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Paranoia Fuel / Film

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  • 12 Years a Slave. The truly terrifying thing is modern slavers can and have pulled off almost the exact same scam Solomon fell for, and gotten away clean.
  • After you watch 1408 you will never feel safe while being alone in a hotel room...ever again
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  • 21. You go into a casino. There are some guys watching your every move from a room in the back with a bunch of TVs. If you so much as look at someone funny then they decide you're a card counter and a bunch of big guys with guns show up, take you in back, and beat you senseless. I swear to god, I'm never going into a casino. EVER!
  • The original Alien movie. Imagine a monster that looks like the very walls you are leaning on, something that could never be seen. It can climb walls, absolutely silent, and will take all of your friends, family, and the surrounding people. You'll suffer a slow and painful death, being dragged away while kicking and screaming. It will either kill you by putting a teeth filled inner mouth through your head, or will trap you in the walls of its hive, ready to impregnate you with more of its species.
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  • The Adjustment Bureau. You only think you're in control of your life—the whole thing has been mapped out by a Celestial Bureaucracy. If you risk going off track, they can do anything from making you lose your keys to causing accidents to prevent it. If you try to fight them, they can erase your entire personality. And they could be anyone—well, anyone wearing a hat, that is.
  • Arlington Road. Your nice neighbours are terrorists. They've gotten away with it before and they'll get away with it again. If you try to stop them they'll get away with it anyways, and frame you. They've probably already done it to someone else like you.
  • Avengers: Infinity War has its Erasure scene. Not everyone disappears in the same moment, so if you don't have Spider-sense or something warning you about impending doom, you can be next without knowing it. And if you're not an Avenger, you have no the faintest idea why is this happening (besides aliens attacking New York earlier), nor possessing the knowledge that everyone gets erased in tight window, so you may live the rest of your life in fear that you can anytime literally turn to dust. Also, since phone networks would be overloaded, you might, assuming you live, have fear about whether your closest ones are alive or no.
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  • Batman (1989): Jack Nicholson's Joker, though played more for comedy, is also a rich well of Paranoia Fuel, thanks in part to Tim Burton's skillful, chilling direction of the 1989 film. Just imagine you were one of the innocent Gothamites in this movie. Could you ever again see a street mime or a parade balloon without having a panic attack? Would you ever again be willing to apply hairspray and deodorant in one grooming sitting? And Vicki Vale arguably had it the worst of all. The Joker was obsessed with her, and was willing to track her just about anywhere. She wasn't safe from him in any setting, no matter how secure or comforting. Not even her own home.
  • Battle Royale. Any one of your classmates could turn on you and kill you in a heartbeat if they believed it was their only chance at surviving. * Shudder*
  • As ridiculous a movie as Battleship is, you gotta wonder if it's such a good idea to drunk-dial the Universe, basically announcing to any potentially-hostile (and there's a good chance they are) "Here we are! Come and take what you want!", considering we have no way to defend ourselves from any race that has the power to cross interstellar distances.
  • Black Christmas (1974) (the original, that is). Billy was one crazy nut.
  • The Blair Witch Project is excellent Paranoia Fuel for any trip into the deep woods, especially camping overnight.
  • The Blob (1958): The Blob can appear anywhere, grab onto you, and begin to eat you. That means that you're practically dead the second it touches you. Oh, and running from it probably won't help, because the '80s remake makes things scarier by giving the Blob a more aggressive attitude and tendrils to grab you.
  • Burn After Reading: Damn near everyone in this film suffers extreme, hilarious paranoia over absolutely nothing (it's that kind of film), but special props go to Harry Pfarrer, who ends up killing a guy and later trying to hop a flight to Venezuela, all because he thought he was shadowed by government agents. At the end of the film, Palmer and the CIA Director are at a complete loss over what just happened, and why any of it happened to begin with.
  • There is a French film called Caché, (or Hidden) which tells the story of a middle class family. So far, so cosy. Then, they start getting these creepy videos of their own house sent to their door, accompanied by some rather disturbing crayon drawings... The film's director is Michael Haneke, the same guy who gave us Funny Games
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: National Security could be controlled by a group the Nazis thought were too extreme, and they have a kill list a mile long (which is chosen through mathematical algorithms; the cute kid next door could be seen as a threat to the organization once they get older), the weaponry to do it and the exact location of each one of their targets.
