The best thrillers on Netflix right now

A solid thriller will stay with you for weeks. Whether for dizzying camera work, a twisted story, or intense performances, the genre is loaded with memorable films that shine a light on the sinister and seedy. And all for our entertainment.

If you dig a thriller and are subscribed to Netflix, you’re in luck. The streaming stalwart is no stranger to the thriller genre, and we’re no strangers to Netflix. If you’re in the mood for a provoking thriller but aren’t sure where to start, here’s a roundup of all the best thriller films you can watch on Netflix today.

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Killing Them Softly

Killing Them Softly (2012)

Adapted from George V. Higgins’ 1974 novel Cogan’s TradeKilling Them Softly stars Brad Pitt as Jackie Cogan, a hitman hired to track down a band of amateur thieves that robbed a Mafia-sanctioned poker game. The suspects at large are Squirrel (Vincent Curatola) and his hired thugs, Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn). As Jackie zeroes in on the perpetrators, old friends become enemies, the bullets start flying, and the bodies start dropping. Nominated for the 2012 Palme d’Or, writer-director Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly boasts an unbelievable cast of frequent Mafioso players like James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta, along with a carefully layered script for the film’s mighty talents to dig into.

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Stars: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini
Director: Andrew Dominik
Rating: R
Runtime: 97 minutes

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Knock Knock, best thrillers on Netflix

Knock Knock (2015)

In Eli Roth’s Knock Knock, Keanu Reeves is Evan, a happily married father of two who makes one hell of a bad decision. While his wife and children are away for the weekend, two women arrive at Evan’s front door. One is Genesis (Lorenza Izzo), and the other is Bell (Ana de Armas). They’re lost and can’t recall the address of a party they’re trying to get to. Evan lets them in to use his internet, which quickly escalates into something extramarital…and deadly. Written by Roth, Guillermo Amoedo, and Nicolás López, Knock Knock is a remake of the 1977 film Death Games, reimagined for the modern-day. Roth devotees may be let down by the lack of gore, but Knock Knock plays as an erotic thriller, not a bloodbath. It’s the kind of film that ramps up the pain in other ways, and often slower than something that just leaps out and bites.

Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas
Director: Eli Roth
Rating: R
Runtime: 99 minutes

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Piercing (2018)

Reed is a near-homicidal family man who needs an outlet for his inner rage. So, he decides on a prostitute. Not for sex. For murdering. What he didn’t expect was Jackie (Mia Wasikowska), a call girl just as cunning, sadistic, and merciless as Reed himself. When the two get together, Reed’s killer plan disintegrates before his eyes, and a wicked game of cat and mouse begins. Piercing is an adaptation of Ryū Murakami’s novel of the same name, source material that writer-director Nicholas Pesce pays great respect to. This vision is only furthered by the perfectly-cast Abbott and Wasikowska, two versatile actors who flourish as the wretched psychopaths of Piercing.

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Stars: Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska, Laia Costa
Director: Nicholas Pesce
Rating: R
Runtime: 121 minutes

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Taxi Driver on Netflix

Taxi Driver (1976)

One of Martin Scorsese’s early movies remains one of his most poignant. In Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a disillusioned cabbie with dreams of assassinating presidential candidate Charles Palantine. He also finds it in his heart to rescue a prostitute (played by a 12-year-old Jodie Foster) and assassinate her pimp. The backdrop of the Vietnam War looms large over the film, as Bickle’s vigilantism makes him a hero to some and an antihero to others, building toward a climactic shootout and an unforgettable ending that remains up for interpretation to this day.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes

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Calibre (2018)

When two lifelong friends, a businessman and his pal from boarding school, head out for a hunting weekend in the Scottish Highlands, things quickly turn ugly. The old friends find themselves unexpectedly panicked and dealing with dire situations they never thought they would face. The British thriller, originally released on Netflix, was described by Variety as an “intensely terrifying twist on Deliverance.”

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Jack Lowden, Martin McCann, Tony Curran
Director: Matt Palmer
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 101 minutes

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Drive on Netflix

Drive (2011)

Drive is one of the most stylish movies of the last decade, and a showcase for the skills of director Nicolas Winding Refn. The film is based on James Sallis’ novel, with Ryan Gosling as the unnamed Driver. By day, he is a Hollywood stunt driver. But on the side, he leads a much more exciting life as a getaway driver for criminals. The Driver is also romantically drawn to his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan). However, the return of Irene’s husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), seemingly makes that relationship impossible. Regardless, the Driver and Standard get involved with a dangerous heist that proves to be deadly. The Driver’s skills are put to the ultimate test as he tries to make it out intact, and it’s a thrill every step of the way.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Rating: R
Runtime: 100 minutes

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The Gift

The Gift (2011)

Stalker thrillers tend to be by-the-numbers and predictable. However, The Gift breaks the mold by throwing real uncertainty into the mix. Joel Edgerton wrote, directed, and starred in the film as Gordon “Gordo” Moseley, a man who reunites with his “friend,” Simon Callem (Jason Bateman). Simon’s wife, Robyn (Rebecca Hall) doesn’t seem to have a problem with Gordo’s affection or his lavish gifts. But Simon suspects that Gordo is targeting him for revenge. The truth turns out to be more elusive. While Gordo’s actions are suspect, it’s Simon’s character that comes into question. Is he truly the victim of a lifelong scheme? Or is Simon simply a master of manipulation? The Gift plays its cards close to the vest before finally showing its hand.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Stars: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton
Director: Joel Edgerton
Rating: R
Runtime: 108 minutes

