The 34 Best, Most Suspenseful Thrillers on Netflix Right Now

·18 min read
Halle Berry in 'The Call'<p>Sony</p>
Halle Berry in 'The Call'

Sony

If you're looking to watch some seriously gripping entertainment from home as fall 2022 approaches, we've got you covered. Many of us go to the movies (or these days, watch from the couch) because we want to feel something. Few pictures get you to react quite like a suspenseful white-knuckler.

Netflix is host to a virtual library of first-rate suspense thrillers. We've rounded up the very best. On this list, we've included everything from suspenseful political yarns to thrilling action pics to thrillers with elements of horror.

Get ready for a heart-pounding experience. Here are our picks of the best, most suspenseful thriller films you can watch right now on Netflix.

This list is regularly updated as films come and go from Netflix’s library.

Best thrillers on Netflix right now

<p>Summit Entertainment</p>

Summit Entertainment

1. The Hurt Locker (2009)

Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal’s nerve-shredding, highly acclaimed war thriller stars Jeremy Renner as an explosives expert, in an uncompromising look at the Iraq War and its psychological impact on veterans. Competing against ex-husband James Cameron and Avatar, Bigelow became the first woman ever to win the Academy Award for Best Director. This is also the first film directed by a woman to win Best Picture.

Narges Rashidi in UNDER THE SHADOW
Narges Rashidi in UNDER THE SHADOW

2. Under the Shadow (2016)

An exquisitely crafted and thoroughly unnerving chiller, writer/director Babak Anvari's feature debut blurs the line between supernatural terror and the horrors of the real world like few films you'll ever see. Set in 1980's Tehran during The War of the Cities--the backdrop of Anvari's own fear-ridden childhood--Narges Rashidi stars as medical student Shideh who is barred from her studies because of her involvement in revolutionary politics. When her husband departs for the front, Shideh is tasked with protecting their young daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) as the fighting and bombings escalate around them. It doesn't look like things can get any bleaker, and that's when Shideh and Dorsa are haunted by an evil genie.

The performances are powerful, and the filmmaking here is impeccable, evoking a war-torn Iran that is almost suffocating to watch. Anvari grew up in a culture where VCR's and VHS tapes were illegal, and his debut is made with the kind of passion for film that you can't put a price tag on. The supernatural scares work, but they're never quite as frightening as Shideh's reality, which seems to be Anvari's point. Esteemed British film critic Mark Kermode named this small-scale powerhouse the best film of 2016, and it is not to be missed.

Related: The Scariest Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now

Madeline Brewer in 'Cam'<p>Netflix</p>
Madeline Brewer in 'Cam'

Netflix

3. Cam (2018)

Directed by Daniel Goldhaber, this Netflix original is about an adult webcam performer who discovers a sinister presence has taken her place on the internetCam has some truly frightening moments, and it examines the subject matter of sex work with appropriate care and thought. Most notably, it showcases a head-turning lead performance by The Handmaids Tale‘s Madeline Brewer, often playing multiple entities on-screen at the same time. Thanks to a perceptive script by real-life former cam girl Isa MazzeiCam is often an examination of fractured identity, something that’s definitely not limited to the world of adult entertainment. Cam stumbles a bit at the ending, but it’s full of provocative ideas, and Brewer just floors you.

4. I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020) 

A year after she, frankly, stunned us with her turn as a Scottish bad girl-turned country singer in Wild RoseJessie Buckley starred in Charlie Kaufman's darkly comic, psychological thriller. Based on a 2016 novel of the same name, I'm Thinking of Ending Things follows a young couple on a road trip, a seemingly unrelated The film is arguably a little too smart for its own good, but it's an intriguing puzzle film that's well worth a watch.

Related: The Best Crime Movies on Netflix Right Now

5. Gerald'Game (2017)

A career-high performance from the always-good Carla Gugino is front-and-center in Mike Flanagan’s Netflix original, a Stephen King adaptation about a woman who ends up handcuffed to a bed in the middle of nowhere when her husband drops dead. This is pure, high-concept psychological terror, not spooky, but gripping—and the ick factor is high.

HUSH<p>Netflix</p>
HUSH

Netflix

6. Hush (2016)

A Netflix original film, Hush is a surprisingly suspenseful and effective slasher about a deaf author (Kate Siegel) who is terrorized by a masked home intruder (John Gallagher Jr.). Hush owes a great deal to John Carpenter‘s Halloween [so many of the best horror films these days do] and even more to the 1967 Audrey Hepburn flick Wait Until Dark, but Mike Flanagan‘s taut direction and knack for suspense are enough to make Hush stand on its own. It’s a nail-biting thriller that really delivers what you’re hoping for in a movie like this.

Following well-received mirror-themed horror flick Oculus and the way-better-than-anyone-expected Ouija: Origin of Evil, Flanagan gained attention as a force in popular horror.

