Last Updated: September 8th
“Thriller” is kind of a catch-all term for movies that bleed into multiple genres. It can describe films rich with drama, action, crime, and quite possibly horror. That’s why its Netflix category is such a hodgepodge of entries, varying in tone, subject matter, and quality. A good thriller, though, is going to be suspenseful for any number of reasons. An unstoppable killer. An unsolvable mystery. A gripping world that draws viewers into it. A sympathetic character fighting for survival. Something that can keep an audience on the edge of its seats. And based on that, here are the 15 best thrillers on Netflix right now.
15. The Platform (2019)
Run Time: 94 min | IMDb: 7/10
This Spanish-language sci-fi flick is all kinds of f*cked up, but in the best way. The film is set in a large, tower-style “Vertical Self-Management Center” where the residents, who are periodically switched at random between floors, are fed by a platform, initially filled with food, that gradually descends through the levels. Conflicts arise when inmates at the top begin eating all the food, leaving the people lower down to fight for survival.
14. It Comes At Night (2017)
Run Time: 86 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Writer/director Trey Edward Shults followed up his unnerving family portrait in 2015’s Krisha with a look at another family under the most desperate of circumstances. After an unknown illness has wiped out most of civilization, a number of threats — both seen and unseen — come for a family held up in their home out in the wilderness. It’s a subtle, dream-like tale that stars Joel Edgerton and Christopher Abbot as two patriarchs intent on keeping their families safe, no matter the cost.
13. The Interview (1998)
Run Time: 104 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
What starts out like a Kafka story turns into a tense match between a seemingly innocent man (Hugo Weaving) and a menacing detective with his own demons (Tony Martin). The former is snatched up and interrogated by the authorities for reasons that are slowly revealed to him, and as the hours drag by, both men become more and more desperate. Weaving knocks it out of the park, keeping the detectives and audience guessing as his true demeanor is constantly put in question. Martin is no slouch either as he does his best to expose Weaving’s character for the monster that he sees, even if it costs him his job and sanity. The writing is taut and the environment is claustrophobic, which propels the mysteries behind the two lead characters.
12. Blue Ruin (2013)
Run Time: 90 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Macon Blair stars in this crime thriller about a man who returns to his hometown to carry out an act of vengeance and discovers he’s in over his head. Blair plays Dwight Evans, a vagabond who learns his parents’ murderer is being released from prison and returns home to kill him. He succeeds but ends up starting a blood feud with the guy’s family that doesn’t end how you expect.
11. Bird Box (2018)
Run Time: 124 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Sandra Bullock’s apocalyptic sci-fi saga has spawned more than just a ridiculous internet challenge, it’s also renewed our love for monster-driven thrillers. Sure, we never actually see the otherworldly beings that cause people to commit suicide if they open their eyes, but the danger they pose and the fear they instill is still viscerally real. Bullock plays a mother trying to protect her two young children and survive amidst a group of strangers with their own agendas and issues. The supporting cast in this one — Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, and Tom Hollander — are fantastic which distracts from some of the more questionable story choices.
10. Drive (2011)
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
A stone-faced Ryan Gosling steers us through the criminal underworld created by director Nicolas Winding Refn in this high-speed thriller. Gosling plays a near-silent stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway man. When he gets involved with his next-door neighbor and her young son, his carefully cultivated life is thrown into chaos, forcing him to align with criminals and take on risky jobs to protect the pair and keep a firm grip on the wheel.
9. Green Room (2015)
Run Time: 95 min | IMDb: 7/10
When a punk rock group accidentally witnesses the aftermath of a murder, they are forced to fight for their lives by the owner of a Nazi bar (Patrick Stewart) and his team. It’s an extremely brutal and violent story, much like the first two features from director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin and Murder Party), but this one is made even tenser by its claustrophobic cat-and-cornered-mouse nature. Once the impending danger kicks in, it doesn’t let up until the very end, driven heavily by Stewart playing against type as a harsh, unforgiving, violent character.
8. The Invitation (2016)
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
After back-to-back big studio bombs, Karyn Kusama returned to her scrappy indie roots with this contained, brilliantly suspenseful study of the darkness that can arise when people don’t allow themselves to feel. The Invitation isn’t a perfect film, but Kusama does a lot with the scant resources she had to play with here, and you have to appreciate her willingness to tackle grief so directly in a genre that tends to have little time for genuine human emotion.
