Serial killers have been around since the beginning of time, and often serial killer movies are dismissed as little more than exploitation. But the movies like “Peeping Tom” and “Funny Games,” are not just slasher flicks, they make you think about society’s role in creating killers and our own twisted psyches.
These films take the timeless hostage scenario to a whole new level of twisted—where cannibals play mind games with cops, psychotic killers take the form of fan girls and snipers, bombs are on buses and vampire strippers are a thing. Our list of demented hostage films isn’t for the faint of heart.
1. Funny Games
When two deranged young men take a family hostage in their home, they’re forced to engage in a slew of savage games in order to stay alive. Naomi Watts’ and Michael Pitt’s grueling performances—loving, brave mother and perverse, psycho killer, respectively—and a thrilling, fourth-wall breaking scene make the movie well worth enduring the horrors.
2. Silence of the Lambs
FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodi Foster) is drawn into a game of wits with one villain behind bars (the Hannibal Lector), while pursuing another serial killer, “Buffalo Bill,” on the loose. When Bill takes a new victim hostage, Starling’s race against the clock begins. She must get the information she needs from the cryptic psychopath Hannibal (cue the mind games) to apprehend Bill before he murders his prey.
When the townspeople of a rural village in Northern Germany cannot find the culprit responsible for the fall that injured their doctor and killed his horse, they let it go. And when a farmer’s wife is killed in a seemingly work-related accident, they again look the other way. But once the Baron’s son is found beaten and hung upside down and the midwife’s son has been dragged into the forest to have his eyes gauged out, people start to talk. When this last victim is discovered he has a note pinned to his chest that recounts the Old Testament adage, “For the sins of the father, you, though guiltless, must suffer.” Is it God punishing this staunch, repressed Protestant town, or is there someone amongst them who is to blame?