The best thrillers on Hulu right now

Want to bring the weekend in by solving a murder? What about holing up inside a hotel room and believing your skin is infected with insects planted by a malicious government? Not exactly your bag? Want to watch someone else do it? Sounds like watching a thriller should be in the cards for you. An effective thriller flick will typically present challenging circumstances to innocent (or not so innocent) folks, forcing the victims to contend with the unfair hand they’ve been dealt. As lovers of the genre and the nail-biting it brings, we’ve taken the liberty of combing through Hulu’s library to hand-pick the best of the bunch. Here’s our roundup of the best thriller movies on Hulu.

Hulu isn’t the only streaming platform around. Thankfully, we’ve also put together guides to the best thrillers on Netflix and the best thrillers on Amazon Prime.

Bug, the best thrillers on Hulu

Bug (2006)

William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) takes us to a devastatingly claustrophobic place in Bug. Agnes (Ashley Judd), an Oklahoma bartender, is still reeling from the disappearance of her son years before. Connecting with Peter Evans (Michael Shannon), an ex-pat and a newcomer to the little town, Agnes and Peter begin a romantic relationship that quickly spirals into one of fear and paranoia when Peter reveals that the motel room they share is filled with bugs (literal insects), planted by the U.S. government in anticipation of Peter’s arrival. Gripping from start to finish, and boasting two excellent performances from Judd and Shannon, Bug will definitely get under your skin.

Rotten Tomatoes: 62%
Stars: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Lynn Collins
Director: William Friedkin
Rating: R
Runtime: 102 minutes

Watch on Hulu

Vanilla Sky

Vanilla Sky (2002)

When David Aames (Tom Cruise), a publishing magnate, is in a traumatic car accident, the collision leaves him with harrowing face wounds. David falls for Sofia (Penélope Cruz), a woman that he’s introduced to at a party. The two grow close, only for David to wake up one day in a life that is not totally his own. Feeling something like a cross between a surreal dream and a sci-fi epic, the thrills of Vanilla Sky are unexpected, bizarre, and wholly original. A hybrid of genres and a film that operates on its own terms, it’s one you don’t want to miss. Stream it before it’s gone.

Rotten Tomatoes: 42%
Stars: Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz
Director: Cameron Crowe
Rating: R
Runtime: 144 minutes

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Alone

Alone (2020)

Alone stars Jules Willcox as Jessica, a widowed woman in the midst of relocating her life. On the car drive from her old stomping grounds to her new home, she encounters a mysterious stranger (Marc Menchaca) — a presence that pops up at several waypoints along Jessica’s route. After an unwelcome confrontation, Jessica awakens in the basement of the man’s home. She’s able to escape, but not without the stranger giving chase. A tense match of humans vs. wilderness, Alone is smartly scripted, passionately acted, and perfectly shot.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald
Director: John Hyams
Rating: R
Runtime: 98 minutes

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The Descent

The Descent (2006)

In the wake of a horrific tragedy, a group of six friends embarks on a spelunking adventure in the Appalachian Mountains. Led by Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) and Juno (Alex Reid), all is going swimmingly until a part of the cave collapses, trapping the crew inside an unmarked cave system. What’s worse is that the long-hidden catacombs are the home of pale-white humanoids known as “crawlers” — carnivorous creatures with a longing for human flesh. A day in the peaceful, underground wilderness quickly devolves into an all-out nightmare as Sarah and friends fight to make it out of the caves alive. A thrilling watch from start to finish, featuring great performances from the six principals and claustrophobic cinematography, The Descent is one you won’t soon forget.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Stars: Shauna MacDonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid
Director: Neil Marshall
Rating: R
Runtime: 100 minutes

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Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State (1998)

When a meeting between NSA official Thomas Brian Reynolds (Jon Voight) and Phil Hammersley (Jason Robards) ends with the death of the latter, video evidence of the crime in question is obtained by one Daniel Zavitz (Jason Lee). Zavitz reaches out to a journalist friend to present the evidence, but not before Reynolds and his NSA goons close in on him. In a panic, Zavitz places the videotape in the shopping bag of college bud and labor lawyer, Robert Dean (Will Smith). The NSA then switches their crosshairs to Robert, who believes he’s being tracked for revenge by mobster Paulie Pintero, a man Robert was working a case against. A tense political thriller way ahead of its time, Enemy of the State presents a fictionalized deconstruction of national security in the clutches of movers and shakers that will stop at nothing for their own gains.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Stars: Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight
Director: Tony Scott
Rating: R
Runtime: 132 minutes

