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15 Best Thrillers On Amazon Prime [October 2021]

Free two-day shipping is great and all, but for movie lovers, the true allure of an Amazon Prime membership is the content offered by the company's streaming service, Prime Video. Anyone who subscribes to a Prime membership has access to all kinds of movies and TV shows, some of which you can't see anywhere else.

And as far as thrillers are concerned, Prime has a pretty great selection that gets better just about every month. You can stream everything from crime capers to classic tales of psychological suspense, or you can find something new and bizarre that you've never heard of before — stuff that's dark and disconcerting. Whether you're a thriller veteran or just looking to dip your toes into the genre, you just might find your next flick here.

Updated on September 30, 2021: Amazon Prime has an ever-evolving catalogue of films and shows, and we've updated this list to reflect the best thrillers currently offered by the streaming service. These picks will have you on the edge of your seat, and once you've been through them all, keep checking back each month to see what new thrills Prime Video has to offer.

A Taxi Driver

South Korean cinema is responsible for some of the best films you've never seen, and this is especially true in regards to thrillers. It was hard to miss when "Parasite" broke all kinds of records at the 2020 Academy Awards, becoming the first non-English-language film to win "Best Picture" and sweeping the ceremony with no fewer than four awards. But South Korean film has been doing amazing things for a long time.

"A Taxi Driver" is a great example, and the movie shares a leading actor, Song Kang-ho, with "Parasite!" It's the riveting, emotionally resonant real-life story of a Seoul taxi driver who unwittingly becomes entangled in the events of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising, an event that involved protesters, martial law, and 2,000 deaths.

  • Starring: Song Kang-ho, Thomas Kretschmann, Yoo Hae-jin

  • Director: Jang Hoon

  • Year: 2017

  • Runtime: 137 minutes

  • Rating: Not Rated

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Burning

While "Parasite" was the first South Korean film to receive Oscar recognition (and so much more), "Burning" had made strides in the right direction the year prior. Though it wasn't ultimately selected as a contender for Best Foreign Language Film, it was the first from South Korea to make the nine-film shortlist for the category.

And it's easy to see why. The plot follows a love triangle between three young people, one that might be headed in a very dark direction. The performances are gritty and gripping, and the tension is impeccably crafted. You'll feel uneasy the whole way through, and that's by design. There's desire and jealousy, suspicion, and delusion — but the wait for this kindling to start burning is excruciatingly, captivatingly slow.

  • Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong-seo

  • Director: Lee Chang-dong

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 148 minutes

  • Rating: Not Rated

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

A somber neo-noir with a daunting runtime, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is all the more impressive for how expertly it holds the viewer's attention through every twist and turn. Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig join forces to solve a disappearance that occurred 40 years ago, bringing their own unique skill sets and personal traumas to the table to solve a mystery, deliver justice, and take everyone watching on a wild ride.

  • Starring: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer

  • Director: David Fincher

  • Year: 2011

  • Runtime: 158 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

The Insider

When a film purports to be based on a true story, there's a lot of leeway when it comes to actually defining these terms. Sometimes such a film may be based on a local folk tale or a disputed event like an alien abduction. But the script for "The Insider" was adapted from two seemingly reliable sources — a Vanity Fair article and a "60 Minutes" segment.

The story? A former tobacco industry executive turns into a whistleblower, hoping to expose some truly devious practices and struggling against powerful forces that attempt to silence him. It's a modern story of corruption and truth, with a veteran cast well-versed in delivering thrills.

The Lincoln Lawyer

Offices are overrated. Well, that's how Matthew McConaughey's Mickey Haller — the eponymous attorney in "The Lincoln Lawyer" — feels about them. Instead of an office, he meets clients in a chauffeured Lincoln Town Car. The unconventional setting lends an air of intimacy to the narrative, which is fitting because the plot revolves around Haller's internal world as he connects the sinister dots between a new, high-profile client and another case from the past. Slick and dangerous, "The Lincoln Lawyer" is a tight, tense legal thriller and the film that helped launch the "McConaissance."

