All movies are excellent in their own right, but let’s face it: thrillers are the best. It’s because they combine the best elements from each genre. A tinge of fear without devolving into horror. All of the action, but with more plot. And a dash of drama and comedy without fully committing to either. It necessitates your undivided attention because it is everything rolled into one. Latest Updated on 30th December 2021
As a person who has a short span of attention if you ask us, ‘what are the Best Thriller Movies On Netflix Right Now‘, We’d dare you to watch either of the Safdie Brothers’ films on this list—Uncut Gems or Good Time—while only paying half attention. In one whirlwind second, you’ll miss everything. Try to follow Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer while browsing through Instagram. You’re not going to be able to do it! So, take your phone and bury it under some blankets in another room, because it’s not going to help you watch any of the great thrillers listed below.
Netflix has a massive library of movies at your disposal, but a good thriller is the best of them when you need a real, complete distraction. We’ve compiled a list of the best thrillers on Netflix, including true crime, horror, noir, comedy, action, and more. When you’re done with that, take a look at our list of the best movies of all time, which includes a few classic thrillers to keep the thrills coming. The best streaming service in the world has a solid selection of picks from the genre, but they’ve also got a lot of other movies labelled under “thriller” that wouldn’t be the best use of your time, so we’ve got an updated list of the best thriller movies on Netflix to save you some scrolling.
Prepare to have your heart pounding. Here are our picks for the best, most suspenseful thriller films available on Netflix right now. There are even some honourable mentions. Sometimes you want Netflix to give you comfort food, and other times you want it to shock your system. When it’s the latter, you’ll want a good thriller that doesn’t rely too heavily on blood and gore but still manages to shake you to your core. If you’re not sure what thrillers to watch, take a look at our recommendations below.
Table Of Content
- 1 Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
- 2 Good Time (2017)
- 3 Cam (2018)
- 4 The Guest (2014)
- 5 I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
- 6 Unfriended (2014)
- 7 His House (2020)
- 8 Under the Shadow (2016)
- 9 The Game (1997)
- 10 Uncut Gems (2019)
- 11 Rust Creek (2020)
- 12 The Conjuring (2013) and The Conjuring 2 (2016)
- 13 It Comes at Night (2017)
- 14 Cop Car (2015)
- 15 Gerald’s Game (2017)
- 16 Shutter Island (2010)
- 17 The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
- 18 Creep (2014) and Creep 2 (2017)
- 19 Nocturnal Animals (2016)
- 20 Layer Cake (2004)
- 21 State of Play (2009)
- 22 Berlin Syndrome (2017)
- 23 The Da Vinci Code (2006)
- 24 Bird Box (2018)
- 25 Freaks (2018)
- 26 In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)
- 27 Apostle (2018)
- 28 Hush (2016)
Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
If you enjoyed Nightcrawler, you should see writer/director Dan Gilroy’s insane Netflix film Velvet Buzzsaw. The film is set in the art world and revolves around a cache of art discovered to have been created by a mysterious and deceased artist. It is part thriller, part slasher. People start dying in gruesome ways once it’s on display. The film contains a lot of dark humour, and Jake Gyllenhaal gives a really colourful performance as Gilroy goes for the jugular in the art world.
Good Time (2017)
Because of its dazzling neon cinematography, pulsing techno soundtrack, and remarkable non-stop, forward-moving momentum, this electrifying and fresh crime drama from brothers Ben Safdie and Josh Safdie can be enjoyed as pure escapism. Good Time also succeeds as a pointed satire of a contemporary culture some say is becoming more and more self-centred.
As failed bank robber Connie, Robert Pattinson gives a career-best performance, and it’s difficult to think of another actor who could have played this character’s surface charms thinly veiling a twitchy, bug-eyed, desperate, and entitled narcissist.