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12 Hour Shift

12 Hour Shift (2020)

In 12 Hour Shift, Angela Bettis stars as Mandy, a nurse with a drug problem. To fuel her fixes, she and her co-worker, Karen (Nikea Gamby-Turner), have set up an operation to transport patient organs into the hands of black-market men. After bringing her cousin, Regina (Chloe Farnworth), onboard, a mixup with a kidney unfurls a chain of horrific events as Nicholas (Mick Foley), Mandy’s trafficker, demands the organs. Mandy and her team must turn to a deeper kind of diabolical deed to pay up, or risk their very lives if they fail. A powerful siege thriller with an incredible female ensemble, 12 Hour Shift will make you wonder exactly what’s going on behind the scenes at your local hospital or doctor’s office. Hopefully not anything on display in this film.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Stars: Angela Bettis, David Arquette, Chloe Farnworth
Director: Brea Grant
Rating: R
Runtime: 86 minutes

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The Clovehitch Killer

The Clovehitch Killer (2018)

In The Clovehitch Killer, Dylan McDermott stars as Don. A beloved scoutmaster and endearing father figure, it’s easy for his son, Tyler (Charlie Plummer), to look up to him … that is until Tyler discovers a trove of horrific photographs in his father’s possession. The unearthing of images plants a seed in Tyler’s mind that his dear parent may actually be the infamous “Clovehitch Killer,” a serial murderer who vanished without a trace 10 years prior. In this ultra-compelling slow burn of a feature, director Duncan Skiles brings remarkable tension and hyper-cinematography to a tight script by Christopher Ford.

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Stars: Dylan McDermott, Charlie Plummer, Samantha Mathias, Madisen Beaty
Director: Duncan Skiles
Rating: R
Runtime: 110 minutes

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Only God Forgives

Only God Forgives (2013)

The streets of Bangkok run red in Nicolas Winding Refn’s visually intoxicating revenge-thriller, Only God Forgives. Julian (Ryan Gosling), an expatriate, runs an underground Muay Thai club and drug circuit with his older brother, Billy (Tom Burke). When Billy murders an underage prostitute, her father, under the authority of Thai police Lieutenant Chang, exacts his revenge on Billy, killing him. The brothers’ enraged mob-boss widow mother, Crystal, arrives (played by Kristin Scott Thomas), demanding Julian take revenge for Billy’s death, and all hell breaks loose. A bleak and unwavering film, Only God Forgives is a daring Hulu title that we can’t recommend enough. Be prepared for ultra-violence though — it’s Refn’s specialty.

Rotten Tomatoes: 41%
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Burke
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Rating: R
Runtime: 90 minutes

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The Tenant

The Tenant (1976)

When Trelkovsky (Roman Polanski) rents an apartment in Paris, his generally tranquil nature is quickly uprooted by a series of disturbances. For one, there are the cold and outright belligerent neighbors who seem to despise him for no reason. Then there’s the attempted suicide by his apartment’s previous inhabitant. And who could forget the human tooth lodged in the wall? Wait, what? Roman Polanski co-writes, directs, and stars in The Tenant, the last of his “Apartment Trilogy” films (the latter two features being Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby). Surreal and chilling, The Tenant doesn’t get the attention that many of Polanski’s other films receive.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Stars: Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas
Director: Roman Polanski
Rating: R
Runtime: 126 minutes

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Rent-A-Pal

Rent-A-Pal (2020)

Rent-A-Pal stars Brian Landis Folkins as David, an ill-dressed loner looking for a companion of any kind. When the recluse comes into possession of a mysterious VHS tape “Rent-A-Pal,” the man takes to the charismatic host on the TV screen, a man named Andy (Wil Wheaton). As David takes to Andy’s onscreen company, the vicarious friendship quickly devolves into something more sinister. Led by incredible performances and an imaginative and poignant story, Rent-A-Pal shows no mercy, neither to its characters or its audience.

