Thrillers are defined and recognised by the moods of excitement and suspense they bring out in audiences. Their stories aim to create anticipation using devices such as red herrings and plot twists, creating an eventful viewing experience.
They mostly come alongside crime and horror as a sub-genre. Plots explore the themes of paranoia, psychology, and obsession. These are investigated using a film’s stylistic approach.
The main character may not be directly ‘good’, instead, audiences are invited to follow a morally grey or antagonistic figure. This opens up an opportunity for analysis, as well as thrilling entertainment.
These ingredients attract endless attention and praise for the genre. The streaming site Netflix is consistent in putting out and including some top-notch contributions to the thriller genre. Anyone looking for a suspenseful thriller to stream should add this list to their watch list.
Best thrillers on Netflix:
11. The Platform (Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, 2019)
Gaztelu-Urruita blended thriller, horror and social science in this 2019 flick. Residents in a tower style “Vertical Self-Management Center” are switched every month between its many floors. Problems are consistent in this dystopian system, with a hierarchy established through how much each level is allowed to eat.
The single location addition of The Platform elevates the plot by providing a stressful and suffocating atmosphere. The lengths the residents go to so they can eat are almost too much to handle. It’s metaphorical concept provides interesting subtext that brands the film as a social thriller that is guaranteed entertainment.
10. I Care a Lot (J Blakeson, 2020)
A court-appointed legal guardian (Rosmund Pike) leads a deceitful career. However, her ruthless ways are soon challenged when her latest con victim comes with some dangerous ties.
This satirical black comedy offers a wild and entertaining ride that keeps audiences on their toes. The cast interact with each other with some dazzling chemistry, and, the tone tips between suspenseful and humorous. This provides a refreshing break in traditional thriller flicks.
9. Gerald’s Game (Mike Flanagan, 2017)
This psychological thriller was adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name, despite a previous opinion that the book couldn’t be made into a film. Cara Cugino and Bruce Greenwood play a couple who head to a cabin for a getaway. However, tragedy soon strikes, and Cugino is left in a horrific situation.
Flanagan’s film is a heart racing cry for help. The story experiments with hallucinations to represent its theme of trauma response and responsibility. Audiences are right with Cugino in her desperate and nerve-racking situation, and are soon pushed to crying at their screens for someone to help her.
8. Apostle (Gareth Evans, 2018)
This film takes a historical route by telling a story from the early 1900s. A young man travels to a mysterious island in hopes of finding his missing sister, only to become a victim of a blood thirsty cult.
The sinister members and acts in the cult are frightening to watch. Evans’ story combines suspense and visual gore to create fear in audiences. It’s a slow burner full of questions and folk imagery, everything builds up to a dramatic and creepy climax.
7. Creep (Patrick Bice, 2014)
This story was inspired by both Craiglist and numerous other classic thrillers. Director Patrick Bice also stars as a videographer who is assigned to capture moments with Mark Dupluss (who also co-wrote the film). Soon Bice begins to question Dupluss’ inner workings.
An unnerving anticipation takes over Creep as it goes further into its runtime. The found footage visuals and performances are naturalistic, granting the film a chilling atmosphere when the unorthodox actions begin to take flight. Dupluss makes the hair on the back of audiences necks stand up with his sinister mannerisms. Hardly anything in the film feels right.
6. Level 16 (Danishka Esterhazy, 2018)
A group of girls reside at a school aiming to educate on ideal femininity and perfection. Feeling as though something isn’t right, two of the girls plot to uncover the truth, no matter how sinister,
Its premise attracts Black Mirror and The Handmaid’s Tale fans due to its commentary and mysterious elements. The young cast gives promising and engaging performances to carry the intriguing plot, prompting audiences to ask question after question until the truth is revealed.
5. Oxygen (Alexandre Aja, 2021)
Horror filmmaker Alexandre Aja incorporates science-fiction with his thriller, which follows a woman (Melanie Laurent) wakes in a cryogenic chamber. With no idea of how she got there, she must find a way out before running out of air.
The logline encapsulates the suspense and anxiety the film creates. Its concept relies on the fear factor and mystery of the situation. CGI is included to elevate the spectacle, and the suffocating threat is an attack on audiences’ emotional state.
4. Rust Creek (Jen McGowan, 2019)
Screenwriter Julie Lipson’s story, a combination of crime and thriller, focuses on a college student who becomes lost while on a road trip. Criminals believe she is a witness to their actions, and so hunt her down in an attempt to save themselves.
McGowan’s direction is dependent on its atmosphere. It’s a slow burner of a story with an exploration of self-reliance, survival and revenge. Audiences can experience a sense of mystery mixed with rawness, with a hidden tragic tone to stir up emotions.
3. Velvet Buzzsaw (Dan Gilroy, 2019)
Jake Gyllenhal stars in this satirical black comedy thriller about art collectors discovering some unnamed paintings. They soon discover there’s a supernatural secret to these artworks, a secret that is in combat with the commodification of art.
Gilroy directs a film that explores money and greed conflicting with the principles of art. There’s a lot to offer cinematography wise, with some engaging close up shots at appropriate moments. Different tones are juggled together, as occasional blood and carnage interrupt the comedy, with an overall style that echoes Final Destination.
2. Operation Mincemeat (John Madden, 2022)
Set in the Second World War, two British intelligence officers carry out Operation Mincemeat. They plot to drop a corpse with false papers off the coast of Spain to fool Nazi spies into believing the Allied forces art about to attack Greece rather than Sicily.
This historical piece offers some engaging and interesting material to audiences, with specific hidden details to keep track of. A terrific cast conjures up some solid performances, and the plot depicts the stressful yet crucial environment of the historical event.
1. Uncut Gems (Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, 2019)
Comedy veteran Adam Sandler takes on a more dramatic role in this thrilling crime story. He plays a charismatic New Yorker jeweller who gets caught up in a messy and hectic series of events when he rents a rare jewel to an NBA player.
The Safdie brothers created an eccentric and powerful thrill ride. Unfortunately, it was initially overshadowed by The Lighthouse, Parasite and Joker, all released the same year. The story is stress inducing and nail biting, with some brilliant camera movement and soundtrack choice. Every audience member ends up begging for Sandler to quit whilst he’s ahead, and, as much as they may want to, they cannot look away from the film upon first viewing.