The holiday season is officially in full swing, and that means it's time to sit down and enjoy some festive films. But sometimes watching the same few movies over and over again can get old. If you’re looking for something different from the usual Christmas classics, look no further than the mysteries and thrillers on this list! From dark comedies to slasher movies to even a few romances, here are 8 holiday mysteries and thrillers to keep the season exciting.
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Although the debate rages on about whether or not it’s really a Christmas movie, no list of holiday thrillers would be complete without Die Hard. On Christmas Eve, Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) arrives at Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles hoping to reconcile with his estranged wife. Suddenly, the building is seized by a group of terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) hoping to steal millions of dollars that are stored in its vault. Everyone in the building is taken hostage except for McClane, who slips away.
As the LAPD and FBI attempt to negotiate with Gruber, McClane fights to survive on the inside. It soon becomes clear that he is the only hope to stop the plot and rescue the hostages. Die Hard is one of the most iconic action movies of all time with a sprinkle of Christmas decorations on top.
Margaret (Kate Lyn Sheil) is not thrilled to be headed home for the holidays. Most of her old friends from the Washington DC suburb she used to call home have all settled down and started families. Even worse, her ex-boyfriend is now engaged. So she does what anyone in her situation would do, goes on a massive alcohol and drug bender with her high school friends Henry (Thomas Matthews) and Sam (Keith Poulson).
Meanwhile, DC socialite Amber Jones (Ismenia Mendes) suddenly gets kidnapped. Margaret, Henry, and Sam are just trying to get their hands on some more drugs, but they somehow manage to stumble right into the middle of Amber’s disappearance. Now it’s up to them to figure out who has Amber and not get killed in the process.
Time For Us to Come Home for Christmas
If you want to keep your holiday mysteries lighthearted, Hallmark has you covered. In this romance, five strangers all receive invitations to a pre-paid stay at a picturesque inn. Each guest realizes that their stay at the inn was not gifted by the people they’d originally thought, but by the same mysterious person for an unknown reason. Even Ben (Stephen Huszar), the owner of the inn, has no idea who the sender could be.
Sarah (Lacey Chabert), who thought her law firm had given her a vacation since she had recently had to handle her deceased mother’s affairs, is determined to solve the mystery. She and Ben start to work together to uncover clues. Meanwhile, the other guests start to think that it might be fate that led them all to the inn, and as Sarah and Ben continue to grow closer, it seems that they might be right.
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Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) is miserable. He is a convicted con man who spends most of his time drinking and embarrassing himself in public. The only day he ever works is on Christmas Eve when he poses as a department store Santa along with his dwarf friend Marcus (Tony Cox). The two then spend the night robbing department stores from top to bottom.
This year, the plan is a bit more complicated. Willie’s drinking has made his performances as Santa worse, irritating Marcus since it could blow their cover. Willie has also found himself living with Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), a gullible and frequently bullied kid who thinks Willie is the real Santa. With Christmas Eve getting closer and a mall security chief hot on their trail, this might be the year Willie and Marcus get caught.
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Based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, the thrills in Carol come from its interpersonal drama. In 1952, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is working a shift at a department store when she meets the mysterious Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett). Carol buys a Christmas gift for her daughter based on Therese’s recommendation but then she leaves her gloves behind. After Therese contacts her and returns the gloves, the two women strike up a friendship.
As Therese and Carol grow closer, Carol is in the midst of a messy divorce. Her husband is threatening to use Carol’s previous affairs with other women against her in order for him to get full custody of their daughter. Carol then faces an impossible decision between being able to see her daughter and living as her true self.
Related: A Case for Why Carol is the Best Holiday Movie Ever
A Christmas Mystery
While clearing out her late mother’s attic, Rebecca (Esmé Bianco) finds a collection of Christmas cards from a secret admirer. Rebecca puts her skills as an investigative reporter to work as she tries to track down whoever her mother had been corresponding with. Unable to get very far on her own, she hires the handsome and charming private detective Andrew Steele (Ryan Bittle) to help her. The duo eventually tracks the sender’s location to the town of Hadleyville.
Once there, Rebecca eventually discovers a family secret that is not only shocking but dangerous. As she works to put all the pieces together, questions still remain. Who sent her mother those cards? How much does she really know about her own family? And who does Andrew really work for?
The Santa Stakeout
When a string of robberies rocks several glamorous holiday parties in town, detectives Tanya (Tamera Mowry-Housley) and Ryan (Paul Campbell) are on the case. They go undercover, posing as newlyweds and moving in next door to their prime suspect, Francis Miller (Joe Pantoliano). Francis has a criminal record and was working at the parties as Santa Claus. The pair decide the best way to keep an eye on Francis is to join his Christmas Committee.
There’s only one problem: Tanya and Ryan couldn’t be more different. She solves cases by going over every bit of evidence she can while he relies on his gut instinct. Tanya also loves Christmas while Ryan is very indifferent about the whole holiday. But as they continue to work with Francis on the Christmas Committee, the detectives start to think there might be more to this case—and each other—after all.
On the days leading up to Christmas, the small town of Cryer, Wisconsin is terrorized by a killer who dresses up in a Santa suit. This violent Santa seems to be picking people off his own naughty list one by one. It’s up to Sheriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell) and Deputy Aubrey Bradimore (Jamie King) to track down the murderer before he kills again, and hopefully before Christmas. Silent Night is a genuine holiday slasher movie, and a loose remake of the cult classic Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Featured still from Silent Night via Buffalo Gal Pictures.