7. The Invisible Guest (2016)
Run Time: 106 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
This Spanish crime thriller follows a successful businessman framed for the murder of his married lover. A seemingly straightforward plot, until a car accident, a dead body, fake witnesses, and a family out for revenge is thrown into the mix. Mario Casas stars as the man in question, a young husband and father with a bright future who takes part in a terrible crime and is forced to pay for it in the most twisted of ways. You won’t figure this thing out until the end, we guarantee it.
6. The Killing Of a Sacred Deer (2017)
Run Time: 121 min | IMDb: 7/10
Filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos has quickly earned a reputation for delivering highly-stylized dramas, filled with eccentric characters played by more-than-capable actors looking to reinvent and redefine their careers — and he doesn’t change that with this thriller that’s part horror, part mystery. Colin Farrell plays a charismatic surgeon who, along with his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), must make a terrible sacrifice when a young boy he’s committed to helping begins displaying some sinister behavior. To say anything more would spoil some plot twists that you’ll definitely enjoy.
5. Zodiac (2007)
Run Time: 157 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo star in this mystery crime thriller directed by David Fincher. The manhunt for the Zodiac killer — a criminal who committed several murders in the Bay area in the late ’60s and early ’70s — has spanned decades and garnered plenty of media attention, but the film dives deeper into the cost of the search, particularly the toll it’s taken on the men and women reporting on it. Gyllenhaal plays a newspaper cartoonist who becomes obsessed with the case, decoding ciphers sent by the killer and targeting a man he believes could be the Zodiac. Downey Jr. plays a crime reporter who partners with Gyllenhaal on the case and leaks information to the police. It’s a thrilling game of cat-and-mouse that’s fueled by some gripping performances by its male leads.
4. The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
Run Time: 118 min | IMDb: 8.6/10
Hannibal Lecter is one of horror’s most iconic characters, but it’s a testament to the creepiness of Anthony Hopkins in a leather muzzle that, no matter how many times the film gets quoted, hearing him tell Clarice Starling that he’s having an old friend for dinner still sends chills up our spines. Jodie Foster plays the FBI agent tasked with catching another serial killer with Lecter’s same M.O., and she does it by striking up unnerving conversations with the guy, but Hopkins is the real star here, playing Lecter with a restrained insanity that makes his small talk of enjoying human liver with fava beans so much more nightmarish.
3. Good Time (2017)
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
This gritty crime drama hailing from the Safdie brothers transforms star Robert Pattinson into a bleach-blonde sh*t-stirrer from Queens desperate to break his developmentally disabled brother out of prison. Pattinson plays Connie, a street hustler and bank robber with grand plans to break out of his urban hood while Benny Safdie plays his brother Nick, who gets roped into his schemes. When Nick is sent to Ryker’s Island for a job gone wrong, Connie goes on a downward spiral to get him back. Pattinson’s manic energy carries this thing and there’s plenty of police run-ins, shootouts, and heists (however botched) to keep the adrenaline pumping.
2. Burning (2018)
Run Time: 148 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Walking Dead alum Steven Yeun stars this psychological thriller from South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong. Yeun plays Ben, a rich millennial with a mysterious job who connects with a woman named Shin Hae-mi on a trip to Africa. The two journey back home together where Ben meets Shin’s friend/lover Lee Jong-su. The three hang-out regularly, with Lee growing more jealous of Ben’s wealth and privilege while he’s forced to manage his father’s farm when his dad goes to prison. But it’s when Shin disappears, and Lee suspects Ben’s involvement, that things really go off the rails.
1. Uncut Gems (2019)
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Now, audiences can absorb — from the comfort of their own living rooms — the full gravitational effect of Adam Sandler in the most intense performance of his career. The Sandman arguably got robbed of an Oscar nod for his turn in Josh and Benny Safdie’s electrifying crime thriller that accelerates tension to a fever pitch. He’s superb as a charismatic New York City jeweler who grows increasingly desperate while walking a tight-wire amid relentlessly threatening adversaries, and keep your eyes open for a supporting turn from the always great LaKeith Stanfield.
Recent Changes Through September 2020:
Removed: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Added: The Killing Of a Sacred Deer