Eileen: 10 Similar Thriller Movies You Should Watch

William Oldroyd depicts a morbid tale of fantasy and obsession in ‘Eileen.’ The story follows a young, unassuming woman named Eileen who works at a juvenile correctional facility for boys in 1960s Boston, Massachusetts. Ostracized at work by her colleagues and disregarded by an alcoholic father who thinks she’s wasting her life, the titular character spends most days lost in her fantasies. When Rebecca, a new psychologist, joins the staff at the prison, Eileen quickly develops a relationship with this mysterious woman, finding herself embroiled in further chaos as the pair of them try to uncover the secrets of an inmate with a dark past.

Adapted from Ottessa Moshfegh’s 2015 novel of the same name, the 2023 psychological thriller carries the same edge of suspense, anticipation, and twisted themes as found in its pages. While slow in its delivery, ‘Eileen’ takes the right amount of time to build nervousness in its audience as they watch a catastrophic sequence of events unfold before their eyes. If you wish to go down a rabbit hole of films that take their time to get under your skin, here are 10 movies like ‘Eileen’ you should give a go.

10. The Woman in The Window (2021)

A child psychologist living as a shut-in in Manhattan, New York, witnesses a murder through her window. In Joe Wright’s psychological thriller, ‘The Woman in The Window,’ we follow Anna Fox as she lives on her own after being diagnosed with agoraphobia. Her existence as a recluse is blown to smithereens when, after witnessing someone being stabbed to death in one of her neighboring buildings, she starts questioning the validity of her own powers of observation when no one else seems to acknowledge the truth.

Adapted from A.J. Finn’s novel of the same name, ‘The Woman in The Window’ is a twisty thriller with enough anticipation in its build-up to keep you solidly rooted to the seat. It exhibits the paranoia of ‘Eileen’ and with a protagonist who isn’t entirely in touch with the world around her, there are similarities between ‘The Woman in The Window’ and the Joe Wright film.

9. The Gift (2015)

A married couple’s move goes awry after a figure from the past drops in on their new home repeatedly. ‘The Gift’ follows Simon and Robyn Callem as they relocate to Los Angeles from Chicago after Robyn has a miscarriage. As Simon starts working at a new job, he runs into an old high school friend, Gordon “Gordo” Moseley. After the initial encounter, Gordo starts making several unannounced visits to their home bearing various gifts. Soon, strange events start occurring in their household as Simon gets more and more wary of his old friend.

Taking a leaf out of the same book as ‘Eileen,’ writer-director Joel Edgerton crafts a deranged tone that is both creepy and enticing. Gordo’s obsession with Simon and Robyn is different from Eileen’s, but there’s a ferocity and madness to his interest in the couple’s affair that many will find both familiar and disturbing.

8. Side Effects (2013)

Crafted by Steven Soderbergh, ‘Side Effects’ is a psychological film about a woman’s tryst with an experimental drug that is meant to act as an antidepressant but ends up giving her unintended side effects. The film follows Emily Taylor, who tries to commit suicide after her husband, Martin, is released from his four-year prison sentence. Seeking to help her, her psychiatrist, with advice from someone else, assigns her a new experimental drug that should alleviate her problems. It works as prescribed but also ends up giving her a sleepwalking condition, something that embroils Emily into a whirlwind of problems after she commits something heinous.

It’s a gripping tale of subterfuge and the unintended consequences of our actions, something replicated in ‘Eileen’ as well. The film never simplifies its subject matter but makes sure it remains steadfast in its conviction to deliver something authentic and thrilling.

7. Stoker (2013)

‘Stoker’ is South Korean director Park Chan-Wook’s English-language debut. In this psychological thriller, a young woman with highly acute senses loses her father in a car crash. Following his death, India Stoker, the woman in question, is surprised when a charming uncle she’d never met before makes his appearance at their home. Unable to ascertain his exact origins, India remains suspicious of him as he starts living with them and establishes a close relationship with her mother.

Like Rebecca in ‘Eileen,’ India’s uncle, Charlie, is a mysterious figure who appears out of the blue and diverts the protagonist’s attention. ‘Stoker’ is a brilliantly made insidious, malevolent film that never does what’s expected. The central narrative depicts a slow journey into the dark as Charlie forces everyone, including the audience, into a corner from which you can’t seem to scrape out. The same ideas of obsession and fatal attraction also surface within the story of the William Oldroyd directorial.

6. Promising Young Woman (2020)

In ‘Promising Young Woman,’ a young woman sets out on a path of revenge for her best friend’s suicide. The crime thriller follows Cassie Thomas, a medical school dropout, whose life is altered after Nina, her best friend, is raped by one of her classmates, Al Monroe. Picking up after Nina’s suicide, caused by the lingering trauma from the rape, Cassie learns of Al’s upcoming marriage, which incites her to put a plan of revenge into action. Cassie’s resolve and determination are challenged by forces not of her making, but she remains intent to carry out her plan, no matter the cost, and no matter how ugly it gets.

