In the realm of cinema, there is no genre quite like thrillers. These heart-pounding films keep us on the edge of our seats, making our hearts race and our minds whirl with anticipation. From psychological twists to spine-chilling mysteries, the best thriller movies have captivated audiences for decades. As we delve into a collection of unforgettable titles such as "Memento," "Se7en," and "Psycho," prepare to embark on a thrilling journey through the world of suspense, deceit, and unrelenting tension. Buckle up, as we unveil a list of spine-tingling tales that will leave you craving for more.

Memento (2000)

MementoMemento Available on: Max, Hoopla, or can be rented on AppleTV and other platforms.

Director: Christopher Nolan

Guy Pearce, Joe Pantoliano, and Carrie-Anne Moss star in this innovative, backward 2001 thriller by writer-director Christoper Nolan. The film revolves around a vengeful man afflicted with short-term memory loss. Memento is presented in ten-minute segments, shown in reverse chronological order, providing a unique viewing experience that solidified Nolan's reputation and made Memento a prominent and influential film. It is not only a remarkable thriller, but also one of the most notable mystery movies of all time.

You might also enjoy: Ranking of All Christopher Nolan Movies

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

The Talented Mr. RipleyThe Talented Mr. RipleyAvailable on: Showtime, or can be rented on Amazon and other platforms.

Director: Anthony Minghella

Anthony Minghella's 1999 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's first Tom Ripley novel is a brilliantly twisted and unsettling tale. It follows a young sociopath (Matt Damon) with aspirations of high society, who becomes dangerously fixated on a wealthy college dropout (Jude Law) living in Italy. The Talented Mr. Ripley is a captivating thriller that delves into the mind of a monster hidden in plain sight, who uses kindness and anything necessary to cover his tracks.

The Sixth Sense (1999)

The Sixth SenseThe Sixth SenseAvailable for rent on: Amazon and other platforms.

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

While the major twist in The Sixth Sense is now widely known, M. Night Shyamalan's breakthrough 1999 film, starring Bruce Willis and Toni Collette, remains captivating even without relying on the shock value of its final moments. Haley Joel Osment's portrayal of young Cole, a tormented boy desperately seeking answers to why he sees the dead, is a masterful narrative that explores the significance of confronting one's deepest fears to uncover the underlying truth.

The Conversation (1974)

The ConversationThe ConversationAvailable on: Showtime

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Between The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, Francis Ford Coppola directed The Conversation, an impeccably crafted paranoid masterpiece that rivals his best work. To this day, it remains a thought-provoking portrayal of a man whose professional life is torn apart by his unwavering personal beliefs. Gene Hackman delivers a landmark performance as Harry Caul, a disheartened surveillance expert who finds himself entangled in a potential assassination plot while grappling with the consequences of his involvement in three previous deaths. It stands as one of the finest spy movies ever made.

Zodiac (2007)

ZodiacZodiacAvailable for rent on: Amazon and other platforms.

Director: David Fincher

David Fincher's Zodiac chronicles the manhunt for the Zodiac Killer in the late 1960s and is a brooding masterpiece saturated with gut-wrenching suspense. Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. star in this chilling crime epic that unravels a perplexing web of facts and suspicions surrounding the case. After watching Zodiac, you'll never hear Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" the same way again.

Double Indemnity (1944)

Double IndemnityDouble IndemnityAvailable on: Turner Classic Movies, or can be rented on Amazon and other platforms.

Director: Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder, known as one of Hollywood's most versatile and talented directors, solidified his legacy with Double Indemnity. If you think of Fred MacMurray solely as the lovable father from My Three Sons, his portrayal of Walter Neff in this riveting, pivotal film noir will forever change your perspective. Double Indemnity presents a bleak, cynical narrative that follows an insurance salesman who teams up with a seductive housewife (Barbara Stanwyck) to plot the murder of her husband. It's a darkly humorous and troubling film that remains as haunting as it is captivating.

Se7en (1995)

Se7enSe7enAvailable for rent on: Amazon and other platforms.

Director: David Fincher

David Fincher's Se7en, also known as "Se7en," brought a sinister intelligence and jagged thrills to the overly saturated '90s serial killer movie landscape. It is a beautifully dark suspense film that delves into the gruesome tale of a deranged individual who punishes his victims based on the Seven Deadly Sins. Se7en features Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as an uneasy detective duo on the verge of having their lives shattered forever.

