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15 Best Thrillers On HBO Max

HBO Max has a terrific selection of both classic and contemporary thrillers, so if you're looking for something that will keep you on the edge of your seat, look no further. We're keeping an eye on everything on the service, bringing you the best in psychological suspense, conspiracies, and battles of will. If it's got tension, overwhelming odds, or ordinary people in extraordinarily dangerous situations, we know it'll make for a great movie night. And there should be something here for everyone. So pop some popcorn, pull the shades, and get ready for some dark and heart-pounding entertainment.

Updated on July 5, 2022: HBO Max is always updating its streaming library, and we'll make sure that this article stays current with the best the service has to offer. We refresh this selection every month, adding new must-sees and sometimes rotating in other classics by major thriller directors like Alfred Hitchcock. (Because, let's face it, basically every Hitchcock movie could earn a spot on this list.)

The Card Counter

Gambler William Tell leads a stripped-down life. He travels around the country counting cards, but deliberately never wins enough for the casinos to care. His loneliness, peculiar habits, and rigorous commitment to routine get shaken up when he meets Cirk, the son of an old military buddy. Cirk's father's life was ruined by the same dark secret Tell carries, and now, Cirk wants Tell to help him get revenge on the man responsible. Slow-burning tension and incredible, unflinching darkness mean "The Card Counter" won't be for everyone, but it has a somber power that cannot be denied.

  • Starring: Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan

  • Director: Paul Schrader

  • Year: 2021

  • Runtime: 112 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%


This classic neo-noir thriller starts with private eye Jake Gittes taking what seems like an ordinary job tailing a cheating husband. His client is lying to him though, and that's only the tip of the iceberg. Jake's true case involves an elaborate scam involving not only the future of Los Angeles but also more depravity than he could initially even imagine. Cynical, perfectly cast — in addition to Nicholson and Dunaway, John Huston turns in a fantastic, comfortably villainous performance that feels effortlessly iconic — and full of indelible lines, "Chinatown" will wind up seared in your memory.

  • Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Hillerman

  • Director: Roman Polanski

  • Year: 1974

  • Runtime: 131 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%


Meet Max — the best L.A. cab driver you could ever imagine. He knows all the routes and traffic patterns ... and that unfortunately catches the attention of the enigmatic Vincent, who needs to make several scheduled stops that night. Vincent offers too much money for Max to pass up, but then Max accidentally learns the truth: Vincent is a hitman, and each stop represents another hit. Max's own life is now on the line, but he cares more about trying to save the other targets, especially one victim who has a connection to Max. The setup and pacing in "Collateral" are both great, but the biggest selling point is the performances. Both Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise are at the top of their game here.

  • Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith

  • Director: Michael Mann

  • Year: 2004

  • Runtime: 120 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

The Dead Zone

Johnny Smith loses his girlfriend and five years of his life when a car accident leaves him in a coma. What he gains is an extreme and unwanted psychic ability — one that makes the "hunches" he sometimes had before the crash look trivial in comparison. Now, touching people gives him visions of their past, present, and future. It can make him useful, but it can also make him a pariah, someone who's accused of causing the events he predicts. And when he shakes the hand of bright, charismatic, up-and-coming politician Greg Stillson, he sees Stillson becoming president ... and starting a nuclear war. The high stakes of Johnny's dilemma and the nuanced humanity of Christopher Walken's performance make this unforgettable.

  • Starring: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt

  • Director: David Cronenberg

  • Year: 1983

  • Runtime: 103 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Devil in a Blue Dress

"Devil in a Blue Dress" is a complex and atmospheric thriller, full of visual style and historical color, and it offers an unusual angle on classic post-war noir. After serving in World War II, Easy Rawlins is back home in Los Angeles — and back to dealing with the everyday hassles of being a Black man in 1948. He's hard up enough to take a job asking after the whereabouts of the missing Daphne Monet, a white woman who liked to spend time in predominantly Black nightclubs. The search for Daphne leads Easy into a thicket of murder, politics, blackmail, and charged revelations. Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle turn in particularly electric, riveting performances here.


French thriller "Diabolique" starts off with an unusual murder plot. Michel, headmaster of a boys' boarding school, is sadistic and petty, and his wife, Christina, and mistress, Nicole, bear the brunt (and bruises) of it all. Against all odds, the two are friends, and fragile, tenderhearted Christina and bold, icy Nicole console each other. They also plan Michel's murder. But after they've killed him, the tension doesn't go away — it just gets more nightmarish. His body disappears, and people report having talked with him. And Christina is starting to crack under the pressure.

"Diabolique" has a plot that even Hitchcock might have envied, and it also features one of the most iconic reveals in cinema history. There's definitely at least one scene here that you'll never forget.

  • Starring: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse

  • Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

  • Year: 1955

  • Runtime: 116 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

The Fugitive

"The Fugitive" is a classic thriller — exciting, inventively plotted, and perfectly cast. This is the story of Dr. Richard Kimble, who's convicted of his wife's murder. No one believes his implausible story that a mysterious one-armed man committed the crime instead, so when he manages to escape custody, he has to investigate her murder himself. But while he's trying to follow up every lead and stay under the radar, dogged and capable U.S. Marshal Gerard is tracking him down. To Gerard, Kimble is just one more fugitive he's determined to catch. Pitting two smart, highly resourceful good guys against each other is a great move, and it's one of the things that makes "The Fugitive" so memorable and nail-biting.

