If you are a newcomer to the captivating world of Mollywood, it is likely that you were hooked on movies like Premam, Drishyam, Home, and more due to their authentic storytelling and outstanding performances. These cinematic masterpieces speak about raw human relations in such a natural setting that they offer relatable experiences to audiences, in contrast to the melodrama and larger-than-life premises prevalent in other film industries. However, Malayalis have grown up watching the timeless classics crafted by legendary directors such as Bharathan, Padmarajan, Sibi Malayil, and others. These spanned various genres, from evergreen romance to whimsical humour, and emotional dramas to gripping thrillers. One of the genres these Malayalam movies handled amazingly was psychological thrillers, skillfully navigating through the unexplored complexities of the human mind and seamlessly integrating them into convincing storylines. This time, Top 10s Only has brought you a list of the Top 10 Best Malayalam Psychological Thriller Movies to watch on your next movie night with friends and family.
Dive Into The Top 10 Best Psychological Thriller Movies Of All-Time
Malayalam psycho thriller movies are known to take a unique approach to cater to audiences who seek realistic storytelling over jumpscares or adrenaline rushes. These films not only keep you on the edge of your seats but also delve into the darkest corners of the human psyche, blending emotions, suspense, and, in some cases, humour into the plotline. We have carefully curated for you a collection of must-watch Malayalam psychological thriller movies where characters grapple with internal demons, moral dilemmas, and hidden truths. So brace yourself to explore the realm of psycho thrillers as you indulge in this list of compelling and intellectually stimulating films.
Unveiling The Thrills of Mollywood: The Ultimate Malayalam psycho movies list
1. Yakshi (1968) / Akam (2011)
Yakshi is Malayalam’s first psycho-thriller movie, adapted from a novel of the same name written by Malayattoor Ramakrishnan. Directed by K.S. Sethumadhavan, the movie features the yesteryear superstars of the Malayalam industry, Sathyan and Sharada, in the lead roles. The plot follows the story of a college professor, Sreenivasan (Sathyan), who meets with an accident and gets permanently disfigured. However, his life takes an unexpected turn when, despite his flaws, a beautiful woman, Ragini (Sharada), accepts him and becomes his wife. But soon complications arise when Sathyan starts suspecting that Ragini is a supernatural entity (Yakshi, in Malayalam folklore).
Other legendary actors who portrayed important characters in the movie are Adoor Bhasi, Bahadoor, Sukumari, etc. It was one of the few old psychological thriller movies in Malayalam that depicted the psychological disorder schizophrenia. The novel Yakshi was also adapted and remade as ‘Akam’ in 2011, directed by Shalini Usha Nair. Fahadh Faasil and Anumol played the lead roles in the remake.
2. Manichitrathazhu (1993)
Even after three decades of its release, Manichitrathazhu claims a spot among the top-rated Malayalam suspense movies on Amazon Prime. Directed by Fazil, this cult classic features Superstar Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, and Shobhana in the lead roles. The film’s widespread popularity and unconventional theme at the time paved the way for several remakes in various languages, including Kannada, Bengali, and Hindi.
The narrative unfolds with Ganga (Shobhana) and Nakulan (Suresh Gopi), a newly-married couple, relocating from Kolkata to their ancestral mansion. Ganga discovers from Nakulan’s aunt and cousins that the southern room of the mansion is haunted by the ghost of a dancer, ‘Nagavalli’, and she is warned never to open it. However, she feels empathetic towards Nagavalli and opens the door, setting off a series of unusual events in the house. Mohanlal arrives as Dr. Sunny, a renowned psychiatrist and Nakulan’s friend, to rescue them from their ordeals.
The exceptional performance of the ensemble cast, especially Shobhana, received wide acclaim. Manichithrathazhu adopted an experimental story-telling approach blending suspense, horror, and comedy. This is what makes it mesmerizing even when you watch it for the umpteenth time, making it one of the most popular psychological suspense movies starring Superstar Mohanlal.
3. Bhramaram (2009)
Bhramaram is our next addition to the list of the best psychological Malayalam movies with a suspense thriller element. Written and directed by Blessy, Bhramaram has Mohanlal, Lakshmy Gopalaswamy, and Bhumika Chawla in pivotal roles.
