Last Updated: February 13th
“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 Perfection (2018)
Run Time: 90 min | IMDb: 6.1/10
Allison Williams, who’s become something of a scream queen after her work in Get Out, continues her horror track record with this thriller about a gifted musician who befriends the talented student who replaced her. Strange happenings begin to occur, events that sabotage the young girl, but as terrifying as this story is, there’s absolutely no way you’ll be able to predict its ending.
14. 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 spawned 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 fueled by some gripping performances by its male leads.
13. Under The Skin (2007)
Run Time: 108 min | IMDb: 6.3/10
Scarlett Johansson stars in this sci-fi thriller about an other-worldly woman with a dark agenda. The film sees Johansson using her sex appeal to lure unsuspecting men to their watery doom while beginning to contemplate her own existence with every new partner she seduces. It’s a subtle reverse of rape culture, with themes of race and immigration mixed in, but if all of that goes over your head, you’ll at least enjoy seeing Johansson off a bunch of frat bros and rapists.
12. Enemy (2019)
Run Time: 91 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this complete mindf*ck from director Denis Villeneuve about a man who goes in search in his doppelganger after spotting him in a movie and uncovering sinister secrets about himself in the process. Gyllenhaal plays both Adam, a quiet professor, and Anthony, an outspoken actor, who eventually meet and disrupt each other’s lives, but whether both men exist or whether they’re just figments of the same man’s consciousness is up to you to figure out.
11. 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.
10. Primal Fear (1996)
Run Time: 129 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Richard Gere and Laura Linney star in this neo-noir crime thriller about a Chicago defense attorney assigned to defend a man accused of murdering an influential Catholic Archbishop. Gere plays Martin Vail, a vain lawyer who takes on the case of a young man with a stutter who may have killed a high-ranking member of the Catholic Church. Vail begins digging into the boy’s past and finds disturbing links between the crime for which he’s accused and the abuse he suffered as an altar boy. The movie takes so many twists and turns that trying to predict its ending is nearly impossible — the mark of a truly good thriller.
9. 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.
8. 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.
7. 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.
6. 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.
5. 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.
4. 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.
3. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Run Time: 139 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jude Law star in this mind-bending thriller about a con-man who weasels his way into an inheritance through deception, manipulation, and, of course, murder. Damon plays the young criminal, Tom Ripley, a forger and impersonator struggling to make it in ’50s era New York. He nabs a job from a wealthy shipping magnate, retrieving the man’s son from Italy in exchange for a cash reward. While there, he befriends the heir (Law) and his fiance (Paltrow), imitating his mannerisms, wearing his clothes, and running in his elite circles before his con is discovered, and he’s forced to take drastic measures to secure the future he wants for himself.
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. 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.
Recent Changes Through February 2020:
Removed: Personal Shopper, Panic Room, American Psycho
Added: The Perfection, Primal Fear, Good Time