Top 25 Gripping Movies About People Descending Into Madness | Wealth of Geeks

Watching someone spiral into complete madness can be incredibly fascinating to see. It seems under the right conditions; it could happen to anyone. A group of movie fanatics recently discussed their favorite films where people come unglued. Here are their top wacky watches.

1- The Lighthouse (2019)

Image Credit: A24.

Willem Dafoe Never disappoints in the realm of kooky. In The Lighthouse, he portrays a former sailor taking on a new employee to help him with lighthouse-keeping duties. As the days pass, the two men fall apart at the seams. Their decision to bring alcohol into the mix only worsens their fragile mental states and reveals some twisted secrets.

2- The Shining (1980)

The Shining
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, except he’s not dull; he’s insane. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) drags his wife and son to the Overlook Hotel, where he will spend the winter as a caretaker. He takes this opportunity to work on writing his manuscript, but as his mental state begins to crumble, his aggression toward his family soars to new heights. His family does all they can to avoid his newfound rage and make it out alive.

3- Gerald’s Game (2017)

Gerald's Game (2017)
Image Credit: Netflix.

Hunger, dehydration, and blood loss can lead to some extreme delusions. Jessie (Carla Gugino) began her romantic weekend with her husband without a care in the world. After a tragic accident, she’s left handcuffed to their bed completely alone, or so she thought.

4- Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver (1976)
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Suffering from a long bout of insomnia and crippling loneliness, Travis (Robert De Niro) decides to work as a late-night taxi driver. Feeling rejuvenated, he decides to ask a woman on a date, and she agrees. He makes some poor decisions on the date, which cause her to leave. This begins Travis’ spiral into madness leading him to take on the role of a vigilante and save a 12-year-old girl from a life of horrors.

5- 12 Monkeys (1995)

12 Monkeys
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

In 2035, James Cole (Bruce Willis) is selected to go back in time to 1996 to stop the outbreak of a deadly virus. He is unfortunately transported to 1990, arrested, and placed in a mental hospital. To the people in 1990, he seems insane, but we know his rambles are true. He continues his mission to stop the outbreak discovering that the true origins of the virus are not what they seem.

6- Joker (2019)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

In Gotham City, Arthur (Joaquin Phoenix), a clown and self-aspiring comic who lives with his mother, loses his job, causing him to take drastic measures murdering anyone who has wronged him. He becomes an icon to the underbelly of Gotham, and they begin to worship him, only leading him further down his dark path.

7- Take Shelter (2011)

Take Shelter, Michael Shannon
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

In his small Ohio town, hallucinations and apocalyptic dreams plague insomniac Curtis LaFourche (Michael Shannon). He has frequent visions of an impending storm that none of the townspeople are prepared for. As he prepares his shelter, his neighbors believe he’s gone off the deep end. Unfortunately for them, it seems his ramblings have merit.

8- Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

Image Credit: TriStar Pictures.

After returning home from the Vietnam War, Jacob (Tim Robbins) is haunted by nightmarish creatures and visions of his deceased son. As he tries to overcome his mental hardships, he realizes he’s not alone in his struggles. The further he investigates, the more something interferes.

9- Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now
Image Credit: United Artists

War is known to ravage the minds of those who enlist. Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) has come unwound and commanded a camp of American and indigenous people who believe he is a demigod. As they feed into his delusions, a team of operatives is coming to eliminate him and end his short reign of terror.

10- Saint Maud (2019)

Saint Maud
Image Credit: StudioCanal.

The ramifications can be devastating when outrageous religious beliefs corrupt people’s minds. Maud (Morfydd Clark) is a hospice nurse desperate to save the soul of her dying atheist patient. As time progresses, she believes that God is directly tasking her with saving her patient’s soul, but her faith wavers when things begin to go awry. To prove her faith is sound, she performs mortification of the flesh on herself. Still, it’s not enough. She must do more to prove her devotion, even if it means committing an ultimate sin.

11- Beau Is Afraid (2023)

Joaquin Phoenix in Beau is Afraid
Image Credit: A24.

Beau Is Afraid is one giant nosedive into absolute insanity. From start to finish, we see Beau go from a slightly troubled man to someone hanging on to his sanity by a thread. He can’t separate fantasy from reality, which causes him to jeopardize the few friends he has left.

12- In The Mouth of Madness (1994)

In the Mouth of Madnes
Image Credit: New Line Cinema 

Trent (Sam Neil) is an unsuspecting insurance investigator who is tasked with uncovering the whereabouts of a famous horror novelist and recovering his final manuscript. The further he delves into the mystery, the more nightmares he exposes. The author’s books make people lose their minds, opening the world to untold horrors. Eventually, he comes in contact with the author and learns mind-altering details about his suspected reality as it crumbles.

13- American Psycho (2000)

American Psycho (2000)
Image Credit: Lions Gate Films.

It’s never good when the line between reality and fantasy blurs. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a young New York investment banker obsessed with his self-image and keeping up with his colleagues. Bateman’s arrogance, coupled with his anger issues, make him a ticking timebomb. Several times throughout the film, we see him kill over minor annoyances without a second thought, but as the bodies pile up, so does the curiosity of the police.

14- The Empty Man (2020)

The Empty Man Joel Courtney, Sasha Frolova
Image Credit: 20th Century Studios.

If you go to a bridge, find an empty bottle, and blow in it while thinking of the empty man, the entity will be summoned. James Lasombra is a former detective searching for his neighbor’s runaway daughter. As he searches, he finds that Amanda and her friends have summoned the empty man. Even though he doesn’t fully believe the entity exists, he completes the summoning ritual. From that moment on, he is plagued with thoughts of the empty man. His research leads him to a cult patiently awaiting his arrival.

