The Best Thrillers on Netflix Right Now

Last Updated: February 7th

Sometimes you want Netflix to provide comfort food, and other times you want it to give you a jolt to the system. When it’s the latter, you’ll want a good thriller that may not go heavy on the blood and gore, but still manages to rattle you to your core. The streaming service has a solid selection of picks from the genre, but they’ve also got a lot of other movies labeled under “thriller” that wouldn’t be the best use of your time (looking at you, The Imitation Game; you’re a period drama, not a thriller).

If you need a bit of guidance on what thrillers you should check out, look at our recommendations below. And if you’re looking for a broader list of recommendations, check out our list of the best movies on Netflix right now.

No Country for Old Men

Image via Miramax

Writers/Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen

Cast: Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson, and Kelly Macdonald

The Coen Brothers won big at the Oscars with their 2007 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, which follows a hunter (Josh Brolin) who stumbles upon a load of money and becomes the target of a relentless assassin (Javier Bardem). What makes No Country for Old Men so captivating is that while it still has the Coen-esque spark of dark comedy and coming right up to the edge of nihilism before spitting over the line, the craft and tension of their movie is undeniable. While Fargo trafficked more in buffoons who lived in the shadow of the good-hearted Marge Gunderson, No Country has no such heroes. It is a bleak world that rests on chance and choice is the province of sadists. It is a dark movie, but never crushingly so, and it shows the Coens at the top of their game. – Matt Goldberg

Bird Box

Image via Netflix

Director: Susanne Bier

Writer: Eric Heisserer

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Jacki Weaver, Danielle Macdonald, Rosa Salazar, Machine Gun Kelley, Lil Rel Howery, Sarah Paulson

Netflix squeezed in one last streaming sensation before the end of 2018 with 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 Set across two timelines, Bird Box follows a group of survivors through the end of the world after a mysterious force starts causing people to kill themselves on sight. Naturally that sets up director Susanne Bier for plenty of thrills and gags based on the anxiety of trying to survive without sight (some more believable than others) and she uses the opportunity for all its worth, staging some pulse-pounding set-pieces in the fight for survival. Bullock carries Bird Box with a commanding performance that reminds you why she’s an old-school movie star and she’s matched by Trevante Rodes, who sets his charm level to “dangerously high” and John Malkovich, who leans into his gift for play smart men of a nasty disposition that you just can’t help but love/hate. — Haleigh Foutch

The Departed

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: William Monahan

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, and Jack Nicholson

Remakes tend not to be better than the original, but Martin Scorsese finally won Best Director for his superior adaptation of the 2002 film Infernal Affairs. The electric story follows Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a dirty cop working for the mob, and Billy (Leonardo DiCaprio), a cop who goes undercover in that very same mob. With both men forced to hide their true identities, the movie becomes a ticking time bomb of fractured loyalties and brutal backstabbings. While it’s not Scorsese’s best movie (no one is going to say The Departed is better than Goodfellas), it’s an immensely entertaining and shocking picture with excellent performances from the entire cast. – Matt Goldberg


Image via Netflix

Writer/Director: Gareth Evans

Cast: Dan Stevens, Lucy Boynton, Michael Sheen, Mark Lewis Jones, Kristine Froseth, Sharon Margan

Brace yourself for some bloody, brutal thrills with Apostle, the horror-thriller from The Raid director Gareth Evans, who turns his attentions from breathless action to stomach-churning tension. Legion star Dan Stevens delivers another swing-for-the-fences performance as a man who infiltrates a rural cult that’s taken his sister hostage and discovers some deeply disturbing truths behind the utopian facade. Evans’ slow-burn pays off with a mighty explosion of viscera, and a strong stomach is required for the blood-soaked finale, which veers from suspense to full-on carnage. — Haleigh Foutch


Image via Focus Features

Director/Writer: Rian Johnson

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emilie de Ravin, Nora Zehetner, Lukas Haas, Matt O’Leary, Noah Segan, and Richard Roundtree