  • This is one of the reasons why Chucky from the Child's Play series was so terrifying (until it turned into self-parody).
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Children shouldn't be allowed within five miles of that movie. A sleepwalker who comes out of a box, wanders through a town with distinctly creepy architecture, and murders people in their sleep with a squiggly-bladed knife. For little to no reason whatever.
  • Contagion: Touch anything, be near anyone, and you DIE.
  • Jim Henson's The Cube. Yes, that Jim Henson. ...You know what? Just watch it. Assume nothing, and enjoy the happy ending. Oh, and have fun with the idea that reality as you experience it now may suddenly be revealed as an illusion before you go back to the debilitating chaos that is The Cube.
  • Dark City; everything you are was created a few seconds ago by aliens, and your town is a giant laboratory.
  • The Dark Knight:
  • Deliverance: Imagine being out in the middle of the woods, as far from civilization as you could possibly get. Now imagine that someone could be watching your every move, from anywhere in the vast woods and mountains. And he thinks you're sexy. Feel like going camping?
  • The monsters from The Descent were cavemen who, rather than leaving the cave, had withdrawn further and further in, managed not to be wiped out by anything, and evolved into crawlers. The cave has gone undiscovered because the few people who have found it and gone down never made it out. The Paranoia Fuel comes because there's nothing to say this really couldn't have happened. They really could be down in a cave somewhere... And as soon as you set foot in that cave, you're a dead man.
  • Disturbia. How well do you know your neighbors? If you do know them fairly well, how can you be sure that they aren't violent serial killers? And should you figure out that they are, in fact, violent serial killers, should you notify the authorities? What if they don't believe you, and all you've done is let your serial killing neighbor know that you now know too much. Also, having serial killers for neighbors is absolutely, 100% Truth in Television as not even serial killers tend to completely isolate themselves.
  • Donnie Darko: A jet engine breaking off an airplane in mid-air and falling on your house. Death from Above at its finest. Whatever you do, don't live anywhere near an airport.
  • Drag Me to Hell will either make you avoid old ladies at all costs or try and be as nice to them as possible. You don't want them angry at you, even over the littlest of things. Trying to make up for anything you do wrong will not help. At all.
  • The otherwise forgettable Sylvester Stallone film D-Tox starts with his wife being murdered, more exactly shot in the head/eye while answering the door. With a silencer. In fact, most assassin/serial killer, or even home invasion works have this potential. Just imagine, you're sitting at home, every time you hear a knock, you nonchalantely go to answer a potential murdered/thief while thinking how boring your life is. And those may be your last thoughts on Earth.
  • One of the main plot points of Eagle Eye is that the government is watching and hearing everything you do. They have security cameras installed in places you don't even want to think about. All communication devices monitor every conversation you have and send it back to them. Your cellphone acts as a microphone for them. Even when it's turned off, they hear everything you say. And all this is being run by a giant sentient computer with a secret plan to kill everyone on the presidential line of succession.
  • Elephant. A normal day at school could suddenly turn into a complete massacre. Anybody could get killed. People you've seen in the hallways once. Your friends. You. Enjoy your youth!
  • The Faculty: Everyone at your school has been replaced by an alien. You'll never be able to look at a teacher the same way again. The Principal: "Come to my office, we'll have a little chat." Nope.
  • Fight Club. So there's this enormous anarchist group hiding right under your nose whose members like nothing more than committing acts of violence and putting certain, er, bodily fluids in your food at restaurants.
  • Final Destination: Death itself is out to get you, and will do it under the guise of freak accidents.
  • The Austrian film and its American remake, Funny Games. Watch it, and then walk home from the bus stop after dark. I dare you. You'll never lend anyone a couple of eggs or a cup of sugar again.
  • The Game. You don't know who else is playing. You have cameras in your home. People are watching you. And the object of the Game is to figure out the object of the game.
  • Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (Heisei era). A flock of man-eating bat-like monsters could swoop down at any minute and devour you. Yup, just right out in the open. Oh, and that giant turtle that's supposed to be humanity's protector from the giant bats? Yeah, he can kill you as well without so much as a second thought while he obsessively chases after the giant bat monsters. Oh, and they breed asexually. So, you can have only a handful one moment and then thousands the next.
  • Watching Gattaca will make you start picking off strands of hair from inside your hat.
  • Gojira. A nuclear bomb could awaken/mutate a monster bent on killing you and all of humanity. The only way to kill him is to use a weapon even worse than the nuclear bomb, and said weapon kills its victims via asphyxiation (You'll die a slow horrible death as oxygen molecules are ripped apart underwater and you're reduced to bone...and then ash.). Think you're safe now? Nope. Turns out the one you just killed was the first one of its kind. Another one is going to ineviteablly show up.
  • The closing narration of Gremlins. If anything electrical or mechanical in your house breaks, "turn on all the lights, check the closets and cupboards and look under all the beds, because you never can tell. There just might be a gremlin in your house."
  • The Grudge. The creepy little Japanese boy and the woman could pop up anywhere!
  • Halloween: Not only do you have no idea you are being watched from the shadows, stalked relentlessly, but that person is a psychopathic serial killer who has escaped from a psychiatric facility after 15 years since he killed his sister when he was a child, and will do everything in his power to see you dead. Oh, and he's very tall, strong, practically faceless and wielding a kitchen knife. The safety of your neighbourhood is a lie. Dark secrets will escape from hiding. Nowhere is safe...
  • The Hitcher: like the trailer says, 'Once you've met The Hitcher, you'll never pick up another.'
  • Hot Fuzz: Just how far IS your local Neighborhood Watch Group willing to go to keep their town nice and civil? Are they willing to murder jaywalkers, litterers, loiterers, the homeless, and bad actors for the greater good? For a comedy, that movie can be some serious paranoia fuel.
  • Inception: You could be dreaming now, and everyone else is poking around your brain trying to steal your secrets. And if you die, you either wake up or get sent to Dream Hell — and you will not even be able to tell the difference. This film is effective at scaring people into trying not to fall asleep.
  • In the Mouth of Madness.
    • Your life could be a product of an insane author. The color of your eyes are just his favorite color.
    • The movie adaptation of the Sutter Cane's book that slowly makes you insane and turns you into a monster? You just watched it.
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers: The villains could be anyone.
  • Universal's The Invisible Man (1933). A crazed lunatic with the Joker's outlook and desire to cause widespread random destruction amongst innocent civilians — only he's invisible. Talk about an enemy impossible to escape from. The other Universal Monsters from that time may have been scary and more physically imposing, but at least you could see them. You at least had a chance of running away...
    • Made worse in the fact that he could strike anywhere, at any time. Take this example: Thousands of police are swarming the country, and then the Invisible Man knocks out a train operator and proceeds to derail a train and kill over one hundred people, who probably weren't expecting it at all. A detective sets traps at a rich man's mansion. The Invisible Man goes into the house within 5 seconds. He's also Ax-Crazy. VERY Ax-Crazy.
  • It's Alive - Stay away from the maternity ward.
  • Jaws. The beach was a very lonely place the summer after that movie was released.
  • Killers (the one with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl) What if your neighboorhood friends that you've known for a long time were really secret agents watching your every move for the past 3 years? And then they get an order to kill you for money, and then suddenly almost the whole neighboorhood is trying to terminate your ass? That's a pretty unsettling thought.
  • King Cobra (1999): Seth, a cobra-rattlesnake hybrid, is portrayed as a rather stealthy predator despite its size; in particular, a Catapult Nightmare where the female lead wakes up screaming to find the damn thing right next to her bed is rather freaky.
  • Knowing. Most of the stuff that is predicted? It's highly possible. Most of those disasters made me afraid of planes, trains, and the SUN for a while...
