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10 Best Revenge Movies About Narcissists and Psychopaths (Where the Victims Win)

Revenge is not for the faint-hearted nor is it usually advisable in real life (likely, you’d have a much more productive time channeling your experiences into healing and success rather than spending time in jail), but audiences can find it validating and cathartic to watch revenge films that allow them to live vicariously through the characters who rise victoriously after serving predators their own special brand of justice. Revenge movies should not be modeled in real life, but they can still inspire the viewer to feel activated to make positive changes in their lives or create justice for themselves in more constructive ways than portrayed on film. Here are the top movies where the victims get revenge against narcissistic and psychopathic predators who targeted them — and win. Enjoy—but do not try this exact formula at home.

Kill Bill 

Uma Thurman stars in Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic

Uma Thurman stars in Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic as former female assassin “Black Mamba” or Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill, as she goes on an epic quest to hunt down her former fellow assassins and her ex-lover and boss, Bill, leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. When Beatrix, the former right-hand of Bill and one of Bill’s deadliest assassins, decides to go into early retirement and get married, she becomes a target for trying to get free. At the beginning of the film, Bill and her fellow assassins have ruthlessly massacred Beatrix’s family and friends at her wedding and left her and her unborn baby to die (or so it appears).  Using her extraordinary skill set as an assassin and training from martial arts master Pai Mei, Beatrix tracks down and kills members of the squad one by one, leaving little room for mercy (unless children are involved). The movie shares a poignant line about revenge in its opening scenes as Beatrix gets herself out of the hospital and struggles to wiggle her toe, showing off her resilience even after being beaten, shot nearly to death, and even assaulted by predators at the hospital. “When fortune smiles on something as violent… as revenge, it seems proof like no other that not only does God exist, you’re doing his will.”

Yet as Hattori Hanzo, the man who trained Bill and later makes a sword uniquely crafted for Beatrix to take her revenge, also reminds the viewer, “Revenge is never a straight line. It’s a forest. And like a forest, it’s easy to lose your way…to get lost…to forget where you came in.” At the heart of its story, Kill Bill is not just a story of revenge – it’s also a story of resilience. Viewers can viscerally understand the terror and helplessness of being attacked, left for “dead” (whether emotionally or physically”) by a perpetrator and may feel inspired by the character’s arc of rising again, fighting back, and become their enemy’s worst nightmare. They can also find validation in seeing a psychopathic predator like Bill on screen stalk his victim and refuse to let her go – his retaliation against her for trying to leave the toxic dynamic will be all-too-familiar to victims who’ve endured the same. Beatrix’s story arc is also mirrored in the backgrounds of other incredible characters such as O-Ren Ishii, who became an assassin after killing her family’s murderer, ruthless crime boss Matsumoto.

John Wick

John Wick is not a man you should mess with.

The moral of John Wick? Never mess with someone’s life – or their dog. Sometimes you’ll have the misfortune of messing with the wrong person, one who doesn’t turn the other cheek – like a legendary hitman. All John Wick (played by Keanu Reeves) wanted was a peaceful life of retirement and a happy life with the love of his life. But when his wife dies and a cruel mobster kills the only gift he had from her, a sweet innocent puppy, he decides to come out of retirement and show these sadistic, psychopathic criminals who’s really boss. His journey to revenge brings him back into the underground world of assassins and the lifestyle he tried to leave, all showcased in a riveting action thriller movie that will keep you on your toes — and make you develop a new admiration for pencils (those who know, know). John Wick is a man who’s had his last straw, and many viewers can definitely relate to this need for cutthroat vengeance when a predator tries them at the wrong time, like when they are at their most vulnerable.

Carrie

Carrie reminds viewers to be careful who you bully.

Carrie White (played by Sissy Spacek in the original 1976 film) is a bullied young woman who is kept isolated and sheltered by her domineering, hyper-religious mother. At school, sixteen-year-old Carrie regularly faces the taunting and harassment of her peers. When one of her bullies gets in trouble for harassing her, she and her friends plot against Carrie and have the popular Tommy Ross invite her out to prom as a prank. They plan to dump a bucket of pig’s blood on her after making her prom queen, to publicly humiliate her. However, what they don’t know is that Carrie has been developing telekinetic powers – the ability to move things with just her mind – and she’s about to give everyone at prom a deadly night to remember. In all of its movie adaptations, Carrie is a great supernatural take on revenge against bullies that will inevitably satisfy its viewers each and every time, providing a cathartic and validating experience for anyone who’s ever been targeted or scapegoated. Stephen King’s first published novel, Carrie, which these movie adaptations are based on, is also a terrific read.

The Other Woman

The Other Woman is one romcom we can get behind.

