There's nothing quite like a thriller to keep you on the edge of your seat but still able to sleep at night — if you can handle it. There are plenty of films out there offering cheap thrills, but you won't find any on our list of the best thrillers currently streaming on Hulu. Between stolen pigs, delirious ballerinas, and overbearing mothers, these movies may give you trust issues, but it's well worth it for the little tastes of tension. Here are the best chills and thrills Hulu has to offer.
The Predator monster has terrified audiences for over 35 years, but in the story's prequel and fifth installment, the tables turn and the monster becomes the prey. The film follows Naru (Amber Midthunder), a Comanche warrior with the heart of a hunter, who seeks to prove her skills and protect her tribe by catching a predator.
Professional basketball player-turned-horror star Dane DiLiegro plays the film's eponymous villain and says the story is strong enough to win viewers over, even without its affiliation to the beloved horror franchise. In an interview, he told EW, "There just happens to be a Predator involved. Honestly, you could have shot this movie with a different monster and it still probably would have worked." If you're in the market for a solid thriller that still makes time to flesh out its main characters, sink your teeth into Prey.
If you enjoyed Prey, you might also like: Predator (1987), streaming on Hulu.
Given that the title sequence doesn't begin until 30 minutes into the film, Fresh may start out like a rom-com, right down to the meet-cute in a grocery store. But by the time you're actually invested in the apparently burgeoning romance between the equally excellent Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan as Noa and Steve, things take a turn for the markedly sinister into actual horrors, as Noa's dream guy transforms into something quite different.
Hot off the press at Sundance, EW's own Leah Greenblatt deemed Fresh "a clever, gory metaphor for the seemingly endless horrors of modern romance rooted in a plot twist just outrageous enough to plausibly be true." To say anything else would spoil the fun for you: We'll just leave it with kudos to the not-so-perfectly matched pair at the film's center, and to say that it is definitely appropriately titled…
If you enjoyed Fresh, you might also like: It Follows (2014), streaming on Netflix.
By his own admission, Nicolas Cage has taken a lot of roles in recent years just to cover the bills (many of them thrillers also available on Hulu, like Grand Isle, Knowing and A Score to Settle). But every once in a while, he still shows why he's an Oscar winner, like in 2021's Pig, in which he delivers one of his most impressive performances in years. Cage is mesmerizing as a hermit ex-chef who actually has a heartwarming symbiotic relationship with his prize truffle-hunting pig.
When that pig gets stolen, you'd expect him to go on a revenge spree not unlike that in Mandy (another stellar project of Cage's). Instead, his emotional submersion into the character (and his unabashed affection for his pig) takes the standard revenge story and turns it into a parable about life, loss, and the importance of fighting for what we love most. Also, the title character is the greatest porcine actor since Babe.
If you enjoyed Pig, you might also like: Lamb (2021), streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
The only foreign film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, Bong Joon Ho's 2019 masterpiece binds two families together in a tale about greed, ambition, privilege, and home. Parasite starts out light-hearted enough to possibly even qualify as a family comedy as it displays the plight of the Kims, a working class family barely getting by but still rich in affection. But once their family begins an (admittedly, dishonest) business relationship with the more bountiful Parks, the film takes a sharp, chilling turn that burrows under your skin like a… well, you know.
"If the movie is a Rorschach of who you identify as parasite and host, it's a test you're just as likely to fail," said EW's Leah Greenblatt, who declared Parasite "a filmgoing experience that refuses to fit into any box, and forces viewers to breathe the dangerous air outside of it too." Again, we really don't want to spoil any more for you, except to say that the film's release just before the world became homebound during the pandemic was rather fortuitous.
If you enjoyed Parasite, you might also like: Snowpiercer (2014), available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.
Shirley offers a fabricated biopic worthy of being crafted by the titular character herself. Following the success of her short story "The Lottery," author Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss) and her academic husband (Michael Stuhlbarg) welcome innocent young married couple Rose (Odessa Young) and Fred (Logan Lerman) into their Vermont home. The situation may appear benign on the surface, but it soon becomes as sinister and upsetting as one of Jackson's own creations.
It's a thriller purely in the psychological sense, as Shirley works on her second novel and looks to Rose for inspiration ("Think Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, but queerer and weirder," said EW's glowing review). Slow-moving but fraught with anticipatory dread, Shirley is worth the watch purely for Moss' transformative personification as Jackson, and her magnetic chemistry with Young, which is both energizing and tragic.