  • The film Law Abiding Citizen is about a realistic version of Ledger's Joker. Except he's not so much "spreading fear" as "killing everyone who let off the guy who killed and raped his wife and daughter". And he continues to do this even after they put him in jail. Luckily, "realism" includes a crippling vulnerability to spanners.
  • De Lift: The idea that an everyday convenience such as the titular elevator could suddenly come to life as murderous weaponry.
  • Matango. It'll make you not want to eat mushrooms ever again. That is unless you want to be transformed into a giant mushroom creature and be trapped on an island for all eternity with other giant mushroom creatures.
  • The Matrix. Your entire world is an illusion, your pets are holograms, and if you were to wake up from all this you would find yourself in a Crapsack World. And, just to throw in a guilt complex: if you find out all of this and still prefer the Matrix (and really, who wouldn't?), you are a gutless sellout of your entire species. Many of the happenings in this movie involve common forms of paranoid / delusional mental illness actually coming true. Examples include the delusions that mysterious people are watching you without a plausible way of observing you, that mysterious government agents are out to get you, that somebody has implanted a chip or similar technological device under your skin to keep track of you, and on the positive side, delusions of having superpowers.
  • The Meg:
    • The first half of the film has many underwater scenes with very bad visibility for both the audience and the characters. Everyone knows the Meg is in the vicinity but they simply cannot see it until the beast is right in front of them.
    • There is one scene where a stand-up paddler is merrily making their way across a beautiful beach, completely unaware that a titanic monstrous shark passes below them, barely deep enough that its dorsal fin does not breach the surface. Hope you didn't have any beach vacation coming up.
  • Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders, featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000, has an evil, possessed monkey toy which rains death and hellfire on all around it. Perfect for what was marketed as a children's movie, no?
  • Monster House. You'll Never Feel Safe in Your Own House Again.
  • Watching the victim-choosing scene from Murder by Numbers was fodder for multiple unpleasant dreams. Never mind the fact that the death itself was high-grade narm. That scene on its own... (Hey. See those two nice young guys in that idling car over there— couple or pair? They look like they're pretty into their conversation already— and then hey, they're looking at you...)
  • Night at the Museum: sure, any models in any museums would definitely come alive at night.
  • "One, two Freddy's coming for you..." It's even worse that he's in your dreams and most people think you're insane. You can't escape - he's virtually a literal god of the dreamscape. You either die from him or die of exhaustion. Once he's in your dreams, it is almost a certainty that you will end up dead. Even worse when you're remanded at a psychiatric facility and sedated, or in a coma...
  • The Number 23: The number is in everything, everywhere and there is no escape.
  • Oldboy (2003). Have you ever made a careless remark? Congratulations, that careless remark may have ruined somebody's life, and now they're devoting the rest of it to pay you back tenfold.
  • Think Old Yeller is just a classic, heartwarming Tear Jerker movie? Try being a kid who's never heard of rabies before. The idea of a disease that will turn a seemingly harmless animal (or kid, as far as you know) into a vicious, mindless beast that will attack anyone and everyone, even its beloved master is enough Paranoia Fuel for the rest of your life.
  • The remake of The Omen (2006) has Damien's mother killed in mere seconds. Damien's evil nanny comes to her hospital room at night and uses a syringe to inject an air bubble into her IV line. How easy would it be for anyone to do that to you, even during normal visiting hours?
  • One Hour Photo gives us the concept of people we take for granted yet entrust with bits and pieces of our lives that, with the right dedication and resourcefulness, could be used to invade our privacy.
  • Orphan. Adoption agencies are officially screwed...
  • The twist of The Pact basically turns an already fairly scary premise into paranoia fuel: You and your siblings return to the old family home after your mother's death, there's a threatening apparition haunting the house, and it's caused your two sisters to mysteriously disappear... Except it turns out that the ghost was trying to warn you of the real danger - your mother had been harboring her brother, a serial killer, in a hidden room in your house since you were a child... A room in the middle of the main floor, with hidden peepholes looking into every other room of the house. He's still in there, and your sisters' bodies have been hidden under the house this whole time
  • Pan's Labyrinth:
    • During her narrow escape from the Pale Man, Ofelia drops some of the chalk she uses to create doorways, and doesn't have time to retrieve it. Think about that. A piece of chalk, that has the power to create magical doorways to anywhere the user needs to go, is now lying on the floor in the lair of a child-eating monster who was just awoken and is ravenously hungry and violent. What's going to happen if he picks it up and figures out how to use it?
