Leonardo DiCaprio’s star soared with “Shutter Island,” a gripping mystery directed by Martin Scorsese. Alongside Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, and Michelle Williams, this film keeps audiences guessing until the very end. In an era where such enthralling movies are rare, “Shutter Island” shines.
With its diverse cast, the movie hooks viewers from the outset. Adapted from Dennis Lehane’s novel, DiCaprio portrays US Marshal Edward Teddy Daniels, investigating a missing person on the enigmatic Shutter Island. Ruffalo plays his partner Chuck Aule, while Kingsley takes on the role of Dr. Cawley, the island’s lead psychiatrist.
Rife with unexpected twists and psychological tension, “Shutter Island” stands alongside cinematic greats like “The Usual Suspects” and “Gone Girl.” If you’re a fan of this film and seeking similar cinematic experiences, explore our curated list of movies akin to “Shutter Island.
20+ Awesome Movies Like Shutter Island
Paramount Pictures: Cinematic Excellence
1. Memento (2000)
For an unforgettable mind-bending experience, look no further than “Memento.” Crafted by Christopher Nolan, this film can be a mental maze, but the climactic revelation is truly mind-blowing. Its non-linear narrative, juxtaposing chronological black and white scenes with reversed colored sequences, might initially perplex you, yet it all becomes clear in the finale.
The premise is deceptively simple. Guy Pearce portrays an ordinary man seeking his wife’s killers, hindered by short-term memory loss. Relying on polaroids and tattoos, he struggles to recall his identity and mission. As the story unfolds, he encounters a series of characters whose intentions remain enigmatic.
A must-watch masterpiece with a stunning twist ending, “Memento” is an iconic addition to the mystery thriller genre.
2. Secret Window (2004)
Johnny Depp is a bit of a sore subject at the moment, but if you can separate him from his art, Secret Window is worth a look. Based on Stephen King’s novella Secret Window, Secret Garden, Depp plays Mort Rainey, a struggling author accused of plagiarism. Hiding out at a remote lake house while finalizing his divorce, Rainey finds himself stalked by the man who believes he copied his work.
As you would expect from a King adaptation, things aren’t as straightforward as they seem. Depp is wonderful as the frightened author while Jon Turturro is menacing as antagonist John Shooter, who might not be who he seems to be. Secret Window is a taut 96-minute thriller that does the job.
3. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Now if you haven’t seen this film you must have been living under a rock these past two decades. M. Night Shyamalan’s third flick is a mastercraft in storytelling with another incredible twist ending nobody saw coming. Bruce Willis plays a child psychiatrist treating a young boy who claims to see ghosts.
Spoiler alert: it turns out Willis is actually a ghost! While there are subtle hints along the way, it’s not until the final moments that you realize he has been undead the whole time. It’s often regarded as one of the greatest twist endings, right up there with The Usual Suspects. Even once you know the ending, The Sixth Sense is still a great watch thanks to Shaymalan’s writing and Willis’ acting.
4. American Psycho (2000)
Christian Bale’s breakthrough role as psychopath serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho is a tour de force of acting. Bale is incredible as the smarmy investment banker with a penchant for listening to Huey Lewis and the News while killing his victims. It’s amazing to think Lions Gate Films originally wanted Leonardo DiCaprio in the Bale role.
A satire of the 80s and American culture, American Psycho is a fantastic adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis’ novel with sharp dialogue and a great soundtrack. The supporting cast is also worth mentioning. Willem Dafoe, Reece Witherspoon, Jared Leto, Chloë Sevigny, and Josh Lucas all bring the goods.
5. Black Swan (2010)
Arguably Natalie Portman’s finest role (followed closely by Closer) comes in the ballet drama Black Swan. Directed by Darren Aronofsky, Portman plays Nina, a dancer chosen to play the pivotal roles of the black and white swan in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. While perfect as the innocent white swan, Nina finds it difficult playing the sensual black swan, made harder by the arrival of rival dancer Lily, played by Mila Kunis, who embodies everything the black swan is.
As the film progresses, Nina’s mind starts to break as she sees visions and begins to wonder what is real and what’s in her head. Psychological thrillers like this really put your mind to work. Then ending will have you gasping with shock too.
