Quiz: Can You Name the Thriller From a Single Sentence Summary?: HowStuffWorks
Can You Name the Thriller From a Single Sentence Summary?
By: Jane Andrews
6 Min Quiz
Recovering from an injury and confined to a wheelchair, a photographer spies on his neighbors and becomes convinced a murder has taken place. What thriller is this?
Directed by mystery master Alfred Hitchcock, "Rear Window" is based on a short story entitled "It Had to Be Murder." The movie stars Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr.
Regency Enterprises / TSG Entertainment
The disappearance of a Missouri woman turns into a media circus when her husband is suspected of the crime. Which movie is this?
Based on the wildly popular novel by Gillian Flynn, "Gone Girl" was directed by David Fincher and stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Carrie Coon. Pike received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her performance as the missing Amy Dunne.
Strong Heart/Demme Production
To track down a madman who kidnaps and skins his victims, a young FBI trainee must seek the help of a cannibalistic serial killer. Do you know which movie this is?
Released in 1991, "The Silence of the Lambs" stars Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn and Ted Levine. Based on a novel of the same name, the thriller was a huge hit, grossing more than $272 million worldwide and winning five Academy Awards.
Kopelson Entertainment / Warner Bros.
After being wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife, a prominent doctor must prove his innocence while on the run from U.S. Marshals. Which movie is this?
Starring Harrison Ford as the accused Dr. Richard Kimble, this 1993 film is based on a popular 1960s television series of the same name. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won one for Best Supporting Actor (for Tommy Lee Jones).
Mistaken for a government agent, an ad exec is forced to go on the run from a group of foreign spies. Can you name this movie?
Another Hitchcock classic, this suspenseful 1959 film stars Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. It features a number of memorable chase scenes, including the iconic crop-duster sequence and the pursuit on top of Mount Rushmore.
Cross Creek Pictures / Protozoa Pictures / Phoenix Pictures / Dune Entertainment
While competing for the lead role in a prestigious production of "Swan Lake," a driven ballerina begins to lose her grip on reality. Do you recognize this film?
Darren Aronofsky directed this trippy 2010 thriller, which stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder and Barbara Hershey. The movie was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It won one for Best Actress (for Portman).
Cecchi Gori Pictures / Juno Pix
A pair of detectives hunt a serial killer who uses one of the seven deadly sins as a symbol in each his grisly murders. Which chilling film is this?
Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow, star in this 1995 thriller, which was directed by David Fincher. The movie was a megahit, grossing more than $327 million worldwide and becoming the seventh highest-grossing film of the year.
Monkeypaw Productions / Perfect World Pictures
A summer beach vacation turns deadly for a family when they are terrorized by people who look exactly like them. Does this description sound familiar?
Written and directed by Jordan Peele, who's also responsible for the hit thriller "Get Out," this 2019 horror film received critical praise and earned more than $255 million worldwide at the box office.
Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions
A former police detective with a paralyzing fear of heights is asked by an old friend to follow his wife. Which movie is this summary describing?
This classic Hitchcock film was released in 1958 and stars Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes. It's the first film to feature the disorientating dolly zoom effect, which was used to convey the main character's acrophobia.
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment / Working Title Films
Things don't go as planned when a Minneapolis car salesman hires two hit men to kidnap his wife. Does this movie sound familiar?
This hit black comedy thriller from the Coen Brothers, released in 1996, was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It won two — Best Actress for Frances McDormand and Best Original Screenplay for the Coens.
Plagued by nightmares after returning home from the Korean War, a platoon commander begins to uncover a sinister conspiracy. What movie is this summary describing?
Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury star in this 1962 thriller, which is based on a book by famed political novelist Richard Condon. The movie was remade in 2004 with Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep.
A woman on Manhattan's Upper West Side gets more than she bargained for when she places a want ad for a roommate. Which movie is this?
Based on a novel entitled "SWF Seeks Same," this 1992 psychological thriller stars Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Leigh won an MTV Movie Award for Best Villain for her performance as the obsessive Hedy Carlson.
When a woman on the run stops for the night in a remote hotel, she falls victim to a murderous psychopath. Which movie is this summary describing?