<p>Aidan Monaghan/NETFLIX</p>

Aidan Monaghan/NETFLIX

7. His House (2020) 

Remi Weekes’ acclaimed supernatural horror debut follows South Sudanese refugees adjusting to a perilous life in small-town Europe. Like The Babadook or Under the Shadow, this is horror as dramatic art rather than a series of things that jump out and go boo. The real-world subject matter is twisted and devastating, all strikingly performed by leads Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu.

Review: Mandy Is Nicolas Cage at His Very Best 

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8. The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Before Annabelle and The Nun, there was James Wan’s hair-raising, superbly acted thriller about a witch who terrorizes a Rhode Island family in 1971. By summer 2013, horror had earned a bad rap. The torture films like Saw had dominated for a decade, and if there ever even was a point to those it had long fizzled out. The Conjuring was marketed as “based on the true case files of” Ed and Lorraine Warren, prominent paranormal investigators, played here by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. This box office behemoth brought back the classy, high-production-values terror of thrillers like The Exorcist and Poltergeist. Its success spawned the first highly successful cinematic universe outside of the MCU. The immediate sequel, The Conjuring 2, saw a similarly strong reception. A third Conjuring film hit theaters and streaming in 2021.

Related: The Best Movies About Addiction and Alcoholism

9. The Gift (2015)

Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall and Joel Edgerton (who wrote, directed and co-produced the film) star in a superior, ominous thriller about a hotshot executive facing crisis when the past comes back to haunt him. The Gift was a modest box-office success, and received universal critical acclaim.

10. It Follows (2015) 

A cold-blooded nightmare that could inspire an adult to sleep with a nightlight, David Robert Mitchell‘s supernatural thriller about a shapeshifting killer passed around like a curse exudes a blistering, downright oppressive atmosphere of menace. Mitchell throws you off balance from the very beginning in ways you might not even notice: this film is set in no discernible time period, or even a particular season, and certain details in the production design and in character’s actions just don’t make any sense. This is not unlike the method Stanley Kubrick used to make us uneasy throughout The Shining.

There is a quietness, a stillness in It Follows that you won’t find anywhere in contemporary horror hits like Annabelle or It, which rely heavily on loud banging noises and jump scares to shake an audience. As artful as it is frightening, It Follows is patient, rewarding perceptive viewers with a uniquely, richly disturbing experience.

Right now, we are living in a golden age of horror. It Follows is an essential part of that discussion.

11. Unfriended (2014)

Universal's trashy, undeniably frightening and ingenious found-footage thriller—centered on teens haunted by a vengeful spirit as they chat over Skype—was hugely profitable, grossing $64 million against a $1 million budget. The screen-based form of found-footage storytelling, also used in Open Windows, has been polished in years since, with Searching and Host receiving critical acclaim. In 2018, Unfriended was followed by a darker, arguably superior sequel Unfriended: Dark Web.

Related: Why Avengers: Endgame Became the Biggest Movie of All Time 

Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman in 'Se7en'
Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman in 'Se7en'

12. Seven (1995)

Often stylized as Se7en, David Fincher‘s harrowing police procedural stars Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as detectives who partner on a case of brutal ritualistic killings. From the handcrafted opening titles to the heart-stopping final moments (don’t let anyone spoil the ending for you), Seven is really unsettling and creepy stuff. Handle with care.

Seven earned about 10 times its budget at the worldwide box office, and was nominated for a Best Film Editing Oscar, but lost to Apollo 13.

Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt in 'Berlin Syndrome'<p>eOne, Netflix</p>
Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt in 'Berlin Syndrome'

eOne, Netflix

13. Berlin Syndrome (2017)

You might think you’ve seen enough women-in-captivity movies for at least one or two lifetimes. And who could blame you?

So abundant we might as well make them their own genre, movies about kidnapped females generally go one of two ways: It’s either all about the suspense, figuring out how and if she will get out—or there’s the nastier route, when some movies focus on a woman’s torture and humiliation, turning it into a spectacle.

Though Australian director Cate Shortland‘s adaptation of Melanie Joosten‘s novel about a tourist imprisoned by a handsome teacher after a passionate one-night-stand is a thriller (quite heart-pounding at times), and much of the woman’s mistreatment is extremely hard to watch, this highly absorbing psychological drama stands out because it’s all about the characters and what’s going on in their heads.

Aussie-born Teresa Palmer of Hacksaw Ridge fame delivers a ripper of a performance as a victim suffering in stages not unlike the stages of grieving. German Max Riemelt (Sense8) keeps up every step of the way as her chilling and multifaceted captor, but this is Palmer’s film, and it gave the dynamite actress long-relegated to playing love-interest side characters a serious calling-card in Hollywood. As for Shortland, she directed the upcoming Marvel tentpole Black Widow.

