Long before Al Pacino blew us away with his portrayal of Lucifer in The Devil’s Advocate, way back in the 80’s De Niro incarnated as the demonic Louis Cyphere in one of modern cinema’s beautiful character performances. Here are five of the most shocking psychological thrillers ever burned to celluloid.
Angel Heart is an American psychological thriller directed by Alan Parker and stars Mickey Rourke and Robert DeNiro. Released in 1987, but set in the 50’s, it was well ahead of its time and has now reached cult status.
Mickey Rourke stars as Harry Angel, a rugged private investigator that has been hired by a man named Louis Cyphere (DeNiro), to uncover the whereabouts of a disappeared singer, Johnny Favourite. Along the way, Angel meets several characters that all share information on the story of Favourite. However, with these characters being killed shortly after meeting with Angel, he finds himself a lot more involved than he could ever care to have wished for.
With Rourke in top form, giving possibly his best performance and the genius casting of DeNiro in his role, Angel Heart is an atmospheric, intelligent, bloody horror, with much duplicated but never surpassed twists. An unforgettable classic.
Tell No One
This French thriller stars Francois Cluzet as Alex Beck, a man continuously struggling with grief after losing his wife 8 years ago. When Alex receives material hinting that his wife is alive and well, a complex chain of events results in a chaotic manhunt for him.
With an excellent supporting cast of Marie-Josee Croze, Andre Dussollier and Kristin Scott Thomas, this suspenseful tale is comparable to the work of Alfred Hitchcock. Full of twist and turns, with such a well-executed plot, Tell No One is a frantic, edge of your seat chef-oeuvre.
The Secret in their Eyes
‘El Secreto de sas ojos’ is an Argentine crime drama from 2009. Directed by Juan Jose Campanella, the film stars Ricardo Darin and Soledad Villamil. With outstanding storytelling and immaculate acting, this movie will have you hooked from start to finish.
In 1974, Federal Justice Agent, Benjamin Esposito (Darin), is delegated to the crime of a brutal rape and murder of a young woman. Upon promising the husband that the killer will be caught and will serve life in jail, two innocent men are accused and held, by a competing co-worker, in order to get a quick conclusion.
Expertly told the story continuously flickers back and forth to 1999 where the case is still unresolved and still troubling Esposito. With the co-operation of an alcohol dependant assistant and a love-that-never-was ex-boss Irene (Villamil), the case is reopened.
Revealing incredible, gut-wrenching outcomes and a thrilling finale, this is a truly touching, emotional masterpiece of world cinema.
Jacob’s ladder is a psychological horror directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Tim Robbins. Portraying the horrors of his time serving in the Vietnam War, Jacob Singer (Robbins)journey to uncover the truth is told in shocking flashbacks and visions.
Jacob wakes in a New York City subway alone, in his postal worker uniform. Continually reminded of his ex-wife and the death of his son Gabe (a very young Macauley Culkin), these thoughts are meshed with progressively hellish hallucinations.
After meeting with his old Army friends, they concur that they too have been experiencing the same horrors. However, after discovering a breakthrough in the reasoning behind these visions, Jacob involuntarily finds that the truth is not relinquished amicably.
In what is considered by many to be Tim Robbins best performance, Jacob’s ladder can leave you depressed, heartbroken and confused. Nonetheless, with such a strong, atmospheric plot, you’ll want to watch this one again.
In Dead Ringers, we welcome back Mr Cronenberg in the list. Released in 1988, Jeremy Irons plays two lead roles as Beverly and Elliot Mantle, identical twin brothers that run a successful Gynaecology practice in Toronto. Typical of the director, this film is controversial, thought- provoking and terrifyingly beautiful.
The story follows the twins growing up together in almost segregation from the rest of the world. Through their closeness, they virtually become one self as they develop into students studying gynaecology. With business blooming, the twins become more detached in their personalities, with Elliot the more confident and Beverly the shy, humble type.
Through these traits however, the twins abuse the trust of the patients and decide to secretly share them with each other, in more ways than one. When Beverly falls for a patient that he does not want to share, the two become independent, leading to imposing, cataclysmic reactions.
This emotionally-charged, grim, mutation of a film becomes even more shocking upon discovery of the fact that it is very loosely based on real life twins. (Be sure to watch the film before researching the story)