Swallow is a unique gem of a thriller you may not know about yet. But there’s lots of reasons you should. Critics are buzzing about Haley Bennett’s performance as a modern-day housewife, eagerly striving to be perfect in every role: wife, daughter-in-law, and soon-to-be mother. On the surface her life seems immaculate. But soon the immense pressure of these rigid expectations proves to be too much to handle. When the darkness of her past comes back to haunt her, the veil falls and reveals her true, vulnerable, imperfect self. Watch Bennett’s transformation in Swallow – just beware it may be a little hard to stomach.
Swallow shows us a glimpse at how far we will go when we’re pushed far enough. And there are other thought-provoking psychological thrillers that do the same in their own unique way. Whether we’re denying reality to the point of insanity, or striving for perfection to the point we become inhuman. The limits are endless and the consequences are dire. These films take a look at the fragility of the human psyche and the sinister places it can take us when we break.
Natalie Portman won a Golden Globe and Academy Award for her performance as Nina in Black Swan. The themes in the film parallel Swallow, as the story follows her journey to become a perfect ballet performer in Swan Lake. She needs to embody both innocence and sensuality as the White Swan and Black Swan, but Nina is timid and inexperienced, so she struggles with the latter. But she refuses to let that stop her. Hard work and perseverance take her to extreme places that are sometimes hard to stomach. Nina takes on an emotional, mental, and physical transformation as she relentlessly and mercilessly pushes herself to become the perfect dancer. And Portman took the role very seriously. She took dance lessons for a year and worked with a voice coach to give her a more child-like voice to fully embody Nina’s innocent character. Portman’s dedication really comes through in this visually stunning film, and its approach will make you question how far you’d be willing to go to achieve perfection.
The Devil’s Advocate
This star-studded film featuring Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves, and Charlize Theron is a must-see for any thriller lover. The Devil’s Advocate follows a successful lawyer from a small town who’s offered the opportunity of a lifetime to practice in New York City. Kevin, played by Reeves, quickly becomes massively successful and spends more time at work with his big-time boss John Milton, played by Pacino. Temptation and greed soon take over his psyche and we start to wonder who Kevin really is. We see him transform from a good, hard-working husband to a cold man with questionable character. But is that transformation worth the cost? The film takes an interesting look at morality and how fragile it becomes when you’re handed everything you’ve ever wanted. And it’s a definite must-see.
The Machinist is an ominous thriller starring the talented Christian Bale. The story follows Trevor, who suffers from insomnia and becomes emaciated as a result. He’s deemed an outsider by almost everyone he knows. Left to deal with his paranoid mind in isolation, Trevor slowly unravels and we’re taken along on the daunting trip to figure out why he can never sleep. The film can be uncomfortable to watch, especially with how malnourished Bale appears. He fully immersed himself in the role, going as far as crash-dieting and taking up smoking to lose 63 pounds. He was so weakened by the emaciation that he had difficulty running when filming action scenes for the film. His dedication is unparalleled, and the film is worth watching for his performance alone. This movie shows what our conscience will do to our psyche when guilt takes over and reality is too painful to bear. It’s an ominous journey worth taking.
Prisoners shows how far a father will go to protect his child. The star-studded cast in the film includes Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis and many more. On a seemingly normal day, Keller Dover’s six-year-old daughter and her friend suddenly go missing. Utter panic among the families ensues. Detective Loki, played by Gyllenhaal, is tasked with helping Dover, played by Jackman, to find the child and the kidnapper. When they finally home in on a suspect, they lack sufficient evidence to arrest him. This is where Keller takes justice into his own hands. Frantic and utterly desperate, Keller sees no limits when it comes to finding his daughter. The film makes us question our certainty about what’s right and wrong, as we perceive Keller go back and forth between a brave hero and a heartless monster. This intense journey will leave you wondering how far you would go to protect the ones you love.