The Best Thrillers on Netflix Right Now


Sometimes you want Netflix to provide comfort food, and other times you want it to give you a jolt to the system. When it’s the latter, you’ll want a good thriller that may not go heavy on the blood and gore, but still manages to rattle you to your core. The streaming service has a solid selection of picks from the genre, but they’ve also got a lot of other movies labeled under “thriller” that wouldn’t be the best use of your time, so we’ve got an updated list of the best thriller movies on Netflix to save you some scrolling.

If you need a bit of guidance on what thrillers you should check out, look at our recommendations below.

RELATED: The 85 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now

Editor’s Note: This article was last updated on November 1.

  • Recently Added: Zodiac, Level 16, What Keeps You Alive
  • Recently Removed: The Da Vinci Code



Image via Warner Bros.

Director: David Fincher

Writer: James Vanderbilt

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Chloe Sevigny, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, and John Carroll Lynch

In the hands of David Fincher, Zodiac veers from dark and dramatic to laugh-out-loud funny to downright horrifying; a triumphant, genre-bending serial killer thriller that gets my vote for Fincher’s best movie yet. And with a resume like Fincher’s, that’s really saying something. The Se7en and Gone Girl filmmaker brings his signature fascination with the most perverse crimes of humanity and turns it towards the Zodiac Killer. Weaving together the police, journalists, and a code-breaking cartoonist who all spend their days (and too many nights) hunting down the infamous Northern California murderer, Zodiac is a complex and riveting investigation into obsession, compulsion, and the irresistible pull of an unsolved crime. It’s one of the greats, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Guillermo Del Toro said it best when he called Zodiac a “One Sock Movie,” as in, “you’re getting dressed- you catch it on TV and sit down (one sock in hand) and watch it until the end.” – Haleigh Foutch

Level 16


Image via Dark Sky Films

Director/Writer: Danishka Esterhazy

Cast: Katie Douglas, Celina Martin, Peter Outerbridge, Sara Canning

Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale should find plenty to love in this smart, slick indie thriller. Tackling similar themes through a distinct lens, Level 16 follows the teenage girls at The Vestalis Academy, a dreary and seemingly inescapable boarding school where they’re taught the so-called virtues of femininity: obedience, cleanliness, patience, and humility. As the extremist ideology is violently drilled into their minds day-in and day-out, the young women near the end of their studies begin to suspect something sinister is waiting on the other side of their graduation. Relentlessly tense with flourishes of sci-fi and outright horror along the way, Level 16 embraces the hallmarks of the dystopian thriller and reinvents them into an all-new nightmare. – Haleigh Foutch

The Platform


Image via Netflix

Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Writers: David Desola and Pedro Rivero

Cast: Iván Massagué, Antonia San Juan, Zorion Eguileor, Emilio Buale, Alexandra Masangkay

A fabulous high-concept thriller that toes the line between genres, The Platform is set within the confines of an impossibly tall building where residents either feast or famine depending on which floor they’re on. Every day, a massive table is stuffed with a banquet of food and slowly dropped through the building, one floor to the next, with the folks on top thriving in gluttony while those far below them starve to death – but there’s a catch, every once in a while, the inhabitants are gassed, reshuffled, and they never know which floor they’re going to wake up on next. It’s a bit of a long set-up, but a tremendously effective vehicle, both for the social themes it explores and the non-stop suspense of investigating the beak world between these cramped walls. – Haleigh Foutch


Oxygen Melanie Laurent trailer

Image via Netflix

Director: Alexandre Aja

Writer: Christie LeBlanc

Cast: Mélanie Laurent, Mathieu Amalric, Malik Zidi

From High Tension to The Hills Have Eyes to Crawl, Alexandre Aja is responsible for some of the most pulse-pounding, skin-crawling, relentlessly intense movies of the 21st Century. With his 2021 Netflix original Oxygen, the filmmaker steps (slightly) back from the horror and leans all the way in on the thrills, following a woman (Mélanie Laurent) who wakes up in a cryogenic pod with no memory of who she is, how she got there, or – her biggest problem – what to do about her rapidly dwindling supply of oxygen. Aja doesn’t fully leave behind his horror touch and the flourishes of body horror only serve to further ramp up your adrenaline. Oxygen doesn’t always land its twists before you figure them out, but when a filmmaker is as attuned to dialing up the tension as Aja is, your stomach’s gonna wind up in your throat whether you see the next drop in the track coming or not. – Haleigh Foutch