Aaron Paul stars in 'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' <p>Netflix</p>
Aaron Paul stars in 'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie'

Netflix

14. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

One of the greatest television shows in history recently got a worthy coda, when three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul returned as interminably suffering drug kingpin Jesse Pinkman in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. The highly anticipated follow-up to Vince Gilligan‘s crime saga Breaking Bad is a Netflix original.

On one hand, there's undeniably fan service at play here. Also, this is fan service from masters of the medium. It's hard to imagine any Breaking Bad fans not being satisfied with this suspenseful, raw, even darkly hilarious follow-up. Paul is, of course, a million shades of riveting.

Related: We Ranked Every James Bond Movie (Including No Time to Die) Worst to Best 

15. Apostle (2018)

The Raid director Gareth Evans' horror/action freakout rewards a deliberate buildup with some stomach-turning violence and gore in the final act. The turn-of-the-20th-century period piece stars Dan Stevens as an Englishman who infiltrates a remote cult to rescue his sister.

Related: The 151 Best Horror Movies of All Time, Ranked

16-17. Creep (2014) and Creep 2 (2017)

One of the best found-footage films that followed in the wake of Paranormal Activity‘s enormous success, Patrick Brice‘s psychological thriller follows a videographer assigned to record an eccentric, probably insane client (Mark Duplass). Following a hit premiere at South by Southwest and a theatrical run, Creep found success on streaming. A sequel arrived in 2017, and a third installment is in the works.

18. Nocturnal Animals (2016)

As brutal as it is sad—and it’s both—Tom Ford‘s second feature twists the blade in the corpse of a toxic, failed relationship. Amy AdamsJake GyllenhaalAaron Taylor-Johnson (Golden Globe winner for his work here) and Michael Shannon (Oscar nominee for his work here) are uniformly sensational in dark, sumptuously realized parallel storylines (about half of the film is a fictional book within the narrative). Gobsmacking visually and disturbing thematically, Nocturnal Animals is something like a masterpiece.

19. The Guilty (2021)

Shot during lockdown in 11 days, Antoine Fuqua's remake of the acclaimed 2018 thriller of the same name stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a 911 dispatcher faced with a distressing call. Co-starring Riley KeoughEthan HawkePaul Dano, Peter Sarsgaard and Bill Burr.

20. Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale was the first Bond film written after 9/11, and audiences needed the Bond movies to evolve considerably. Casino Royale rose to the occasion, hitting it out of the park farther than anyone could have anticipated. This is a stunning action picture with the weight of romantic tragedy. How often does that happen?

21. Crimson Peak (2015)

Gorgeous Gothic visuals, strong performances and retro-inspired chills run throughout an underrated Guillermo del Toro romantic ghost story set in Victorian-era England, starring Mia WasikowskaTom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain.

22. Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Gerard Butler stars in Training Day director Antoine Fuqua‘s red-blooded guy movie about a terrorist attack on the White House. Earning a respectable $170 million and mixed-to-positive reviews, this was overall the better-received film with the same plot in the same year (Roland Emmerich‘s White House Down was mostly a dud). Also on Netflix: sequel London Has Fallen.

Halle Berry in 'The Call'<p>Sony</p>
Halle Berry in 'The Call'

Sony

23. The Call (2013)

Nearly a decade after its theatrical release, Brad Anderson's crime film became the latest movie to garner a second life on Netflix in a big way, climbing to the coveted #1 position in popularity in North America. Oscar winner Halle Berry and Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin star in the thriller about a 9-1-1 operator who gets a call from the target of a serial killer. The film's popularity on Netflix was so strong that sequel rumors and buzz are in play.

<p>Warner Bros.</p>

Warner Bros.

24. Contagion (2011) 

In 2011, Warner Bros. released Steven Soderbergh‘s ensemble thriller Contagion to solid reviews and a healthy $135 million worldwide gross. Not much has been said about it since—until it surged in popularity in early 2020. That’s because Contagion has proven eerily prophetic, and much of what happened in the film happened in the midst of the international coronavirus health crisis.

<p>Netflix</p>

Netflix

25. Bird Box (2018)

Sandra Bullock stars in Bird Box as expectant mother Malorie, who’s forced to become a survivalist when supernatural forces decimate the world’s population. One look at these creatures—who we never see—causes your eyes to glaze over and moisten, then you go insane and commit suicide, by whatever means is handy. After surviving a chaotic early set piece of carnage and destruction on a massive scale, Malorie and her unborn child make it to a house where several strangers who’ve also evaded the outbreak have found shelter. Bird Box broke Netflix records and remains one of the streaming giant's biggest hits ever.

