Identifying the ten best murder movies requires an eye for detail, the instincts to identify motive, and a love of blood. A variety of movie genres have murders in them but it is only the select few that explore this crime for what it really is; man’s primal motivation when insurmountably angered, threatened, or scared. For a deeper peek into the darkness, watch the films on this list.
- “Psycho” 1960. Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece tops this list due to its then brutal depiction of actress Vivien Leigh being murdered in the shower. The “shower scene” has become one of the most recognizable images in film or television and, with its accompanying score, will forever be remembered as one of the most recognizable moments ever captured on film.
- “Dial M for Murder” 1954. Ray Miland plays a man married to Grace Kelly who wants to have her killed after he discovers that she’s having an affair. That isn’t such an uncommon motive and might explain why this movie is perennially considered one of the ten best murder movies of all time.
- “A Perfect Murder” 1998. This film is wish fulfillment in more ways than one. Michael Douglas is married to a much younger wife, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. As in "Dial M for Murder", he discovers she is having an affair and arranges to have her killed; by the man she is having the affair with, no less.
- “A Time to Kill” 1989. This film stars Matthew McConaughey Sandra Bullock and Samuel L. Jackson. It explores the notion of an acceptable motive for murder. After the rape of his young daughter, Sam Jackson goes loco and shoots the men who committed the crime. Consequently, he ends up on trial for his actions and finds the jury strangely sympathetic.
- “Seven”1995. This psychological police thriller starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, and Gwyneth Paltrow covers murder from all angles. Spacey is the serial killer who goes about killing his victims according to the sins of the Old Testament tablets, but it is the reveal at the end of this movie that solidifies its place on this list.
- “Terribly Happy” 2008. This subtle Danish film evolves slowly and leaves the viewer wondering where things are headed. Let us say that the first murder is shocking and the second murder satisfying. But the ultimate result of it all is simply delightful.
- “The Horseman” 2008. This New Zealand/Australian production forcefully asserts its right to a place on the mantle of “revenge films.” In fact, this movie might even by vying for its own bookcase. Brutal and plodding, with a single-mindedness seldom seen, the movie never lets the viewer forget its objective. Kill. What defines this gem of a drama is its exploration of the depth of a father’s love and the intricate unraveling of the main character’s psyche.
- “The Chaser” 2008. This South Korean masterpiece treats us to the perspective of cop and killer. As well as a disgraced cop who becomes a killer in his own right. Another movie that is heavy on motive and character, it makes the violence justified and makes the viewer question his or her own sense of justice.
- “Audition” 1999. This morbid and disturbing Japanese thriller details an attractive, but lonely, young woman’s search for love. Somehow the words love and dismemberment are synonymous to her. This one will have you on edge and looking twice at that hot girl you just met.
- “Natural Born Killers” 1994. Director Oliver Stone paints a satirical and sometimes comical look at the American fascination with mass murderers, psychopaths, and serial killers in this over-the-top, violent, drug fueled fantasy.
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