Gone Baby Gone

"Gone Baby Gone" deals unflinchingly with dark subjects and difficult moral dilemmas; it's easy to get absorbed in this thriller but hard to know what you would do in the characters' positions. Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are private detectives hired to look into a little girl's abduction — and it soon seems possible that her neglectful and frequently high mother, Helene, may have had something to do with it. Patrick and Angie go down a rabbit hole of pitch-black criminality, but every possible answer they're given keeps falling apart. But all of them would have been easier to deal with than the truth.


This dark, restrained noir thriller follows private detective John Klute's investigation into the disappearance of a high-level executive. The case suggests that the missing man may have stalked or harassed Bree, an actress and sex worker, but she claims not to know him. As she opens up more to Klute and assists him with his case, the two of them start to have feelings for each other — but it's hard for Bree to know how long they'll last. Their tentative connection gets a warped mirror in Klute's investigation, as he unravels a complicated plot of obsession, deception, manipulation, and violence. Jane Fonda's nervy, complex performance as Bree is a particular standout here.


Tightly-plotted noir brilliance combines with innovative storytelling in the groundbreaking "Memento," one of Christopher Nolan's earliest films. One-time insurance investigator Leonard has suffered a devastating head injury that has robbed him of the ability to form new memories: Everything that happens to him fades away after a few minutes. As he embarks on a quest to track down the man who murdered his wife, he has to resort to cluing his future self in with notes, Polaroid snapshots, and tattoos. While he follows his own trail, we follow him from the end of his twist-filled story to its shocking beginning.

  • Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

  • Director: Christopher Nolan

  • Year: 2000

  • Runtime: 113 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

North by Northwest

"North by Northwest" is essential viewing if you like ordinary people forced into extraordinary and bizarre predicaments. It even packs in at least two famous action sequences.

Roger Thornhill finds himself in over his head when he's kidnapped and brought to a luxurious mansion. Interrogated and menaced by men who suspect him to be someone he's not, he's soon set up to die in a drunk-driving accident. And when he survives and tries to find out what's going on, everything has been masterfully covered up, to the point where it seems like he's losing his mind. Soon, Thornhill is framed for murder and on the run, and his only ally is Eve Kendall, a woman he's just met — and he might not be able to trust her. He has to try to clear his name ... if he can even stay alive long enough to do it. 

  • Starring: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason

  • Director: Alfred Hitchcock

  • Year: 1959

  • Runtime: 136 minutes

  • Rating: TV-PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Reservoir Dogs

After a jewelry store robbery gone wrong, the surviving criminals take refuge in a dilapidated warehouse. (To hide their identities, most of them are known only by code names: Orange, White, Pink, and Blonde.) Mr. Orange has been shot, and without medical attention, he'll bleed to death. Mr. White is anxious to get him to a doctor, but the others overrule him. They're more focused on one question: How did the police seemingly know they were coming? Is one of them an undercover cop? The volatile Mr. Blonde offers up one way to find out — torture the information out of an officer he's kidnapped. With accusations flying and tensions rising while they wait for their boss' arrival, something is bound to explode.

Darkly comedic and punctuated by shocking acts of violence — you'll never hear "Stuck in the Middle with You" the same way again — "Reservoir Dogs" is a perfect dose of Tarantino's distinctive style.

  • Starring: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen

  • Director: Quentin Tarantino

  • Year: 1992

  • Runtime: 99 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

A Simple Plan

Hank Mitchell leads a happy, ordinary, small-town life — until he gets the chance for something bigger. When Hank, his brother Jacob, and Jacob's temperamental friend Lou find a crashed plane and a duffel bag full of money, Hank gives into temptation and hatches a plan for them to keep it all. His simple scheme is soon complicated by bloody consequences that just keep building up, leading him to do worse and worse things to keep hold of his share of the fortune. "A Simple Plan" isn't just a crime thriller — it's a moving contemporary tragedy about pride and greed.

  • Starring: Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Bridget Fonda

  • Director: Sam Raimi

  • Year: 1998

  • Runtime: 121 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%


Odd, disaffected Amanda doesn't feel things the way other people do. So, when her friend Lily is having problems with her domineering stepfather, Amanda suggests killing him. Lily eventually decides to take her up on this offer, and the two decide to enlist local screw-up and drug dealer Tim to do the deed ... if they can trust him to go through with it. A thoughtful exploration of sociopathy and selfishness adds depth and intrigue to this one-of-a-kind movie. Despite its glossy surface and sly humor, "Thoroughbreds" is a genuinely dark bit of film noir that gives its two teen leads plenty of complex characterization.

  • Starring: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin

  • Director: Cory Finley

  • Year: 2017

  • Runtime: 92 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

This dark rollercoaster of twisted sisterhood manages the difficult trick of being both a suspenseful, disturbing psychological thriller and a camp masterpiece. Once an acclaimed film actress, quiet and dignified Blanche is now partly paralyzed and under the control of her unstable sister, former vaudeville child star "Baby Jane." Jane nurses illusions of a comeback, and she won't let anyone — least of all the sister she still viciously resents — get in the way. She ruthlessly uses Blanche's disability against her, keeping her isolated, helpless, and terrorized. Incredible performances from Bette Davis and Joan Crawford keep the movie riveting and the tension excruciatingly high.

  • Starring: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono

  • Director: Robert Aldrich

  • Year: 1962

  • Runtime: 134 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%