Good Time received mostly positive reviews, though some critics were put off by the toxicity of its characters, citing morally bankrupt Connie as a flaw in the film. This isn’t true because the Safdies know he’s a scumbag, and while it’s entertaining to watch his darkly humorous misadventures unfold, we’re not rooting for him. The filmmakers’ worldview is actually quite humane if you look beneath the flashy surface.
This Netflix original, directed by Daniel Goldhaber, is about an adult webcam performer who discovers a sinister presence has taken her place on the internet. Cam has some truly terrifying moments, and it examines the subject of sex work with due care and consideration. Most notably, it features a standout lead performance by The Handmaid’s Tale’s Madeline Brewer, who frequently plays multiple characters on-screen at the same time. Cam is frequently an examination of fractured identity, thanks to a perceptive script by real-life former cam girl Isa Mazzei, which is not limited to the world of adult entertainment.
Cam stars in a tense thriller about ambition, identity, and survival in the internet age. Madeline Brewer plays Alice, a successful cam girl determined to rise to the top of the ranks — an ambition that is going swimmingly until she logs on one day to discover she has been replaced by a cheerful doppelganger who has taken her face and her career. Cam then follows Alice down a surreal rabbit hole as she tries to figure out who is behind her new web clone and how to reclaim her life, developing a growing sense of unease and sick helplessness as Alice’s reality crumbles beneath her feet. Screenwriter Isa Mazzei and director Daniel Goldhaber are a fantastic creative team, bringing a refreshing sex-positive, non-exploitative approach to the often unexplored subject matter while staging a dazzling and disorienting plummet through the pitfalls of internet identity and the intensity of ambitious careerism.
The Guest (2014)
This one is an easy pick as it is one of the best thrillers on netflix. Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard’s ripper of a mystery, centred on a handsome stranger who shows up on a family’s doorstep, won over critics and audiences. A neon-colored, techno-accented nostalgic fever dream Stars Maika Monroe and Dan Stevens both made their debuts in The Guest.
The Guest is difficult to describe because it is a horror film, an action film, a thriller, and a dark comedy all rolled into one. But once you’re on board, you’ll enjoy this wild ride, which is anchored by a chilling performance from Dan Stevens as a man who claims to be a combat veteran and friend of a fallen soldier and infiltrates the soldier’s family. Twists and turns abound as the same filmmaking team that brought you You’re Next brings thrills, chills, and spills in delightful ways.
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I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
Released in 2020, when the times were tough, this is one of the best thrillers out there. Jessie Buckley starred in Charlie Kaufman’s darkly comic, psychological thriller a year after she stunned us with her performance as a Scottish bad girl-turned country singer in Wild Rose. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is based on the same-named 2016 novel and follows a young couple on a road trip, a seemingly unrelated event. The film may be a little too clever for its own good, but it’s an intriguing puzzle film that’s well worth seeing.
Universal’s trashy, undeniably terrifying, and inventive found-footage thriller, centred on teens haunted by a vengeful spirit as they chat on Skype, was a huge success, grossing $64 million against a $1 million budget. In the years since, the screen-based form of found-footage storytelling, also used in Open Windows, has been refined, with Searching and Host receiving critical acclaim. Unfriended was followed in 2018 by Unfriended: Dark Web, a darker, arguably superior sequel.
His House (2020)
Remi Weekes’ critically acclaimed supernatural horror debut follows South Sudanese refugees as they adjust to a perilous life in small-town Europe. This is horror as dramatic art, similar to The Babadook or Under the Shadow, rather than a series of things that jump out and go boo. The real-life subject matter is twisted and devastating, and the leads, Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu, deliver outstanding performances.
Under the Shadow (2016)
Writer/director Babak Anvari’s feature debut, an exquisitely crafted and thoroughly unsettling chiller, blurs the line between supernatural terror and the horrors of the real world like few films you’ll ever see. Set in 1980s Tehran during The War of the Cities–the backdrop of Anvari’s own fear-filled childhood–Narges Rashidi stars as Shideh, a medical student who isbarred from continuing her studies due to her involvement in revolutionary politics.