Chinatown (1974)

ChinatownChinatownAvailable on: Showtime, or can be rented on Amazon and other platforms.

Director: Roman Polanski

Boasting an Academy Award-winning screenplay by Robert Towne, Chinatown stands as an exceptional and definitive neo-noir thriller that pays tribute to and redefines the film noir genre. It follows private detective J.J. Gittes (Jack Nicholson) as he investigates a murder and uncovers a web of conspiracy impacting the future of Los Angeles. Chinatown weaves a complex narrative while showcasing outstanding performances by Nicholson and co-star Faye Dunaway. Since its premiere in 1974, it has consistently ranked among the best thriller/noir films.

Psycho (1960)

PsychoPsychoAvailable for Streaming: Watch on Netflix, or rent on Amazon and other platforms.

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

In simple terms, Psycho is an exceptional and highly influential suspense thriller and one of the finest horror movies. This 1960 masterpiece by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, revolutionized cinema and served as a source of inspiration for countless future filmmakers. Departing from his established formula, Hitchcock filmed Psycho on a smaller budget in black-and-white, utilizing his television series crew from Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The film was controversial at the time due to its unconventional structure and subject matter, yet it now stands as one of the greatest films of all time.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the LambsThe Silence of the LambsAvailable for Streaming: Watch on Max, or rent on Amazon and other platforms.

Directed by: Jonathan Demme

Remember when a horror movie won the Oscar for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay? The Silence of the Lambs not only sparked a media franchise centered around Hannibal Lecter and ushered in an era of prestigious horror films, but it also influenced a wave of serial killer movies in the '90s (including one titled Copycat). And let's not forget, it is also an exceptional movie with mind-bending twists, suspenseful turns, and terrifying moments. The Silence of the Lambs remains unbeatable.

North By Northwest (1959)

North By NorthwestNorth By NorthwestAvailable for Rent: Stream on various platforms, including AppleTV and Amazon Prime Video.

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

To be honest, this list could mostly consist of Alfred Hitchcock films. Therefore, it's fitting that he claims the top spot with his epic mystery/thriller, North By Northwest. Overflowing with intrigue and excitement, this espionage adventure features some of the most imitated sequences in cinema. Starring the incomparable Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill, a man mistaken for a spy, the film takes audiences on a thrilling journey of relentless pursuit, setting the standard for all thrillers.

Inside Man

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Credit: David Lee/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

One of the most outstanding heist movies of recent times, Inside Man by Spike Lee is a testament to gripping suspense, both within and outside the central bank. We follow Clive Owen's Dalton Russell, who lays claim to devising the flawless robbery plan. As he takes control of a Manhattan bank, Denzel Washington's Detective Frazier is called upon to negotiate the release of the hostages. However, things take a chaotic turn with the appearance of secret documents related to the bank's founder (Christopher Plummer) and the arrival of Jodie Foster's ruthlessly efficient fixer. With its meticulously crafted plot, intense action, and exceptional performances from Foster, Washington, and Plummer, Inside Man is a truly remarkable heist film.

How to Watch: Inside Man is now available for streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

The Beguiled

Sometimes, the mere presence of a man can ignite an unsettling sense of foreboding. In Sofia Coppola's gothic Civil War thriller, The Beguiled, a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood film, Colin Farrell portrays a wounded Union soldier who seeks refuge near a Confederate all-girls' school. Under the watchful eye of headmistress Miss Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman), he is granted temporary shelter until his health improves. However, an atmosphere of sexual tension and jealousy gradually permeates the school as each girl competes for the affections of the handsome soldier, particularly Kirsten Dunst's Miss Edwina Morrow. The events in The Beguiled escalate into a frenzied whirlwind of violence, secrets, and a memorable dining experience. Notably, Coppola delivers an unforgettable line through a distraught Farrell: "You vengeful bitches!"

How to Watch: The Beguiled is now available for streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)


In Enough, Jennifer Lopez experiences her own version of Sleeping With the Enemy as Slim, a mother and survivor of domestic abuse who takes matters into her own hands. After enduring years of violence from her husband, Mitch (Billy Campbell), Slim finally manages to escape with her young daughter. However, Mitch, being the despicable person he is, goes to great lengths to track her down and put a stop to her newfound freedom. This gripping drama unfolds with intense melodrama, culminating in a climax that makes it all worthwhile. Just imagine the consequences if Jennifer Lopez became genuinely enraged with you and then acquired a multitude of Krav Maga skills in pursuit of revenge.

