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3 great Netflix thrillers you should watch on Christmas Day

Christian Bale holds a lantern in The Pale Blue Eye.
Scott Garfield/Netflix / Netflix

You don’t normally think of thrillers when Christmas rolls around. For many, comedies, dramas, or family films are usually the preferred genre to view on that day. It’s understandable, as many folks want to escape viewing Bill Murray encountering Christmas ghosts in Scrooged, laugh while watching Home Alone, or just be merry with Will Ferrell’s cheery Elf.

There’s a smaller crowd, however, that prefers their holidays to be a little darker, maybe even bloodier. That’s where these three thrillers come in. Now streaming on Netflix, each one serves up an ample dose of suspense that will take your mind off those Christmastime worries.

Need more holiday viewing suggestions? Then please check out the best Christmas movies to stream right now, the best Christmas movies on Netflix, the best Christmas movies on Hulu, the best Christmas movies on Max, the best Christmas movies on Disney+, the best Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel, 7 great Christmas movies you can watch for free, and 7 best funny Christmas movies you should watch this season.

The Pale Blue Eye (2022)

Christian Bale stands near a river in The Pale Blue Eye.
Scott Garfield/Netflix / Netflix

This one is criminally underrated, even though it’s relatively new. Given its extremely truncated run in theaters in late 2022, you probably missed seeing The Pale Blue Eye when it was on the big screen. That’s a shame, as the movie, set in snowy New York in the early 19th century, is gorgeous to look at and very appropriate viewing for the cold, cold month of December.

The Dark Knight actor Christian Bale stars as Augustus Landor, a former detective who hasn’t gotten over the death of his wife years ago. He’s an alcoholic, and his once-promising career has faded. When a cadet at West Point is found brutally murdered, Landor is coaxed out of retirement to solve the mysterious death. But Landor can’t do it alone, so he turns to one of Fry’s classmates to act as his partner on the case: Cadet Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling). The Pale Blue Eye is flawed (the killer’s identity is somewhat ludicrous), but it’s worth seeing Bale in a period thriller that ends in a way you won’t see coming.

A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)

A man looks at an empty street in A Walk Among the Tombstones.
Universal Pictures

For some reason, action movie star Liam Neeson and the grim, cold weather go hand in hand. In A Walk Among the Tombstones, Neeson stars as Matt Scudder, a former FBI agent-turned-private detective working the streets of New York City. When a drug kingpin (Dan Stevens) asks Scudder to find the men who murdered his wife, Matt’s investigation turns up a number of surprising revelations that force the PI to constantly address and re-address his moral compass.

A Walk Among the Tombstones is a great example of modern film noir with a tight script, memorable supporting characters, and a reliably strong lead performance by Neeson. It’s the right movie to watch if you have to work out some of that pent-up holiday aggression.

The Ice Road (2021)

Truck drivers stand next to a broken down truck in The Ice Road.

It’s Neeson again, and guess what? He’s still armed, angry, and ready to do something about it. The Ice Road stars Neeson as Mike, a big-rig truck driver with an attitude problem. When a crew of diamond miners is trapped inside their working quarters in the wake of a collapse, Mike must drive his truck across the harsh Canadian wilderness in a violent snowstorm to rescue the miners.

But as the weather worsens, Mike and his backup team are in for much more than they bargained for with the rescue mission. A very loose adaptation of the classic 1953 French thriller The Wages of Fear, The Ice Road may technically be an action movie, but it excels as a thriller, too. And the icy locations are perfect for viewing on Christmas Day when it’s supposed to be as cold as it is in the movie.

Editors' Recommendations

Jason Struss
Section Editor, Entertainment
Jason is a writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast whose love for cinema, television, and cheap comic books has led him to…
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