A friend recently said that he found the faint but distinct current of paranoia in Tar to be the film’s most arresting aspect.

I zeroed in on this during my last viewing of Todd Field’s film, and now I agree — once the paranoid stuff begins to manifest, it becomes stronger and stronger until Lydia Tar’s downfall.

My favorite definition of paranoia is one attributed to Willam S. Burroughs — “knowing all the facts.” But what exactly defines paranoia in films?

Most of us would say it’s a vague but persuasive feeling that something undefined but threatening is approaching or waiting around the corner. This feeling gathers strength as the film progresses, but the superior paranoid films hold off at the climax…the prickly vibes linger after the payoff.

I never really thought about paranoid currents in movies until reading about Alan Pakula‘s paranoid trilogy — Klute, The Parallax View and All The President’s Men. I’m actually not so sure about Pakula’s journalism docudrama but the first two are paranoid masterpieces.

In my book the most striking or penetrating paranoid films are, in fact, thrillers — The Conversation, Rosemary’s Baby, The Witch, It Follows, The Innocents, Taxi Driver, Three Days of the Condor, Repulsion, Cutter’s Way.

What films (if any) feel paranoid without conforming the usual scheme of thrillers?