Is there anything better in the world than a cracking thriller on the telly-box? Well, possibly, but you can’t deny the pleasure of a good thriller. Whether it’s a crime mystery, legal conspiracy, or good old fashioned stalking, there’s nothing like having your nerves well and truly shredded in the name of entertainment. If you need a bit of help choosing a thriller to watch tonight, here’re 20 of the absolute best currently on Netflix.
David Fincher’s unsettling adaptation of the bestselling novel. Ben Affleck plays a blinder as the husband putting a brave face after the disappearance of his wife (played by Rosamund Pike), even if he may or may not have murdered her. What starts as an exercise in psychological mystery transforms into a superb twisting-turning genre thriller.
We Need To Talk About Kevin
If you ever needed a good reason not to have kids, this film is it. Tilda Swinton plays a writer who has children because she feels like she has to – only for her son to then commit a high school massacre with a bow and arrow (a nasty old business, to be sure). There’s lots of wrestling with self-doubt, guilt, and blame, while trying to get under the skin of Kevin and what drove him to murder.
Long before Nic Cage went totally barmy, he starred in this much-overlooked thriller, playing a private investigaor on the trail of a missing young woman and drawn into a sinister world of sex, hardcore pornography, and snuff movies. It’s genuinely disturbing stuff with a great performance from Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, and James Gandolfini – plus the best Cage versus S&M-loving sex maniac punch-up you’re ever likely to see.
Ryan Reynolds stuck in a box for 95 minutes. It doesn’t sound very interesting, but this is a high concept thriller that actually works. What helps, of course, is the fact the box is actually a coffin, which Reynolds awakes to find himself trapped inside and buried underground (clue’s in the title on this one). The tension’s near unbearable as Reynolds’ chances of escape diminish as rapidly as his oxygen supply.
Edward Norton’s breakout role involves playing a young alter boy accused of murdering an Archbishop. Suspicions are raised when he’s found running from the scene splattered in blood… but not is all as it seems, and what was perceived guilt turns to innocence in a gripping back and forth. A multi-layered film that’s kind of like The Night Of of the Nineties.
A horror cat and mouse from the director of Oculus which premiered at South by Southwest. Psychopath killer chasing girl may not sound like the most original plot, but in this one the girl is deaf and mute. Unbeknownst to Maddie, the killer has already killed her friend before he targets her, meaning she must suddenly figure out how to keep him out of the house and then escape. It’s not ground-breaking, but it ticks all the boxes for a suspense-filled thriller.
In case you hadn’t already totally lost faith in the humanity of politics, Rachel Weisz reveals an ugly side to the UN with a sex slavery trade in Bosnia facilitated by corrupt officials, private contractors and diplomats. Worse still, it’s based on the real experience of Kathryn Bolcovac, a Nebraska cop stationed in post-war Bosnia as a peacekeeper. With appearances from Benedict Cumberbatch and Monica Belluci, it’s a film that doesn’t bother sugar-coating harsh realities.
One for when you finish Narcos and you haven’t OD’d on the cocaine-cartel-FBI storyline. In the director’s own words, you’re not going to learn anything new if you already know the reality. But Emily Blunt shows you a raw and gritty side to the extent the FBI is willing to go to achieve their own goals in the war on drugs.
Joel Edgerton writes, directs and stars in this nerve-jangling potboiler. It’s a direct descendent of ‘90s stalker-fests Single White Female, The Hand That Rocked The Cradle, and Pacific Heights, with Edgerton playing an old school friend who just won’t leave Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall alone. Like any real gift, it’s about trying to get what’s inside – and this one contains some seriously dark surprises.
Gone Baby Gone
Morgan Freeman plays a moral/not so moral cop in a child kidnapping case while Ben Affleck’s younger brother Casey sets out to solve the case as a private investigator. Big bro Ben’s directorial debut, stuffed with drug lords, bribery, and a massive twist.
When things get financially desperate, kidnap your wife and bribe her father. Being a Coen Brother’s film, it’s equal parts funny, intriguing and smart. Twenty years since its release, the 1996 Oscar winner still holds its own amongst today’s crime dramas and acts as a PSA that it’s always better to get a loan than hire Steve Buscemi to abduct your significant other.
The Lives of Others
Watch this film just so you can talk about it in the pub and casually muse about how it was the directorial debut from a guy called Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. But also watch it because it’s a gripping look into East Germany’s secret police going ons before the fall of the Berlin war. Like eavesdropping on the general public, doubting loyalty to the communist party and risky business.
Touch of Evil
For that Sunday where you just want to sit in the dark and be transported to another place and time. The US/Mexican border in the fifties, specifically. Touch of Evil is a cult classic that sees writer-director-actor Orson Welles’ shady cops deal with a car bomb, planted evidence and corruption.
John Travolta back when he looked more Danny than damaged (i.e. in the eighties). While recording sound effects for a slasher thriller, Travolta accidentally records a car accident. When he saves one of the passengers, he finds another passenger already dead and lands in the middle of a conspiracy. Also features perfect synth pop.
What begins as a stereotypical nineties porn storyline - woman just out of prison moves in next door to heterosexual woman and begins love affair with her – ends in a detailed plan to trick a mobster. The woman next door is the girlfriend of said loaded criminal, and together the lovers plan to escape the relationship with a bunch of cash.
Another Coen Brothers number, filled with everything you want from a gangster film – tommy guns, mob bosses, backstabbing and prohibition. Except it goes much deeper than its outer shell of criminality, exploring friendships, characters and ethics.
Based on the John Grisham novel, Tom Cruise is a new lawyer who’s just landed his dream job. On the path to ensuring justice, for criminals. He finds himself in a corrupt firm that launders money and represent the underworld. When the FBI come a-knocking, Tom has to choose between a dangerous firm and doing the right thing.
Tarantino’s film about a flight attendant stuck between a rock and a hard place after getting caught smuggling money. So, she concocts a plan to sack both options off and make off with the money. Expect smart dialogue, cult-worthy visuals and zero disappointment.
Kevin Costner has a secret and it’s not that he once cracked a smile. It’s that he’s your typical family-man who loves nothing more than killing innocent people. In the midst of trying to wean himself off his habit, he is caught in the act and has to commit more atrocities than ever. But he’s really nice all the way through it.
The Talented Mr Ripley
Playing against type, Matt Damon is Tom Ripley, a psychopathic impersonator who befriends the son of a shipping magnate (Jude Law) and finds himself taking on his identity of a Princeton student. Needless to say, not all goes well in paradise and water gets muddied. In the capable hands of writer/director Anthony Minghella, the film manages to capture the taut suspense of the Patricia Highsmith novel effortlessly, abetted, of course, by this lead pair.