Movies about serial killers
August 7, 2014 2:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm home alone for the weekend so I'm planning a movie marathon. I like psychological thrillers, murder mysteries and films about serial killers. What should I watch?


Not horror - I don't mind gore but not really looking for a slasher flick
Not based on real life unless they actually catch the guy at the end - Zodiac was such a disappointment!
Not too scary -I am home alone ;)
Modern - 90s or later

I prefer movies that follow the cops trying to solve the case, but films from the victim's pov can be good too. My favourite are the standard serial killer trope - battle of wits between a super-smart detective and killer, with the clues and the taunting etc.

Also looking for really good murder-mysteries even if they don't involve "serial killers".

Films I've already seen: From Hell, Murder by Numb3rs, The Bone Collector, The Alphabet Killer, Zodiac, all the hannibal lector films and a bunch I can't remember the name of
posted by missmagenta to Media & Arts (37 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

Everybody has to see Memento.
posted by Salamander at 3:19 AM on August 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Seven (or Se7en or whatever the official title is) is probably the most famous archetypal taunting serial killer.
Copycat is OK along similar lines.
Fraility is a pretty good film with a decent twist
Antibodies for a slightly more left field take on it.

Not serial killer but:
Name of the Rose maybe?
If you've never seen Psycho I think that still stands up today.
posted by Hartster at 3:25 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

all the hannibal lector films

Are you including "Manhunter" in that? If not, fix that first. Brian Cox's Hannibal Lecter was more frightening than Hopkins' scenery-chewing version, IMHO.
posted by thelonius at 3:38 AM on August 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

Terrorism as opposed to serial killers, but otherwise hits all your reqs: Arlington Road
posted by Mchelly at 4:09 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Misery is a psychological thriller that still stands up.

M is from 1931 and features the hunt for a serial killer, its good.

Frailty! Really enjoyed that, definitely psychological, definitely some thrills. This is the one I would watch if I was you and hadn't already seen it.

Suspect Zero concerns a serial killer hunting other serial killers.

You could burn through a whole tv series in a weekend. Perhaps the original version of The Killing, Danish TV show where the hunt for a killer is central? Or the Danish/Swedish The Bridge?
posted by biffa at 4:13 AM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

What about Frailty? I hate Matthew McConaughey but that movie was great.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:41 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Iceman. There was also a two part interview with the guy, I believe on Netflix now, called "The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer".
posted by sanka at 4:44 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Stepfather, with a dynamite screenplay by Donald Westlake. PLEASE see the original, the 2009 remake sucked.

Mr. Brooks with Kevin Costner and William Hurt.

And I know it's not movies, but have you watched the series Dexter? Eight seasons of homicidal fun.
posted by ubiquity at 4:45 AM on August 7, 2014

Would you be open to TV series? Two of the best I've seen recently are Top of the Lake and True Detective. The first is a miniseries, and the second, although an ongoing series, is a self-contained story in each season (and there has only been one season so far).
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:47 AM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you're open to tv series, Luther -- the first series especially -- is about this and also is fantastic.
posted by jeather at 4:55 AM on August 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oops, put Silence of the Lambs here.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:55 AM on August 7, 2014

And if TV series are on the menu, we would be remiss not to recommend Criminal Minds.
posted by fearnothing at 4:57 AM on August 7, 2014

American Psycho
posted by carmicha at 5:05 AM on August 7, 2014

Another short TV series would be The Fall. Truly amazing, unique performances. It's on Netflix streaming.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:29 AM on August 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Citizen X - a made-for-HBO movie based on true events, about the hunt for a Russian serial killer pre- & post-glasnost. (Not a Zodiac mystery, this is a solved case.) Lots of great performances, and a really interesting look at a particular time in history. The book that inspired it was good too; they hollywood-ized a few things for the movie.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:35 AM on August 7, 2014

Another vote for The Fall - it's exactly what you're looking for.
posted by jbickers at 5:49 AM on August 7, 2014

Seconding The Iceman, and you might try With A Friend Like Harry. It's more a psychological thriller than a police chase, but it's nice and creepy without being too terrifying to watch alone.
posted by snaw at 7:19 AM on August 7, 2014

Clay Pigeons. Surprisingly good performances by Jouquin Phoenix and Vince Vaughn.
posted by davidmsc at 7:20 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Usual Suspects! If you haven't seen it yet, the less you know, the better. Don't read about it. Just watch. It's on both Netflix and Amazon.

You might also like LA Confidential.
posted by mochapickle at 8:14 AM on August 7, 2014

Can I recommend Fracture? Good cerebral mystery with Ryan Gosling / Anthony Hopkins as antagonists.
posted by apcmwh at 8:50 AM on August 7, 2014

It's basically unavailable, but "The Sniper" is right up your alley.
posted by rhizome at 9:18 AM on August 7, 2014

Shallow Grave
posted by futz at 9:20 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Léon: The Professional
posted by futz at 9:22 AM on August 7, 2014

The Vanishing -- the original is better than the remake.
posted by scody at 9:24 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

First season of Orphan Black...Tatiana Maslany is Awesome...

Also, a comedy: Serial Mom. Best. Trial scene. Ever.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:26 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Vanishing (1988); this one is not 90s but holds up very well.
Twin Peaks (TV)
Chasing Sleep
Lost Highway
Clean, Shaven
posted by extramundane at 9:28 AM on August 7, 2014

Nightwatch is another one in the "foreign original better than the American remake" category.
posted by scody at 9:31 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's a show not a movie, but meets all of your other criteria: Midsomer Murders on Netflix. Each episode is 90 minutes so they are basically movies.
posted by Librarypt at 11:02 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Primal Fear, of course.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:05 PM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I caught the end of Primal Fear years ago so I already know the twist but it was so good I wanted to watch it from the beginning but didn't know what it was called!
posted by missmagenta at 2:17 PM on August 7, 2014

The original 1979 version of When A Stranger Calls, and the 1993 sequel, When A Stranger Calls Back are both terrifying.

Unfortunately, neither are available on Amazon Instant Watch or Netflix, but I think the experience of watching both is worth the expense of a couple of used DVDs. I'm a grown woman of 33 years, have seen both films at least twice, and they still have the power to paralyze me with fear.

Do not watch the 2006 remake, until you've seen the originals.
posted by invisible ink at 6:56 PM on August 7, 2014

Also recommend: Jennifer Eight
posted by invisible ink at 7:01 PM on August 7, 2014

Kim Jee-Woon's I Saw the Devil is a hell of a thing, and on Netflix Instant (at least the last time I checked). Also the original The Hitcher with Rutger Hauer.
posted by Merzbau at 8:41 PM on August 7, 2014

Sorry, just reread the post- I Saw the Devil may border on "too gory" (it's in a similar kind of operatic, extravagant mode of violence as Oldboy, Save the Green Planet and other Korean genre films) and both are quite scary as well (I am, in theory, a grown-ass man and The Hitcher still unnerves the hell out of me).
posted by Merzbau at 8:43 PM on August 7, 2014

the perfect host. streaming on netflix.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:44 PM on August 7, 2014

More votes for The Fall, and True Detective and Top of the Lake.

Wire in the Blood is great, and full of creepy serial killers chased by a very eccentric psychiatrist/profiler - it's a series but the episodes are practically movie length. Unfortunately it's not on Netflix right now, but I'm sure you can find it streaming somewhere!

I'm currently watching the Swedish/Danish series Bron/Broen streaming on Hulu, and it is also VERY good.

If you like Agatha Christie style mysteries, Gosford Park.
posted by microcarpetus at 9:38 PM on August 7, 2014

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