Memorable Onscreen Sociopaths

Emotionally shallow, impulsive, and easily bored. Often charming and manipulative. Lacking in empathy and conscience. Potentially brutal. Sometimes as crazy as shit-house rats. Psychopaths, particularly those who are spectacularly violent, offer endless fodder for writers and film-makers.

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These characters vary dramatically, spanning a wide continuum. Some have explosive rages; others are unflappably calm. Some are on the wrong side of the law, and others manage to play within the rules. But they all share lack of empathy and connection to others along with a penchant for some form of cruelty.

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We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (Possible Spoilers)

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Hardcover, Hardcover, 400 pages

Published: March 25, 2003 by Counterpoint (1st published January 1, 2003)

Literary Awards:  Orange Prize for Fiction (2005)

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Eva was a successful businesswoman and author as well as the wife and mother of two children. Now she is estranged from her husband and daughter. Her son Kevin is incarcerated, in the wake of a school shooting, for a series of brutal murders. Eva’s world is cold and narrow. Her only real connection to anyone is through letters she writes to her husband, Franklin.

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American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

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american-psycho-book-cover

Paperback, 399 pages

Published: April 26th 1991 by Picador (1st published 1991)

Setting: New York City

Warning: Disturbing and contains some spoilers.

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Patrick Bateman is in his mid-twenties, son of a wealthy family and a successful Harvard-educated businessman living the “American Dream” in New York City. He’s obsessed with the superficial trappings of wealth and success — who has the finer business card? How can I get a reservation at Dorsia?

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“A Good Marriage” and “1922” by Stephen King

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A Good Marriage and 1922 Stephen King

Kindle Edition, 253 pages

Published: September, 2014 (Scribner)

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“A Good Marriage”

Is it possible to ever completely know another person?

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We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

We-Need-to-Talk-About-Kevin-Movie-Review-2Directed by: Lynne Ramsay

Written by: Lynne Ramsay and Rory Kinnear, based on the novel by Lionel Shriver

When I was in high school, way back in the dark ages when Ronald Reagan was serving his first term in office, I read Rage by Stephen King. It’s a dark, wonderful novella about a young teen acting out his violent urges in the classroom. I thought it was a clever, unique idea. Eerily believable, but safely outside the bounds of reality. Imagine … a student actually bringing a gun to school.

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Stoker (2013)

Stoker_Movie-Poster-2013Written by: Wentworth Miller

Directed by: Chan-wook Park

India’s beloved father dies unexpectedly on her eighteenth birthday, leaving her with her mother Evie, with whom she has a cold relationship, and her uncle Charlie, who suddenly appears in her life for the first time. Charlie has an odd, creepy charm, and he stirs longing — verging on obsession — in both India and Evie.

As the story unfolds, Charlie’s sociopathic nature becomes increasingly clear. What we don’t know is his motive for suddenly involving himself in the lives of his brother’s widow and his niece.

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