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Stars: Wil Wheaton, Brian Landis Folkins, Kathleen Brady
Director: Jon Stevenson
Rating: R
Runtime: 108 minutes

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She Dies Tomorrow

She Dies Tomorrow (2020)

Remember that party you went to where everyone thought they were going to die? Neither do we, but if Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) from She Dies Tomorrow mentions her own impending death to you, you too will be consumed by her existential doom. Writer/director Amy Seimetz is back with this bizarre and heady feature in which an entire town comes to believe that each denizen will walk the plank to their grave … tomorrow. Funny, moody, and filled with homages to the dark world of David Lynch, She Dies Tomorrow gets a double thumbs-up from us.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Stars: Kate Lyn Sheil, Jane Adams, Kentucker Audley
Director: Amy Seimetz
Rating: R
Runtime: 84 minutes

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Shirley

Shirley (2020)

Free room and board is never a bad deal, that is unless your proprietors are a psychologically disturbed horror novelist and her domineering college professor husband. In Josephine Decker’s Shirley (an adaptation of the Susan Scarf Merrell novel of the same name) Elisabeth Moss plays the title role of Shirley Jackson, delivering a subtle but deeply disturbing portrait of the challenged author. Rose and Fred Nemser, the young couple that takes up residence at the Jackson home, are soon engulfed in a world of nightmarish proportions and strange sexual undertones. A mind-trip for sure, Shirley is all about the slow descent of all characters into Shirley’s personal hell. Misery loves company, they say.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Stars: Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young
Director: Josephine Decker
Rating: R
Runtime: 107 minutes

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The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker (2009)

Danger is always lurking around the corner during war, but some military jobs carry more risk than others. Members of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal during the Iraq War had the unforgiving job of identifying and disabling explosives hidden everywhere from the ground, buildings, and in the trunks of abandoned cars. The stress of the job is unfathomable to most, including some on the team, but it’s a vital job that needs to be done, despite death being a possibility at a moment’s notice. The Hurt Locker keeps viewers on the edge of their seat, never revealing when the next explosion is coming and really giving viewers a fair and heart-pounding perspective of the danger of the job. The film, new to Hulu this December, won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the only movie directed by a woman (Kathryn Bigelow) with that distinction.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Rating: R
Runtime: 131 minutes

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Sarah Paulson and Kiera Allen in Run, on Hulu

Run (2020)

Sarah Paulson is having a moment — well, she’s always having a moment. The star actress is capping off the year with Run, an intense thriller originally set for theatrical release on Mother’s Day 2020, instead now exclusive to Hulu. Paulson stars as a mother who seems to be harboring a deep secret, as her isolated daughter Chloe is slowly discovering. Kiera Allen, who plays Chloe, matches Paulson scene for scene and advances the conversation about representation in film, as Allen is a wheelchair-bound actress. Run is the highlight of original movies that arrived to the streaming service in November.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: Sarah Paulson, Kiera Allen, Pat Healy
Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 90 minutes

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Parasite

Parasite (2019)

Arguably the most talked-about movie of 2019, director Bong Joon-ho hit it out of the park with this black comedy thriller about a poor family in South Korea who, in an attempt to improve their dire straits, hatch a seemingly clever plan. They each recommend one another for a job working for a wealthy family when, in reality, not a single one of them is qualified to fill the position they get. Sweeping the Academy Awards with four Oscars, including two of the most coveted ones, Best Picture and Best Director, the film transcends language and culture and gets right to the heart of issues like social inequality and wealth disparity.

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Stars: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun, Jang Hye-jin
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Rating: R
Runtime: 132 minutes

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Prisoners

Prisoners (2013)

Jails aren’t the only prisons. Prisoners stars Hugh Jackman as Keller Dover, a man whose child was kidnapped on Thanksgiving, along with one of the daughter’s friends. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is tasked with finding the girls and bringing the kidnapper to justice. Dover eventually takes things into his own hands and both he and Loki deploy less-than-legal techniques to locate the victims. Jackman and Gyllenhaal both give passionate, stripped-down performances that resonate long after the credits roll, while the movie never drops its thrilling element, leaving audiences in suspense until the end.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Rating: R
Runtime: 153 minutes

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Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

The Mission Impossible films have been hugely successful, and this is one of just two of the films in the franchise you can stream via Hulu. In this, the fourth installment, Tom Cruise reprises his role as IMF agent Ethan Hunt whose latest mission (should he choose to accept it, of course) is to find the bad guy who is about to do something terrible with newly acquired Russian nuclear launch codes. Grab the popcorn as this one will be a bumpy, but thoroughly entertaining ride.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton
Director: Brad Bird
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 128 minutes