Layer Cake


Image via Sony Pictures Classics

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writer: J.J. Connolly

Cast: Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney, Kenneth Cranham, George Harris, Sienna Miller, and Michael Gambon

If you’re into British crime thrillers, then the 2004 indie Layer Cake is absolutely worth checking out. This is the film that put Daniel Craig on the main stage, as the story follows a man who wants to leave the drug business but finds it’s much harder than he thought. The film marks Kingsman and X-Men: First Class filmmaker Matthew Vaughn’s feature directorial debut, and he clearly draws heavy influence from the films of Guy Ritchie (many of which he produced) while also carving out a signature for himself. – Adam Chitwood

What Keeps You Alive


Image via IFC Midnight

Director/Writer: Colin Minihan

Cast: Hannah Emily Anderson and Brittany Allen

How well can you ever really know another person? You can love them, you can trust them, you can marry them – and they can still turn out to be the villain in your horror story. Such is the set-up for What Keeps You Alive, a clever survival thriller that drills into those universal fears. Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) and Jules (Brittany Allen) are celebrating their wedding anniversary at Jackie’s family cabin. But after a run-in with Jackie’s childhood friend, Jules begins to uncover dark truths about her wife’s past and it’s not long before she winds up in a fight for her life against the same woman she vowed to have and to hold. It’s “Trust Issues,” the movie and it’s extremely freaking effective – and I’m not just saying that because of my trust issues. Or am I? I guess you’ll just have to trust me… – Haleigh Foutch

State of Play


Image via Universal Pictures

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy, and Billy Ray

Cast: Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Robin Wright Penn, Jeff Daniels, and Helen Mirren

Looking for a journalistic thriller? 2009’s State of Play is actually pretty solid, and boasts a terrific ensemble cast. Set in Washington D.C., Russell Crowe plays a veteran reporter for a fictional newspaper who is put on the beat of a seemingly innocuous murder that, he comes to believe, has ties to the presumed suicide of a woman who was having an affair with a congressman (Ben Affleck). As it turns out, Crowe’s character is an old college roommate of the congressman’s, who tasks him with looking into whether his mistress might have been murdered. The film is based on a British miniseries of the same name, but holds up quite well all its own as a journalistic crime thriller. – Adam Chitwood

Shutter Island

Shutter Island Leonardo DiCaprio

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Laeta Kalogridis

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, and Max von Sydow

What happens when a master filmmaker like Martin Scorsese decides to make a twisty little thriller? You get Shutter Island, a great and underrated movie in Scorsese’s vast filmography. Based on the Dennis Lehane novel of the same name, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo as a pair of U.S. Marshals who arrive on the titular island to investigate a disappearance at an enigmatic psychiatric facility. From the get-go something feels off, and Scorsese delights in following DiCaprio’s character around this island through the darkness, revealing twists and turns along the way. It’s the kind of dramatic thriller you immediately want to watch again once it’s over, and DiCaprio gives a terrific as a man who seems to be unraveling. – Adam Chitwood

Nocturnal Animals


Image via Focus

Director/Writer: Tom Ford

Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, and Michael Sheen

If you’re in the mood for an overlooked thriller with a tremendous cast, twisty plot, and gorgeous aesthetic, check out Nocturnal Animals. The film is the second directorial effort from Tom Ford after the critically acclaimed A Single Man and follows an art gallery owner (Amy Adams) as she reads the new novel written by her first husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). As she reads the novel, the events inside play out on the screen and you being to connect the dots between this supposedly fictional story and the gallery owner’s real-life – and the reason her marriage fractured in the first place. – Adam Chitwood

Rust Creek

Rust Creek Movie

Image via IFC

Director: Jen McGowan

Writer: Julie Lipson

Cast: Hermione Corfield, Jay Paulson, Sean O’Bryan, Micah Hauptman, Daniel R. Hill

If you’re looking for a straight-up, no-nonsense survival thriller, Rust Creek should get the job done. Hermione Corfield stars as Sawyer, a young woman who hits the road for a job interview, only to get lost in the woods and wind up on the run from a pair of attackers. While that “lost and on the run from local yokels” first act feels pretty familiar, Rust Creek takes a refreshing, engrossing turn after Sawyer passes out in the woods and winds up captive to an entirely unexpected, less familiar type of character. A drug dealer who happens to be cousins and business partners with her assailants, Lowell (Jay Paulson) ultimately means her no harm, and the two strike up an unexpected bond while they try to survive their shared predicament. Like I said, the first act is pretty familiar, but the strange dynamic that unfolds between Sawyer and Lowell gives this film a quiet nuance that makes it stand out from the plentiful pack of understated rural Americana thrillers. – Haleigh Foutch