    • When Ofelia closes the way to the alternate world, the Pale Man's bangs and knocks on the door slowly turn into ordinary creaks of an old wooden house. Now think about it: maybe every time the house creaks earlier in the movie, it's because something wants to come through. Every time you hear a creak, it's an otherworldy monster behind the thickness of a shadow, trying to find an entrance to our world...
  • The 2007 film Paranormal Activity certainly ranks very highly on the paranoia fuel list. Seriously, this film is VERY fond of preying on the complete helplessness of being asleep and all the sorts of unpleasantness that can happen without your knowledge.
  • The short film Pencil Face. How many wishes will you get right before you conjure something horrible?
  • Pontypool: What Jaws did for swimming, this movie does for the entire English language.
  • The President's Analyst - A psychiatrist's patient reveals he's really a CIA agent and has been screening him for the title position, then matter-of-factly points out the electronic bug he'd planted in his office who knows how long ago. The new job is a rush, if a bit hectic...then the FBI takes his girlfriend away for security reasons, telling him he talks in his sleep (now how did they know that?) With nobody to talk to he's getting more and more on edge...then he starts seeing guys in black suits and dark glasses watching him...oh, and it's a comedy.
  • An in-universe example is Mr. White's "We Are Everywhere" speech from Quantum of Solace.
  • [REC]: when you're in a place where there is a horrid virus running, the government will be very happy to lock you in with the infected and sit on their asses while you fight for your life (and most probably lose).
  • Red Eye. That cute, well-dressed guy you met at the airport bar is working for some Terrorists Without a Cause. You're stuck on an overnight flight with a violent sociopath who's trying to assassinate a major government figure and his family (including young children) for purposes unknown. And he needs your help doing it. Oh, yeah — he's also been stalking you for eight weeks, and knows your routine well enough to know when you're lying about your drink order.
  • Revenge Of Irys. You know that cute little tentacle monster you just adopted? It feeds by draining the life-force out of things, including nearly everyone in the village you grew up in. Oh, and it wants to merge with you to become the ultimate killing machine.
  • The Ring is about a video tape that kills people if they watch it. And it looks like any other tape, so there's no way to know beforehand that it's a cursed tape. Welcome to Paranoia City.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
    • That creepy castle you drive by? It could be the home of a psychotic transvestite alien who can emotionally manipulate you into having sex with him.
    • The "floorshow" scene. You can be brainwashed into nothing but a "meat puppet" that the alien can force to perform for his own sick amsusement. Even if you're utterly aware of what's going on (IE: Dr. Scott), there's still nothing you can do to stop it.
    • Half of your brain could be removed by aliens to create an artificial human, and you'll be locked in the freezer for Lord knows how long.
  • Try watching Saw I for the first time by yourself at night and just see if you don't race around the house, checking your closets with a blunt object in hand.
  • Scream.
    • The Harassing Phone Calls that plague various characters in the movies.
    • Nowhere is safe enough. The killer manages to butcher people inside a crowded movie theater, in a crowded campus in broad daylight (getting his/her merry way out before anyone notices, in both cases), get past policemen watching the victim's house, viciously attack them in a hospital...
    • The killer may be anyone you know.
  • Serenity:
    • The origin of the Reavers. You can't stop the signal. Berserk Button-inducing subliminal messages are put in commercials by the government. The Operative can paralyze you and then position a sword under you. Oh, and he doesn't officially exist. And he KNOWS he's a monster. Brr.
    • The Academy, and what they do to people who are far above average in intelligence.
  • Shutter Island. If you run afoul of the wrong corrupt authorities and they manage to convince the world that you're crazy, it doesn't matter what you say, what you do or how right you are, you are powerless and they can lock you away forever. Your protests will only be taken as proof that you are, indeed, mentally ill. Everyone, including the government, is in on the conspiracy. And then it turns out it was all a Mind Screw— there is no conspiracy, you actually are crazy, and everything you believe about your life is a lie created by your own delusional mind. Which is worse.