Shideh is tasked with protecting her husband’s young daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) as the fighting and bombings escalate around them. When Shideh and Dorsa are haunted by an evil genie, it appears that things cannot get any worse.
The performances are powerful, and the filmmaking is flawless, conjuring up images of a war-torn Iran that are almost suffocating to watch. Anvari grew up in a culture where VCRs and VHS tapes were illegal, and his debut is made with an unquantifiable passion for film. The supernatural scares are effective, but they are never as frightening as Shideh’s reality, which appears to be Anvari’s point. This small-scale powerhouse was named the best film of 2016 by renowned British film critic Mark Kermode, and it is not to be missed.
The Game (1997)
David Fincher’s stylish thriller stars Michael Douglas and Sean Penn as an obsessive banker whose brother uproots his life with a strange birthday gift: a personalised, increasingly perilous real-life game. The Game is an exciting, mind-bending, and well-acted thriller with provocative messages about the illusion of control. The Game is one of the best suspense thrillers on Netflix, in fact it is also one of the best thrillers of all time.
Uncut Gems (2019)
To be honest, Adam Sandler was cheated out of an Academy Award nomination for this. He should have won in the first place. In Ben Safdie and Josh Safdie’s riveting crime caper about a jeweller who bets the farm on the gamble of a lifetime, the oft-criticized megastar gives his best performance to date. Idina Menzel, Adele Da-no, Idina Menzel, Idina Menzel, Idina Menzel, Idina Menzel, Idina Menzel, Idina Menzel, Masterful Uncut Gems is so exciting that you might have a nervous breakdown. At its core, this is a depiction of an addiction.
If you don’t mind a thriller that will make you anxious as its central character makes bad decision after bad decision, check out Uncut Gems. The film, which was released in 2019, stars Adam Sandler as a Jewish jeweller and gambling addict in New York City’s Diamond District who must track down an expensive gem he purchased to pay off his debts. The film follows Sandler’s journey almost to the minute, as the stakes rise with each passing hour, as directed by Josh Safdie and Benny Safide. Sandler gives one of his best performances in this film, but be warned: it’s intense. If you are looking for something fresh, go ahead with Uncut gems. It is one of the most underrated thriller movies on netflix or any other platform for that matter.
Rust Creek (2020)
Jen McGowan’s stripped-down thriller stars Hermione Corfield and Jay Paulson as a young student who becomes stranded and hunted in meth country. It’s sort of like Winter’s Bone lite (certainly not on the same level as that absolute masterwork), but it’s still a twisty, diverting 105-minute watch. By far the best thing about the film is Paulson, who adds layers to a character who would normally be the short straw, a tragic unrounded background character.
The Conjuring (2013) and The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Looking for a horror thriller movies on Netflix? Look no further. The Conjuring franchise is the biggest horror-thriller franchise ever. Before Annabelle and The Nun, there was James Wan’s tense, superbly performed thriller about a witch who terrorises a Rhode Island family in 1971. By the summer of 2013, horror had earned a bad reputation. Torture films like Saw had dominated for a decade, and if there was ever a point to them, it had long vanished. The Conjuring was marketed as being “based on the true case files of” Ed and Lorraine Warren, well-known paranormal investigators played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. This box office juggernaut reintroduced the classy, high-production-values terror of films like The Exorcist and Poltergeist. Its success gave birth to the first highly successful cinematic universe outside of the MCU.
It Comes at Night (2017)
Hollywood’s next big thing Trey Edward Shults’ follow-up to his breakout debut Krisha received critical acclaim but did not fare as well with audiences, earning only a mediocre box office performance. This is primarily due to the horror film’s misguided marketing.
It Comes at Night, starring Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, and Riley Keough, is an unnervingly quiet, contained, and claustrophobic drama about an escalating war of fear and suspicion between two families stranded together in a cabin after an outbreak has ravaged the world. As a result, some audiences were disappointed when the trailers clearly advertised a jump-scare-heavy rollercoaster in the vein of Insidious and The Conjuring about a monster in the woods (or something like that).It Comes at Night was one of the best horror films of a year dominated by strong horror. It’s important to go into It Comes at Night knowing what to expect: this isn’t boo! horror. a great deal; Shults is far more interested in delving into the horrors of the human heart and mind.
