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The 7 best Hitchcockian thrillers ever, ranked

The movies of Alfred Hitchcock are so renowned that they’ve become their own subgenre. Tropes such as the icy blonde femme fatale, the “bomb under the table” moment, surprising plot twists, a “MacGuffin” plot device, and voyeuristic visuals have become synonymous with Hitchcock’s films.

Despite what people may think of him as a person, the director’s stylish and suspenseful thrillers have made their mark on many great filmmakers, and many other works have since been compared to his own.

7. Les Diaboliques (1955)

Christina in "Les Diaboliques."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Hitchcock may have missed out on making this film, but it did inspire him when he was making a certain movie at the Bates Motel. This French thriller follows two women, the wife of an abusive headmaster and his mistress, as they conspire to murder the man they despise so much.

It’s a slow-burning horror, but one that effectively injects anxiety into the viewer before and after the dark deed is done. The whole crime looks like it was taken right out of Psycho or Rope, and the fear of it getting discovered will leave audiences teetering on the edge of their seats. And it all leads to one of the most shocking twists most people don’t know about.

6. Split (2016)

Split
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The similarities between M. Night Shyamalan’s Split and Hitchcock’s Psycho are clear, with antagonist Kevin living with dissociative identity disorder (DID), kidnapping young women while being controlled by another personality, and struggling with his traumatic past with his overbearing mother.

But as Shyamalan blends grounded psychology, supervillain mythmaking, terrifying suspense, and James McAvoy’s incredible acting skills, audiences can’t help but buckle as they wait for what personality Kevin will manifest next. While many understandably took issue with its depiction of DID, Split still humanizes Kevin and his disorder better than Hitchcock did with Norman Bates, making it worth a watch.

5. Don’t Breathe (2016)

Rocky and Alex staring in horror in "Don't Breathe."
Sony Pictures Releasing

Evil Dead director Fede Álvarez brought a unique type of terror with this modern masterpiece. Don’t Breathe follows a trio of young robbers as they break into a blind man’s home.

However, they soon find themselves hunted by their host, who turns out to be more sinister than the intruders in his home. This inventive film subverts many expectations and delivers powerful frights as death unknowingly stares the heroes right in the face.

4. Halloween (1978)

Laurie Strode is waiting with a knife for Michael Myers in Halloween
courtesy of Compass International Pictures / courtesy of Compass International Pictures

Director John Carpenter proved he is a Master of Suspense like Hitchcock with this groundbreaking slasher film. Back in Halloween 1978, infamous killer Michael Myers escapes from captivity and continues his murderous rampage throughout Haddonfield, starting with the Scream Queen herself.

With the Boogeyman lurking around every corner, there is hardly a safe moment for Laurie and her friends as he stalks them through town. The film also has multiple references to Psycho, with Dr. Sam Loomis being named after the character of the same name and Janet Leigh’s daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, playing Laurie.

3. Misery (1990)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Fun fact: director Rob Reiner watched every Hitchcock film to figure out how to make Misery, and all that research paid off in creating his beloved first thriller. Similar to Rear Window, Misery follows author Paul Sheldon when he is left trapped in a house without the use of his legs while the murderous Annie Wilkes looms close by.

Some of the film’s most heart-pounding moments come when Paul sneaks around the house when Annie can return at any moment. And with Kathy Bates’s chilling, Oscar-winning performance as the too-devoted fan Annie, the latter truly feels like a bomb that’s ready to blow.

2. Get Out (2017)

Get Out
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Some people have called director Jordan Peele this generation’s Alfred Hitchcock, and based on what was just his first film, the reasoning behind this comparison is crystal clear. Like Hitchcock, Peele cleverly crafts tension and suspense as Chris experiences casual racism and strange occurrences every few minutes.

This suggests something sinister is afoot, and the film’s restricted setting at the Armitage House makes things more uncomfortable for Chris and the audience. It all culminates in several mind-splitting plot twists that prove Peele knows how to make good scares while shattering expectations.

1. Jaws(1975)

Roy Scheider in a scene from Jaws.
Universal Pictures / Universal Pictures

Since the mechanical shark kept breaking down during the production of Jaws, director Steven Spielberg took a Hitchcockian approach and started filming through the shark’s point-of-view. The shark is rarely seen throughout the film, but that only makes the terror greater for the audience, especially as they wait to see when and if the beast will rear its head to attack.

And with John Williams’s iconic score playing in the background, Spielberg took what could’ve been a regular monster movie and turned it into the revolutionary suspense thriller it is today.

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Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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