Before Rian Johnson put his stamp on the Star Wars universe, he first broke out with his feature film Brick. The 2005 indie is a neo-noir mystery starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a high school student who receives a troubling phone call from his ex-girlfriend asking for his help. She’s only able to mutter a few words before the line is cut off, and Gordon-Levitt’s character spends the rest of the film using those clues to track her down. The whole film is crafted as a gorgeous noir, but it revolves around teenagers, offering a refreshing juxtaposition of sorts. It’s supremely well-crafted, and it’s no wonder this film quickly kicked off not only Johnson’s successful film career, but that of his cinematographer Steve Yedlin’s and also Gordon-Levitt’s. Indeed, Brick made the 3rd Rock from the Sun actor’s transition from child star to leading man official. – Adam Chitwood


Image via Netflix

Writer: Isa Mazzei

Director: Daniel Goldhaber

Cast: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Samantha Robinson, Melora Walters, Imani Hakim, Michael Dempsey

A tense thriller about ambition, identity, and survival in the internet age, Cam stars Madeline Brewer stars as Alice, a successful cam girl intent on climbing to the top of the ranks — a ambition that’s going rather well until she  logs on one day to find she’s been replaced by a cheerful doppelganger who’s taken her face and her career. From there, Cam follows Alice down a surreal rabbit hole as she tries to discover who’s behind her new web clone and how to reclaim her life, building a growing sense of unease and sick helplessness as Alice’s reality drops out from under her. Screenwriter Isa Mazzei and director Daniel Goldhaber are a dynamite creative team, who bring a refreshing sex-positive, non-exploitative approach to the often untouched subject matter while staging a dazzling and disorienting plummet through the pitfalls of internet identity and the intensity of ambitious careerism. — Haleigh Foutch


Image via A24

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Writer: Javier Gullón

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, and Isabella Rossellini

Before filmmaker Denis Villeneuve blew minds with Blade Runner 2049 or Arrival, he made a head-spinning psychological thriller called Enemy featuring two of Jake Gyllenhal’s best performances. Yes, two—Enemy revolves around a solitary college history professor who leads a mundane life, only to discover an actor who looks exactly like him. He begins investigating the dopelganger’s life, and reality itself appears to bend as the professor spirals further and further down the rabbit hole. This film is not for everyone—it’s the weirdest thing Villeneuve has made thus far, but it’s no less gorgeous and involving than the rest of his oeuvre. It also features one of the scariest shots ever put to film. Give it a spin and see if you can figure this one out. – Adam Chitwood


Image via Warner Bros.

Directed/Written by: Michael Mann

Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Amy Brenneman, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Wes Studi, Jon Voight, Ted Levine, and Natalie Portman

Filmmaker Michael Mann’s crime epic Heat is a must-watch classic, through and through. The film largely influenced Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, as it’s a crime thriller in which the city is as much a character as the various people. Robert De Niro plays a career criminal whose crew gets in hot water after a heist goes wrong. Al Pacino plays the LAPD lieutenant hunting him down. And since this is a Michael Mann movie, there are various other character-rich plot threads going on at the same time. De Niro and Pacino famously only have one scene together, but boy does Mann make it count. – Adam Chitwood

Green Room

Image via A24

Writer/Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, Joe Cole, Macon Blair, and Patrick Stewart

Jeremy Saulnier made one hell of a pressure cooker with his 2016 film. The plot concerns a punk rock group that inadvertently lands a gig performing for a bunch of neo-Nazis. The show goes fine, but as they’re leaving, the group witnesses a murder and suddenly finds themselves at the mercy of the neo-Nazis led by the cold, calculating Darcy (Patrick Stewart). Green Room will happily fry all of your nerves as you see the rockers try to escape only to be met with extreme violence at every turn (this movie is not for those with a weak stomach). Despite the harrowing violence and chilling premise, Saulnier still manages to find excitement and twists through the darkness. The film definitely gives new meaning to “Nazi punks fuck off.” – Matt Goldberg

The Third Man

Image via London Films

Director: Carol Reed

Writers: Graham Greene

Cast: Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles

One of the best films of the noir genre, Carol Reed’s twisty 1949 movie follows pulp novelist Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) who comes to postwar Vienna to meet with his old friend Harry Lime. But when he arrives, he learns that Harry has been killed in a traffic accident. Determined to get to the bottom of his friend’s death, Holly discovers a string of lies and inconsistencies that take him to some dark and disturbing places before the story reaches an amazing, unforgettable crescendo. If you’re looking for a classic thriller on Netflix, you can’t do much better than The Third Man. - Matt Goldberg