Cop Car (2015)
Kevin Bacon stars in this straightforward action thriller about two young boys who steal a police cruiser and become entangled in a hostage situation. Cop Car, a minimalist and effective film, wowed critics and audiences alike. Watts went on to direct the standalone Spider-Man films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you are looking for an action thriller on Netflix, Cop car will give you the satisfaction you need.
Gerald’s Game (2017)
A career-high performance from the ever-impressive Carla Gugino stars in Mike Flanagan’s Netflix original, a Stephen King adaptation about a woman who finds herself handcuffed to a bed in the middle of nowhere after her husband dies. This is pure, high-concept psychological terror—not spooky, but gripping—with a high ick factor. Gerald’s Game, as a novella, is one of Stephen King’s creepiest, most relentlessly gripping works. It’s the epitome of a page-turner, keeping you glued to the next word while following one woman’s seemingly impossible fight to survive a slow, silent death while tending to the trauma she’s buried deep within herself. It’s also entirely in the first person, taking place inside the mind of a woman who is left handcuffed to the bed in a remote cabin after her husband dies of a heart attack in the middle of a tryst. Gerald’s Game is a perfect thriller to watch on a silent night.
It was understandably thought unfillable for a long time, but Mike Flanagan’s tender, terrifying 2017 adaptation proved the critics wrong with a heartfelt but oh-so-horrifying film that’s faithful to King’s work in all the right ways. However, gore-phobics beware! Gerald’s Game is a lovely film about surviving trauma at its core, but it is also a brutal survival film, and one climactic scene (which was notoriously difficult to read, let alone watch) wins the gold star for the most vocal audience freak-out I’ve ever heard in a movie theatre.
Shutter Island (2010)
Martin Scorsese’s thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, and Max Von Sydow stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, and Max Von Sydow. Marshal looking into the disappearance of a murderer on a fortified island. What happens when a master filmmaker, such as Martin Scorsese, decides to make a suspenseful little thriller? You get Shutter Island, a great and underappreciated film in Scorsese’s extensive filmography. The film, based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo as U.S. Marshals who arrive on the titular island to investigate a disappearance at an enigmatic psychiatric facility. Something doesn’t feel right from the start, and Scorsese revels in following DiCaprio’s character around this island through the darkness, revealing twists and turns along the way. Look up any list of psychological thrillers on Netflix, if Shutter Island isn’t in the list, the list is bogus.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
Prioritize The Killing of a Sacred Deer if psychological thrillers are more your style. The film is directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, who also directed The Lobster and The Favourite, and stars Colin Farrell as a cardiac surgeon who secretly befriends a young man (Barry Keoghan), who then warns him that his entire family will die slowly. The film features Lanthimos’ signature dialogue, which only adds to the creepiness factor, and the performances are all excellent. This isn’t your typical thriller, so I’d recommend it only if you like thrillers that are a little off the beaten path. Yorgos is a master director and this one is one of his best psychological thrillers till date.
Creep (2014) and Creep 2 (2017)
Who knew Mark Duplass could be so terrifying? Duplass collaborated with director, co-writer, and co-star Patrick Bice to delve into the mind of “Josef,” a mysterious and deeply unsettling man whose need for intimacy prompts him to post a Craigslist ad in search of a filmmaker to document his strange storey. There’s only one problem: he may or may not be a serial killer. Aaron, the young filmmaker who lands the job, is played by Bice, and once he sets foot on Josef’s turf, Aaron is immersed in an uncomfortable and unusual situation that constantly threatens to go off the rails.
