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The 10 best thrillers on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and more

Everybody loves a good thriller. Sitting at the intersection of several subgenres, thrillers are defined by the feelings of suspense, anxiety, tension, and surprise they elicit in an audience. From classic thrillers like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Charles Loughton’s The Night of the Hunter, and Carol Reed’s The Third Man to contemporary classics like Fatal Attraction, Zodiac, and more, the genre boasts as rich and expansive canon of classics made for every sort of audience you can think of.

Looking for something exciting and cerebral to watch this weekend? We’ve pulled together a list of 10 of our favorite thrillers available to stream on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Criterion Channel, and more that’ll keep your eyes glued to the screen and your palms thoroughly gripped to your seat.


Blood Simple

Image: Universal Studios Home Video

The Coen brother’s 1984 directorial debut Blood Simple is a perfect primer for the brand of darkly comic, eccentrically plotted, and idiosyncratic body of work they go on to create. A hard-boiled neo noir crime thriller set in Texas, the film centers on a deadly love triangle between a bar owner, his wife, and one of his employees. When the attempted affair and elopement inevitably spills over into bloodshed, the would-be lovers find themselves implicated in a tangled plot of money and murder. Frances McDormand shines in her performance as Abby, the dissatisfied wife at the heart of the drama, as does M. Emmet Walsh as Loren Visser, the conniving hitman who throws the whole conflict into turmoil in his own selfish bid for a quick payday. —TE

Blood Simple is available to stream on HBO Max and Criterion Channel.

Collateral

Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx in Collateral

Photo: DreamWorks Pictures

Michael Mann’s 2004 neo-noir action thriller Collateral is one of the director’s most successful films, grossing over $220 million worldwide and earning Jamie Foxx a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 77th Academy Awards. Tom Cruise stars as Vincent, a contract killer whose assignment to assassinate five targets across Los Angeles leads him to holding Max (Foxx), a taxi driver with aspirations of starting his own business hostage to drive him from target to target. Collateral’s nocturnal lighting and brilliant cinematography courtesy of Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron combine to make for one of the most hypnotic and memorable portraits of LA’s metropolitan sprawl ever committed to film, and Cruise’s performance as the aforementioned hitman Vincent ranks as one of the actor’s best. —TE

Collateral is available to stream on HBO Max.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Image: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The second adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s 2005 novel, David Fincher’s 2011 thriller The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is as heady, taut, and explosive as you would expect from the director of Seven and Zodiac. Daniel Craig (Skyfall) stars as Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced investigative journalist who is hired by a wealthy industrialist to solve the disappearance of his grand-niece over forty years ago. During his investigation of his client’s family Blomkvist is aided by Lisabeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a taciturn hacker and the namesake of the film. Graphic, intense, frequently gorgeous, and thoroughly engrossing, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo easily ranks among Fincher’s finest, though a word of caution to any newcomers: the film features brief albeit explicit scenes of sexual violence and torture that are not for the faint of heart. —TE

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is available to stream on Netflix.

Good Time

robert pattinson in good time

Photo: A24

Uncut Gems directors Benny and John Safdie’s 2017 crime drama Good Time is anything but. Robert Pattinson stars as Connie Nikas, a small-time criminal forced to scrounge up money to afford his brother’s bail after a botched bank heist. Connie’s journey is a road to perdition, leading him down the darkest corners of New York City to the seediest depths of its underbelly. The film is charged with the same manic, all-or-nothing energy that came to define the Safdies’ breakout hit, but here, it’s even more fatalistically tragic and perilous. Also, it’s got an awesome score, courtesy of future Uncut Gems collaborator Oneohtrix Point Never, and an achingly beautiful track by punk royalty Iggy Pop. —TE

Good Time is available to stream on Netflix and Kanopy with a library card.

M

Inge Landgut as Elsie Beckmann peering up at a man silhouetted against a wanted poster in M.

Image: Criterion Channel

Fritz Lang’s 1931 thriller M is widely considered arguably his magnum opus — second perhaps only to his seminal 1927 sci-fi epic Metropolis — but also one of the greatest films of all time. Set in Berlin, the film follows the investigation of a psychotic child murderer whose reign of terror has plunged the city into a fit of hysteria and suspicion. As the criminal underground of Berlin find the noose tightening around them in the police’s unsuccessful campaign to capture him, they take it upon themselves to root out this evil and bring him to justice. —TE

M is available to stream on HBO Max, Criterion Channel, and Kanopy with a library card.

Nocturnal Animals

Amy Adams as Susan Morrow in Nocturnal Animals

Photo: Focus Features

Amy Adams (Sharp Objects) stars in Tom Ford’s gripping neo-noir psychological thriller Nocturnal Animals as Susan Morrow, a successful upper-class art gallery manager who receives a mysterious manuscript written by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), along with an invitation to dinner. As Susan pores over the manuscript, an insidious and violent saga unfolds involving a teacher whose family trip evolves into a nightmare that blurs the lines between fiction and reality, forcing her to confront the savage parallels between her own life and the story on the page. Nocturnal Animals is a dark, dense, and beautifully crafted thriller with a killer ending that will stick with you long after it’s over. —TE

Nocturnal Animals is available to stream on Netflix.

Shutter Island

A person reads a note that reads “The Law of 4 Who Is 67?”

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Martin Scorsese’s ominous psychological thriller Shutter Island proved a colossal critical and commercial success when first released back in 2010, and the appreciation for the film’s nuanced visuals and pacing has only continued to endure in the decade since. Leonardo DiCaprio’s turn as Edward “Teddy” Daniels, a U.S. Marshal whose missing persons investigation at the film’s titular psychiatric facility quickly unravels into a descent into the darkness of his own psyche, ranks among one of the actor’s best, with the character’s final line transforming what was already an unnerving third act into one of the most chilling and memorable of Scorsese’s entire oeuvre. —TE

Nocturnal Animals is available to stream on Netflix and Pluto TV.

The Night of the Hunter

Lillian Gish as Rachel Cooper waiting in a rocking chair holding a rifle in The Night of the Hunter.

Image: The Criterion Channel

The sole film produced by actor-director Charles Laughton, The Night of the Hunter is hailed by many to be one of the most masterful films ever committed to screen. At the heart of the movie’s enduring legacy is Robert Mitchum’s iconic performance as Harry Powell, a misogynistic serial killer with a flair for silver-tongued theatricality. Centering initially on Powell’s plot to romance a gullible widow to uncover the whereabouts of a stolen cache of $10,000, the film later unfolds into an odyssey across a rich expanse of stark silhouetted environments as the widow’s children desperately attempt to allude the mad preacher’s murderous intent. If you’re looking for a classic thriller with beautiful imagery, a moving score, and memorable performances, The Night of the Hunter boasts all those in ample amount. —TE

The Night of the Hunter is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, Criterion Channel, Tubi, and Pluto TV.

Unsane

Claire Foy as Sawyer Valenti in Unsane.

Image: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Steven Soderbergh’s 2018 psychological horror thriller Unsane stars Claire Foy as Sawyer Valenti, a young woman who is involuntarily committed to a mental institution in what she suspects is an elaborate plot orchestrated by her stalker. Shot entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus, the film is tense and claustrophobic with visuals composed primarily of close up shots that place stark emphasis on Foy’s frenzied performance. If you’re looking for genuine mind-screw of psychological thriller, Unsane is it. —TE

Unsane is available to stream on Hulu and Kanopy with a library card.

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