Last Updated: October 15th
“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. Personal Shopper (2016)
Run Time: 105 min | IMDb: 6.2/10
This supernatural psychological thriller from director Olivier Assayas stars Kristen Stewart as a young woman named Maureen. Maureen is an American living in Paris and working as a personal shopper for a celebrity model named Kyra. Her twin brother Lewis recently died of a heart condition which they shared, prompting Maureen to begin communicating with the spirit world, hoping for a sign from her brother from the beyond. Strange happenings begin to occur, all revolving around Maureen, who eventually flees the city but can never truly escape the hauntings. It’s a ghost story, sure, but there’s real depth in Stewart’s performance with an earnest look at how grief affects people.
14. 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.
13. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Run Time: 107 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Hijinks-y teen movies and all, 1999 was an impressive year for movies. Magnolia, Fight Club, The Green Mile, Being John Malkovich, The Matrix… The list goes on and on. Among those entries is M. Night Shyamalan’s first big release, and one of his best (behind Unbreakable, of course). This was a simpler time, before seeing his name in trailers garnered skepticism. Centered on a boy who can’t separate the dead from the living and his child psychologist with issues of his own, The Sixth Sense remains one of four horror movies to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. It’s endlessly tense, driven by strong performances from the two leads over jump scares. It’s held up well, even if it’s established a tough hurdle for the director’s future efforts to clear.
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. Panic Room (2002)
Run Time: 112 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart play a mother-daughter duo stuck in a terrifying situation in this dramatic thriller. Foster’s Meg Altman is a recently divorced mother to a diabetic young daughter named Sarah (Stewart). The two move into a new home following the family split but have the most horrific of housewarmings when three men break into their home looking for a hidden fortune forcing them to lock themselves inside the home’s panic room.
10. 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.
9. 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.
8. 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.
7. 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.
6. Brick (2005)
Run Time: 110 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Rian Johnson’s directorial debut is this neo-noir mystery about a high school kid investigating the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Brendan, a lonely teen who gets a frantic phone call from his ex-girlfriend and goes on a quest to figure out what’s happened to her. Along the way, he deals with underground drug rings and conspiracy plots while following the clues left by his ex. It’s a twisting, winding plot full of surprises that never gets dull thanks to Levitt’s heavy-lifting and memorable direction.
5. 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.
4. Taxi Driver (1976)
Run Time: 114 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, and Cybill Shepherd star in this Martin Scorsese crime thriller about a veteran with mental health issues who works a night job, driving a taxi around New York City. De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a Vietnam war vet who moonlights as a cap driver to cope with his insomnia. During a long shift, he contemplates assassinating a politician to help out the woman he’s fallen in love with (Shepherd) and killing a pimp after befriending an underage prostitute (Foster). It’s a wild ride, full of darkly comedic moments and even more harrowing looks at the consequences of war.
3. Jackie Brown (1997)
Run Time: 154 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
After earning acclaim with Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino made his subtlest feature with Jackie Brown, an Elmore Leonard adaptation that the director still makes very much his own. After middle-aged stewardess Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is picked up by the FBI, she’s pulled between her arms-dealing boss (Samuel L. Jackson), the feds that are after him, and saving her own skin. With an all-star ensemble that includes Robert De Niro and Robert Forster (who earned an Oscar nomination), Jackie Brown is a throwback to the blaxploitation genre, which started in the ’70s, of which Grier was a big part of. It’s a tense, sexy, and desperate story with a wonderful soundtrack to boot.
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. American Psycho (2000)
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Christian Bale stars in this horror thriller from director Mary Harron that focuses on a wealthy New York businessman with bloody habits. Bale plays Patrick Bateman, an investment banker seemingly dissatisfied with his life of excess and envious of his successful colleagues. To cope, he entertains psychotic fantasies that see him hacking prostitutes up with chainsaws and torturing his co-workers. It’s an edge-of-your-seat gore fest that leaves you questioning any sense of reality you may have in the end.
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Removed: Into The Forest