6. Fight Club (1999)
The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. Few late 90s movies have developed such a cult following as Fight Club. David Fincher’s take on Chuck Palahniuk’s book of the same name is a riveting movie with themes delving into consumerism, mental illness, and fascism.
That might not sound exciting, but once you press play you’ll be hooked from the first moment Edward Norton appears on-screen. His performance is one of the best of his career and matched only by that of co-star Brad Pitt, who was in the midst of a hot streak of fantastic roles during the late 90s.
Sure, it’s dark, depressing, and violent, but Fight Club is the type of film that will have you thinking about it long after the credits have rolled.
7. Prisoners (2013)
This one hits hard with an ending that will leave you breathless. When two young girls are kidnapped and the prime suspect Paul Dano is released, one of the girl’s fathers, Hugh Jackman, takes matters into his own hands. Terrance Howard plays the other father while Jake Gyllenhaal is the detective in charge of the case.
Director Denis Villeneuve (before Sicario, Blade Runner 2049, and Dune turned him into one of the modern greats) shows why he is so damn good behind the camera, while all of the main cast are top-notch, especially Jackman, who delivers his most emotional performance yet.
8. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
This is a great psychological thriller starring Tim Robbins as Jacob Singer, a Vietnam War vet struggling to adapt to life back in America. Singer suffers from wild dreams and hallucinations and is finding it hard to define what is real. It’s almost like a horror movie at times. As things begin to take their toll, Singer sets out to discover what is really happening, leading to a conspiracy that… well, the less said the better.
Although it struggled at the box office, Jacob’s Ladder was critically praised and became a cult hit. The film has been a massive influence on the video game series Silent Hill and the TV series American Horror Story: Asylum. Best stay away from the 2019 remake though, it’s a real stinker.
9. Mulholland Drive (2001)
If you understand this film and know what is going on then you deserve a medal. Mulholland Drive is another mysterious David Lynch feature that doesn’t really make any sense. The basic plot line revolves around aspiring actress Naomi Watts doing her best to help the amnesiac Laura Harring remember who she is after a car crash.
This is a surreal dreamscape with lots of interconnecting stories and characters. The ending will leave you baffled, with Lynch refusing to tell anyone what really happened. Good luck if you can work it all out.
10. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The birth of the creepy serial killer can be attributed to Silence of the Lambs. Sir Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of cannibal Hannibal Lector is both revolting and magnetic. Despite being a serial killer, Lector has a certain charm that makes you unable to take your eyes off him.
In the film, Lector is enlisted by FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) to help her catch another serial killer, a man by the name of Buffalo Bill. There are so many memorable quotes from this movie, with both Lector and Bill providing an undercurrent of dark humor.
Making a whopping $272.7 million worldwide on a budget of just $19, Silence of the Lambs won all five Academy Awards representing the main categories it was nominated for, including Best Picture, Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Actor (Sir Anthony Hopkins), Best Actress (Jodie Foster), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Ted Tally).
While the subsequent sequels focusing on Lector don’t live up to the original, they are sure to please anyone who wants to see more of the much-loved killer.
11. Seven (1995)
Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are detectives on the trail of a serial killer whose crimes take inspiration from the seven deadly sins. The first of three collaborations between Pitt and director Fincher is a dark and brooding crime thriller. Creating a feeling of foreboding as you watch, the cat and mouse game between Pitt and Freeman and serial killer John Doe will have you on edge.
What makes this film is the surprise ending that still shocks no matter how many times you’ve seen Seven. The reveal of the serial killer (played by a pretty famous actor) is matched only by the terse final moments before the credits roll. A stone cold classic.
12. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
While the David Fincher remake with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara is fine, it’s no match for the Swedish original. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a thrilling mystery about journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) who team up in search of a missing woman.
It’s got everything you want from this type of drama, with shady characters, family secrets, and pockets of violence that shatter the screen. The film turned Rapace into a star and was quickly followed by two sequels, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, released the same year.
