So, you want some excitement, huh? Let’s get more precise, then. You’re in the mood for a suspenseful movie, that much is clear. This isn’t a nightmare, right? (Come on over here if you’re interested.) There is a clear distinction between thrillers and horror films, despite the fact that both genres can have frightening scenes.
There’s always some terrifying enemy in horror movies that needs to be vanquished or at least evaded. However, the unpredictability of thrillers is an essential element of what makes them so thrilling.
That being said, let’s move on to the many subgenres of thrillers. Whether you’re in the mood for an action, crime, legal, political, spy, or science fiction world-saving story, you’ll find plenty to choose from.
All good thrillers reach a point where you can’t bear to stop watching, even though you really need to go to the bathroom and have been holding it for the past seven minutes. Those are the thrillers deserving of your time and attention, as well as a spot on this list. Without further ado, here are the top 13 thrillers now available on streaming services. (Future blaggers: beware!)
Thriller subgenre: Post apocalyptic
When told, “Don’t look,” resisting the temptation to do so becomes extremely difficult. However, in Bird Box, this decision literally means life or death. The 2018 film, based on the 2014 book of the same name, chronicles the ordeals through by Malorie Hayes (Sandra Bullock). Off-screen beings are taking over the world, and looking at them will make you kill yourself.
Malorie (Sarah Paulson) and her sister (Vivien Lyra Blair) are pregnant when we first meet them five years earlier, training two kids to swim through a river blindfolded. Things are not looking good, the news reports, as a wave of mysterious mass suicides sweeps the globe.
Tom (Trevante Rhodes), Olympia (Danielle Macdonald), Greg (BD Wong), Douglas (John Malkovich), Lucy (Rosa Salazar), and Felix (Machine Gun Kelly) are among the allies and foes Malorie encounters as she fights for her life. Even though you’re not meant to gaze at the creatures, you can’t help but stare.
Thriller subgenre: Psychological
Forgotten is just as good as the other great South Korean thrillers (remember Squid Game?). On the road to a new house with his parents and older brother Yoo-seok (Kim Moo-yeol), our protagonist Jin-seok (Kang Ha-neul) wakes up from a nightmare.
Jin’s dreams get worse at the new house, and he keeps hearing noises from a chamber he’s not supposed to go inside. Then, on a stormy night, he witnesses Yoo being abducted by a group of men in a black van; Yoo disappears for 19 days before returning, memory-free. Shortly thereafter, Jin observes that his brother is acting strangely, limping, and sneaking out during the night.
Yoo says Jin must have been hallucinating since he forgot to take his pills, but when Jin confronts him about it, Yoo denies it. We are beginning to question Jin’s veracity as a narrator because he is taking medication for mental illness. Even so, the unexpected turns in this plot make for a film that you won’t forget any time soon.
Thriller subgenre: Psychological
Peri Monroe (Lucy Capri), the daughter of Ray (Sam Worthington) and Joanne (Lily Rabe), interrupts her parents’ argument on the way home to use the restroom and get new batteries for her music player. After pulling up for gas, Peri wanders away from her parents and into an abandoned construction site with a gaping hole in the ground.
A stray dog has appeared and is now a potential threat. By this time, Ray has located his daughter, but when he throws a rock to frighten the dog away, Peri stumbles and falls into the opening. Ray, in an effort to save Peri, too plunges in and strikes his head. When he wakes up, he plans on taking Peri to the hospital they passed a while back so she can get checked out.
Dr. Berthram (Stephen Tobolowsky) believes that a CAT scan is necessary for Peri, so he sends mom and kid down for it. Meanwhile, Ray is advised to wait upstairs and promptly falls asleep. Not only has Ray’s family not returned by the time he regains consciousness, but the hospital has no record of their arrival. Never, ever, ever.
Thriller subgenre: Action Adventure
The fictional hamlet of Keelut, Alaska has hired writer/wolf expert Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright) to look into the abduction of three young children. Medora Slone (Riley Keough) is certain wolves kidnapped her son Bailey, age 6, as you might expect given Core’s credentials. Vernon (Alexander Skarsgrd), Medora’s spouse, is serving in Iraq until an accident and a missing Bailey bring him home.
