Do you love a thriller with an unreliable narrator? Maybe a dissolving sense of reality, pathological protagonists, or situations that bend the reader and the characters past their mental breaking points? Then the psychological thriller is just the genre for you!
In film, directors like Alfred Hitchcock, M. Night Shyamalan, and Christopher Nolan excel in this arena. In books, masters include Gillian Flynn, Nicci French, and Henry James. And in television, acclaimed psychological thrillers include Lost, You, Black Mirror, and Homeland.
Common Psychological Thriller Questions
What’s the difference between a psychological thriller and thrillers more generally?
A psychological thriller is still a thriller. But the plot is a plot of the mind, characterized by a limited scope of understanding from the narrator, intense psychological situations, and characters under intense psychological stress.
Where does the suspense come from in psychological thrillers?
The suspense of psychological thrillers usually builds slowly, with characters placed into situations where they don’t have all the information, and are usually deeply flawed from the outset. As readers, we get to figure out what’s happening alongside the narrator(s), which often leads to thrilling twists throughout, especially in the third act.
What are some related genres?
Psychological thrillers have a number of close cousins, including domestic thrillers, psychological horror, general suspense fiction, and mysteries.