  • Silver Lode: All it takes for your neighbours to turn against you is someone in a position of power making accusations against you. Or worse yet: someone who seems to be in a position of power.
  • The Sixth Sense: "Do you know why you're afraid when you're alone? I do. I do."
  • The Snowman (2017): Invoked with one of Harry Hole's statements about the killer: "He's been watching us the whole time."
  • The Strangers alone when it's dark. You'll never be able to hear someone knocking on your door without feeling paranoia, ever AGAIN.
  • Tangled: Your mother is only pretending to love you. Oh, even better: she's not even really your mother. She's just some woman who kidnapped you as a baby for her own selfish gain. And if she has her way, you are never leaving home. Ever. And by "leaving home", we don't just mean moving out.. we mean leaving the house at all.
  • The defictionalization of Terminator provides us a meta-example. Thanks a bunch Britain. You just had to call your military communication satellites "Skynet", didn't you.
  • They Live. The concept that aliens among us are controlling humanity through subliminal messaging and most have no way of determining who's a human and who's not. They could be anyone, your husband, your wife, your bank teller, your president.
  • John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). The Thing itself is practically the physical embodiment of Paranoia Fuel. It creates paranoia simply through its very nature alone.
  • The Thirteenth Floor, in which several levels of virtual reality exist, and it's not clear if any of them are actually real.
  • Toys. Deadly weapons in the form of creepy ... well ... toys.
  • Toy Story. Your toys, plushies/soft toys, and figurines are alive. And they see everything you do. If you've ever vented your anger on them, or done cruel/weird things to them, you are a monster. Some children, after seeing Toy Story, became terrified by the thought that their toys were alive. The scene where Woody leads the toys to revolt against Sid probably didn't help. The fact that all of Sid's toys are cannibalized horrors that he's variously torn apart and rammed back together in numerous grotesque ways probably helps even less.
    Woody: We toys (slow Exorcist Head) can see everything... so play nice!
  • Transformers Film Series
    • Frenzy. Given that spazzy little bundle of terror can be bashed to pieces and simply reformat himself into some other innocuous little device, he's prime (no pun intended) for this trope.
    • If Frenzy is enough to put you on edge, then Laserbeak takes it Up to Eleven. He can transform into anything he pleases. He could be anywhere, plotting your demise as we speak.
  • The Truman Show: You are being watched every second of your life. Your parents are only pretending to love you. Your friends are just actors — you don't even know their real names. The girl you love is playing you for a sap, so the people watching you can laugh at your misfortune. Everybody you have ever met is lying to you. Your entire life is an elaborate charade staged for the amusement of the rest of the world. And you are the only one who doesn't know. That's why your mom always seems amused at something whenever you talk to her. She's laughing at you behind your back, just like everyone else...
  • Several things about John Candy in Uncle Buck. "How would you like to spend the next several nights wondering if your crazy out-of-work bum uncle will shave your head while you sleep?"
  • Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning is full of this. You could be a cloned genetically-enhanced sleeper agent, living a typical life until suddenly you got sick and hears voices that briefs you on your new mission. After you completed said mission, you know nothing about it because your memories were tampered with again.
  • Videodrome. Its psychotic genius only topped by its mad depravity, this film starts us off with a pirate UHF/cable channel operator who seeks to boost his ratings by latching onto a snuff TV program whose name is where the movie gets its title. Progressively, the viewer is introduced to concepts and ever-stranger special effects that warp the difference between reality, flesh, and video, until it's impossible to tell what's "really" happening...but whatever it is, it's very very bad. Readily doubles as Mind Screw material.
  • Wag the Dog: everything you may think you know about the rest of the world, about the news, about history, could have easily been made up.
  • The World's End: Just imagine returning to your hometown and finding out everyone you grew up with has been replaced by robots. Then, there's the fact that all of technology over the last 20 years has been a result of the influence of an extraterrestrial community called the Network.

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