Gerald’s Game


Image via Netflix

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writers: Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard

Cast: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Kate Siegel, Henry Thomas

In novella form, Gerald’s Game makes for one of Stephen‌ King’s queasiest, most relentlessly gripping works. It’s the very definition of a page-turner, keeping you glued to the next word, following one woman’s seemingly impossible fight to survive a very slow, silent death while tending to the trauma she’s buried deep inside herself. It’s also entirely first-person, taking place inside the mind of a woman left handcuffed to the bed in a remote cabin after her husband dies of a heart attack in the middle of a tryst. Understandably, it was long thought unfilmable, but Mike Flanagan’s tender, terrifying 2017 adaptation proved the naysayers wrong with a heartfelt but oh-so-horrifying film that’s faithful to King’s work in all the right ways. Gore-phobes be warned though! At its core, Gerald’s Game is a lovely film about surviving trauma, but it is also a brutal survival film and one climactic scene (which was infamously hard to read, let alone watch) wins the gold star for the most vocal audience freak-out I’ve ever heard in a movie theater. – Haleigh Foutch

Uncut Gems


Image via A24

Directors: Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie

Writers: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, and Ronald Bronstein

Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin Garnett, Julia Fox, Lakeith Stanfield, Idina Menzel, and Eric Bogosian

If you don’t mind a thriller that will give you the most anxiety as its central character keeps making bad decision after bad decision, check out the excellent Uncut Gems. Released in 2019, the film stars Adam Sandler as a Jewish jeweler and gambling addict in New York City’s Diamond District who much track down an expensive gem he purchased in order to pay off his debts. As captured by directors Josh Safdie and Benny Safide, the film covers Sandler’s journey almost down to the minute, as the stakes grow more serious with each passing hour. Sandler gives one of the best performances of his career here, but be forewarned, this one is intense. – Adam Chitwood



Image via Well Go USA

Writers/Directors: Zach Lipovsky, Adam B. Stein

Cast: Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Grace Park, Amanda Crew, Lexy Kolker

I’m going to save one of the major things that wows me about Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein’s Freaks for the very end of this blurb because I would suggest jumping into this story knowing as little as possible. But, do know that this is one of the best character-driven sci-fi thrillers of 2019. The movie features a show-stopping performance from Lexy Kolker as seven-year-old Chloe. She’s spent her entire life completely isolated from the world inside her home with her father, Henry (Emile Hirsch). He’s always told her that the outside world is a dangerous place, but the older Chloe gets, the more tempted she becomes to venture out – and then she finally does. Okay, are you ready for that semi-spoilery detail to further emphasize how wildly impressive this film is? Here it goes; I love a good big-budget superhero film as much as anyone, but if you’re looking to see what can be accomplished with a limited budget in the genre, Freaks is an absolute must-see. It’s one of those movies that’ll have you leaning in more and more with its early curiosities before absolutely exploding with creativity as Chloe discovers more and more about her reality. – Perri Nemiroff

The Guest


Image via Picturehouse

Director: Adam Wingard

Writer: Simon Barrett

Cast: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, Ethan Embry, and Lance Reddick

The Guest is a tough movie to describe because it’s a bit of everything — horror movie, action movie, thriller, and dark comedy. But once you’re onboard, you’ll love this wild ride anchored by a chilling performance from Dan Stevens as a man who claims to be a combat veteran and friend of a fallen soldier who ingratiates himself into said soldier’s family. Twists and turns abound as the same filmmaking team behind You’re Next bring thrills, chills, and spills to the proceedings in delightful ways. – Adam Chitwood

Velvet Buzzsaw


Image via Netflix

Director/Writer: Dan Gilroy

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge, Toni Collette, Natalia Dyer, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen, and John Malkovich

If you liked Nightcrawler, you should check out writer/director Dan Gilroy’s kind of insane Netflix movie Velvet Buzzsaw. One part thriller and one part slasher, the movie is set in the art world and revolves around a cache of art that is found to have been created by a mysterious and deceased artist. Once it’s put on display, people begin dying in grisly ways. The film has a lot of dark humor to it, and Jake Gyllenhaal gives a really colorful performance as Gilroy goes for the jugular as far as the art world is concerned. – Adam Chitwood


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The Killing of a Sacred Deer


Image via A24

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Writers: Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Flippou

