It’s Saturday night, there’s nothing on TV and you’ve got a gaping hole in your entertainment calendar. Time to hit up your good friends over at Netflix and see what they’ve got in store for you. Whether you’re a fan of comedies or you like the action flicks, there is one genre of movie that immediately grabs our attention and refuses to let it go; the thriller. It’s even in the name. But what is it about thriller movies that bring us to the edge of our seats. Is it tension? Drama? Mystery? Put simply, the best thriller movies should employ an element of each, keeping us entertained, unaware and deeply disturbed, all at once.
With the advent of streaming platforms, we’re privy to an assortment of content like never before. You’ll find some the best thrillers on Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime Video, all ready and waiting for your viewership. Sure, there’s a bunch of terrible thriller movies and psychological thrillers on Netflix, most of which fly under the radar, but we’re not talking about those. We want the best thriller movies, the films that bring the sweat to your brow, your blood to the boil and your seat partially unused.
Without further ado, here is a list of the 25 best thrillers on Netflix right now.
1. Se7en (1995)
David Fincher’s psychological thriller Se7en is one of the best suspense movies on Netflix. Featuring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, this film sees a veteran cop partnered with a brash young detective as they attempt to track down an insatiable serial killer who murders his victims according to the seven deadly sins. A deeply disturbing performance from Kevin Spacey as the unhinged killer who believes he is doing gods work, elevate Se7en to a level few other films have been able to achieve. It’s disgusting, haunting and completely unmissable. Not only is this film one of the best thrillers on Netflix, it’s also one of the most unsettling. An ‘out of the box’ thriller if ever we’ve seen one.
Release date: 2 November 1995 (Australia)
Director: David Fincher
Screenplay: Andrew Kevin Walker
Box office: 327.3 million USD
2. Prisoners (2013)
An unassuming hit, Denis Villeneuve’s 2013 film Prisoners flew under the radar when it was first released. Years later, the psychological thriller is finally getting the praise it deserves, thanks to its arrival on Netflix. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman, the film focuses on the abduction of two young girls in Pennsylvania and the subsequent search for their captor. The brutal thriller movie sees one father take things into his own hands in a destructive journey towards justice. With twists and turns at every stage, it’s hard to pin down who is really behind the crime, but that’s what a good thriller movie is all about.
Release date: 17 October 2013 (Australia)
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Budget: 46 million USD
3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Hello Clarice. The infamous introduction to Hannibal Lector is amongst the most iconic moments in film history, but The Silence of the Lambs isn’t just a story of cannibals and murderers. This 1991 Best Picture winner was adapted from Thomas Harris 1988 novel of the same name and sees Sir Anthony Hopkins evolve from a famed stage actor to the most gruesome villain in film history. A triumph of modern filmmaking, The Silence of Lambs perfectly walks the line between horror and psychological thriller, easily making it one of the best thrillers on Netflix.
Release date: 9 May 1991 (Australia)
Director: Jonathan Demme
Film series: Hannibal Lecter
Story by: Thomas Harris
4. Gone Girl (2014)
This mind-bending release is the second from filmmaker David Fincher to appear on the list of best thrillers on Netflix. First unveiled back in 2014, the psychological thriller sees a dishevelled Ben Affleck accused of murdering his missing wife. With no body and no motive to speak of, there are supporters on both sides of the equation, however, as the mystery unravels, the tale of deception takes a strange turn.
Release date: 2 October 2014 (Australia)
Director: David Fincher
Box office: 369.3 million USD
5. The Prestige (2006)
Christopher Nolan’s 2006 psychological thriller The Prestige is a masterpiece of modern filmmaking. Blending elements of horror, sci-fi and drama, this mystery tale tells the story of two former friends and magicians embroiled in a bitter feud. On a quest to perfect the ultimate illusion, both make extreme sacrifices that leave them with fame but burden them with terrible consequences. This is one of the best thriller movies ever made, and one that gets better with each viewing. Are you watching closely?
Release date: 16 November 2006 (Australia)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Box office: 109.7 million USD
6. Sicario (2015)
Starring Benicio del Toro and Emily Blunt, Sicario is a brutal tale of corruption, cartels and drug gangs. The film follows a principled FBI agent who is enlisted by a government task force to bring down the leader of a prominent Mexican drug cartel. The elusive drug lord proves to be just a small cog in a larger plan, unravelling a deeper scheme to thwart the entire judicial system. This film is an absolute roller-coaster full of twists and turns you won’t see coming.
Initial release: 17 September 2015 (Chile)
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Film series: Frontier trilogy
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Screenplay: Taylor Sheridan
7. Inception (2010)
As anyone who has seen this film would know, describing Inception is no mean feat. Written and directed by filmmaker dynamo Christopher Nolan, this genre-bending film follows a crack team of thieves as they journey into their target’s minds through their dreams. In the midst of a major heist, things start to go awry when team leader Cobb, haunted by the memories of his past begins to fall deeper into his dream state. Like many of Nolan’s films, it pays to give Inception a few watches. We guarantee you’ll find something new with each viewing.