Duplass channels the charming, disarming, and freaky-as-hell demeanour of corporate snakes and thriving sociopaths as Josef. Is he a murderer or just a weirdo you can’t resist? Bice and Duplass have a lot of fun playing with the audience’s expectations all the way up to the finale payoff, which is a fantastic, earned moment that cements the tension for a long time after the film. And here’s some more good news: if Creep delivers the thrills you’re looking for, the sequel is just as entertaining.
Nocturnal Animals (2016)
Tom Ford’s second feature, as brutal as it is sad — and it is both — twists the blade in the corpse of a toxic, failed relationship. Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Golden Globe winner for his work in this film), and Michael Shannon (Oscar nominee for his work in this film) are all sensational in dark, sumptuously realised parallel storylines (about half of the film is a fictional book within the narrative). Nocturnal Animals is a visual masterpiece as well as a disturbing thematic masterpiece. Check out Nocturnal Animals if you’re looking for an underappreciated thriller with a fantastic cast, a twisty plot, and a gorgeous aesthetic. The film is Tom Ford’s second directorial effort after the critically acclaimed A Single Man, and it follows an art gallery owner (Amy Adams) as she reads her first husband’s new novel (Jake Gyllenhaal). As she reads the novel, the events inside unfold on the screen, and you must connect the dots between this ostensibly fictional storey and the gallery owner’s real-life – and the reason her marriage failed in the first place.
Layer Cake (2004)
If you enjoy British crime thrillers, the 2004 independent Layer Cake is a must-see. It is one of the best thriller in the crime-thriller genre. This is the film that launched Daniel Craig’s career, as the plot follows a man who wants to leave the drug trade but discovers it’s much more difficult than he anticipated. Matthew Vaughn, the director of Kingsman and X-Men: First Class, makes his feature directorial debut with the film, and he clearly draws heavily on Guy Ritchie’s films (many of which he produced) while also carving out a signature for himself.
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State of Play (2009)
Do you want to read a journalistic thriller? State of Play, released in 2009, is actually quite good, with an excellent ensemble cast. Russell Crowe stars as a veteran reporter for a fictional newspaper who is assigned to cover a seemingly innocuous murder that he comes to believe is linked to the presumed suicide of a woman who was having an affair with a congressman (Ben Affleck). Crowe’s character turns out to be the congressman’s old college roommate, who assigns him the task of investigating whether his mistress was murdered. The film is based on the same-named British miniseries, but it stands on its own as a journalistic crime thriller.
Berlin Syndrome (2017)
You might think you’ve seen enough women-in-captivity movies for at least one or two lifetimes. And who could blame you?
So abundant we might as well make them their own genre, movies about kidnapped females generally go one of two ways: It’s either all about the suspense, figuring out how and if she will get out—or there’s the nastier route, when some movies focus on a woman’s torture and humiliation, turning it into spectacle. Palmer is fantastic as a smart woman in captivity who discovers new depths of strength with each passing day, and Shaun Grant’s script gives her plenty of material to work with while never treating Clare as a fool. She makes astute, assertive choices throughout, which both inspires you to root for her and significantly raises the tension. Clare’s survival instinct is met by Andi’s cruelty, which unfolds a little more each day as Clare realises how dire her situation truly is. Berlin Syndrome is an intensely tense and emotionally challenging film that begins with a slow boil battle of wits and culminates in a breathless finale.
The Da Vinci Code (2006)
If mystery and suspense gives you an adrenaline rush. The Da Vinci Code is one of the best suspense thrillers on Netflix. The film adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, directed by Ron Howard, was a huge success when it was first released in 2006, owing largely to the enormous popularity of Brown’s book. The film is a religious thriller in which Tom Hanks’ professor of religious symbology becomes the prime suspect in a murder and uncovers a massive conspiracy dating back centuries. It’s a fun and well-executed thriller with some stunning European location shooting, and it’s no surprise it grossed nearly $800 million.
