Film & TV
This post was updated on September 7, 2018.
Everyone loves a good thriller: the kind of movie that gets your heart racing, adrenaline pumping, and maybe even makes you lose a night of sleep. The best mystery thrillers, though, are the ones you can stream right away, from the comfort of your own couch. This list contains everything from psychological thrillers and suspense movies, to crime dramas and cat and mouse tales—all available right now for your viewing pleasure.
This Netflix original (like a shocking number of others) suffered from a lack of marketing upon its October 2017 release. Created to thrill any B-movie lover with a taste for action, Wheelman stars Frank Grillo (Zero Dark Thirty, Captain America: Civil War) as a getaway driver. The movie takes place almost entirely in the driver’s car, as he talks to his family on the phone, escapes the scene of a bank robbery, and is carjacked as he attempts his escape. The thrills speed by as quickly as the driver does.
Moon is a genre-bending thrill fest, with the trappings of horror, science fiction, and thriller alike. Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, a man who has spent the last three years mining a valuable material on the far side of the moon. Nearing the end of his contract, Sam is excited to go home and meet his young daughter for the first time. But soon, he realizes that there’s something strange happening on board his base.
When the mysterious Kat Carter (Eliza Taylor) arrives in town, the fragile balance between the town’s gentrified middle-class and dark drug-dealing underbelly collapses. Kat befriends Beaver, a teenage boy who was lured into one of the town’s illicit gangs that is heavily involved with the transport of drugs in the surrounding area. Pablo Schreiber plays Wyatt Rivers, the local drug-dealer, and Lena Headey appears as a police handler trying to bring the drug suppliers down. This thriller shows both sides of the track with equal understanding.
The Lovely Bones
Based on the 2002 novel by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones tells the story of Susie Salmon, a 14-year-old girl who is lured into a secret underground bunker by her neighbor and brutally murdered. Susie (Saoirse Ronan) watches from the “in-between,” neither the afterworld nor the realm of the living, as her family and murderer slowly return to their daily lives, and as she learns to come to terms with her own death.
The Lovely Bones takes the idea of the “in-between” to a new level. It’s enchanting and beautiful, but viewers never forget that no matter how lovely the place is, Susie's still dead, her family still mourns and her killer is still on the loose. Eerie and atmospheric, you’ll be left desperate for Susie’s loved ones to track down her killer.
Clear and Present Danger
In Clear and Present Danger, Harrison Ford takes a second spin as Jack Ryan. Ryan is appointed Deputy Director in the wake of a murder that has put the president in self-proclaimed clear and present danger. Ryan must navigate the politics of his new situation and of the president’s desire to take down a Colombian drug cartel.
This underrated film by Christopher Nolan will keep you guessing until the very last frame. As two magicians (Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale) compete with each other to create the biggest and best illusion possible in late 19th-century London, the stakes get higher and higher. With a cameo by no less than David Bowie as Nikola Tesla, The Prestige is full of surprises.
This teen thriller with a streak of pitch-black humor will keep you in stitches. If you befriended a psychotic high school serial killer whose next victim was utterly unpredictable, wouldn’t you be a little freaked? When Veronica (Winona Ryder) gets sick of her clique, made up of three girls named Heather, she quickly gets in over her head, thanks to new boy in town, J.D.
J.D. is the perfect rebellious, sexy bad boy. But as Veronica realizes that his bad boy posturing is all-too-real, she has to choose: Will she join J.D. on the dark side and get her revenge? Or is Veronica too pure for her own good? When J.D. reveals his plan to demolish the school and everyone in it, it’s up to Veronica to stop him.
Set high in the rural Ozark mountains, Winter’s Bone follows Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) as she hunts for the father who abandoned her family. But not for reasons you may expect. Ree’s father is a drug dealer who’s gone missing, and a local officer has just informed Ree that he put their family home up as his bond. She’s in a race against time to find her father and protect her mentally ill mother, 12-year-old brother and 6-year-old sister.
The closer Ree gets to the truth, the harder everyone around her tries to stop the facts from coming out. Her uncle says her father is most likely dead, but Ree won’t be stopped. She pushes forward to uncover the dark truth of her father’s life and prevent her family from unraveling.
