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The Best Psychological Thrillers On Netflix Right Now

Some films turn to devils, ghosts, and witches to get an audience's blood pumping. But for one genre, the psychological thriller, there's nothing more terrifying or adrenaline-inducing than the tricks and twists of the human mind. Full of pressure-cooker tension and a more, shall we say, "realistic" attitude towards what goes bump in the night, psychological thrillers are a hoot for anyone who enjoys watching characters get pushed to their breaking point and then some.

So if conspiracy, scandal, and scares sound right up your alley, there's good news: there are plenty of chilling offerings on Netflix for you to enjoy. From sultry games of cat and mouse to nightmarish home invasion scenarios, Netflix has psychological thrillers aplenty to keep the hairs on the back of your neck standing on edge. Don't worry, this list is not all in your head: here's a look at some of the best psychological thrillers that Netflix has to offer.

Wild Things

There is a dire lack of erotic thrillers on this list. But we're more than making up for that with the inclusion of "Wild Things," easily one of the most bananapants flicks the subgenre has to offer. Hitting the ground running, "Wild Things" begins with a scandal: two high school students from opposite ends of the social ladder, Kelly (Denise Richards) and Suzie (Neve Campbell), have accused their guidance counselor, Sam (Matt Dillon), of sexual assault. However, when Kelly and Suzie both admit on the stand to making the whole thing up, Sam saunters away with a multi-million-dollar defamation settlement. 

What should be a closed case of bruised teenage egos is soon revealed to be the first of many twists: the whole thing was a set-up. And the trio have every intention of taking their ill-gotten millions and running off into the Florida sunset. Preferably on a luxury yacht. Unfortunately for the gang, two nosy detectives (Kevin Bacon and Daphne Rubin-Vega) are hot on their trail. A bonkers film with a title to match, "Wild Things" has all the cheese and sleaze you want out of a '90s erotic thriller. Don't let that 63% Rotten Tomatoes score fool you, few thrillers are as delightfully thrilling as "Wild Things."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Shutter Island

Based on Dennis Lehane's 2003 novel of the same name, Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" is a blood-curdling thriller that follows U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is sent to investigate the disappearance of a dangerous murderess from a remote hospital for the criminally insane. With his new partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) in tow, Teddy can't shake the feeling that something more sinister is afoot at the hospital than a mere escapee. As his investigation peels back the layers of the institute, Teddy finds his own traumatic past may contain the key to solving the island's secret.

Inspired by German Expressionism, film noir, and the psychological nightmares of Alfred Hitchcock, "Shutter Island" blurs the genre lines (and the lines of reality) to deliver one heck of a wild ride. Calmly paranoid with more twists and turns than a labyrinth, "Shutter Island" boasts a 68% critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes. Like many a clue-laden mystery before it, "Shutter Island" rewards multiple viewings and keen-eyed viewers. Arguably Scorsese's most horror-indebted film, "Shutter Island" has atmosphere and ominous portents to spare.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

What is a list of top-tier thrillers without the presence of director David Fincher? (The answer is "Nothing.") Based on the best-selling Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson, Fincher's 2011 adaptation of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" follows disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) as he investigates a mysterious cold case: the disappearance 40 years earlier of the grandniece of a wealthy businessman. Aided by the pierced and tattooed computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), the pair soon discover that what they've dug into is far more than a simple kidnapping.

With an impressive 86% critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" delivers a brutal, hypnotic, and lurid puzzle box of corruption, violence, and conspiracy. Receiving five Academy Award nominations (including Best Actress for Mara's performance as Lisbeth), the film was declared one of the best pictures of 2011 by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.

Cop Car

Directed by Jon Watts (who would go on to helm the three wildly successful "Spider-Man" movies starring Tom Holland, including the record-breaking "Spider-Man: No Way Home"), "Cop Car" is about ... wait for it ... a cop car. But not just any cop car! We're in the realm of the thriller after all, so there's a sinister twist to this vehicle, if you'll pardon the pun. 

The 2015 film follows two runaway juvenile delinquents, Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford), who stumble across an unsupervised cop car they believe to be abandoned. The pair get the car started and go for a ride, inciting the ire of its owner: the unscrupulous Sheriff Kretzer (Kevin Bacon). Unbeknownst to the hooligans, Kretzer's vehicle contains damning (and still breathing) evidence of a drug deal gone south. Desperate to cover his tracks and tie up loose ends, Kretzer incites a tense, heart-pumping game of cat and mouse as he sets about hunting the two boys down.

Coming in hot with a crisp 88-minute runtime, "Cop Car" is simplicity done right. Lean, darkly humorous, and brimming with suspense, the film features an especially unnerving performance from Bacon as the crooked cop. And with a certified fresh critical consensus of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, you can't afford to miss this taut, tension-filled terror trip.