Actor Anthony Perkins, who played Norman Bates in this classic thriller, reportedly refused to talk to press about the role after the film came out in 1960. He did not like being associated with the deranged character.
Les Films Alain Sarde / Asymmetrical Productions / Babbo Inc. / Canal+ / The Picture Factory
After losing her memory due to a car accident, a woman tries to uncover her true identity with the help of an aspiring Hollywood actress. Do you know which movie this is?
David Lynch directed this neo-noir mystery, which stars Naomi Watts in her breakthrough role. Reportedly, Watts was ready to give up on acting after finishing this film, however she took the advice of her good friend Nicole Kidman and waited to see how "Mulholland Drive" turned out.
Summit Entertainment / Team Todd
A man with anterograde amnesia (a.k.a. short-term memory loss) must track down the person who killed his wife. Does this flick sound familiar?
"Memento" was released in 2000 to wide critical acclaim. Brad Pitt was originally slated to star in the film, but he had to pass due to schedule conflicts. The part ended up going to Guy Pearce.
Regency Enterprises / The Wolper Organization
Three LAPD officers investigate a string of gruesome murders in the early 1950s. Does this description ring a bell?
Released in 1997, "L.A. Confidential" is based on a novel by James Ellroy. The movie was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won two — Best Actress (for Kim Basinger) and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Nothing is as it seems when a stuttering altar boy is accused of murdering an influential Catholic archbishop. Which movie is this?
This hit 1996 thriller marks the feature film debut of Edward Norton, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance. The movie also stars Richard Gere and Laura Linney.
A pregnant woman in New York City begins to suspect her neighbors are up to something sinister. Do you know this movie?
Directed by Roman Polanski and based on a novel by the same name, this creepy thriller stars Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes and Ruth Gordon. The movie was nominated for two Academy Awards and won one, for Best Supporting Actress (for Gordon).
Scott Rudin Productions / Mike Zoss Productions
When a hunter takes the two million dollars he finds at the scene of a botched drug deal, he quickly become targeted by a ruthless killer. Which movie is this?
This Coen Brothers' western-thriller from 2007 stars Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Woody Harrelson. The movie won a total of four Oscar Awards, for Best Picture, Best Director(s), Best Supporting Actor (for Bardem) and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Phoenix Pictures / Appian Way Productions
A U.S. Marshal and his parter visit a hospital for the criminally insane to investigate the disappearance of one of its prisoners. Can you guess this film?
Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, this plot-twisting psychological thriller was directed by Martin Scorsese. It features a star-studded ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley and Michelle Williams.
Elara Pictures / IAC Films / Sikelia Productions
A jeweler and gambling addict runs himself ragged trying to retrieve a precious gem and pay back loan sharks. Which crime thriller is this?
Starring Adam Sandler in a rare dramatic role, this fast-paced film came out in late 2019. It was an instant hit, making $5.9 million on its first day of wide release — the highest single-day box office gross ever for A24, the movie's independent distribution company.
Columbia Pictures / Edward R. Pressman Productions / Muse Productions
A wealthy New York City investment banker hides a disturbing and gory secret — one of his favorite pastimes is murder. Which movie is this?
Based on a novel of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis, "American Psycho" was released in 2000. It stars Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, a well-to-do young businessman who loves to kill.
Touchstone Pictures / Warner Bros. / Newmarket Films / Syncopy
When two rival magicians in 1890s London compete to create the greatest stage illusion of all time, the results turn deadly. Can you name this movie?
Directed by Christopher Nolan, who also directed thrilling hits such as "Batman Begins" and "Inception," this period film features legendary musician David Bowie in a supporting role.
Compass International Pictures / Falcon International Productions
A criminally insane man who killed his sister when he was a child escapes from a mental hospital to terrorize his home town. Do you know this freaky film?
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis in her breakout movie role, "Halloween" became one of the highest-grossing independent films when it was released in 1978. It spawned a long string of sequels and is still a massively successful film franchise today.
Struggling to make ends meet, a family becomes entangled in the complicated lives of a well-to-do family. Which movie is this?
Released in 2019, "Parasite" was a runaway hit both with critics and the box office. It also became the first South Korean movie to win a Golden Globe when it was awarded the statue for Best Foreign Language Film.