Release date: 22 July 2010 (Australia)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Featured song: Non, je ne regrette rien
Screenplay: Christopher Nolan
8. The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
Starring everyone’s favourite Texan Matthew McConaughey, The Lincoln Lawyer is a sordid tale of crime, injustice and mystery. The psychological thriller follows defence lawyer Mick Haller as he attempts to defend a wealthy realtor’s son who is accused of raping a prostitute. The case seems like a straightforward paycheck for the talented lawyer, however, when Fuller finds evidence that his client may be guilty, it throws his morals into question. Whether you are a McConaughey fan or not, you can’t deny The Lincoln Lawyer is one of the best thrillers on Netflix.
Initial release: 10 March 2011 (USA)
Director: Brad Furman
Film series: The Lincoln Lawyer
Box office: 87.1 million USD
9. Inside Man (2006)
Spike Lee’s infamous bank heist movie is one that will make you question everything. Starring frequent Lee collaborator Denzel Washington, Inside Man pits a crack team of detectives against a criminal mastermind whose plan is more confusing than brilliant. If you haven’t seen Inside Man, it’s worth checking it out for the incredible opening monologue from lead Clive Owen.
Initial release: 16 March 2006 (Netherlands)
Director: Spike Lee
Featured song: Chaiyya Chaiyya
Box office: 184.4 million USD
10. Spotlight (2016)
Not just one of the best thrillers on Netflix, Spotlight is one of the best psychological dramas ever made. Following the Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight’ team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalist unit in the United States, this film explores investigations into the widespread and systematic sexual abuse of children in the Catholic community. The true-to-life film is based on a series of stories written by the Spotlight team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. This isn’t exactly an easy watch, but in today’s climate Spotlight is as relevant and poignant as ever.
Initial release: 7 January 2016 (Brazil)
Director: Tom McCarthy
Editor: Tom McArdle
11. Good Time (2017)
One of Robert Pattinson’s finest performances, Good Time is a wild ride that seemingly does not stop. Created by the Safdie Brothers, whose most recent work counts the Adam Sandler adrenaline rush Uncut Gems, this thriller movie sees Pattinson as a street hustler and bank robber desperately trying to get his brother out of prison following a heist gone wrong.
Initial release: 11 August 2017 (USA)
Directors: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
Budget: 2 million USD
Box office: 4.1 million USD
12. Training Day (2001)
One of Denzel’s most iconic roles, Training Day is a story of inner-city struggles and crooked cops. When a new recruit is paired with a fast-talking narcotics officer for training, he quickly learns that his new mentor’s methods might be a little outside the realm of legality. As far as good thriller movies go, Training Day has all the elements to make it a classic. From breathtaking acting to fierce action scenes and a script that is second to none, Training Day is up there with the best thrillers on Netflix.
Release date: 15 November 2001 (Australia)
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Box office: 104.5 million USD
Screenplay: David Ayer
13. Girl on the Train (2016)
Another film that flew a little under the radar when it was first released, Girl on the Train is a mind-bending exploration of mystery and terror. The story revolves around Rachel Watson, played by Emily Blunt who, while catching the train on her daily commute catches daily glimpses of a couple she deems as perfect. However, when she witnesses something shocking unfold in the backyard of a stranger’s home, Rachel suspects something sinister might have happened to the couple. But could Rachel be more involved in the story than she realises? This one will make you think.
Initial release: 20 September 2016 (London)
Director: Tate Taylor
Box office: 173.2 million USD
14. True Story (2015)
We know Jonah Hill and James Franco for their less than serious work on the big screen, but True Story is a far departure from This is the End. When a disgraced New York Times journalist is accused of lying in a cover article, his life slowly starts to crumble. To make matters worse, his troubles increase when he learns that he is the victim of identity theft. But rather than just accept the crime, he instead goes to visit the thief in jail, face-to-face.
Initial release: 23 January 2015 (Park City)
Director: Rupert Goold
Based on: True Story; by Michael Finkel
Box office: 5.3 million USD
15. Uncut Gems (2019)
Another fast-paced Safdie Brothers film that seemingly has no let-up, Uncut Gems tells the story of Howard Ratner, a charismatic jeweller who plays hard and fast with his famous client’s money. When his ties to organised crime and gambling debts pile up, he finds himself in a tricky situation that no amount of money could get him out of. An ultra-rare black opal, on the other hand…
Initial release: 25 December 2019 (USA)
Directors: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
Box office: 50 million USD
16. Watchmen (2009)
You wouldn’t necessarily pick a superhero movie as one of the best thrillers on Netflix, but then again, Watchmen isn’t your average superhero movie. Set in the height of the Cold War, the film follows Rorschach, a vigilante ex-hero on a quest to find the one responsible for murdering his former colleagues. In the process of uncovering the culprit, he begins to question if the actions he and his friends took were right in the first place.