L.A. Confidential

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Curtis Hanson

Writers: Brian Helgeland & Curtis Hanson

Cast: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, James Cromwell, and Danny DeVito

Curtis Hanson took a book that was billed as “unadaptable” and actually improved upon James Ellroy’s unwieldy and sometimes comically macabre source material. The story follows three detectives in 1950s L.A.—Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), Bud White (Russell Crowe), and Ed Exley (Guy Pearce)—as they investigate corruption and a series of murders. It’s a terrific modern noir with outstanding performances from the entire cast (Kim Basinger took home the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award). If you’ve never seen L.A. Confidential or if you haven’t seen it in a while, give it a spin. It’s arguably Hanson’s best movie, and a terrific film noir to boot. – Matt Goldberg

Gone Baby Gone

Image via Miramax

Director: Ben Affleck

Writers: Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard

Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Amy Ryan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Titus Welliver

Ben Affleck’s 2007 directorial debut Gone Baby Gone remains one of his best directorial efforts, and for good reason. Affleck created his own comeback by drilling deep into Denins Lehane’s source material to craft a character-rich, patient crime drama that amplifies the terrific performances of Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, and Amy Ryan. Casey Affleck and Monaghan play Boston P.I.’s who are hired to help search for a missing young girl, but must traverse the seedy Boston criminal underworld if they’re to be successful. This is a complicated, tense, and ultimately moving story told with perfect restraint by Affleck behind the camera. – Adam Chitwood

Berlin Syndrome

Image via Vertical Entertainment

Director: Cate Shortland

Writer: Shaun Grant

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt,

Clare Havel (Teresa Palmer) is a young Australian photojournalist on vacation in Berlin. She’s living the dream. Taking in the sights, falling in love with a new city, and just maybe falling in love with a handsome local man, Andi (Max Riemelt), who strikes up a passionate romance with her. But after she goes back to his place for a romantic night, she wakes up to the next morning to realize he’s locked her in his apartment on his way to work, and with a slow dawning terror, she understands that he never intends to let her out. This is how we enter Berlin SyndromeCate Shortland‘s taut thriller, which takes us through every step of their courtship and Clare’s subsequent imprisonment in a slow burn portrait of psychological terror and the human capacity for survival.

Palmer is excellent in the role of a smart women in captivity, who discovers new depths of strength with each passing day, and Shaun Grant‘s script gives her great material to work with, never treating Clare like a fool. She makes clever, assertive choices the whole way through, a fact that incites you to root for her and drastically notches up the tension at the same time. Her instinct for survival is met by Andi’s capacity for cruelty, unfolding a bit each day as Clare realizes how dire her predicament truly is. Consummately tense and emotionally challenging, Berlin Syndrome kicks up a slow boil battle of the wits that constantly notches up the dread and pays off in a breathless finale. — Haleigh Foutch


Image via New Line Cinema

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker

Cast: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kevin Spacey

The movie that put David Fincher on the map, Se7en remains a taut, twisted thriller. The story follows detectives Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Mills (Brad Pitt) as they hunt a serial killer who uses the Seven Deadly Sins as inspiration for his killings. The movie has everyone involved playing at the top of their game in a movie that doesn’t shy away from bleakness or the darkness in humanity. The movie also shows that even with his second film, Fincher was already a master on the rise of cinema, and it’s remarkable to see how far he’s come when Se7en is already such an assured, confident picture. – Matt Goldberg

The Survivalist

Image via IFC Midnight

Writer/Director: Stephen Fingleton

Cast: Martin McCann, Mia Goth, Olwen Fouere

Post-apocalyptic dramas are a dime a dozen, but few have the restraint and austere honesty Stephen Fingleton‘s The SurvivalistMartin McCann stars as the titular nameless survivor, who has carved out a small space for himself in am unexplained post-apocalypse where ravagers roam the countryside, no one is to be trusted and desperation is deadly. With a small crop on his hidden land, the Survivalist maintains a meager living on his own with whatever bloodshed is required, until a beautiful young woman (Mia Goth) and her hawkish mother (Olwen Fouere) show up on his doorstep with an offer he can’t refuse.

