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Did you know that the word “gaslight” was first used way back in the 1940s?
Indeed, gaslighting has been around for a long time. The word has become more popular recently due to the internet, but people were gaslighting each other long before the world wide web was inveted.
In this article, we share with you a list of the best movies about gaslighting that you should watch today. These movies will give you a better understanding of what the term means and forms gaslighting can take
Some may relate to the storylines; others may feel pity for the people being gaslighted. Either way, we hope you enjoy the films and learn a lot!
Gaslight is the movie that started it all, making it one of the finest masterpieces that perfectly portrays what gaslighting is. In fact, it is where the term “gaslighting” came from.
Set in the 1940s, this movie stars Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman as a newlywed couple who move into the home of their old, wealthy aunt. Unknown to the wife (but well-known by the husband), the aunt had treasures hidden somewhere inside the house.
The film’s premise is how we define gaslighting today—manipulation by one person that makes the other question his or her own sanity. In this film, the wife begins to see and hear strange things inside the house and starts doubting herself and reality.
Fully dependent on her husband, she believes that she is going insane (which is what he suggests).
She breaks free from him in the end, but the after-effects of the gaslighting behavior are still clearly unresolved. And this is exactly what gaslighting accomplishes—you might think you’ve moved on, but the memories of the past keep coming back and threatening your health.
2. Sleeping with the Enemy
Sleeping with the Enemy stars Julia Roberts in one of her most impressive acting performances. She takes the role of Laura, a victim of gaslighting and domestic violence who starts a new life in a new place and environment by faking her death. However, it seems like she can’t escape the clutches of her husband, no matter what.
You have probably seen this film already if you are a big Julia Roberts fan. But if not, we suggest checking it out. We are so used to Julia Roberts taking on sweet and strong characters, yet in this film, she proves how versatile her acting can be.
3. Girl on the Train
This is yet another movie that portrays a wife being gaslighted by her husband. Starring Emily Blunt in a very challenging role, the story takes us into the world of a woman whose reality has been upset to the point where she believes she has killed someone.
Some say that the movie is a remake of Gaslight. That being said, in this film the wife has drinking problems and the husband uses this as a tool to blame her for everything that has happened to their family
We highly suggest watching Girl on the Train if you want to understand how years of gaslighting can affect the mind and behavior of a person.
Let’s take a breather from husband-and-wife gaslighting films and checking out Angelina Jolie’s movie Changeling.
In this film, it is society and the authorities who gaslight a mother whose son goes missing. She reports his disappearance to the police, and they give her a boy who is the same age as her son, but she knows that the boy is not her own. The story eventually reaches the local media, and the people start to doubt the police’s power.
As a result, the police department takes action and works to prove that she has gone insane. She is put in a psychiatric ward and made to believe that she is making up stories.
Jolie received a best actress nomination for her portrayal of Christine, the mother in this film.
5. Invisible Man
Invisible Man tells the story of a man who fakes his death and creates a suit that makes him invisible. He is a scientist who is obsessed with his ex-girlfriend and develops this plan to torment her.
What really frightens us about this movie is how effectively she is deluded into believing she is insane and that no one will believe her.
In the past, there have been hospitals and mental institutions that have kept patients against their will in order to take advantage of them financially. As it turns out, gaslighting doesn’t just happen in movies!
Unsane is a film that depicts this type of scenarios. It is set in a mental health treatment facility that supposedly treats mental health patients through support groups. As the movie progresses, it turns out to be a place where mentally ill patients get worse because of the staff’s gaslighting.
This psychological horror drama is dark, but it is also quite entertaining. Check it out, if you have the nerve!
Enough is a film directed by Michael Apted and starring the multi-award-winning singer-actress Jennifer Lopez as Slim. The story is based on the 1998 novel by Anna Quindlen titled Black and Blue.
Gaslighting movies don’t often have “revenge” scenes. Usually, the main characters just break free from their gaslighters, but the effect of the gaslighting remains. This film is different. Fed up with her husband’s gaslighting and manipulation, Slim actually finds a way to fight for her and her child’s freedom.
