(Photo by Universal / courtesy Everett Collection)

20 Movies To Watch If You Loved Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese followed his Best Picture and Director-winning The Departed with his most directly entertaining, plot twist-heavy movie, a psychological thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio investigating a remote asylum with a missing patient. Of course, it’s apparent from the beginning things aren’t as they seem…

If you’re looking for more movies like Shutter Island, why not start with the grandaddy of unreliable narrator movies: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It may be 100 (!) years old, but it still has the power to spook and captivate.

Part of Shutter Island‘s fun is that it encourages viewers to participate in solving the mystery, poke holes in the movie’s established reality, and look for the actual truth. It requires filmmaking mastery to create these puzzle boxes, so it’s not surprising some of our most beloved directors built their reputation on these: Alfred Hitchcock (Rebecca, Vertigo), David Fincher (The Game, Gone Girl), Christopher Nolan (Inception, Memento), Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), and David Lynch (Mulholland Drive).

Movies like Shutter Island are all about building paranoia, like the hero has tapped into something true and sinister that nobody else is taking seriously. And frequently they’re told from a female perspective: Along with the already mentioned Black Swan, there’s also The Girl on the Train, the classic Diabolique, and Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie, who’s convinced the missing son the police have returned to her is not her boy.

Psychological thrillers like Shutter Island differ from typical mysteries in that the nature of the film itself is the central mystery, as opposed to, say, figuring out who the murderer is. Movies in this vein include Open Your Eyes (remade as Vanilla Sky), John Frankenheimer’s Seconds (which helped drive Brian Wilson over the edge in real life), the sci-fi noir Dark City, the relentlessly scary Jacob’s Ladder, and A Scanner Darkly, arguably Keanu Reeves’ best movie made in that period between The Matrix and the Keanussance.

And if you’re looking for something more basic and primal, check out Identity or Secret Window. Not too taxing on the mind, but they’ll still give it a good twist.

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 55.702%
Critics Consensus: Emily Blunt's outstanding performance isn't enough to keep The Girl on the Train from sliding sluggishly into exploitative melodrama.
Synopsis: Rachel, devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a... [More]
Directed By: Tate Taylor

#19

Secret Window (2004)
46%

#19
Adjusted Score: 50.323%
Critics Consensus: Depp is quirkily entertaining, but the movie runs out of steam by the end.
Synopsis: From writer/director David Koepp (Stir of Echoes) comes this filmed adaptation of Stephen King's novella Secret Window, Secret Garden, one... [More]
Directed By: David Koepp

#18

Changeling (2008)
61%

#18
Adjusted Score: 68.703%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully shot and well-acted, Changeling is a compelling story that unfortunately gives in to convention too often.
Synopsis: Inspired by actual events that occurred in 1920s-era Los Angeles, Clint Eastwood's The Changeling tells the story of a woman... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#17

Identity (2003)
62%

#17
Adjusted Score: 66.799%
Critics Consensus: Identity is a film that will divide audiences -- the twists of its plot will either impress or exasperate you.
Synopsis: Ten strangers are brought together during a weather emergency, only to discover a far greater danger awaits them in this... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: David Clevenger

#16

A Scanner Darkly (2006)
68%

#16
Adjusted Score: 74.191%
Critics Consensus: A faithful adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, A Scanner Darkly takes the viewer on a visual and mind-blowing journey into the author's conception of a drug-addled and politically unstable world.
Synopsis: Set in a future world where America has lost the war on drugs, an undercover cop, Fred, is one of... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#15

Jacob's Ladder (1990)
72%

#15
Adjusted Score: 76.377%
Critics Consensus: Even with its disorienting leaps of logic and structure, Jacob's Ladder is an engrossing, nerve-shattering experience.
Synopsis: A tortured man finds himself caught in a middle-ground between hallucination and reality in this supernatural thriller, scripted by Bruce... [More]
Directed By: Adrian Lyne

#14

The Game (1997)
73%

#14
Adjusted Score: 76.043%
Critics Consensus: The ending could use a little work but this is otherwise another sterling example of David Fincher's iron grip on atmosphere and storytelling.
Synopsis: Director David Fincher followed the success of his dark and atmospheric crime thriller Seven (1995) with another exercise in stylish... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

#13

Dark City (1998)
76%

#13
Adjusted Score: 80.371%
Critics Consensus: Stylishly gloomy, Dark City offers a polarizing whirl of arresting visuals and noirish action.
Synopsis: From the director of "The Crow," an atmospheric melange of styles and substance about aliens, night and unspeakable acts. Interesting,... [More]
Directed By: Alex Proyas