Stark and dire, Fingleton’s vision of post-apocalyptic survivalism is a take-no-prisoners shade of depressing, but he fills the quiet moments with introspective character work and complex, shifting power dynamics. Every frame of the film with more than one person is fraught with tension because every person in the film is willing to kill at the drop of the hat, and the fluctuating loyalties, whims of nature, and misdeeds of men constantly threaten to throw a wrench in whatever peaceful moment may pass. Expertly paced with an assured tolerance for slow-burn silence, The Survivalist makes the minutes rich with suspense and punctuates the tension with blaring moments of violence and betrayal. — Haleigh Foutch

The Invitation

Image via Drafthouse Films

Director: Karyn Kusama

Writers: Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi

Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman, John Carroll Lynch, Michelle Krusiec, Mike Doyle, Jordi Vilasuso

Karyn Kusama displayed a knack for genre filmmaking with the wildly underrated teen possession pic Jennifer’s Body, but with The Invitation, she showed a more mature, refined hand for horror and sickening, stomach-churning tension. The film stars Logan Marshall-Green as Will, a man still stuck in the dregs of grief after the death of his young son when his ex-wife (Tammy Blanchard) invites him to a special dinner party, hosted at his old home. Will’s suspicions flare the moment he arrives — his ex-wife is too happy, her new lover (Michiel Huisman) is a slick creep, and their guests are acting supremely weird, but Kusama keeps you on a piano wire-taut leash wondering if Will’s grief is spinning out into paranoia or if they really are trapped in a suburban cage with a death cult.

Marshall-Green is outstanding as a man at the end of his rope, and Kusama’s eye for sinister detail pierces through even the quietest moments with a slick of cold sweat terror. Throughout the oh-so-polite dinner, she needles at social anxiety and the sickening dance of repressed aggression with precision until the persistent paranoia boils over. Sharp and smart, and occasionally downright creepy, The invitation proves it was a crime Hollywood kept Kusama in director’s jail for so long. — Haleigh Foutch

The Village

Image via Disney

Director/Writer: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, and Brendan Gleeson

There were extremely high expectations surrounding The Village when it was released, as director M. Night Shyamalan was coming off of a terrific run of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs. Some were disappointed in how The Village played out, but revisiting it all these years later, the craft and effectiveness remain incredibly potent. The story revolves around a private village in the 18th or 19th century, where citizens are warned not to go into the woods for fear of some malevolent force that threatens their lives. Even when you know where this movie is going, Shyamalan’s choices still get your heart racing. Add in genius cinematographer Roger Deakins behind the camera, and you get a deadly cocktail of pure cinema—even if the story leaves something to be desired. – Adam Chitwood


Image via the Orchard

Director: Patrick Bice

Writers: Mark Duplass and Patrick Bice

Cast: Mark Duplass, Patrick Bice

Who knew Mark Duplass could be so damn creepy? Duplass worked with director, co-writer and co-star Patrick Bice to explore the psyche of “Josef” a mysterious and deeply unsettling man whose need for intimacy spurs him to post a Craigslist ad in search of a filmmaker to chronicle his strange story. There’s just one problem — he may or may not be a killer. Bice stars as Aaron, the young filmmaker who lands the job and once he sets foot on Josef’s turf, Aaron is immersed in an uncomfortable and unusual situation that always threatens to go off the rails. As Josef, Duplass channels the charming, disarming and freaky as hell disposition of corporate snakes and thriving sociopaths. Is he a killer or just a weirdo you can’t say no to? Bice and Duplass have fun playing with audience expectations all the way up to the finale payoff — a fantastic, earned moment that cements the tension for long after the film. And here’s even more good news: Of Creep gives you the thrills you’re looking for, the sequel is just as good.– Haleigh Foutch

The Sixth Sense

Image via Disney

Writer/Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, and Olivia Williams

Yes, we all know the twist ending by now. And yet the power of The Sixth Sense isn’t derived solely from its twist ending. M. Night Shyamalan, before his movies became all about fooling the audience, crafts a deep and emotional story about grief and despair by following a psychologist (Bruce Willis in one of his best performances) and a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) who can see ghosts. Like all great movies with twist endings, The Sixth Sense continues to thrill and entrance because of everything that happens around that ending, from the compelling performances to the bittersweet conclusion. If you think you’ve got this one all figured out, you may want to give it another spin. – Matt Goldberg

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