This comedic thriller, based on Elmore Leonard's book of the same name, takes on gangsters, Hollywood, and less-than-honorable debts. Featuring what may be John Travolta’s best performance and supporting cast that ranges from Bette Midler to Danny DeVito, Get Shorty is sure to satisfy with both thrills and laughter.
Night crawling: where one person’s tragic misfortune can become another’s profit. Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is desperate for work. After a run-in with a group of freelance camera crews at a car accident, he’s sucked into the high-stakes world of filming crashes, fires, murders, and others. They collect footage to sell to local television stations.
But the deeper Bloom gets into crawling, the more the line between observer and participant blurs. You’ll find yourself fascinated by the terrifying anti-hero and the dark side of L.A.
Yes, The Machinist is that dark movie where Christian Bale looks like a skeleton. Trevor Reznik’s (Christian Bale) insomnia has gotten so severe it has taken a toll on his weight and mental health. Ever so slowly, he begins to spiral into paranoia... a paranoia responsible for an accident at work that causes a coworker to be horribly injured. Shortly after, Trevor is fired from his job.
He begins obsessively writing notes to himself to track his diminishing weight, and sticks them all over his apartment. When Trevor finds some that he never wrote mixed in with the others, and begins seeing shadowy figures, he becomes convinced someone is out to get him. He takes it upon himself to track down this person. Haunting and harrowing, The Machinist is a psychological thriller that taps into some of our deepest fears. Good luck falling asleep after watching this one.
David Lynch has a particular way of making his viewers feel uncomfortably close to his unhinged characters and their twisted stories—See: Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, or the shaky headtrip that is Inland Empire. In Blue Velvet, Jeffery (Kyle MacLachlan) has returned to his small home town of Lumberton to manage the family’s hardware store while his father is in the hospital after suffering a stroke. One day, while walking home in a field, he finds a severed human ear in the grass.
Naturally curious, Jeffery soon finds himself sucked into a search for the ear’s owner. Jeffery’s hunt leads him to a mysterious nightclub, where he meets a beautiful female singer and a group of psychos. The gang is led by Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), a raging madman you won’t be able to look away from. Jeffrey soon learns there is more to the story of this missing ear than he could have ever prepared for.
In the late 1960s and early 70s, the Zodiac Killer terrorized the residents of Northern California. Two police officers (Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards) and two reporters (Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.) combined their resources to try to catch the killer.
Like the case it portrays, the film is obsessive and detailed. You’ll tag along on a wild ride as the detectives and journalists try to solve the crimes, first on their own and then together. Cryptic messages and eerie phone calls lead them toward a killer who always seems to be one step ahead. Zodiac is based on the true story of one of the country’s most infamous unsolved cases.
The Silence of the Lambs
We just couldn't leave this one out. This Jonathan Demme thriller, featuring Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter, remains one of the best horror thriller films of all time. For those familiar, it's likely time for a fresh viewing. Never seen it before? Cancel your plans, dim the lights, and settle in with some fava beans and a nice chianti.The Silence of the Lambs is currently available on HBO or on streaming platforms like Amazon.
Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are a match made in cinematic heaven. And while the two have worked together on multiple films, Taxi Driver stands out as one their darkest and most memorable collaborations. Set against the backdrop of bad-old-days New York City, Taxi Driver follows Travis Bickle, a loner and Vietnam War veteran who works as a taxi driver at night. His job offers a startling view of the Big Apple's seedy side. As the nights blur, Travis's grip starts to slip. Soon he decides it's up to him to clean the cesspool that surrounds him.
Ballet dancer Nina (Natalie Portman) scores the role of a lifetime: she's set to play the White Swan in an upcoming production of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" at a prestigious ballet company. Nina's perfectionism and innocence make her a great fit, yet the director is skeptical that she can pull off the dual role of the Black Swan—a powerful and sexy character far better-suited for fellow dancer Lily (Mila Kunis). Soon, the pair are locked in a strange and destructive dance—and as opening night nears, Nina spins out of control.
Featured still from "The Silence of the Lambs" via Orion Pictures