If you enjoyed Shirley, you might also like: Black Bear (2020), streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
<i>Black Swan</i> (2010)
A psychological thriller like no other, Black Swan is so twisted that the viewer becomes almost as mentally confused as deranged ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman, in an Oscar-winning performance), at war with the dark and light sides of herself. Since it's a Darren Aronofsky film, we know it's not destined to be feel-good; instead, Black Swan is a fascinating exploration of warring facets of someone's personality under pressure.
Portman "has never looked this severely lovely" as the innocent Nina, who needs to get in touch with her dark side to be able to play the Black Swan in Swan Lake as well as the white, virginal foil she already embodies off the stage. Unfortunately, that effort puts her mental state in great peril, as Aronofsky manages to craft a gorgeous, horrific psychological descent against the regimented, sublime backdrop of ballet.
If you enjoyed Black Swan, you might also like: Mother! (2017), streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Before Rian Johnson helmed his Knives Out franchise and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (much to some people's dismay, but not ours), he made his first big splash with this 2012 head-scratcher. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does his best Bruce Willis impression as "looper" Joe, a time traveler who comes face-to-face with his future self (Willis for real this time). Old Joe has come to the past to kill the mother of a young boy, who the present Joe has his own reasons for defending, pitting two different versions of the same self against each other.
If you're a fan of time travel movies, there are enough cross-linear "grandfather paradoxes" (shout-out to The Umbrella Academy season three) here to keep you up nights, but that doesn't take any of the fun out of Looper's one-of-a-kind timeline-skewing action.
If you enjoyed Looper, you might also like: Minority Report (2002), streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
<i>Nightmare Alley</i> (2021)
In a pivot away from the fantasy/horror films we know and love him for, director Guillermo del Toro captures the inverse in Nightmare Alley just as well, weaving a neo-noir about the dangers of feigning mystique. Bradley Cooper stars as Stan Carlisle, a con man who learns how to fake (and monetize) psychic powers through his time in a 1940s carnival. Though his wife and assistant Molly (Rooney Mara) warns him against performing "spook shows" for vulnerable people desperate for hope, Stan coerces her into helping with one final séance. But as his morality unravels, so too does his twisted plan.
A highly stylized remake of the 1947 film of the same name, EW's critic mused that "Nightmare Alley is both a beautiful-looking film and an oddly forgettable one, maybe because borrowed material is no match for the ingenious creations of del Toro's own mind." Along with the writer-director's signature flair, the film is also worth your time for its all-star cast, featuring Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, David Strathairn, and company.
If you enjoyed Nightmare Alley, you might also like: Paper Moon (1973), streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Honestly, there doesn't seem to be anything that Sarah Paulson can't do. In Run, which became Hulu's most successful original film upon its release in 2020, she even turned motherly affection inside out and upside down. Her Diane is a helicopter parent taken to the absolute worst extreme, as she smothers her daughter Chloe (Kiera Allen), who's dealing with various health issues, with overprotection in hopes of making her a dependent forever.
It's another efficient basic two-hander much like Misery but with a horrifying maternal element. EW's critic found the acting to be the film's greatest asset, writing "Though it's Allen's film debut, she has a natural ease that cuts against Paulson's higher drama." Chloe's seemingly impossible efforts to escape Diane turn Run into an edge-of-your-seat thriller, one with a familiar backdrop that calls to mind today's extremes in parenting.
If you enjoyed Run, you might also like: Panic Room (2002), available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.
<i>47 Meters Down</i> (2017)
47 Meters Down may be a challenge to watch if you're claustrophobic. And you don't like deep water. Or sharks. But if you're up for yet another idyllic cinematic vacation gone wrong, you will likely appreciate the plight of sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt), who enter an underwater shark-visiting cage in Mexico, only to have the cage cable break, stranding them at the bottom of the ocean. They have to escape the deep and the sharks to survive before their tanks run out of oxygen.
Somehow, 47 Meters Down milks a lot of genuine suspense and scares out of this simple premise and limited location, enough to maybe make you a little less adventurous on your own next tropical vacation. So, if you're looking for a stripped-down nail-biter that allows you to shut off your brain, you may enjoy what EW called a "lean and mean (and mostly un-gorey) shark thriller clocking in at an efficient and slightly threadbare 89 minutes." Even if it was a little thin, it was so successful it actually spawned a sequel, 2019's weaker followup 47 Meters Down: Uncaged.
If you enjoyed 47 Meters Down, you might also like: Deep Blue Sea (1999), available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.