8. Rosemary’s Baby
Rosemary’s Baby is true horror for any pregnant woman. It tells the story of Rosemary, who is being abused and gaslighted by everyone, particularly her husband. In addition, she is bearing Satan’s child in her womb—literally.
Rosemary is terrified that she is going to birth Satan’s offspring, but everyone around her is trying to convince her that she is insane. She eventually seeks help from another doctor, but he doesn’t believe her and insists that she is indeed crazy.
We suggest watching this film if you want a bit of a fright. It has a mixture of fantasy and reality, but the fantasy is heightened by the gaslighting and manipulation.
9. Kabir Singh
Kabir Singh is a 2019 remake of the movie Arjun Reddy. Both are from writer and director Sandeep Reddy Vanga—the former in Hindi and the latter in the Telugu language. Both were controversial but won a number of awards.
This film is unique in this list because it is from the perspective of the gaslighter. What happens after the person you gaslight breaks free? How does the gaslighter feel once he realizes that he has been wrong all along? Is there a chance for someone with a history of gaslighting to change and become a better person?
10. Your Reality
Your Reality is a very short (21 minutes) psychological film that focuses entirely on gaslighting. It was created for the purpose of bringing awareness to what it is and how it happens. The film looks at a man who gaslights his woman by manipulating and isolating her from the rest of the world.
If you are looking for a short film that you can finish quickly—or if you are a busy bee who only has a small amount of free time on his or her plate—watch this film and understand the meaning and consequences of gaslighting.
11. English Vinglish
English Vinglish stars Sridevi as a woman who is emotionally abused by her own child and husband. They mock for not speaking English, so she loses confidence even though she knows she has a lot of other skills to be proud of.
While the film has the themes of gaslighting and manipulation, it revolves more around perseverance and determination. It also focuses on motivating people—women in particular—to never stop pursuing their dreams, even if those dreams are nearly impossible.
English Vinglish received a five-minute standing ovation when it was shown at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. It was also well-received by movie experts worldwide, as well as a huge financial success.
12. Gerald’s Game
Gerald’s Game shows how being gaslighted and manipulated at an early stage in your life can affect you in the long run. In this film, the main character was gaslighted by her father when she was young, so she grew up thinking that it was all right to let other people take control of her life.
The film stars Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Carol Stuycken, Henry Thomas, and Kate Siegel and is directed by Mike Flanagan.
Fear isn’t your standard gaslighting film. Instead, it is the story of two young people in love. Unfortunately, the guy has a toxic personality with anger management issues. But if you know the true meaning of gaslighting, you know that Reese Witherspoon’s character is being manipulated by Mark Wahlberg.
14. What Lies Beneath
What Lies Beneath has a star-studded cast consisting of Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Miranda Otto, James Remar, and Diana Scarwid. It is the story of a couple and centers around the husband’s previous affair with his student. When the student dies, the wife starts to doubt the husband.
This is yet another story of a man manipulating a woman. That being said, gaslighting can happen to anyone, regardless of gender. In some cases, it is the woman who gaslights the man. Gaslighting also doesn’t necessarily have to be between couples. Even those you do not have a deep relationship with can gaslight you.
Last but definitely not least, mother! is a film that will definitely have you on the edge of your seat. It has many different meanings, depending on the viewer.
Some experts say that “Him,” which is the name of the lead male character played by Javier Bardem, is the gaslighter. Others argue that it is actually the other characters named “Man,” “Woman,” “Fool,” etc. who are the gaslighters. A few say that it is actually all of the characters, including “Mother.”
Whoever the true gaslighter might be, the main point of this film is the abuse that can happen if one does not learn how to listen to others. We all have our needs, and these needs have to be met. Otherwise, there is a tendency for us to manipulate or be manipulated.
We hope that this list of movies about gaslighting gave you a few good options to watch on your next movie night. We also hope that you were able to learn a bit more about gaslighting and how destructive it can be.
If you know a friend who is suffering from gaslighting, one way to help them is by explaining things. It may not go smoothly and be immediately effective, but helping them realize that they are being manipulated is a good start.