Bird Box (2018)
Not only Bird Box was the most watched Netflix originals till last year, it is also one of the best thrillers in recent times. Bird Box, the star-studded and meme-friendly new thriller starring Sandra Bullock as a mother trying to protect her children in an apocalyptic world, arrived on Netflix just in time for the end of the year. Set across two timelines, Bird Box follows a group of survivors through the end of the world after a mysterious force begins causing people to kill themselves on sight. Naturally, this sets up director Susanne Bier for a slew of thrills and gags based on the anxiety of trying to survive without sight (some more believable than others), and she makes the most of the opportunity, staging some heart-pounding set-pieces in the fight for survival. Bird Box is carried by Bullock’s commanding performance, which reminds you why she’s an old-school movie star, and she’s matched by Trevante Rodes, who raises his charm level to “dangerously high,” and John Malkovich, who leans into his gift for playing smart men with a nasty disposition that you can’t help but love/hate.
I’m going to save one of the major things that impresses me about Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein’s Freaks until the very end of this blurb because I recommend going into this storey with as little knowledge as possible. But know that this is one of the year’s best character-driven sci-fi thrillers. Lexy Kolker, who plays seven-year-old Chloe in the film, gives a standout performance. She’s spent her entire life completely isolated from the outside world, living in her father’s house with her father, Henry (Emile Hirsch). He’s always warned her that the outside world is dangerous, but the older Chloe gets, the more tempted she is to go out – and then she does. Okay, are you ready for a semi-spoiler to emphasise how incredibly impressive this film is? Here it is: as much as I enjoy a good big-budget superhero film, Freaks is an absolute must-see if you want to see what can be accomplished with a limited budget in the genre. It’s one of those films that will have you leaning in more and more with its early curiosities before exploding with creativity as Chloe learns more and more about her reality.
In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)
With this underappreciated Netflix original, Jim Mickle’s sci-fi crime thriller combines time travel, Zodiac-like levels of obsessive detective work, and a dash of politics. Boyd Holbrook plays a police officer who becomes embroiled in a horrifying series of crimes and finds himself trapped in a cat-and-mouse game that will define decades of his life… and mix him up in some twisted, tragic time-travel saga that could save the country’s future. In the Shadow of the Moon is an obsessive crime drama that mostly keeps it low-key despite the high stakes. It has the unfortunate habit of thinking it’s more ahead of the audience than it really is, but it’s still an intriguing, engrossing, and damn good-looking time-travel saga that’s well worth a watch. It is a good watch and definitely deserves a mention in a list of best thrillers on Netflix in recent times.
Gareth Evans’ horror/action freak-out The Raid rewards a deliberate build-up with stomach-turning violence and gore in the final act. Dan Stevens plays an Englishman who infiltrates a remote cult to save his sister in the turn-of-the-century period piece. Prepare for bloody, brutal thrills in Apostle, the horror-thriller from The Raid director Gareth Evans, who shifts his focus from breathless action to stomach-churning tension. Legion star Dan Stevens gives another risky performance as a man who infiltrates a rural cult that has kidnapped his sister and uncovers some deeply disturbing truths behind the utopian facade. Evans’ slow-burn payoff is a mighty explosion of viscera, and the blood-soaked finale, which veers from suspense to full-on carnage, requires a strong stomach.
Hush, a Netflix original, is a surprisingly suspenseful and effective slasher about a deaf author (Kate Siegel) terrorised by a masked home intruder (John Gallagher Jr.). Hush owes a lot to John Carpenter’s Halloween [as do many of the best horror films these days] and even more to Audrey Hepburn’s Wait Until Dark from 1967, but Mike Flanagan’s taut direction and knack for suspense are enough to make Hush stand on its own. It’s a suspenseful thriller that delivers exactly what you’d expect from a film like this.
If you liked this list, we suggest you bookmark it for future, so you won’t have to Google every weekend “best thriller movies on Netflix”. We ensure you, we’ll keep updating this list on a bi-weekly basis. Also check out our OTT related lists so you know exactly what to watch when you sit-down for an entertaining weekend.