Initial release: 23 February 2009 (London)
Director: Zack Snyder
Box office: 185.3 million USD
Budget: 120 million USD
17. The Town (2010)
One of Ben Affleck’s best, The Town is a tale of theft, crime and great redemption. When a former hockey star turned reluctant bank robber hits a branch and finds himself enamoured by a teller he takes hostage, his perfect world begins to unravel. The anti-hero decides he wants out of the game, but like so many fugitives caught up in a bad situation, the decision isn’t really up to him. Called in for one last job, things begin to unravel, all, while a ruthless detective played by Jon Hamm, draws ever closer to the truth.
Initial release: 17 September 2010 (USA)
Director: Ben Affleck
Budget: 37 million USD
Box office: 154 million USD
18. Blood Diamond (2007)
Blood Diamond is one of those films you’d be comfortable watching if it wasn’t so realistic, but, unfortunately, the world of unethical diamond sourcing has left many families destroyed and fortunes stolen. This 2007 film follows Solomon, a free man who is abducted and forced to work in a diamond mine. When he stumbles upon a priceless diamond with the power to elevate him out of poverty, he is set upon by a cunning and ruthless trader who promises to help him find his family in exchange for the gem.
Release date: 4 January 2007 (Australia)
Director: Edward Zwick
Box office: 171.7 million USD
19. Nocturnal Animals (2016)
Tom Ford is probably best known for dominating the fashion industry with his trademark style and sophistication, but in 2016, he lent his aesthetic and creative talent to the psychological thriller Nocturnal Animals. A genre-bending, non-linear story starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals is one of the most visceral films ever made. When Susan (Adams) receives a manuscript from her ex-husband Edward (Gyllenhaal), she finds herself immersed in the brutal story of love, murder and revenge. This incredibly well-crafted feature sees Gyllenhaal play a multitude of roles in an absolute acting masterclass that should have received far more praise than it did upon release. One of the most heartbreaking and best thrillers on Netflix.
Initial release: 14 October 2016 (United Kingdom)
Director: Tom Ford
Adapted from: Tony and Susan
20. The Hateful Eight (2016)
Quentin Tarantino’s western-style classic is one of the best thrillers on Netflix. Taking an Agatha Christie-like approach, the who-done-it/what-is-happening film is a mystery train with no brakes. Set in the American West just after the Civil War, The Hateful Eight features a stellar cast of Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Bruce Dern. While it fails to live to up to the lofty standards set by Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, the dialogue is unmistakably Tarantino.
Release date: 14 January 2016 (Australia)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Budget: $44–54 million
21. The Platform (2019)
While probably more a sci-fi film than a traditional thriller movie, The Platform is one that you should definitely add to your viewing list. Set in a future where prisoners are housed in vertical cells, the lower-class citizens watch as those (literally) above them are feed while they starve below. An uprising is imminent, but things are not always as they seem.
Initial release: 8 November 2019 (Spain)
Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Spanish: El Hoyo
22. Mulholland Drive (2002)
David Lynch’s genre-bending 2002 film Mulholland Drive is not one that can be put down in words. It’s a confusing tale that sees Rita, a dark-haired beauty suffering from amnesia team-up with Betty, a fresh-faced blonde actress on the hunt to discover Rita’s true identity. Don’t expect to enjoy this film the first time around, David Lynch does not make movies for the casual viewer. While Mulholland Drive is one of the best thrillers Netflix has available, it will require a few watches to truly understand what is happening.
Release date: 31 January 2002 (Australia)
Director: David Lynch
Featured song: Mulholland Drive
23. Primal Fear (1996)
The film that launched Edward Norton into the history books, Primal Fear is a masterpiece of thriller movie making. When young altar boy Aaron Stampler is accused of murdering a priest, the case makes global headlines. Tensions fire when renowned lawyer Martin Vail takes up the case.
Initial release: 3 April 1996 (USA)
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Box office: 102.6 million USD
24. Fracture (2007)
Fracture sees Sir Anthony Hopkins back to his sinister best in this tale of murder, betrayal and mystery. While Hopkins acting is phenomenal, a lacklustre script and average performances from the rest of the cast fail to reach his lofty standards.
Initial release: 11 April 2007 (Westwood)
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Box office: 92 million USD
Story by: Daniel Pyne
Screenplay: Daniel Pyne, Glenn Gers
25. Mollys Game (2018)
Molly’s Game is the incredible the true story of Molly Bloom, a beautiful, Olympic-class skier who inadvertently ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for almost a decade. With a team of Hollywood elites, sports stars, business giants and the Russian mob at her table, Molly finds herself in over her head.
Initial release: 11 January 2018 (Russia)
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Box office: 59.3 million USD
Budget: 30 million USD
What's the best thriller ever?
According to IMDB, the highest rated thriller of all time is Inception, however, some action/drama films have surpassed it, which you could argue are thrillers.
How much is Netflix per month?
Netflix in Australia starts from $9.99 per month, with standard packages at $13.99 and premium packages worth $19.99.
What's the difference between a thriller and a horror movie?
The major difference between a thriller and a horror is that thrillers regularly focus on psychological themes, over gore and scary imagery. A thriller should make you afraid because of the premise, not because of the imagery.