#12

The Machinist (2004)
77%

#12
Adjusted Score: 80.669%
Critics Consensus: Brad Anderson's dark psychological thriller about a sleepless factory worker is elevated by Christian Bale astonishingly committed performance.
Synopsis: Brad Anderson directs the psychological thriller The Machinist, a production of Spain's Filmax company. Christian Bale plays Trevor Reznik, a... [More]
Directed By: Brad Anderson

#11

Mulholland Drive (2001)
83%

#11
Adjusted Score: 88.875%
Critics Consensus: David Lynch's dreamlike and mysterious Mulholland Drive is a twisty neo-noir with an unconventional structure that features a mesmirizing performance from Naomi Watts as a woman on the dark fringes of Hollywood.
Synopsis: Along Mulholland Drive nothing is what it seems. In the unreal universe of Los Angeles, the city bares its schizophrenic... [More]
Directed By: David Lynch

#10

Black Swan (2010)
85%

#10
Adjusted Score: 94.327%
Critics Consensus: Bracingly intense, passionate, and wildly melodramatic, Black Swan glides on Darren Aronofsky's bold direction -- and a bravura performance from Natalie Portman.
Synopsis: A psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet, BLACK SWAN stars Natalie Portman as Nina, a... [More]
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky

#9
Adjusted Score: 86.367%
Critics Consensus: Director Alejandro Amenábar tackles some heady issues with finesse and clarity in Open Your Eyes, a gripping exploration of existentialism and the human spirit.
Synopsis: In this Spanish-French-Italian co-production, a man deserts women after sleeping with them just once, a lifestyle that becomes his ultimate... [More]
Directed By: Alejandro Amenábar

#8

Gone Girl (2014)
87%

#8
Adjusted Score: 101.259%
Critics Consensus: Dark, intelligent, and stylish to a fault, Gone Girl plays to director David Fincher's sick strengths while bringing the best out of stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.
Synopsis: GONE GIRL - directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn - unearths the secrets... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

#7

Inception (2010)
87%

#7
Adjusted Score: 97.918%
Critics Consensus: Smart, innovative, and thrilling, Inception is that rare summer blockbuster that succeeds viscerally as well as intellectually.
Synopsis: Visionary filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) writes and directs this psychological sci-fi action film about a thief who... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#6

Seconds (1966)
91%

#6
Adjusted Score: 94.725%
Critics Consensus: Featuring dazzling, disorienting cinematography from the great James Wong Howe and a strong lead performance by Rock Hudson, Seconds is a compellingly paranoid take on the legend of Faust.
Synopsis: Fifty-ish Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) is approached by a secret company that promises to provide him with a fresh start,... [More]
Directed By: John Frankenheimer

#5

Memento (2000)
93%

#5
Adjusted Score: 99.37%
Critics Consensus: Christopher Nolan skillfully guides the audience through Memento's fractured narrative, seeping his film in existential dread.
Synopsis: A man is determined to find justice after the loss of a loved one, even though he is incapable of... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#4

Vertigo (1958)
95%

#4
Adjusted Score: 106.796%
Critics Consensus: An unpredictable scary thriller that doubles as a mournful meditation on love, loss, and human comfort.
Synopsis: Dismissed when first released, later heralded as one of director Alfred Hitchcock's finest films (and, according to Hitchcock, his most... [More]
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

#3
Adjusted Score: 101.836%
Critics Consensus: Cruel, dark, but undeniably effective, Diabolique is a suspense thriller as effective as Hitchcock's best work and with a brilliant twist ending.
Synopsis: The greatest film that Alfred Hitchcock never made, Henri-Georges Clouzot's Diabolique is set in a provincial boarding school run by... [More]
Directed By: Henri-Georges Clouzot

#2
Adjusted Score: 114.311%
Critics Consensus: Arguably the first true horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari set a brilliantly high bar for the genre -- and remains terrifying nearly a century after it first stalked the screen.
Synopsis: In one of the most influential films of the silent era, Werner Krauss plays the title character, a sinister hypnotist... [More]
Directed By: Robert Wiene

#1

Rebecca (1940)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 108.509%
Critics Consensus: Hitchcock's first American film (and his only Best Picture winner), Rebecca is a masterpiece of haunting atmosphere, Gothic thrills, and gripping suspense.
Synopsis: The second Mrs. de Winter is a shy and naive young woman, besotted with charming and urbane Maxim de Winter.... [More]
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

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