Nocturnal Animals

The second feature directed by American luxury fashion designer Tom Ford, "Nocturnal Animals" is easily the best-looking film on this list. Amy Adams stars as Susan Morrow, an art dealer who is sent a package by her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), containing the manuscript for a novel he's written. The book, titled "Nocturnal Animals," tells of Tony Hastings (also played by Gyllenhaal), a math teacher whose family vacation in Texas takes a violent turn when he, his wife and his daughter cross paths with three local ne'er-do-wells. While her own personal demons crawl out of the woodwork, Susan finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the manuscript.

Enjoying a 74% critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, "Nocturnal Animals" sports a star-filled cast, while Ford delivers more of an aesthetic punch than most filmmakers working today. Melodramatic to its core with an undeniable debt both to the neo-noir and erotic thriller genres, "Nocturnal Animals" is an astoundingly confident sophomore feature that's more than deserving of a spot in your Netflix queue.


Carrying a near-perfect 93% critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes is Mike Flanagan's eerie 2016 home invasion thriller, "Hush." Starring Kate Siegel (who also co-wrote the film with Flanagan), "Hush" follows a deaf-mute woman named Maddie Young, who lost the ability to hear and speak after contracting meningitis as a child. A successful writer working on her next novel, Maddie and her cat live alone in a cabin in the woods. While the solitary life may be great for writing, it's a real bummer when masked, crossbow-wielding maniacs try to break into your house. The scenario is nightmarish: you can't speak, you can't hear, and there is someone attempting to kill you for no apparent reason.

An ingeniously self-contained terror trip grounded by an incredibly expressive performance by Siegel, "Hush" is a tense, white-knuckle experience that takes the basic premise of Terence Young's nerve-wracking 1967 psychological thriller "Wait Until Dark" (in which criminals prey upon a young blind woman) and pushes it to the extremes. You know you've done something right when William Friedkin, the director of "The Exorcist," tweets that your film is genuinely terrifying.

Wind River

"Wind River" is one of those films with multiple fingers in multiple different genre pies ... and that's a good thing. Set in the dead of winter on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, writer-director Taylor Sheridan's 2017 neo-Western murder-mystery is an unnerving and genuinely upsetting watch. (Again, when it comes to thrillers, that's a good thing.) The film finds an FBI agent named Jane (Elizabeth Olsen) teaming up with the town's local game tracker, Cory (Jeremy Renner). Their mission: to get to the bottom of a brutal murder that took place on the reservation. An 18-year-old girl is dead, and with the unsolved death of his own daughter weighing heavily on his mind, Cory is determined to do his best to make sure that this murderer is brought to justice.

Garnering a critical consensus of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, "Wind River" is a bitter, slow-burning thriller that centers on the all too real tragedy of missing Native American women without leaving an exploitative aftertaste. A powerful and quite literally chilling directorial debut, "Wind River" will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Creep 2

Enough time has passed since the events of 2014's "Creep" that charismatic psychopath Josef (now going by the name Aaron), has lost the thrill of the hunt: Killing aspiring vloggers and paycheck-hungry freelance filmmakers he finds on the internet just doesn't pack the same punch as it used to. Defeated and going through the motions, Aaron decides to come clean to his latest would-be victim, Sara (Desiree Arkhavan). He's depressed, sure. But he does fully intend to kill her. Strung along like an unwilling moth to the flame, Sara finds herself terrified and intrigued by Aaron in equal measure. She also learns the hard way that even though he's off his game, Aaron is still an unpredictable apex predator.

Sporting a positively flawless 100% critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes and a hypnotic lead performance from Mark Duplass, "Creep 2" outdoes its scrappy predecessor, inserting more unsettling menace and pitch-black humor into Aaron's increasingly unhinged descent into madness. A found-footage thriller about a serial killer getting his groove back, "Creep 2" is a brilliant, hypnotic, and unnervingly funny low-budget exercise with charm and pugnacity to spare.

The Beguiled

"The Beguiled" tells the story of an incapacitated Union soldier (Colin Farrell) taken in by members of a girls' school located in the heart of the Confederacy. His presence, and the secretive nature around his rehabilitation, immediately bring a strange and sinister energy into the house. When it's discovered that he has seduced not only a teacher but a few of the students, the furious women turn on their would-be patient with gruesome results.

Directed by Sofia Coppola, the 2017 adaptation of "The Beguiled" is wicked in the proper sense; tense, gripping, and tautly told within its terse, 94-minute runtime. With a 79% score on Rotten Tomatoes, critics praised what IndieWire called the film's "surgical precision and savage grace," along with its lush Southern Gothic tone thick with drama, intrigue, and the threat of violence. The film nabbed Coppola the Best Director award and a nomination for the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The film does pull more punches than Don Siegel's 1971 adaptation and Coppola did run afoul of some controversy for its conspicuous omission of Black characters from the story. But all told, "The Beguiled" is still absolutely worth your time if you're in the mood for something sultry, Southern, and sadistic.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) seems to have it all. He's a renowned cardiovascular surgeon with a massive house, a loving wife (Nicole Kidman), and two lovely children (Sunny Suljic and Raffey Cassidy). But this list is about thrillers, not idyllic suburbia. Sure enough, lurking deep beneath the Murphy household's seemingly perfect life there is a dark secret. And like flies drawn to a rotting corpse, the secret brings forth Martin (Barry Keoghan), a fatherless teen who insinuates himself into Steven's life with a malicious purpose: to destroy the family from the inside out.