The movie begins with an eccentric and uninvited guest, Jose (Mohanlal), disrupting the lives of a share broker, Unni, and his family by claiming to be a long-lost friend. Though Unni entertains Jose initially, later, to his horror, Unni discovers that Jose is an impostor. He reveals to be actually Sivankutty, a classmate falsely framed by Unni and his friend Alex for a murder they committed. The suspense deepens when Sivankutty compels them to embark on a road trip with him to persuade his estranged wife and daughter, who left him upon knowing his past, to return to his life.
While the movie may have been an average grosser at the box office, Bhramaram got an overwhelmingly positive response from critics, especially for Mohanlal’s stellar performance.
4. Arikil Oraal (2013)
Arikil Oraal is another underrated movie among Malayalam psychological thrillers. It is directed by Sunil Ibrahim, with Indrajith, Nivin Pauly, and Remya Nambeeshan portraying the lead roles. The narrative intricately weaves the story of Siddharth (Indrajith), his girlfriend Veena (Remya), and their mutual friend Icha (Nivin Pauly). Their lives soon turn into a chilling riddle when Siddharth and Remya start seeing Icha at two different places at the same time. The climax leaves the audience in shock, haunting them even after the end-credits roll.
In this movie, Nivin Pauly ventures into a character he has never explored before and delivers a commendable performance. Other important characters in the movie were played by Prathap Pothen and Lena, who played important roles in solving the riveting mystery.
5. Munnariyippu (2014)
Directed by Venu, Munnariyippu is one of the experimental suspense psychological thriller movies in Malayalam, with Mammootty in the lead. The protagonist is Raghavan (Mammootty), a prisoner who is convicted of double homicide but refuses to leave jail even after completing his term. A young journalist, Anjali (Aparna Gopinath), intrigued by his story and quirky philosophies, takes the initiative to release him from prison and publish his biography. However, complications arise when, upon release, Raghavan does not cooperate with her and shows eccentric behavior, leading to a tragic and horrifying climax.
The narrative seeps deep into profound layers of human consciousness and, at the same time, leaves a lot to the viewer’s interpretation. Raghavan’s character with numerous undertones was brought to life convincingly by Mammootty’s stellar performance, also ranked by ‘Film Companion’ as one of the ‘Greatest Performances of the Decade.’
6. Athiran (2019)
Athiran is one of the psychological Malayalam movies with Fahadh Faasil as the protagonist alongside Sai Pallavi. Though the core storyline reminds one of Hollywood hits like Shutter Island and Stonehearst Asylum, director Vivek successfully narrates an edge-of-the seat plot that captivates the audience.
Fahadh Faasil portrays the role of Dr. Kannan Nair, a psychiatrist sent by the government to inspect an asylum run by Dr. Benjamin (Atul Kulkarni) and caretaker Renuka (Lena). Dr. Nair realizes that apart from the five patients on record, there is a sixth patient named Nithya (Sai Pallavi) chained in the basement. Determined to save her from Dr. Benjamin’s unethical and illegal treatment methods, Dr. Nair embarks on a mission to bring Nithya back to a semblance of normal life. The consequences he faces for it and the growing fondness between them form the crux of the plot. However, the climax reveals an unsettling truth that leaves the audience questioning their own reality. Though all the actors gave outstanding performances, Sai Pallavi deserves a special mention for her meticulous portrayal of the mannerisms of an autistic person, adding depth to her character.
7. Love (2020)
Love stands as our next choice among the best Malayalam psychological thriller mystery movies. With a mind-boggling script and an uncommon theme, Love, written and directed by Khalid Rahman, has garnered acclaim across the country.
The two protagonists, Anoop (Shine Tom Chacko) and Deepthi (Rajisha Vijayan), portray a young couple grappling with marital issues. The news of Deepthi’s pregnancy triggers a heated argument between the two, escalating to violence when Anoop pushes her onto a wall and she collapses. The sequence of events that happen next leads to a shocking climax where viewers struggle to differentiate between reality and fiction.
Love narrates a day’s worth of events within an apartment but touches upon various issues like domestic abuse, narcissism, Mental disorders, etc. Shine Tom Chacko, as always, has displayed commendable performance, standing out among other talented actors.