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The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

When a group of college students set out to a remote cabin to party, they end up getting more than they bargained for. Pivoting more toward the horror genre, this thriller sees the young adults getting unknowingly drugged and used as lab rats by technicians in an underground lab who look on as monsters and zombies attack them, one by one. Co-written by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), the film has been praised for managing to be funny, strange, and scary, oddly all at the same time.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison
Director: Drew Goddard
Rating: R
Runtime: 95 minutes

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Con Air

Con Air (1997)

Nicolas Cage has a … unique … reputation now, but he used to be the typical Hollywood star, plying his craft mostly through action and thriller films. One of his best roles is as Cameron Poe in Con Air, where Cage plays a veteran charged with murder after defending his family from an attack. Upon being paroled, Poe finds himself caught up in an escape attempt on a prisoner transport plane with several very dangerous and disturbed convicts. Poe must battle from the inside to escape with his life and reunite with his family, including the daughter he has never met. The acting may seem extreme at times, but the action sequences are well-paced, keeping the thrills coming.

Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Stars: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, John Malkovich
Director: Simon West
Rating: R
Runtime: 115 minutes

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Super 8

Super 8 (2011)

Produced by Steven Spielberg, this movie is set in 1979, when a group of decides to film a movie on Super 8. But when a train derails, something strange starts happening in their town. Given the time period, it’s no surprise the movie has been compared to others that were actually made during the ’80s, like E.T., Stand by Me, and The Goonies, but with a darker, more ominous approach. While the concept might not be entirely original, the film is worth watching for the impressive technical and special effects alone, for which it won many awards.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Stars: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Gabriel Basso, Noah Emmerich
Director: J.J. Abrams
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 112 minutes

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Destroyer on Hulu

Destroyer (2018)

A former undercover cop seeks revenge on the gang she was once embedded in, more than a decade after a bank robbery the gang committed. If the plot doesn’t drive you to watch Destroyer, the tour de force performance of Nicole Kidman should. Even though the film was a box office flop, Kidman gave it her all, turning in a remarkable performance that sheds any previous notions of limitations she has as an actress. Dark, gritty, and unrelenting, Destroyer is a tremendous trip that should go down as one of Kidman’s greatest cinematic roles, one which earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Star: Nicole Kidman
Director: Karyn Kusama
Rating: R
Runtime: 121 minutes

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Eye in the Sky

Eye in the Sky (2015)

The film marks the late Alan Rickman’s last live-action project and was dedicated to his memory. Exploring the ethics of drone warfare, it is set in Nairobi, Kenya, where an undercover British/Kenyan agent has been murdered by a terrorist group and the hunt begins to take them down. British Army Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) must decide if she should give the go-ahead for a missile attack to take out suicide bombers. But there’s a wrench in the plan: an innocent young girl is on the premises and there’s a high probability she would be killed, too. The film truly makes you examine the question, what is the cost of war?

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Barkhad Abdi, Jeremy Northam, Iain Glen
Director: Gavin Hood
Rating: R
Runtime: 102 minutes

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Coherence on Hulu

Coherence (2014)

If you’re in the mood for a psychological thriller, this one might satisfy your craving. After a comet passes by while friends are enjoying a dinner party, there’s a strange power outage; then, strange things start to happen. The friends discover a box with photos of themselves at a dinner party set for eight in an empty house across the street. It turns out the other house is an alternate, a sort of upside-down, bizarro carbon copy of the world, with identical replicas of each person there, just as confused as they are. It’s like a twisty, mind-bending funhouse come to life, and viewers will enjoy going along for the ride.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Stars: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon
Director: James Ward Byrkit
Rating: NR
Runtime: 88 minutes

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Arbitrage

Arbitrage (2012)

Fraud is the starting point for Arbitrage, as Robert Miller (Richard Gere) attempts to sell his company for more than $400 million, despite cooking the books. But that’s just the beginning of Miller’s problems, as the stress of his illegal dealings and an affair result in a car accident that takes the life of his mistress, which he must then cover-up to avoid further scrutiny from the authorities. Miller’s selfish decisions continue to have ramifications on his life, as he loses the respect and trust of everyone around him as he tries to keep himself out of trouble. Gere was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance, considered one of the best of his career.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Stars: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling
Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Rating: R
Runtime: 107 minutes

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