Native villagers like Vernon’s friend Cheeon (Julian Black Antelope) and the police, led by Chief Donald Marium (James Badge Dale), participate in the search and have their own ideas about what is going on in their small community. It’s hard to tell at this point whether the animals or the people in this story are the more barbaric ones.
Thriller subgenre: Action Drama
Nuclear weapons are the ultimate source of tension. There have been reports of terrorists stealing Russian nuclear weapons and seizing control of an American interceptor missile launch station in Alaska.
Army Captain JJ Collins (Elsa Pataky) is transferred to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to the United States’ second and last interceptor missile launch location after she files a sexual misconduct report and faces further harassment from her military peers.
Collins is present at the station during the invasion by ex-military intelligence soldier Alexander Kessel (Luke Bracey) and his party of bad guys, where he works in the command center alongside Lt. Colonel Marshall (Rhys Muldoon), Beaver Baker (Aaron Glenane), and Corporal Rahul Shah (Mayen Mehta).
They upload an online manifesto criticizing the United States and ordering the other bad guys in Alaska to use the captured nukes immediately. Collins, the last line of defense for her country, makes up the rules as she goes along. Pataky’s real-life spouse, Chris Hemsworth, makes a cameo appearance if that sort of thing gets your blood pumping.
Thriller subgenre: Crime
A DCI by Idris Elba John Luther is back in his trademark tweed coat, and this time he’s on the trail of a cruel serial killer. In this new take on the critically acclaimed TV series, Luther creator Neil Cross and director Jamie Payne find their protagonist in up for breaking the law in the name of justice.
However, Luther is determined to get out of jail and solve a murder mystery. From there, the detective and the cyber killer (a superbly unsettling Andy Serkis) begin their sick game of cat and mouse.
Action-packed sequences in The Fallen Sun will surprise even the most seasoned fans of the genre, and the cast features both established actors (like Dermot Crowley as Luther’s former boss and friend, Detective Superintendent Martin Schenk) and newcomers (like Cynthia Erivo’s DCI Odette Raine).
Thriller subgenre: Psychodramatic
Kyle (Fran Kranz) appears dissatisfied with his life as the spouse of Mary (Kat Foster), the father of two, and the social media manager for a financial institution. Therefore, Kyle is curious when his college pal Zack (Adam Goldberg) returns talking about his experience with the self-actualization program Rebirth.
How fortunate! A weekend retreat called “Rebirth” is planned. In college, Zack and Kyle developed a manifesto in which they vowed to “F the man,” “keep it real,” and “don’t be boring.”
The Rebirthers (who all chant at one point, “We are not a cult!”) just need that to get Kyle to hand over his phone, wallet, and keys. The movie is both amusing and satirical at points, and eerie and disturbing at others, leaving you wondering what will happen next and whether you accidentally took shrooms.
Thriller subgenre: Psychological Sci-Fi
In the film Spiderhead, played by Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett, two inmates, Jeff (Teller) and Lizzy (Smollett), try to shorten their sentences by serving as test subjects for various mood and mind-altering medications at a high-tech maximum-security prison.
As long as they show up for their daily drug tests, the inmates are allowed unrestricted access to their own quarters and the outside world. Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth) and Mark Paguio (Mark Paguio) do a great job at implementing these.
But, oh ho ho, in such a setting, nothing is as it seems, and Jeff and Lizzy quickly discover that something much more evil than a “love drug” is being researched here. You won’t be able to put this dystopian novella by George Saunders down once you start reading it.
Thriller subgenre: Psychological
Javier Muoz (Javier Gutiérrez) exemplifies the horrifying lengths to which people would go in search of a decent residence in today’s society. Javier, who was formerly a top executive in the advertising industry, is now unable to secure even a volunteer position.
He and his family, Marga (Ruth Diaz) and Dani (Cristian Muoz), must move out of their lavish mansion and into a small apartment in a less affluent neighborhood of Barcelona. Marga tries to lighten the mood by saying, “They’re four walls, Javier.