8. Puzhu (2022)
Puzhu is a psychological thriller by debutant director Ratheena, starring superstar Mammooty and Parvathy Thiruvoth as the central characters. In Puzhu, Mammootty defies conventions by playing a character with gray shades and deeper layers than any of his characters in previous movies. He convincingly embodies Kuttan, a high-ranking IPS officer born into a Brahmin community marked by stigma against the lower castes. This hatred and bigotry exacerbate his paranoia, resulting in unfortunate incidents. Puzhu is not just one of the best psychological thriller suspense Malayalam movies; it is also an eye-opener towards the dehumanizing effects of caste systems and misogyny. Mammooty’s performance in the movie was dubbed a ‘revelation’ by some critics.
9. Rorschach (2022)
Rorschach is one of the dark psychological thriller movies in Malayalam, directed by Nissam Basheer and produced by Mammootty, who also plays the lead role. It is a nerve-wracking, suspenseful movie built on the nuances of human relationships, greed, love, and revenge.
In this movie, Mammootty plays an NRI businessman named Luke Antony seeking revenge for his wife’s murder. He realizes that the perpetrator, Dileep, is dead, and the only way to avenge his wife’s death is by destroying his family. The rest of the plot narrates a gripping, violent, and action-packed tale of how Luke conspires to end all of Dileep’s ties with the physical world and thus fulfill his vengeance.
Like the psychological test of the same name, Rorschach reveals the psyche of each character at different stages and leaves it to the viewers to interpret their personality traits. Though Mammootty and the other ensemble cast put forward amazing performances, Bindu Panicker’s portrayal of Seetha deserves special mention.
10.Abraham Ozler (2024)
Abraham Ozler is the latest addition to the Malayalam psychological thriller mystery movie list, marking the strong comeback of Superstar Jayaram in an unforgettable role. Directed by Midhun Manuel Thomas, Abraham Ozler is a medical crime thriller, with Mammootty appearing in a cameo role.
Jayaram plays the titular role of ACP Abraham Ozler, who loses his family to a revengeful murder, plunging him into depression. Years later, he investigates a series of murders and uncovers a connection to a medical crime involving the victim’s parents during their time as surgical MD students. The murderer is found out to be their psychotic classmate Alexander, whose life was shattered by the crime. Ozler and his team successfully nab Alexander and put him behind bars, which forms the rest of the plot.
Viewers saw Jayaram as Abraham Ozler in two timelines, donning heavy looks different from his previous roles. The thrilling climax sets the stage for a sequel, leaving the audience eagerly anticipating Ozler’s next adventure in the upcoming installment.
Top 10 Malayalam Psychological Thrillers To Keep You Up All Night!
These stand as our best selections from the top ten psychological thrillers in Malayalam cinema. We are sure that each of these cinematic gems will not merely entertain you but will also challenge your perceptions, blurring the lines between sanity and madness. This list is a tribute to the brilliance of Malayalam cinema and its remarkable contributions to the genre of psychological thrillers. Immerse yourself in the world of movies, relishing the curated list until we come up with another set of top 10s from the vibrant landscape of the Malayalam movie industry.
Frequently Asked Questions About Top 10 Best Malayalam Psychological Thriller Movies To Watch
1. Which are the top 10 Best Malayalam Psychological Thriller Movies To Watch?
Yakshi (1968), Manichithrathazhu (1993), Bhramaram (2009), Arikil Oraal (2013), Munnariyippu (2014), Athiran (2019), Love (2020), Puzhu (2022), Rorschach (2022) and Abraham Ozler (2024) are the top 10 best psycho movies in Malayalam.
2. Which psychological thriller movie is based on a Malayalam novel?
Yakshi (1968) and Akam (2011) are Malayalam psychological movies based on the novel ‘Yakshi’ written by Malayattoor Ramakrishnan.
3. Which Malayalam psychological thriller movies have Mammootty in the lead role?
Munnariyippu (2014), Puzhu (2022) and Rorschach (2022) are some Malayalam Psychological thriller movies with Mammootty in the lead role.
4. Which Malayalam psychological thriller movies have Mohanlal in the lead role?
Manichithrathazhu (1993) and Bhramaram (2009) are psychological thriller movies with Mohanlal in the lead role.
5. Which is the first Psychological thriller in Malayalam?
Yakshi (1968), based on a novel of the same name, was the first psychological thriller movie made in Malayalam.