Cast: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, and Bill Camp

If psychological thrillers are more up your alley, prioritize The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The movie hails from The Lobster and The Favourite filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos and stars Colin Farrell as a cardiac surgeon who secretly befriends a young man (Barry Keoghan), who then subsequently warns him that his entire family will slowly die. The film boats Lanthimos’ signature dialogue that only amps up the creepy factor, and and the performances all around are sterling. This isn’t your average thriller, so I would only suggest this one if you’re into thrillers that are a bit left of center. – Adam Chitwood

Bird Box


Image via Netflix

Director: Susanne Bier

Writer: Eric Heisserer

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Jacki Weaver, Danielle Macdonald, Rosa Salazar, Machine Gun Kelley, Lil Rel Howery, Sarah Paulson

Netflix squeezed in one last streaming sensation before the end of 2018 with Bird Box, the star-studded and meme-friendly new thriller starring Sandra Bullock as a mother trying to protect her children in an apocalyptic world Set across two timelines, Bird Box follows a group of survivors through the end of the world after a mysterious force starts causing people to kill themselves on sight. Naturally, that sets up director Susanne Bier for plenty of thrills and gags based on the anxiety of trying to survive without sight (some more believable than others) and she uses the opportunity for all its worth, staging some pulse-pounding set-pieces in the fight for survival. Bullock carries Bird Box with a commanding performance that reminds you why she’s an old-school movie star and she’s matched by Trevante Rodes, who sets his charm level to “dangerously high” and John Malkovich, who leans into his gift for playing smart men of a nasty disposition that you just can’t help but love/hate. — Haleigh Foutch



Image via Netflix

Writer/Director: Gareth Evans

Cast: Dan Stevens, Lucy Boynton, Michael Sheen, Mark Lewis Jones, Kristine Froseth, Sharon Margan

Brace yourself for some bloody, brutal thrills with Apostle, the horror-thriller from The Raid director Gareth Evans, who turns his attentions from breathless action to stomach-churning tension. Legion star Dan Stevens delivers another swing-for-the-fences performance as a man who infiltrates a rural cult that’s taken his sister hostage and discovers some deeply disturbing truths behind the utopian facade. Evans’ slow-burn pays off with a mighty explosion of viscera, and a strong stomach is required for the blood-soaked finale, which veers from suspense to full-on carnage. — Haleigh Foutch



Image via Netflix

Writer: Isa Mazzei

Director: Daniel Goldhaber

Cast: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Samantha Robinson, Melora Walters, Imani Hakim, Michael Dempsey

A tense thriller about ambition, identity, and survival in the internet age, Cam stars Madeline Brewer stars as Alice, a successful cam girl intent on climbing to the top of the ranks — an ambition that’s going rather well until she logs on one day to find she’s been replaced by a cheerful doppelganger who’s taken her face and her career. From there, Cam follows Alice down a surreal rabbit hole as she tries to discover who’s behind her new web clone and how to reclaim her life, building a growing sense of unease and sick helplessness as Alice’s reality drops out from under her. Screenwriter Isa Mazzei and director Daniel Goldhaber are a dynamite creative team, who bring a refreshing sex-positive, non-exploitative approach to the often untouched subject matter while staging a dazzling and disorienting plummet through the pitfalls of internet identity and the intensity of ambitious careerism. — Haleigh Foutch

Berlin Syndrome


Image via Vertical Entertainment

Director: Cate Shortland

Writer: Shaun Grant

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt,

Clare Havel (Teresa Palmer) is a young Australian photojournalist on vacation in Berlin. She’s living the dream. Taking in the sights, falling in love with a new city, and just maybe falling in love with a handsome local man, Andi (Max Riemelt), who strikes up a passionate romance with her. But after she goes back to his place for a romantic night, she wakes up to the next morning to realize he’s locked her in his apartment on his way to work, and with a slow dawning terror, she understands that he never intends to let her out. This is how we enter Berlin Syndrome, Cate Shortland‘s taut thriller, which takes us through every step of their courtship and Clare’s subsequent imprisonment in a slow burn portrait of psychological terror and the human capacity for survival.

Palmer is excellent in the role of a smart woman in captivity, who discovers new depths of strength with each passing day, and Shaun Grant‘s script gives her great material to work with, never treating Clare like a fool. She makes clever, assertive choices the whole way through, a fact that incites you to root for her and drastically notches up the tension at the same time. Her instinct for survival is met by Andi’s capacity for cruelty, unfolding a bit each day as Clare realizes how dire her predicament truly is. Consummately tense and emotionally challenging, Berlin Syndrome kicks up a slow boil battle of the wits that constantly notches up the dread and pays off in a breathless finale. — Haleigh Foutch

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