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Zodiac (2007)

The identity of the Zodiac killer remains one of the most tantalizing unsolved mysteries of the 20th century. But that didn’t stop director David Fincher from making Zodiac into an amazing thriller that blends fact and fiction. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Robert Graysmith, a political cartoonist who finds himself drawn into the Zodiac case because of his ability to decipher the killer’s enigmatic messages. Crime reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) starts sharing info with Graysmith as the Zodiac Killer escalates his reign of terror in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The quest to find Zodiac becomes all-consuming for Graysmith as he and Avery attempt to hunt the hunter. It’s an engrossing film with a dynamic cast that also includes Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Chloë Sevigny, Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch, and Dermot Mulroney.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chloë Sevigny
Director: David Fincher
Rating: R
Runtime: 157 minutes

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The Guest

The Guest (2014)

In The Guest, Dan Stevens is so charming as David Collins that we don’t want to believe that he’s got dark secrets that will threaten everyone else around him. As the Peterson family grieves over the loss of their son, Craig, in the Afghanistan War, David presents himself as a close friend of Craig who has just returned home. The Petersons welcome David into their lives, and he becomes a surrogate son for Spencer (Leland Orser) and Laura (Sheila Kelley), while acting as a big brother to Luke (Brendan Meyer). However, Anna (Maika Monroe) becomes suspicious about David’s story and she begins to investigate his past. But David doesn’t tolerate threats from anyone, and when his cover is blown, no one is safe from his reach.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Stars: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser
Director: Adam Wingard
Rating: R
Runtime: 100 minutes

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Icarus (2017)

While exploring and experimenting with the idea of illegal doping in sports and how easy it is to use performance-enhancing drugs and evade detection, Bryan Fogel uncovers an international doping scandal. The documentary follows Fogel through his journey in amateur cycling and the explosive allegations by Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of the Russian anti-doping laboratory. Rodchenkov started out by simply helping Fogel with his experiment before eventually revealing alleged Olympic doping programs and his involvement with them. The movie earned Fogel an Academy Award for Best Documentary Film.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Stars: Bryan Fogel, Grigory Rodchenkov
Director: Bryan Fogel
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 121 minutes

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Uncut Gems on Netflix

Uncut Gems (2019)

In Uncut Gems, Adam Sandler stars as a jeweler with a gambling addiction on the hunt for an expensive gem he bought to pay off mounting debts. Sandler was lauded for his performance, proving once again that he can do far more than play characters that provide silly humor and cheap laughs. Critics praised Sandler’s dramatic chops upon the film’s release, as well as the Safdie brothers, who have an undisputed knack for delivering stress-inducing films at every turn.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Idina Menzel
Directors: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
Rating: R
Runtime: 135 minutes

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El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, on Netflix

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

For fans of the AMC series Breaking Bad, this flick is the epilogue they’ve been waiting for to address the unanswered question of what happened to Jesse Pinkman. For others who might not have seen Breaking Bad, it’s still a fabulous film about a young man on the run from a clearly sordid past. It wraps Pinkman’s story up with a nice little bow and delivers plenty of cameos and throwback references from the original series to make it a worthwhile watch for any fan who has been missing the show.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Stars: Aaron Paul, Jonathan Banks
Director: Vince Gilligan
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 122 minutes

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The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

Matthew McConaughey is Mickey Haller, a criminal defense attorney who discovers that a high-profile murder case he has recently taken on might be connected to one he handled in the past and that his client might have murdered others. The story is adapted from Michael Connelly novels, including the 2005 book of the same name and others featuring the character of Haller. McConaughey was praised for his charming performance as the lawyer who conducts most of his business from the backseat of his car, and the film itself has been called “briskly enjoyable entertainment.”

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, Michael Pena
Director: Brad Furman
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 minutes

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Rukh (2017)

Offered in Hindi, this film tells the story of an 18-year-old young man who is sent to boarding school after injuring another student in a fight, who then receives word while he’s away that his father has died in a car accident. As he searches for the truth about what really happened, he uncovers more than he bargained for. His father was not only likely murdered, but his family was caught up in activities he could never have imagined.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: Manoj Bajpayee, Smita Tambe, Kumud Mishra, Adarsh Gourav
Director: Atanu Mukherjee
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 106 minutes

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Every Time I Die

Every Time I Die (2019)

In a theme that’s been explored in many different ways of late through both TV series and movies, this film is about a man whose consciousness is transferred to the bodies of others after his death. Each time he enters the body of a new friend, he tries to warn them about the person who killed him and protect them from the culprit and harm. While the movie only has nine reviews thus far on Rotten Tomatoes, it has been universally lauded by all who have watched it. So it might be worth checking out if you’re looking for something beyond the typical Hollywood-backed films.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: Drew Fonteiro, Marc Menchaca, Michelle Macedo, Tyler White, Melissa Macedo
Director: Robi Michael
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 98 minutes

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Nightcrawler on Netflix

Nightcrawler (2014)

Journalism ethics remains a hot topic today, but it has never been fictionalized better than in Nightcrawler. Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a stringer who will go to any lengths necessary to capture raw footage on his camcorder and sell it to the local TV station in Los Angeles. Bloom isn’t above manipulating the crime scene or even taking a larger personal stake in the action if it maximizes his recordings — not to mention his leverage over Nina, the morning news director. Ethics are cast aside by the power of the almighty dollar, reminding the audience “if it bleeds, it leads.” Jake Gyllenhaal is as compelling as ever in a film that was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo
Director: Dan Gilroy
Rating: R
Runtime: 117 minutes

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