If you’re looking for a lighter revenge film than the ones on this list, the romantic comedy The Other Woman may be more fitting. Carly Whitten (played by Cameron Diaz) is a New York attorney dating Mark King, a charming and handsome businessman. When Mark cancels one of their dates claiming his house is flooded, Carly shows up to the rescue – only to be greeted at the door by his wife, Kate – a wife she knew nothing about. Kate and Carly conspire to follow Mark and catch Mark with a third woman in the Hamptons, his mistress Amber (Kate Upton) who he is also using to cover up fraud in one of his business dealings. What ensues is the hilarity of these women getting revenge by pulling a number of shenanigans to sabotage Mark and later confronting him together. The Other Woman exposes the tactics of pathological liars while also offering comedic relief and an empowering story of victims who come together to take down the same perpetrator.

I Spit On Your Grave

Sarah Butler stars as Jennifer Hills, a New York novelist who travels to Louisiana to a remote cabin to write her next book. When she rejects the romantic advances of the gas station attendant, Johnny Stillman, on the way to the cabin, he and his three friends seek to “teach her a lesson.” In a series of horrific events, Sarah is gang-raped by not only Johnny and his friends but also the local sheriff who was supposed to protect her. However, Jennifer begins to hunt down and track her rapists, subjecting each one to brutal, graphic punishment. While this highly controversial movie may be too graphic for most viewers (we recommend fast-forwarding through the assault scenes and going straight to the revenge arc instead if you’re really interested in watching), it does have a cult following of people who considered it a revenge classic. I Spit On Your Grave is one of the few movies that show ruthless displays of revenge in all its gore, uncensored, and features a female lead while doing so.

Promising Young Woman 

Carrie Mulligan shines as Cassie.

If you’re looking for a far less graphic but still empowering and disturbing story of vigilante justice, Promising Young Woman may be the film for you. Carey Mulligan plays Cassie Thomas, a former medical student who dropped out of school to take care of her best friend, Nina Fisher. Nina dies by suicide after suffering a sexual assault, and to avenge her friend, she decides to go after her rapist, Al Monroe who is getting married. During her journey, Cassie also pretends to be drunk at clubs to expose the predators who try to take advantage of her. She does learn, however, that there are “nice guys” around her who shouldn’t be trusted either. The ending of Promising Young Woman does hold predators and their enablers accountable (including the women who were complicit in victim-shaming or being bystanders), but in a way that may feel unsatisfying and even horrifying to many viewers. Perhaps it’s because the ending is more realistic than we’d like and involves a sacrifice we never see coming in order for Cassie’s revenge to make an impact.

Taken

No one can forget Liam Neeson’s epic phone call in Taken

When former CIA officer Bryan Mills (played by Liam Neeson) learns that his teenage daughter Kim and her friend Amanda have been targeted on a trip to France by Albanian human traffickers, he sets out to find them – and destroy their kidnappers. This infamous action-thriller film is one of its kind, and no one can forget the powerful lines Liam Neeson delivers near the beginning of the film regarding his pursuit. “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”

Peppermint

Jennifer Garner plays Riley North, a mother out for revenge.

In Peppermint, Jennifer Garner plays Riley North, a woman whose husband and ten-year-old daughter are gunned down when her husband is framed for planning to rob Diego Garcia, a powerful drug lord. Riley survives the attack and remembers the shooters, Garcia’s men. When presenting her testimony in court, however, the lawyer is able to gaslight the court and depict her as an unreliable witness due to the medication she is taking, and the Judge, who is on the cartel’s payroll, dismisses the case. Riley is enraged and tries to lunge at the men who killed her, only to be hospitalized. She escapes the hospital and vanishes for five years – but no one knows that she has actually been using those five years to train as an armed vigilante to take down the men who killed her family and get revenge. Peppermint is another powerful action thriller film that speaks to the power of self-transformation in the face of incredible adversity. When Riley and her family are targeted, she is left with only her rage and grief – and channels this into her determination to get justice for her family on her own terms.

Hard Candy

Haley hunts down predators after baiting them

Hard Candy is what some wished the movie Promising Young Woman could’ve been – a hard-hitting, no-holds-barred gory vigilante film about revenge that shows no mercy to either the predator in the film or its viewers, and where the victim “wins” without there being too much of a sacrifice. It stars Elliot Page as the adolescent Haley, who seems to lure in and hunt down pedophiles for sport. Haley serves as a karmic Little Red Riding Hood to the pedophilic predatory wolf in sheep’s clothing Jeff. Hard Candy is an enthralling movie that captures what occurs when the roles of victim and perpetrator get reversed and the victim takes on the role of the one in power. As Jeff tries out every pity ploy and rationalizing sob story in the book to gaslight Hayley about his true nature, viewers get a glimpse of what it looks like when an enlightened victim takes on a psychopath and is ruthless in how she dishes out what she perceives to be justice.

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 

Lisbeth Salander is a victim and a victor, a formidable force

In Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth Salander is a hacker who is assaulted by her state-appointed guardian, Nils Bjurman. Nils not only controls Salander’s finances, he threatens to have her institutionalized if she doesn’t comply to him sexually. However, Lisbeth gets her revenge by blackmailing Nils with a recorded tape of the assault as well as a brutal attack of her own. She is also recruited by investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist to help investigate a series of homicides against women and take down the perpetrator. This movie is not for the faint-hearted, but may be cathartic for those who have similar experiences. Viewer discretion advised.

 

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