from Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and his writing partner Atticus Ross there’s an eeriness to Gone Girl which only an impressive score like this could deliver.
11. Tenet (2020)
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Tenet stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. It was released in the year 2020.
Tenet is a science fiction film which challenges the normal flow of the space time continuum. In Tenet, the viewer is drawn into the world of a former CIA agent who learns how to weaponise time itself and prevent attacks from the future. And in true Christopher Nolan form, there’s plenty of clever camera tricks that will make you feel like you’re the one travelling through time and on mind altering substances. This film is peak Nolan creativity.
12. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Co-written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, Requiem for a Dream stars Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, and Christopher McDonald. It was released in the year 2000.
Requiem for a Dream follows four characters affected by drug addiction and as the movie progresses they eventually deteriorate into seeing and believing their own delusions. Not to mention severe catastrophes which soon follow.
13. Seven (1995)
Directed by David Fincher, Seven stars Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and John C. McGinley. It was released in the year 1995.
Seven is a psychological thriller featuring a serial killer who bases his kills around the seven deadly sins mentioned in the bible. It’s a dark movie with almost horror-like traits, drug references and a commentary on the seedy underbelly that was New York in the 1980s. It’s also one of the first psychological thrillers that started the trend of an ending twist which surprised audiences all around the world. Seven also saved David Fincher’s career and helped Brad Pitt transition into more serious roles.
14. Secret Window (2004)
Directed by David Koepp, Secrets Window stars Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Timothy Hutton and Charles S. Dutton. It was released in the year 2004.
Secret Window follows Mort Rainey who retreats to his cabin to work on his writer’s block and is interrupted by a mystery writer named John Shooter who claims that Mort plagiarised his writing. Eventually, it is revealed that Shooter is a figment of his own hallucinations as Mort is gradually going insane and so kills his ex-wife, her new partner a private investigator. In my opinion, Secret Window is the best example of Johnny Depp’s acting range.
15. Mother! (2017)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky, Mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer. It was released in the year 2017.
Mother! is a psychological horror movie whose central focus is family. It follows a young woman whose tranquil life with her husband at their country home is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious couple.
16. Nightcrawler (2014)
Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, and Bill Paxton. It was released in the year 2014.
Nightcrawler is a psychological thriller about a photographer who captures violent events late at night and then sells the footage to a local news station. However, things escalate when the photographer is no longer satisfied with what he can simply find and so starts involving himself in the crime – in one form or another.
17. The Cell (2000)
Directed by Tarsem Singh, The Cell stars Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D’Onofrio, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jake Weber, and Dylan Baker. It was released in the year 2000.
The Cell is about a group of scientists who use experimental technology to enter the mind of a serial killer who’s in a coma – with the aim to try and locate his latest kidnapped victim. While the story isn’t as strong as it could be, The Cell is a film whose style is so strong that you’ll forget Jennifer Lopez’s lacklustre acting attempts. Thankfully, method actor Vincent D’Onofrio’s acting ability more than makes up for any short fall.
18. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense stars Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, and Haley Joel Osment. It was released in the year 1999.
The Sixth Sense follows child psychologist Malcolm Crowe as he begins to treat a young boy who claims he can see dead people. Or, more accurately, the ghosts and spirit of dead people.
19. Predestination (2014)
Written and directed by The Spierig Brothers, Predestination stars Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor, and Madeleine West. It was released in the year 2014.
Predestination is based on a short science fiction story written by Robert A. Heinlein called “All You Zombies.” Predestination follows a temporal agent who is sent back in time to prevent a bombing in New York in 1975. The hunt for the bomber, however, quickly spirals out of control. This movie deals heavily with the concept of predestination paradoxes.
20. The Village (2004)
Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, The Village stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, and Brendan Gleeson. It was released in the year 2004.
The Village centers around the isolated, 19th-century, Pennsylvania village of Covington where the villagers live in fear of “Those We Don’t Speak Of”. Who are nameless humanoid creatures living within the surrounding woods. To keep them at bay, the villagers have constructed a large barrier of oil lanterns and watchtowers that are constantly staffed.
However, when one of the villagers goes missing, it leads to the truth of “Those We Don’t Speak Of” being revealed.
21. Bug (2006)
Directed by William Friedkin, Bug stars Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Lynn Collins, Brían F. O’Byrne, and Harry Connick Jr. It was released in the year 2006.
Bug is about a divorced waitress named Agnes who lives in a rundown motel room and spends her time getting high with her lesbian friend. However, one day she’s introduced to Peter who, while nice at first, turns out to be a conspiracy theory lunatic. And yes, actual tin foil is used in the making of this movie.
What did you think of this list of ‘Movies like Shutter Island’?
What did you think of Shutter Island? Have you seen any of these films before?
Let us know on social media.