Robert De Niro in 'Taxi Driver'
Robert De Niro in 'Taxi Driver'

26. Taxi Driver (1976)

Written by Paul Schrader and directed by Martin Scorsese, this iconic psychological thriller is widely considered to be one of the best movies ever made. Robert De Niro plays a lonely, haunted Vietnam veteran who descends into violent madness.

Co-starring Jodie FosterHarvey Keitel and Cybill ShepherdTaxi Driver has accumulated countless accolades over the decades: It’s a part of the National Film Registry, Sight & Sound named it the 31st greatest movie ever, and it was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture. You talkin’ to me?

Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Nightcrawler'<p>Open Road</p>
Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Nightcrawler'

Open Road

27. Nightcrawler (2014)

Jake Gyllenhaal is frightening and unrecognizable (lamentably overlooked by the Academy) in Dan Gilroy‘s neo-noir, as a stringer who sells video of grisly events in nighttime Los Angeles to local news outlets. Co-starring Rene Russo and Bill Paxton, with a brilliant supporting turn from Riz AhmedNightcrawler was a hit with audiences and critics following a clever online marketing campaign.

Aisling Franciosi as Clare in Jennifer Kent's 'The Nightingale'
Aisling Franciosi as Clare in Jennifer Kent's 'The Nightingale'

28.  The Nightingale (2019)

Jennifer Kent‘s thunderous follow-up to The Babadook stars Aisling Franciosi as an imprisoned, abused Irish convict who sets out into the wilderness of 1825 Australia seeking vengeance. To be clear: The Nightingale is not a revenge fantasy; it’s a moral, humane exploration of themes that aren’t restricted to any particular time and place. It’s not easy viewing—it’s as much a series of events you experience as it is a movie you watch—but storytelling this clear-eyed and urgent doesn’t come around all that often, and demands to be seen. Kent does not make compromises in telling challenging, impactful stories. She’s one of the most exciting filmmaking talents around right now.

In this psychological thriller, Cate Blanchett plays an American heiress who has a romance with the young sociopath Tom Ripley, played by <a href="https://parade.com/1241264/alexandra-hurtado/matt-damon-wife-luciana-barroso/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Matt Damon" class="link ">Matt Damon</a>.
In this psychological thriller, Cate Blanchett plays an American heiress who has a romance with the young sociopath Tom Ripley, played by Matt Damon.

29. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow star in Anthony Minghella's technically exquisite, darkly compelling adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel about a disturbed man hellbent on making a playboy's lifestyle his own by whatever means necessary. Nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Law).

HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, THE, Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, 1990
HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, THE, Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, 1990

30. The Hunt for Red October (1990)

The first Tom Clancy adaptation to hit the big screen is still the best. This is the big-screen debut of Jack Ryan, and Sean Connery plays a rogue Soviet submarine captain who abandons orders and defects to the United States. It’s up to Ryan to bridge communications on the high seas to prevent an all-out nuclear war. A patient, highly technical thriller that’s never less than gripping, The Hunt for Red October is easily the picture that best represents Clancy’s strengths and appeal as a creator.

31. Collateral (2004)

Michael Mann has made multiple crime classics, arguably none better than his streamlined, character-rich masterpiece Collateral. This is also a career-high point for Tom Cruise, who plays a sociopathic hitman who entangles a mild-mannered cabbie (Jamie Foxx, Oscar-nominated for this the same year he won for Ray) in an L.A. killing spree. Co-starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Collateral is equal parts armrest-gripping excitement and meaty, uncomfortable philosophy. Soaked in neon on digital video (years before it was the norm), Collateral is also the best, most truthful movie ever made about nighttime in Los Angeles.

32. Argo (2012)

Crackling and smart, Ben Affleck's follow-up to brilliant thrillers Gone Baby Gone and The Town is about real-life CIA operative Tony Mendez and the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Winner of three Oscars including Best Picture. Affleck was notably snubbed for Best Director.

33. Skyfall (2012)

This is not how it's supposed to work. Conventional wisdom tells us a movie franchise surely won't be better--much less more intimate—than ever, a full half-century into its run. But that's what happened with Bond in Skyfall.

In 2012, James Bond steps into our modern world, where enemies aren't as easy to see, and the fight is in the shadows. Skyfall is frightening, fun, deeply funny at times, and touching. This is an entertainment that's confident, sophisticated and wise enough to know that hearing Judi Dench recite Tennyson in a courtroom can be just as stirring as watching James rip open a train car with a Caterpillar digger. Sam Mendes's direction is crystalline; he knows he has us in the palm of his hand every step of the way.

34. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Both critically adored and mired in controversy upon release, Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow's thriller chronicles the hunt for Bin Laden, leading up to the night he was taken out by Navy SEALs. The picture's two greatest assets are the stunning, armrest-gripping final act and a ripper of a lead performance from Jessica Chastain, Oscar-nominated here.

Next up, funny comedies on Netflix!