How to Watch: Enough is now available for streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

The Wolf's Call

The Wolf's Call delves into the realm of submarine action thrillers, utilizing sound (and silence) as its most potent and impactful element. In this overlooked French film directed by Antonin Baudry, a French submarine embarks on a covert mission to rescue a special forces team without raising alarm from an enemy warship above or enemy troops nearby. At the heart of this mission lies Chanteraide (François Civil), an expert sonar operator renowned for his exceptional hearing abilities.

This premise sets the stage for an enthralling underwater thriller that gradually builds tension, ultimately placing the French submarine at the center of a potential nuclear war. With a stellar cast featuring French acting veterans such as Omar Sy, Mathieu Kassovitz, and Reda Kateb, along with sound design by Oscar-winner Randy Thom, The Wolf’s Call is an exceptional film that demands your attention.

How to Watch: The Wolf’s Call is now available for streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Side Effects

In Side Effects, Rooney Mara portrays Emily, an elite resident of upstate New York whose life begins unravelling upon her husband's (Channing Tatum) return after a four-year prison sentence. When Emily seeks treatment from her new therapist (Jude Law), she is prescribed an experimental medication recommended by her former psychiatrist (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Initially, Emily experiences sleepwalking episodes, but suddenly, something horrific occurs. Without revealing any spoilers, if you appreciate mind-bending psychological thrillers that lean towards the more sensational side of the genre, Side Effects is the film for you. Steven Soderbergh's exploration of pharmaceutical drugs and therapy takes audiences on a wild ride, featuring a final twist that will keep you guessing until the very end.

How to Watch: Side Effects is now available for streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

The Criminals in the Reservoir

An individual dressed formally holds a cigarette.

Credit: Live Entertainment/Kobal/Shutterstock

Tarantino's inaugural film is packed with all his signature idiosyncrasies — explosive acts of violence, killer music choices, effortlessly cool characters, complex and convoluted plotlines, and an abundance of nail-biting tension. Following a botched diamond heist, a group of criminals find themselves on the run, with one of them severely wounded in the backseat of their getaway vehicle. Paranoia grips them as they realize that someone within their ranks must have double-crossed them and alerted the police. As they hunker down at their hideout, characters like Mr. White (played by Harvey Keitel), Mr. Orange (played by Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (played by Steve Buscemi), and Mr. Blonde (played by Michael Madsen) simmer in a toxic brew of suspicion and fury. Tarantino essentially throws a bunch of ruthless mobsters into a confined space, ignites the flame, and invites us to witness the explosive aftermath.

How to access: Reservoir Dogs can now be streamed on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Emily, the Culprit

Renowned for her unique deadpan humor, Aubrey Plaza gets an opportunity to fully immerse herself in a tense dramatic role in Emily the Criminal, and it's an absolute delight to watch. Plaza portrays Emily, an artist suffocated by a staggering ,000 student loan debt and a criminal record that impedes her chances of securing stable employment. She seems to be at a dead-end, until a coworker introduces her to the world of credit card fraud, opening a new path of risk and financial gain.

Unlike most crime thrillers, which typically focus on seasoned swindlers, Emily the Criminal strikes a chord by presenting a tale that feels remarkably relatable to anyone, especially those ensnared in the clutches of mounting debt. It explores the notion that individuals driven by pure desperation might contemplate illicit avenues. While the film could benefit from deeper analysis of the underlying systems that foster crime and inequality, Plaza's performance shines through. She masterfully embodies a young woman on the verge of collapse under the weight of financial insecurity, growing bolder and more vocal as she delves deeper into her new world.

How to access: Emily the Criminal can now be streamed on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

The Mysterious Lady by the Window

A woman gazes out of the window, her visage surrounded by drapes.

Credit: Netflix

If you crave thrillers that are extravagantly melodramatic and extraordinary, then allow me to introduce you to Joe Wright's captivatingly entertaining The Woman in the Window. Adapted from A.J. Finn's best-selling novel, this thriller showcases Amy Adams as Anna Fox, a child psychologist bound by acute agoraphobia that confines her within the walls of her Manhattan brownstone. One fateful evening, amidst indulging in wine and prescription drugs, Anna becomes convinced that she has witnessed a murder transpire in the house across the street. However, as detectives question her sanity, she herself begins to lose touch with reality.