13. Mystic River (2003)
Clint Eastwood assembled an all-star cast for this haunting thriller based on the novel by Dennis Lehane. Three friends, convict Sean Penn, detective Kevin Bacon, and sexual abuse survivor Tim Robbins, turn against each other when one of them is accused of murdering the others daughter.
Don’t expect any type of happy ending with Mystic River. The whole movie is depressing leading up to the tragic ending, but it’s also well-executed. The three leads are all in top form while the supporting cast – Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney, Marcia Gay Harden, Emmy Rossum, and Kevin Chapman – help elevate what could have been a so-so film into a great one.
14. Gone Girl (2014)
David Fincher pops up on this list quite a bit, and rightly so. He has mastered the art of the thriller and delivers another must-watch movie with Gone Girl. Ben Affleck finds himself the prime suspect in the disappearance of his wife Rosamund Pike. As the film plays out we quickly learn the supposed happy couple were going through problems, with Affleck having an affair with one of his students.
As the hunt for Pike continues, Affleck does his own investigation as the authorities close in. Any men watching this one will understand the phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
15. Changeling (2008)
Angelina Jolie’s child goes missing, but when he is returned, she is adamant he is not her son. Inspired by true-life events, this is a harrowing drama where you’re never quite who to believe. Diving head first into mental health, child abandonment, police corruption, and female empowerment issues, there’s a lot going on with the Changeling.
While it might sound a little heavy, the Changeling is a great watch thanks to the acting (Jolie, John Malkovich, Michael Kelly, and Jeffrey Donovan in particular) and Clint Eastwood’s subtle directing.
16. Taxi Driver (1976)
Martin Scorsese really captures the bleakness of 70s New York in this thriller about Vietnam Vet Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro). A taxi driver who is struggling mentally, Bickle descends into madness as he decides to become a vigilante and rid the streets of those he deems evil.
It’s bleak and there aren’t a lot of redeeming features about Bickle, but De Niro puts in one hell of a performance. As does Jodie Foster who plays a child prostitute that becomes the affection of De Niro’s Bickle. Although this is only Scorsese’s fifth film, the way he captures the seediness of New York and the performances he gets out of his actors hint at the greatness to come.
17. The Girl on the Train (2016)
Emily Blunt is a divorcee struggling with alcohol addiction. Often heading out on benders and not remembering what she did, she wakes up one morning covered in blood. Discovering her former neighbor is missing, Blunt tries to find out the truth but quickly becomes a suspect.
The Girl on the Train is a well-paced thriller with a fantastic cast that will have you guessing right up until the very end.
18. The Game (1997)
It’s that man again. David Fincher’s follow-up to Seven is a thrill a minute starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. Douglas is an investment banker who has it all, so his brother Penn decides to get him something different for his birthday: a real-time game that interacts with his actual life.
As Douglas’ world unravels and he discovers a greater conspiracy may be at play, the tension ramps up towards the tight climax. Held together by the leads and featuring notable cameos from character actors James Rebhorn, Mark Boone Junior, and Tommy Flanagan, The Game is a great popcorn movie for your next Saturday night at home on the couch.
19. Get Out (2017)
While more of a horror movie than the other pscyholcoigal thrillers mentioned, Get Out still deserves its place on this list. Jordon Peele’s directorial debut is a stunning look at racism and slavery in a modern setting that will send shivers down your spine.
Daniel Kaluuya is Chris Washington, a photographer who accompanies his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) to her parent’s home for the weekend. When Washington begins to notice something strange about the help he discovers not all is well with the Armitage family. What follows is an exciting and pulse-raising final stanza with an ending that subverts usual horror tropes.
20. Primal Fear (1996)
The plot twist in Primal Fear is one you never see coming. Ed Norton is accused of murdering a Catholic archbishop. Richard Gere is the attorney fighting for his freedom. As the case against Norton goes to trial, Gere soon finds things aren’t what they seem and must make some tough decisions on what to do with the evidence being presented.
Part psychological thriller, part courtroom drama, Primal Fear has a bit of everything during its 130-minute run time. Both Norton (in his first film) and Gere eat up the screen and are ably assisted by the likes of Laura Linney, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard, Frances McDormand, and Terry O’ Quinn.
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