‘Promising Young Woman’ is director Emerald Fennell’s debut feature, and her attempt at a grim tale depicting how prey becomes predator. Cassie Thomas as a female lead goes through several stages of evolution like Eileen. Both woman hide the demons lurking under their psyche by covering themselves with a false exterior, but as the story moves forward, the exterior slips ever so slightly. Themes of sexual predation recur across both narratives, and Fennell’s direction never obfuscates the rough, uncharted waters the film wants to skate towards.

5. Fractured (2019)

‘Fractured’ follows Ray Monroe, a man who after taking his wife, Joanne, and daughter, Peri, to the hospital to treat Peri’s injured arm, loses track of them. After having admitted his daughter into the hospital, Ray wakes up with sutures in his head and with no sign of his wife or daughter anywhere. With reality falling apart before his eyes, Ray goes on a desperate hunt for his loved ones while the hospital staff seem to have no knowledge of their existence.

A nerve-wracking thriller directed by Brad Anderson, ‘Fractured’ takes you into a world where you question everything, including the legitimacy of its narration — something it shares with ‘Eileen.’ With diversions and thrills being thrown at you throughout, this Anderson flick will keep you second guessing yourself and the screen at all times.

4. Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

In this Sean Durkin led ensemble, ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ takes a look into the world of a young woman who has just escaped the clutches of an abusive cult. Driven to terrible lengths by her time spent with them, Martha’s shattered existence is constantly subdued by painful flashbacks, paranoia, and delusions. With the looming threat of the cult’s actions and unhealthy pull weighing heavily on her consciousness, her life is thrown into opposing directions as she tries to come out of the whole thing unharmed.

The psychological thriller deals with difficult topics of abuse, rape, and the trauma that is left behind. It’s painful to watch what Martha was subjected to at the hands of the cult. But in that sense, it is similar to ‘Eileen’ and how the 2023 thriller deals with themes that are just as dark as ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene.’ The cold, unemotional scenes are a testament to Durkin’s film. It’s never trying to shock you with a blast of cold water. Instead, it gently serenades you into it’s disturbing reality, and leaves you there, drowning.

3. Enemy (2013)

Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Enemy (2013)'

‘Enemy’ is a Denis Villeneuve directed psychological thriller about a man discovering the existence of an identical double. Adam Bell, a professor of history, leads a quiet life with no excitement. One day, while watching a movie recommended by a colleague, he finds an actor who looks exactly like him. Desperate to find the identity of this man, Adam goes on a search to track down this doppelganger. But what begins as innocent curiosity quickly turns into turmoil as both their lives start getting entangled with one another.

Based on José Saramago’s novel ‘The Double,’ Enemy takes a unique approach to obsession and curiosity by introducing the duality of two identical people who live very different lives. A slow-burn thriller with an unsettling atmosphere, there are tonal similarities to ‘Eileen’ and how both films take a backseat towards gratuitous action unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s a mind-bending narrative that keeps you guessing, even after you’ve watched it a few times.

2. Burning (2018)

‘Burning’ is a South Korean-Japanese psychological thriller about a young deliveryman, Jong-Su. He meets an old friend from his childhood, Hae-mi, and rekindles a relationship with her. However, the bond between the two is severed when Hae-mi returns from her trip to Africa with an enigmatic young man, Ben. Nervous about Ben’s overall disposition, Jong-Su watches in worry as Hae-mi gets closer and closer to this mysterious person who he feels is a dangerous animal in sheep’s clothing.

Director Lee Chang-Dong adapted this movie from a short story by Haruki Murakami called ‘Barn Burning,’ and William Faulkner’s story with the same title. ‘Burning’ is a film with not a lot of hope represented in its themes. Jong-Su’s obsession with Hae-mi runs concurrently alongside the stark vegetation of the Korean countryside presented in many bleak sequences. A dark twisted affair not dissimilar to ‘Eileen’ emerges in this psychological flick of unnerving events. The film picked up a whole host of awards at the Cannes Film Festival in the year of it’s release and went on to win several others.

1. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Brought to the screen by Anthony Minghella from Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel, ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ is a complex, gross, and unedifying dive into uncontrolled obsession. Centered around the eponymous Tom Ripley, the story follows his travels to Italy from New York. After being tasked by a wealthy businessman to bring his son back to the US, Tom sets out on a mission of recovery to Europe. What seems incidental and innocent at first very quickly plummets into a sick, unobstructed exploration of infatuation gone wrong.

‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ shares a lot of commonality with ‘Eileen,’ especially in its fascination with fantasies, daydreams and fatalistic obsession. The protagonists of both films are modest, reserved, and totally unassuming. Those set of characteristics get turned on their heads as the narrative takes a dip into dark, twisted and unsavory waters. The film never shows you its cards too early and that’s perfect for the twists lined up in front of you. With how uncomfortable it makes you feel, it’s quite a feat if you manage to sit through ‘A Talented Mr. Ripley’ without squirming once.

Read more: Eileen Ending, Explained: Was Rebecca Real or Imaginary?