The best thrillers on Netflix

What do you watch when you’re in the mood for drama, suspense, and intrigue but don’t necessarily want to be scared out of your wits? This is the perfect time to curl up on the couch with some popcorn and queue up one of the many enthralling thrillers Netflix currently offers.

Here, we’ve rounded up the best available, whether you’re a fan of the Safdie brothers or have an appetite — no pun intended — for a cannibalistic cult classic designed to make you squirm.

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The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

One of the most psychologically terrifying movies of the ’90s, this film put Sir Anthony Hopkins’ talents on full display as the brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter. As FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster in an equally compelling performance) meets with him in hopes that he can help her track down another serial killer named Buffalo Bill, he revels in the chance to manipulate and toy with her. Based on the Thomas Harris novel of the same name, it is one of many TV and film interpretations of the story but remains among the best.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars: Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine
Director: Jonathan Demme
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 minutes

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Ruth Hurl / Element Pictures

Room (2015)

Based on the 2010 novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue, this independent film put Brie Larson on the map as one of the brightest upcoming actors of the decade. Before she became Captain Marvel, Larson was a woman escaping captivity after seven years, her 5-year-old son in tow. While she must deal with reintegrating back into life, the young boy is seeing the real world for the first time. Touching, traumatic, and inspiring of hope, the film was unsurprisingly nominated for four Academy Awards; Larson won for Best Actress.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Stars: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, William H. Macy
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 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. The British thriller, originally released on Netflix, was described by Variety as an “intensely terrifying twist on Deliverance.”

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Stars: Jack Lowden, Martin McCann, Tony Curran
Director: Matt Palmer
Rating: NR
Runtime: 101 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%
Genre: Documentary, Sport, Thriller
Stars: Bryan Fogel, Grigory Rodchenkov
Director: Bryan Fogel
Rating: MA
Runtime: 121 minutes

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Uncut Gems (2019)

In Uncut Gems, Adam Sandler stars as a Jewish 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%
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Idina Menzel
Director: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
Rating: R
Runtime: 135 minutes

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Suburra (2015)

Financed by Netflix and RAI, this Italian-language neo-noir crime film is based on the Carlo Bonini and Giancarlo De Cataldo novel of the same name. The story is inspired by real events from the Mafia Capitale in 2011, involving organized crime and politics in Rome. If you really want to delve even deeper into the story, check out the 2017-released prequel TV series, Suburra: Blood on Rome, before or after watching the flick. Set in 2008, the series looks at the events that led up to what happened in the film. There have been two seasons to date, with a third and final season set to debut in 2020.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars: Pierfrancesco Favino, Elio Germano, Claudio Amendola
Director: Stefano Sollima
Rating: NR
Runtime: 135 minutes

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El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

For fans of AMC series Breaking Bad, this flick is the epilogue they’d 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%
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Stars: Aaron Paul
Director: Vince Gilligan
Rating: MA
Runtime: 122 minutes

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District 9 (2009)

The scene is an alternate 1982 when an alien spaceship has landed on Earth with sick and malnourished insectoid aliens that are sent to an internment camp called District 9. Two decades later while being relocated, one escapes with his son and tries to return home. Inspired by Cape Town’s District Six during the apartheid era, the film is designed, in part, to feature what looks like found footage, including interviews, news broadcasts, and surveillance videos, and it highlights themes like xenophobia and social segregation.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Stars: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, David James
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Rating: 14A
Runtime: 112 minutes

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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%
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, Michael Pena, John Leguizamo, Bryan Cranston, William H. Macy
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, 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%
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Stars: Manoj Bajpayee, Smita Tambe, Kumud Mishra, Adarsh Gourav
Director: Atanu Mukherjee
Rating: NR
Runtime: 106 minutes

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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 eight reviews thus far, 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-hyped films.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Thriller
Stars: Drew Fonteiro, Marc Menchaca, Michelle Macedo, Tyler White, Melissa Macedo
Director: Robi Michael
Rating: NR
Runtime: 98 minutes

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