Amblin Entertainment / Cappa Films / Tribeca Productions
Released from prison after a 14-year sentence for rape, a maniacal criminal terrorizes the family of the attorney who defended him. Do you know this film?
Directed by Martin Scorsese, this 1991 thriller is a remake of a 1962 movie of the same name. It features the final performance of legendary actor Gregory Peck, who also starred in the original film.
Penthouse / Long Road Productions / Robert Evans Company
Hired to expose a cheating husband, an L.A. private detective find himself embroiled in a deceitful and murderous plot. Can you name this film?
This classic 1974 mystery was directed by Roman Polanski. It takes place in the late 1930s and stars Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. A less successful sequel, called "The Two Jakes," was released in 1990.
A wealthy banker's life is turned upside down when he's invited to participate in a mysterious game. Which movie is this summary about?
This David Fincher thriller was released in 1997 and stars Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. While the film was critically acclaimed, it was considered a box office disappointment because it did not fare as well as Fincher's previous film, "Seven."
While driving cross-country, a salesman starts to fear for his life when he's bullied by an unseen truck driver. Do you know this film?
This 1971 action-thriller is director Steven Spielberg's first feature film. While the film originally aired as a made-for-TV movie, it was later edited and extended so it could be released in theaters.
Columbia Pictures / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Scott Rudin Productions / Yellow Bird
A journalist teams up with a computer hacker to search for a woman who's been missing for decades. Which movie is this describing?
This 2011 psychological crime thriller is based on a Swedish novel and film of the name. Starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, it was nominated for five Academy Awards and won one for Best Actress (for Mara).
Parkes/MacDonald Productions / Edge City
An evening at work becomes a nightmare for an L.A. cab driver when he's forced to drive a hitman from job to job. What movie is this?
Starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, this fast-paced 2004 thriller was directed by Michael Mann, who also directed the hits "Manhunter, "The Last of the Mohicans," "The Insider" and "Miami Vice."
Hollywood Pictures / Spyglass Entertainment / The Kennedy/Marshall Company / Barry Mendel Productions
Disheartened by the death of a patient, a child psychologist tries to help a boy who claims he can communicate with the dead. Do you know this film?
Released in 1999, this blockbuster became the second highest-grossing movie of the year. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
Live America Inc. / Dog Eat Dog Productions
After a jewelry heist goes horribly wrong, the criminals who survived the ordeal begin to worry that there's an informant among them.
Released in 1992, this gritty independent crime drama was Quentin Tarantino's directorial feature film debut. It features a notable ensemble cast that includes Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn and Steve Buscemi.
Philip D'Antoni Productions
Two New York City narcotics detectives put their lives in danger as they try to take down a French heroin-smuggling ring. Which movie is this?
This fast-paced action thriller from 1971 is based on a true story. Starring Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider, it won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (for Hackman).
River Road Productions / Foxton Entertainment
When a jealous man hires a private investigator to follow his cheating wife, things quickly spiral out of control. Do you recognize this movie description?
Released in 1984, this dark yet humorous thriller is the first movie written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya and M. Emmet Walsh.
A good thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat from the moment the movie starts until the credits roll. Whether it's an action-packed crime drama, a suspenseful slasher, a puzzling conspiracy flick or a fast-paced political thriller, these movies know how to get an audience engrossed and keep their adrenaline running nonstop. And the masters who make them — from David Fincher and Quentin Tarantino to Alfred Hitchcock and Roman Polanski — have a knack for creating truly memorable movies that hold up for years after their original release.
Many of these films feature unforgettable action sequences that have become a part of pop-culture history. Remember the iconic airplane scene from "North by Northwest," for example? Or the incredibly harrowing car chase from "The French Connection"? The genre is also packed with critically acclaimed Oscar winners, such as "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Chinatown," and modern-day classics, like "Gone Girl" and "Black Swan." All of this is to say that there's no shortage of thrillers to choose from when you're in the mood to have your mind blown.
How big of a thriller enthusiast are you? This quiz will put your movie knowledge to the test by summarizing some of the most suspenseful films in just one sentence. If you can name them all, you're a true detective in our book!
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