Certainly, this premise isn't entirely new; in fact, it pays homage to films like Rear Window and Gaslight, while embracing various other nods to classic film noir that Anna herself watches during the movie. The Woman in the Window serves as an unabashed love letter to the subgenre, albeit not striving to recreate it flawlessly. Nevertheless, its true charm lies in the delightful trashy fun it provides.

How to access: The Woman in the Window can now be streamed on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)


Any film centered around the abduction of a child is bound to be intense, but Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners encapsulates an exceptionally potent intensity that mirrors the emotions experienced by any parent embroiled in such a nightmarish ordeal. Throughout its lengthy two-and-a-half-hour duration, viewers cannot escape the relentless anxiety and palpable terror.

When two young girls vanish, Detective Loki (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests the initial suspect (Paul Dano), only to release him due to lack of evidence. Consumed by fury, Hugh Jackman's character—a desperate father—decides to take matters into his own hands. He kidnaps and subjects Dano's Alex to a ruthless and violent interrogation. The narrative then embarks on a twisted journey, rife with multiple suspects and misleading clues, culminating in a spine-chilling climax.

How to access: Prisoners can now be streamed on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Triple Frontier: A Trio's Feat

An armed man stands in a barren dining room.

Credit: Netflix

Few things can match the splendor of a remarkable ensemble cast in a crime film, and Triple Frontier boasts one of the most formidable in recent years. Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Pedro Pascal, Garrett Hedlund, and Charlie Hunnam portray five former Special Forces operatives in this enthralling thriller directed by J.C. Chandor. Frustrated by their government's negligence, these men decide to embark on a daring heist to pilfer million from a drug cartel in the jungles of South America. However, as greed takes hold and tensions escalate, their plans spiral out of control.

While Triple Frontier isn't the explosive action extravaganza one might expect from films like The Expendables, Chandor infuses his sequences with restrained yet gripping suspense, including a memorable tracking shot during the daring heist. However, what truly binds the narrative together is the impeccable performances by the talented cast, particularly Isaac and Pascal, a partnership that begs for future collaborations.

How to access: Triple Frontier can now be streamed on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

The Benevolent Gentlemen

To be fair, The Nice Guys leans more towards comedy than thriller, yet if you seek a side-splitting murder mystery, this film is sure to deliver. Shane Black, the mastermind behind Lethal Weapon, presents a delightful buddy cop comedy that centers around the unlikely pairing of a down-and-out private investigator (played by the hilarious Ryan Gosling) and a tough-as-nails enforcer (expertly portrayed by Russell Crowe) who find themselves forced to collaborate. Their mission? To ascertain whether a porn actress, who was presumed dead, is actually alive. As they stumble and brawl their way through the eccentricities of 1970s Los Angeles and a colorful array of characters, The Nice Guys offers a hilarious neo-noir meets erotic thriller experience, further enhanced by an excellent performance from Kim Basinger.

How to access: The Nice Guys can now be streamed on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

13. The Guilty

A man stares at his own reflection in the mirror.

Credit: Glen Wilson / Netflix

Some of the most searing tension emerges from what is left unseen on the screen, leaving the audience to imagine the most intense moments. This is the approach employed by Antoine Fuqua in The Guilty, a remake of the Danish film of the same name, where the story unfolds over a single day in a single location, with the majority of the action occurring offscreen.

Jake Gyllenhaal portrays Joe, an LAPD officer working as a 911 dispatch operator, who receives a distress call from a woman who has been abducted. Through a series of phone conversations as Joe attempts to solve the crime, the tension escalates, conveyed solely through Gyllenhaal's remarkable performance, allowing the viewers' imagination to run wild as they envision the events transpiring at the other end of the line. It's a narrative device that proves to be effective, largely due to Gyllenhaal's ability to convincingly portray a man unraveling before our eyes in the span of 90 minutes.

How to access: The Guilty can now be streamed on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)


Bond movies are renowned for their explosive action sequences, but Skyfall adds an extra layer of suspense and mounting apprehension that truly forces us to question Bond's survival. In the third installment of Daniel Craig's 007 era, the stakes reach new heights as Judi Dench's M becomes the primary target of Javier Bardem's villain Silva. The danger Bond is accustomed to facing becomes personal when Silva, a former 00 agent, embarks on a vengeful mission to eliminate the head of MI6 for abandoning him to British adversaries many years ago.

