11 Must-Watch Movies About Gaslighting & Toxic Relationships

Gaslighting has become quite the popular buzzword. We see it in headlines, and we hear it in everyday conversations. Heck, there’s even a miniseries that explores this dangerous form of manipulation. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, gaslighting is defined as “psychological manipulation of a person, usually over an extended period of time, that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories." This can take a major toll on a person's mental and emotional health.

If you’re curious to learn more about how this toxic behavior can manifest, these movies about gaslighting will offer plenty of insight. From The Truman Show to Midsommar, keep reading for 11 must-watch titles you can stream right now.

1. Gaslight (1944)

  • Cast: Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten
  • Rating: P-13

Allow us to introduce the iconic film that inspired the term “gaslighting.” Set in Victorian London, it follows a woman named Paula, who moves into her aunt’s home with her new husband, Gregory. However, she starts to question her own sanity when she hears strange noises and notices the gaslights dimming out of nowhere. Unbeknownst to her, Gregory is slowly manipulating her. 

2. Unsane (2018) 

  • Cast: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah
  • Rating: R

Sawyer is tricked into admitting herself into a psychiatric hospital. And to make matters even more complicated, her stalker works there as an orderly. Meanwhile, the patients seem to be getting worse instead of better, all thanks to the staff who constantly gaslight them.

3.  Invisible Man (2020)

  • Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid
  • Rating: R

This terrifying horror follows a woman who runs away from her abusive and controlling husband in hopes of getting a fresh start. Two weeks after her escape, her husband seemingly commits suicide, but in reality, he fakes his own death and develops the ability to become invisible, making it easier for him to stalk and gaslight her.

4. The Truman Show (1998)

Imagine living in a giant bubble, where everything is strangely predictable, and the world seems to revolve around you. Except, whenever you try to share this observation with people you trust, you’re made to feel like you’re imagining things. That’s the life of Truman Burbank—better known as the unsuspecting star of a major reality TV show that documents his perfectly curated life. 

5. The Girl on the Train (2016)

  • Cast: Lisa Kudrow, Justin Theroux, Emily Blunt
  • Rating: R

Emily Blunt is Rachel Watson, a divorcée who witnesses something disturbing at a stranger’s home. When she tries to intervene, however, she wakes up in her apartment with bruises and no memory of what happened. When that stranger gets reported missing, Rachel launches an investigation of her own. But it proves to be a challenge when her ex-husband, Tom, uses her drinking problem to gaslight her into thinking that she committed a crime.

6. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

  • Cast: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon
  • Rating: R

The movie follows Rosemary, a young woman who moves into a New York apartment that's rumored to have a dark past. When she becomes pregnant, she starts to suspect that her neighbors are part of a Satanic cult and that her baby is the offspring of Satan. But everyone, including her doctor, dismisses her concerns.

7. Changeling (2008)

After a worried mom reports that her son is missing to the police, they “solve the case” by handing her a young boy who’s not really her son. When she tries to prove they made a mistake, the police dismiss her. And to protect their reputation, they go out of their way to send her to a psychiatric ward.

8. Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964)

  • Cast: Bette Davis, Olivia De Havilland, Joseph Cotton
  • Rating: PG-13

When the government threatens to destroy her home, Charlotte enlists the help of her cousin, Mariam. But after Mariam arrives, Charlotte starts to have strange hallucinations and suffers dementia, causing her to slowly lose her grip on reality. And it’s all thanks to Mariam’s secret plan to get Charlotte committed to a mental institution and inherit her mansion. 

9. Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)

  • Cast: Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin, Kevin Anderson
  • Rating: R

Roberts delivers a memorable performance as Laura, a woman who escapes her abusive and manipulative husband by faking her own death and starting a new life. Right when she thinks that her darkest days are behind her, her husband tracks her down for one last fight.

10. Flightplan (2005)

  • Cast: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Erika Christensen
  • Rating: PG-13

Foster stars as a widowed mother who lives out every parent’s worst nightmare. When her daughter suddenly goes missing during a flight back to the U.S., everyone on the plane, including the crew, gaslights her into thinking that her child never boarded the plane, causing her to question her own sanity. But she’s not giving up that easily.

11. Midsommar (2019) 

  • Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper
  • Rating: R

This unsettling folk horror revolves around Dani, who joins her emotionally abusive boyfriend on a trip to Sweden for a Midsummer festival, hoping that it will save their relationship. But when she gets there, her cold-hearted boyfriend becomes the least of her worries. Over time, she learns that there’s more to this “friendly” community than meets the eye.

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Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...