So long. But Javier just can’t let go of his old home—or the privileged lifestyle and social standing it represented. Tomás (Mario Casas), a businessman, his wife Lara (Bruna Cus), and their daughter Mónica (Iris Vallés) move back into the apartment after finding a spare set of keys in their car.
He comes there, grabs some cornflakes, and visits the bathroom, where he finds images of the family. Javier’s obsession with the new tenants begins with stalking and progresses quickly into plotting. He will stop at nothing until he regains possession of “his” house.
Thriller subgenre: Psychological
The first line of the Hippocratic Oath is “do no harm,” yet ngel Hernández (Mario Casas) must have crossed his fingers when he swore it. He is callous and possibly sociopathic since he steals from the incapacitated persons in his care and sells their possessions. And despite his moniker, ngel isn’t any better to Vane (Déborah François), the woman he’s seeing.
Despite ngel’s possessive and controlling nature, the couple is hoping to start a family. After an accident involving an ambulance driven by his coworker Ricardo (Guillermo Pfening), which leaves ngel paralyzed from the waist down, ngel’s role shifts from paramedic to patient.
His relationship with Vane has been strained before, and now he’s convinced she’s cheating on him because of his disabilities, so he puts spyware on her phone. After learning the truth about what he’s done, Vane decides to end their relationship permanently. However, I think we can all predict the outcome at this time…
Thriller subgenre: Sci-Fi Social Commentary
A terrifying feast is the focus of this unsettling film. When Goreng (Iván Massagué) awakens one day, he finds himself in a place called “The Pit,” a slang name for the Vertical Self-Management Center’s several levels.
Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor), his cellmate, reveals that a platform travels from the top floor to the bottom floor, stopping at each level for a certain amount of time so that people can eat. But here’s the catch: those living in the lower tiers can only consume the scraps that the upper tiers throw away.
And was anyone busted for stealing food? They’re put to death. Everyone is promoted to the next level at the end of each month. This story of struggle and triumph will hold your attention even if you ignore the critiques of capitalism and the argument for equitable distribution of wealth. You shouldn’t watch it when you’re eating, though.
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Thriller subgenre: Crime
Beth (Leighton Meester) and Kate (Christina Wolfe) are on a girls’ trip to Croatia that seems tailor-made for Instagram, what with their gorgeous Airbnb, glamorous vacation attire, delicious food, and views so breathtakingly idyllic that you may have to pause the movie to look up flight prices to Europe. The girls really need this break to get caught up on everything.
Beth and Rob (Luke Norris), new parents, are going through a hard period in their relationship, while Kate is recovering from a painful breakup. But things take an unexpected turn when, after a night out drinking, Beth returns home to find Kate gone. There’s also blood on the ground. Yikes.
Beth, several miles from home and with just Zain (Ziad Bakri) the taxi driver for the company, must now piece together what transpired. Worsening the situation? Beth is now the primary person of interest in the investigation into Kate’s disappearance.
Thriller subgenre: Psychological Murder Mystery
Dr. Anna Fox (Amy Adams) is a child psychologist who suffers from agoraphobia and never leaves her Manhattan brownstone. Instead, she drinks wine by the crate (yes, crate) and spends her days spying on her neighbors from a second-story window while avoiding her downstairs tenant, David (Wyatt Russell).
The Russells have just moved in across the street with their husband, wife, and teenage son. Anna has a sleepover with Jane Russell (Julianne Moore), and the two hit it off immediately. Anna is visited by her son Ethan (Fred Hechinger), who suggests to his mother that Alistair (Gary Oldman) is an abusive parent.
The following evening, while playing her role as the woman in the window, Anna notices another woman in a nearby window. This is Jane. Also, HOLY CRAP, someone is stabbing her. Anna immediately dials 911, but Detective Little (Brian Tyree Henry) assures her that the Russell family is alright.
And Alistair and his wife are willing to show up as proof. However, the “Jane” Anna drank wine with and witnessed her death is not the same person as this one. Seriously, what’s going on here? Anna will learn the truth. Although it’s based on A.J. Finn’s best-selling book, this version of the narrative has some significant changes that will keep viewers engaged all the way to the finish, even if they’re already familiar with the source material.
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