15- There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood
Image Credit: Paramount Vantage.

In 1902 in Los Angeles, Daniel Plainview established an oil drilling company and adopted the orphaned son of a worker killed in an accident. Daniel plans to use the boy to trick potential investors into thinking he’s a family man. Sometime later, he’s approached by a man who claims his family’s land sits on large oil deposits. He travels to their homestead kickstarting a chain reaction of life-altering events.

16- Bug (2006)

Bug (2006)
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Bug follows the relationship of a waitress and a drifter who become entangled in each other’s lives past the point of no return. Peter (Michael Shannon) is a wanderer introduced to Agnes (Ashley Judd) by a mutual friend. Soon after meeting, Peter reveals his deep paranoia around being part of a military experiment involving planted bugs and begins influencing Agnes to share in his delusions. Their shared derangement leads to self-mutilation and severe hallucinations as friends attempt to draw Agnes back into the real world.

17- Suspiria (2018)

Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Amid the German Autumn of 1977, American dancer Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) is invited to audition for the Markos Dance Academy in Berlin. The academy is buzzing from the recent disappearance of a student who vanished after confiding in her psychotherapist that a coven of witches controls the academy. As Susie gets deeper involved with the academy, she discovers the real reason she’s been invited to attend.

18- Possession (1981)

Possession 1981 Isabelle Adjani
Image Credit: Gaumont.

After finishing an espionage mission in Berlin, Mark (Sam Neil) returns home to find that his wife is leaving him for another man. She takes their son with her, only for Mark to discover later that his mother is neglecting him. Mark takes his son and hires a private investigator to follow his ex-wife. The horrors the investigator uncovers cost him his life, just the first of many lives cut short at the hands of Mark’s ex-wife. As her rampage continues, she’s lost every last shred of her humanity, having teamed up with something that looks eerily similar to Mark.

19- Old (2021)

Old (2021)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Everything seems perfect when a couple and their two young children are invited to a secluded beach while on vacation. When they arrive, they find they are not alone. Three other groups of people are on the beach. They soon realize that something is different about this beach, sinister even. Everyone on the beach is aging rapidly; one year, for every 30 minutes—anyone who tries to leave the beach blacks out and ends up back where they started. Rapid aging leads a surgeon on the beach to develop schizophrenia, making him paranoid of others and pushing him to extremes to keep his family safe.

20- The Voices (2014)

The Voices (2014)
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

This movie is definitely on the lighter side of horror than others on this list. The Voices follows Jerry Hickfang (Ryan Reynolds), a schizophrenic man who has conversations with his dog and cat. After accidentally discovering an infatuation for taking lives, he begins a murdering spree with encouragement from his talking cat. His frenzy only lasts so long, and he eventually has to own up to what he’s done.

21- A Cure for Wellness (2016)

A Cure For Wellness Dane DeHaan
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The CEO of a financial firm has been at a “wellness center” in the Swiss Alps to clear his mind. The firm sends Lockhart, an executive at the firm, to retrieve the CEO. When Lockhart receives pushback from the doctor, he leaves the spa and, unfortunately, is involved in a car accident. When Lockhart awakes, he is in the wellness center with a cast on his leg. He’s grateful but weary of the doctor’s intentions. During his stay, he makes friends with a strange girl Hannah. Hannah helps him realize things are not as they seem in the spa. Lockhart devises a plan to get to the bottom of the mysteries but exposes some heinous truths.

22- Raw (2016)

Image Credit: Wild Bunch.

During a harsh hazing event, vegetarian Justine is forced to eat raw rabbit kidneys. This ignites a primal craving for meat that she can’t seem to satisfy. With help from her sister, she finds ways to cannibalize others and satiate her hunger. Unbeknownst to Justine, this ailment is hereditary, passed down from her mother, and now plagues her and her sister.

23- The Lodge (2019)

The Lodge (2019)
Image Credit: Neon.

Grace is the lone survivor of a cult run by her father. While being interviewed by Richard about her experiences within the cult, they fall in love. He tells his estranged wife, causing her to take her own life. Eventually, they decide to spend Christmas in their family’s remote cabin. Richard’s teenagers do not warmly welcome Grace to their family, and during their stay at the cabin, everything goes wrong. Waking up to find themselves in a seemingly inescapable situation, they try their best to remain level-headed and make sense of it all.

24- Donnie Darko (2001)

Donnie Darko (2001)
Image Credit: Pandora Cinema, Newmarket Films.

Donnie Darko is a slightly confusing story about a teen who is believed to be schizophrenic after having visions of a man in a creepy rabbit suit telling him that the world will end in exactly “28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds”. He spends that time living his life while trying to understand what these visions mean. With the supposed doomsday approaching, Donnie still doesn’t have the answers he needs, so he prepares as best he can to face the music. 

25- A Beautiful Mind (2001)

A Beautiful Mind Russell Crowe
Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.

John Forbes Nash Jr. (Russel Crowe) is a brilliant mathematician looking to make his mark in the mathematics world when he meets Alicia (Jennifer Connelly), and they fall in love. They waste no time getting married and starting a family. While Alicia is pregnant, John begins to experience paranoia and delusions that lead to a mental breakdown landing him in a psychiatric facility. When he is released, Alicia helps him overcome his hardships, allowing him to see what’s real and what’s in his head.

Source: (Reddit).

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