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" is a nightmarishly clinical adaptation of Euripides' "Iphigenia at Aulis." If you know your Greek tragedies, you'll be able to spot the sinister propulsion of Lanthimos' take on the story, a bloodcurdling parable of eye-for-an-eye violence colored by the demand of an impossible sacrifice. For those of you whose Euripides is a bit rusty, fear not. You'll be able to tell that something horrible is on the horizon from the jump, as Lanthimos' idiosyncrasies wriggle their way under your skin. Boasting a certified fresh rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" is like a bad dream in the best way possible.


Another provocative thriller that shares its genetic heritage with the psychological horror side of things, Daniel Goldhaber's 2018 film is an unmissable watch. "Cam" follows Alice Ackerman (Madeline Brewer), a young online sex worker who clamors for fame in the sultry glow of ring lights and laptop screens. One day, Alice is shocked to find that her stream has been hijacked by a woman who could be her twin. The resemblance is uncanny ... and deeply disturbing. Desperate to regain control of her livelihood, Alice dives deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole to discover who (or what) this imposter is.

Written by Isa Mazzei, a former cam girl herself (via Vice), "Cam" is one of the most horrifying and incisive films of its kind; an exemplary thriller that plumbs the depths of our uneasy obsession with social media. Its 93% critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes is well-deserved. Genuinely disturbing and grounded by an incredible performance by Brewer, "Cam" is a striking feature film debut from Goldhaber that will leave you wanting more.


Yet another thriller that flirts more fervently with the more horrific side of the genre, Nicolas Pesce's 2018 film takes the phrase "love hurts" to a whole other level. Our depraved protagonist is Reed (Christopher Abbott), a despondent man who leaves his loving wife and newborn daughter at home to go on a business trip. Only this is no ordinary business trip. Reed intends to kill an escort in a desperate and heartless bid to divert his murderous impulses away from his infant daughter. If he can get it out of his system, he thinks, maybe his violent urges will pass. But there's a wrench (or is that an ice pick?) in his plans. Instead of his intended victim, a different sex worker named Jackie (Mia Wasikowska) arrives. And Jackie, unbeknownst to the scrambling Reed, has a violent streak of her own.

Based on ​​Ryū Murakami's 1994 novel of the same name, "Piercing" is a sadistic game of cat and mouse that sports two superb lead performances and unpredictable, stomach-churning thrills that will have you gripping your couch cushions and clutching your pearls (if you're wearing some). The film sports a 72% critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Nightingale

Thrillers are designed to get under your skin and get your hackles up. That's certainly the case for 2018's "The Nightingale," an often stunning film that is absolutely not for everyone. Written and directed by Jennifer Kent (best known for her debut feature, "The Babadook"), "The Nightingale" follows Clare (Aisling Franciosi), an Australian prisoner of Irish colonists who is thrust into a cycle of violence thanks to the abject cruelty of the repulsive Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin). Left only with the prospect of vigilante justice, Clare enlists the help of a local Aboriginal tracker with a tragic backstory of his own, who goes by the name Billy (Baykali Ganambarr).

For all its intensity and unrelenting unpleasantness, those with strong stomachs will be treated to a hauntingly brutal revenge film keen to expose the raw nerve of historical gender violence and colonial oppression. This is the dark side of history operating at full force, especially because Kent doesn't hold anything back. An unflinching, difficult-to-watch film not for the faint of heart, "The Nightingale" holds a certified fresh rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Uncut Gems

Sometimes you want a film to give you the experience of having a heart attack. Enter "Uncut Gems," the 2019 film directed by Benny and Josh Safdie that's sure to get your pulse racing faster than a greyhound. With his debts mounting and impatient goons closing in, a charismatic New York City jeweler named Howard (Adam Sandler) decides to risk it all in a desperate bid to keep his head above water. All he needs is the next big score; an outlandish high-stakes bet that could save his marriage, his friendships, and at this point, his life.

Sporting a glittering 92% critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, "Uncut Gems" reaffirmed that the Safdies are a force to be reckoned with (their acclaimed 2017 thriller "Good Time," which stars Robert Pattinson, is also on Netflix). Critics also hailed the film as sporting a career-best performance for Sandler, as well as "one of the best acting performances by an athlete ever" for basketball star Kevin Garnett, who plays a fictionalized version of himself in the film. Gritty and propulsive with a nerve-rattling score by Daniel Lopatin, "Uncut Gems" is hilarious, stressful, and nightmarish in the best way possible.