Watching a thriller before bed is rarely a good idea, but it's always fun: Snuggled up on the couch under a blanket, shivering with horror and delight -- then being unable to get up and turn the light on -- because what if something grabs you?
But no matter how much these films convince people of monsters under the bed or serial killers in the closet, thrillers can be addictive. It's like being on a roller coaster -- scary as hell while it's happening but you know when the ride ends, everything is going to be alright.
So which movies should you really avoid before bedtime? These thrillers not only scared the pants off people but killed it (so to speak) at the box office, too. Not only that, but every movie on this list received critical acclaim and award nominations. The standout star is, of course, "The Silence of the Lambs," which won the "big five" Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The only other two movies to have done this are "It Happened One Night" (1934) and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975).
1. 'Fatal Attraction' (1987)
Remember that scene in "Sleepless In Seattle" when Tom Hanks uses "Fatal Attraction" as an example of why it's not a good idea to randomly date strange women? "It scared the shit out of me! It scared the shit out of every man in America!" his character, Sam Baldwin, tells his son. And he was right -- the movie did scare the living daylights out of every man, woman, child, and probably pet, in America. Glenn Close's bunny-boiling lunatic who's obsessed with Michael Douglas has turned out to be one of the most enduring villains in cinematic history. On the plus side, lots of people probably thought twice about cheating on their significant other after that movie.
2. 'The Sixth Sense' (1999)
There are ghost stories, and then there's "The Sixth Sense," a box office smash with one of the most jaw-dropping story twists of all time. Haley Joel Osment is heartbreaking as the little boy being relentlessly harassed by ghosts who want to use him as a sort of telephone line to their loved ones. Apparently, decades of being deceased haven't helped these stubborn spooks realize kids don't respond well to pushy, horrendous-looking apparitions who randomly show up in the middle of the night. Bruce Willis is wonderfully somber as the child psychiatrist who -- well, let's stop there, just in case you haven't seen it yet. Be prepared for graphic, violent imagery to stay with you well into the night.
3. 'Gone Girl' (2014)
Ben Affleck has been a very naughty boy. No, this isn't a reference to his real-life marital strife, but to his on-screen spousal troubles in "Gone Girl." In this gloriously twisted movie, Ben is a husband accused of murdering wife Rosamund Pike, who turns out to not be what she seems. This is a movie with no clear-cut heroes and villains, so it's tough to know who to root for -- although that's also what makes this dark thriller so much fun to watch.
4. 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' (2011)
Nordic noir has become very popular lately (think "Wallander"), and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" doesn't disappoint fans of the genre. A remake of the 2009 Swedish original, Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig are riveting in this chilling movie about a girl who goes missing and the people who try to find her decades later. This is not a cheerful movie -- it's explicitly violent and often hard to watch, even for a thriller. Save it for an evening when you've already spent all day listening to Radiohead, so you're mentally prepared for the bleakness.
5. 'The Silence of the Lambs' (1991)
Arguably one of the top 10 thrillers of all time, "The Silence of the Lambs" is brilliant, gruesome, captivating, and utterly terrifying. Jodie Foster's Agent Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter have become firmly entrenched in modern pop culture, as has Ted Levine in his chilling turn as Jame "It rubs the lotion on its skin" Gumb. This movie is about a serial killer who murders women for his own deviant purposes, and another serial killer helping an FBI agent track him down. So in other words, a perfect bedtime choice -- if you never want to sleep again, that is.