The mystifying point about most serial killer films is not merely who the murderer is, but also that what are the main motives behind their killings. Generally these films follow a ‘detective’ v/s ‘psychopath’ pattern. The best serial killer movies list that we have compiled doesn’t include any horror or slasher movies and instead comprises mostly of those movies that involve a social criminal who is a human himself not having any supernatural powers:
15. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
This John McNaughton’s film is loosely based on the true story of a serial killer named Henry Lee Lucas also known as ‘The Confession Killer’, played by ‘Michael Rooker’, who was convicted of murder in 11 different cases having initially claimed to have killed over 60 people, and his prison buddy Otis played by Tom Towles.
The film was made with a budget of a mere $110,000 and shot with a 16 mm.
14. Monster (2003)
The film directed by ‘Patty Jenkins’ is another of those movies that are based on a true story of a serial killer, namely Aileen Wuoronos, a prostitute turned assassin.
The film saw a strong, powerful and disturbing performance of the South African born beauty queen ‘Charlize Theron’ portraying a very odd role of a relentless and inhumane killer for which she won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Leading Actress and many other accolades.
13. I Saw the Devil (2010)
The South Korean cinema also keeps producing some riveting films, with Kim Ji-woon’s this film being one of them.
This carefully structured and filmed movie tells the story of a serial killer Jang Kyung-chul played by ‘Choi Min-sik’ who mercilessly kills people ranging from young women to even children, and is later on pursued by one of his victim’s vengeful fiance who wants an eye for an eye.
12. Frenzy (1972)
Alfred Hitchcock is a legend when it comes to murder movies receiving unmatchable popularity in this genre than any other director in the cinematic history.
This British film, about a sex killer in London who rapes and then murders women with a necktie, is considered his last great film before his death. The role of the serial killer Robert Rusk is played by Barry Foster. The film received four Golden Globe nominations but winning none.
11. Zodiac (2007)
This David Fincher’s mystery thriller film is loosely based on the true story of a manhunt of a San Francisco serial killer known as ‘Zodiac’ who played with the police by handing them some bizarre clues via mailing letters and ciphers to newspapers.
The killer’s identity remains unknown to this date and the case remains the most infamous unsolved criminal case of San Francisco.
10. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)
This German thriller film, directed by Tom Tykwer tells the story of a murderer Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, played by Ben Whishaw, who kills young women in order to capture their scent believing that this will lead him in making the best perfume in the world.
In the end he does succeed, but at the expense of some brutally murdered women that sends a colossal terror amongst all the other people of the surroundings.
9. Peeping Tom (1960)
This British disturbing film which effectively destroyed the career of the director Michael Powell in the UK due to its controversial subject and harsh reception, tells the story of a psychopathic killer Mark Lewis, played by ‘Carl Boehm,’ who is obsessed about fear and kills women in order to capture their last moments of terror and their behavior in fearsome state before death.
In the later years, the film was re-evaluated as a masterpiece.
8. Badlands (1973)
The script of this Terrence Malick’s crime film is loosely based on the murder spree of Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate in 1958.
The film stars Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek as Kit and Holly, the teenage lovers who commit a series of murders in South Dakota Badlands while being on the run having killed Holly’s father.