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15 Best Thrillers On HBO Max [May 2022]

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 April 26, 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.)

Blood Simple

A setup that feels like the start of a standard private eye movie goes wrong in "Blood Simple." Marty hires an investigator, Lorren Visser, to tail his wife, as she's having an affair with Ray, who works at Marty's bar. When Visser gets the proof, Marty offers Visser more money to kill them — but while Visser accepts, it turns out that he has other plans, ones that will leave Ray and Abby alive (at least for now) but plunge them into a dark vortex of horror and increasing complications. This nightmarish twist on the genre is the Coen brothers' first film, and it already shows all the earmarks of their greatness.

  • Starring: John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya

  • Director: Joel Coen

  • Year: 1984

  • Runtime: 95 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Chinatown

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%

Collateral

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.

Diabolique

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%

Dirty Pretty Things

"Dirty Pretty Things" blends a high-stakes, twisty plot with all-too-real moral dilemmas and situations that could've been ripped from the headlines. Okwe was once a doctor, but he had to flee his country, and now he works two jobs as an illegal immigrant in London. Senay is a refugee whose asylum status depends on her joblessness and who can only make money under the table. Both of them are pressured to cross lines just to stay afloat — Senay is blackmailed into providing sex for an employer, and Okwe may have to take part in a despicable organ-harvesting ring. The movie is dark and gritty, and it'll keep you on the edge of your seat waiting to see if these two can make it.

  • Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Audrey Tautou, Sergi López

  • Director: Stephen Frears

  • Year: 2002

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

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.

Inside Man

A high-profile bank robbery could make or break Detective Keith Frazier's career as he works against the clock to resolve the hostage situation. It's an unusual robbery though — and since we see it from all angles, we know that even better than he does. These thieves are smart and thoroughly prepared ... and the bank's founder will give them whatever they want as long as the contents of his secret safe deposit box remain hidden away forever. "Inside Man" gives Frazier a lot to untangle, and it gives its audience a lot of extraordinarily clever twists and behind-the-scenes intrigue. This is a must-see for heist thriller fans.

Memento

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%

Presumed Innocent

Prosecutor Rusty Sabich winds up on the wrong side of a murder trial when his colleague, Carolyn, is murdered. Rusty once had an affair with Carolyn, and that — combined with a mounting pile of evidence — quickly makes him a top suspect. Rusty works to prove his innocence, but it's a tough job, especially in the middle of mounting scrutiny and a political firestorm. He may well be sacrificed to protect his boss, especially given the pending election. And even as we're wondering whether or not he'll be successful at saving his reputation, we also have to wonder whether he really is innocent after all. "Presumed Innocent" is a brooding and thought-provoking, the legal thriller at its morally ambiguous best.

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%

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%