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7 Queer Thriller Movies to Bring Excitement to Your Movie Night

These gripping movies will have you feeling pride and thrills in equal turns.

Kim Tae-ri and Kim Min-hee in 'The Handmaiden.'
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  • Photo Credit: CJ Entertainment

When it comes to queer thriller movies, for many, the first film they think of is the iconic Hitchcock film Rope. Made under the strict censorship of the Hays Code in 1948, the homosexuality present in the film was all subtext.

Today, characters on screen have the freedom to openly express their sexuality. They even get to be heroes and protagonists sometimes, instead of being solely relegated to disturbed villains.

While we can't pretend that queer representation in the film industry has been perfected—especially concerning transgender and BIPOC queer individuals—we can celebrate the wins that we do have. Here are seven great queer thriller movies to fill you with pride.

Victim

The 1961 film Victim was not only the first British film to address homosexuality explicitly, but the first to do so in a way that was sympathetic to the queer community. Criticizing the UK's laws against homosexuality, the film follows prominent London barrister Melville Farr (Dirk Bogarde).

After receiving a call from his former lover, Farr's career and reputation are on the line when a blackmailer threatens to expose his sexuality. Farr isn't content to take the insult lying down, and sets out to bring justice to the blackmailer, no matter the personal cost.

Bound

Written and directed by the legendary Wachowskis, this 1996 erotic thriller will get your heart racing in more ways than one.

Lesbian ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon) strikes up an affair with Violet (Jennifer Tilly), the girlfriend of mafioso Caesar (Joe Pantoliano). Together, the women plan to steal a large sum of money from the mob and pin it on Violet's boyfriend.

The Handmaiden

Released in 2016, this South Korean historical thriller takes a psychological approach.

In 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea, a conman going by the name Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo) hatches a plan to seduce the Japanese heiress Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) and steal her fortune.

He enlists the help of a pickpocket, Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri), to convince Hideko to marry him, but the feelings developing between the two women send the plot down surprising turns. 

The Crying Game

When The Crying Game came out in 1992, the handling of the pivotal transgender character was less than ideal, using her identity as a shocking reveal.

In today's age, it's still not perfect, putting a cisgender man in the role of a trans woman, but unfortunately, there are very few movies—especially thrillers—that have trans voices in trans roles.

However, the character of Dil is a strong, complex, and sympathetic character, something that is so rarely developed for trans representation.

When a British soldier, Jody (Forest Whitaker) is kidnapped by a member of the IRA, Fergus (Stephen Rea), the two develop a surprising bond. As Fergus becomes enveloped by Jody's world, he finds himself romantically drawn to the soldier's girlfriend, Dil (Jaye Davidson).

The dangerous life that comes with the IRA closes in around Fergus, and he must choose between his nature and his desires.

Atomic Blonde

While it's incredible to have movies that center on and directly address the queer experience, sometimes it's just as incredible to have a gripping movie that utilizes casual representation.

Atomic Blonde (a highly underrated film, in my opinion) follows bisexual MI6 spy Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) as she navigates Cold War tensions.

On her mission to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and track down a missing list of double agents, she encounters help and obstacles from two other operatives: David Percival (James McAvoy) and Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella).

What Keeps You Alive

This 2018 Canadian thriller follows married couple Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) and Jules (Brittany Allen), who are celebrating their one-year anniversary in a remote cabin in the mountains.

After a run-in with an old friend, uneasy suspicion devolves into deadly betrayal.

Ponyboi

Dylan O'Brien and River Gallo in 'Ponyboi'
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  • Photo Credit: Tideline Entertainment

This film premiered at Sundance in January, and while it hasn't been widely released yet, it's definitely one to look out for. Ponyboi (River Gallo) is an intersex sex worker who is about to have a very difficult 24 hours.

It's Valentine's Day in New Jersey, and Ponyboi is about to endure a drug deal gone wrong, a run-in with a mysterious man, and a mob pursuit. But as much as the film can be dark and gritty, it also offers a joyful and hopeful look at intersex life.