Just in the opening chase sequence alone, Craig's Bond goes from operating an excavator on a moving train to engaging in combat on the train's roof, followed by a near-fatal descent. Add to that a fight in a pit filled with Komodo dragons and an attack on M during a board meeting, and you have a truly exhilarating Bond adventure.

How to watch: You can now stream Skyfall on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Fear Street Trilogy

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Credit: Netflix

Leigh Janiak deserves significantly more recognition for her Fear Street movies than she has received. Her trilogy of nostalgic teen horror thrillers pays homage to and ingeniously reinvents genre conventions, particularly by putting queer and female characters in the lead. Janiak's interconnected films span three decades, telling a tale of a town plagued by a curse, while each movie possesses a distinct genre aesthetic with ample amounts of bloodshed and shocking suspense.

Fear Street Part One: 1994 serves as a love letter to '90s slashers, wherein a masked killer terrorizes a small town as a group of friends attempt to foil the murders. Fear Street Part Two: 1978 takes us to a summer camp, paying homage to classics like Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp. Finally, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 presents a haunting tribute to folk horror, unraveling the mysteries established in the previous films. While horror remains central to the Fear Street trilogy, Janiak masterfully infuses each installment with gripping suspense that will keep you captivated until the very end.

How to watch: You can now stream the Fear Street Trilogy on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

The Birds

The most terrifying aspect of Hitchcock's The Birds—wherein a small town falls under attack by swarms of menacing birds—is not only the visual imagery, but also the auditory experience, or rather the eerie absence thereof. The sole film by the British filmmaker without a musical score, The Birds primarily relies on ominous sound effects and stretches of silence to evoke an unsettling uneasiness that gradually morphs into sheer terror. The rustling of bird feathers off-screen, muffling dialogue, the menacing caws of crows gathering in a schoolyard just moments before children rush out, or the gushing sound of gasoline flowing toward a man about to light a cigarette—these are the elements that chill us to the core.

Yet, equally disturbing is the underlying theme of relentless surveillance, as The Birds revolves around women who are continuously watched, stalked, and attacked by the avian antagonists. Is The Birds a misogynistic horror thriller that revels in the assault and subsequent dismissal of Tippi Hedren's Melanie, Jessica Tandy's Lydia, and Veronica Cartwright's Cathy? Or was Hitchcock attempting to comment on society's voyeuristic tendencies and the predatory nature of how women are perceived? The latter interpretation may be harder to accept, especially considering the allegations made by Hedren against Hitchcock(opens in a new tab). Nevertheless, The Birds remains a disturbing and captivating classic thriller that invites endless revisits and analysis.

How to watch: You can now stream The Birds on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

A man with close-cropped hair running through a factory.

Jesse (Aaron Paul) takes center stage in "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie."

Credit: Ben Rothstein / Netflix

Dear fans of Breaking Bad, if you haven't yet indulged in the series' victorious finale, what exactly are you waiting for? Picking up right after the events of the show, El Camino follows Jesse (Aaron Paul) as he tries to escape the clutches of both the law and his troubled past. While this epilogue may be deemed unnecessary, it nevertheless proves to be a captivating addition to the Breaking Bad universe. — Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie(opens in a new tab) is currently available for streaming on Netflix(opens in a new tab).


The most influential science fiction films not only captivate audiences but also provide a fresh perspective on the world. Christopher Nolan's Inception may be categorized as a science fiction heist film, but its cultural impact undoubtedly makes it one of the most significant movies of its kind. Its intricate dream-within-a-dream concept introduced the suffix "-ception" to our vernacular, its enigmatic ending left behind one of the decade's biggest unanswered questions, and Hans Zimmer's monumental score made the resounding blast of horns a symbol of impending confusion. While Nolan has had grand concepts before and since, Inception stands as his most profound contribution outside of the Batman realm. — Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: Inception(opens in a new tab) is currently available for streaming on Netflix(opens in a new tab).

In a world full of twists, turns, and heart-racing suspense, these best thriller movies have proven time and time again that they can leave audiences on the edge of their seats. From psychological mind-benders like "Memento" and "The Sixth Sense" to classic masterpieces like "Psycho" and "Chinatown," each film on this list has embraced the art of suspense and delivered it flawlessly. Whether you're a fan of gripping mysteries, intense cat-and-mouse games, or heart-pounding action, these thrilling tales are sure to keep you guessing until the very end. So grab some popcorn, dim the lights, and prepare to embark on a rollercoaster ride of emotions with the best thriller movies ever made.