The Handmaiden

In terms of unlikely pairings, the team of con man and young pickpocket in "The Handmaiden" is an absurdly satisfying one. This psychological thriller begins with this team's efforts to defraud a naïve heiress named Hideko, as the pickpocket, Sook-hee, convinces her to marry the con man, who goes by the name Count Fujiwara. Of course, this is only the beginning of this South Korean thriller. Betrayal and eroticism intertwine with sharply executed psychological thrills to make "The Handmaiden" not only gripping but genuinely entertaining.

  • Starring: Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo

  • Director: Park Chan-wook

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 145 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Seriously, why don't the parents in this film just do what the title demands? Why don't they just talk about Kevin? Who knows how differently things might have gone if they had — though the story would almost certainly have been less thrilling.

As it stands, this is a slow-burning ride into psychopathy and family dysfunction, told through an idyllic lens of suburban life that's been shattered by an unspeakable event. It's so unspeakable that it — and the sinister dynamics that precipitated it — can only be revealed piece by ominous piece as the film goes on, examined through a mother's complicated relationship with her very disturbed son.

  • Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller

  • Director: Lynne Ramsay

  • Year: 2011

  • Runtime: 112 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

L.A. Confidential

Just how many bad apples can spoil the bushel? "L.A. Confidential" paints the picture of a rotten police department where even the detectives who thought they'd die for their moral codes are eventually forced to abandon them, where the most seemingly upstanding individuals can turn out to be the most evil. As you can imagine, conspiracy runs rampant in such an environment. This is unfortunate for the trio of characters — bruiser Bud White, ambitious Ed Exley, and schmoozer Jack Vincennes — working to uncover the real truth of a grisly massacre, but it makes for deliciously anxious viewing. And who doesn't want to see Danny DeVito as a Hollywood gossip reporter?

  • Starring: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce

  • Director: Curtis Hanson

  • Year: 1997

  • Runtime: 137 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

American Hustle

Infused with both thrills and hilarity, "American Hustle" is an expertly crafted roller coaster. The schemes of the con men around which it revolves are enthralling enough, but what really makes the film is the punchy pace of its black comedy, delivered by an all-star cast.

"American Hustle" is also creative enough to tweak a popular thriller premise (the sting op) without trying to reinvent the wheel: An FBI agent needs to save his own job by forcing a couple con artists to set up the corrupt politicians in the city. It's both elegant and complex, and the way these competing interests come to a head is as dramatic as you'd hope.

  • Starring: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams

  • Director: David O. Russell

  • Year: 2013

  • Runtime: 138 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Searching

If you've been staring at your phone or computer screen all day and need a break, why not try staring at someone else's? "Searching" is a thriller that takes place largely on phones and computer screens, as David Kim desperately tries to track down his missing 16-year-old daughter, Margot. The thriller is taut and original, unfolding in a digital landscape that's at once vast and claustrophobic. And it's also timely, prompting viewers to consider the sinister implications of their own electronic footprints.

  • Starring: John Cho, Debra Messing, Michelle La

  • Director: Aneesh Chaganty

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 102 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Traffic

Arguably not a single one of the three storylines in "Traffic" contains an unequivocal good guy or bad guy. But wherever their morals lie, the characters are portrayed impeccably by the remarkably large cast. Everything about this film is ambitious, but director Steven Soderbergh pulls it off.

When movies explore the illegal drug business, it's typically from one or two perspectives, often pitted against each other. "Traffic," though, intertwines the stories of users, traffickers, legislators, and law enforcement. The lack of binary conflict prevents us from reducing characters to "good" or "bad" and forces us to invest in what's actually happening. It's personal, high-stakes, and complicated. We've never been happier to spend three hours in "Traffic."

The Devil's Backbone

Guillermo del Toro has directed everything from epic-scale science fiction films to whimsical, period-informed fantasies, and even the devilish superhero franchise "Hellboy" (not the David Harbour one). The thrilling gothic film "The Devil's Backbone" might not be the most well-known work in such a broad canon, but it's definitely one worth watching.

If you're wondering how del Toro would capture the suspense of a thriller, New York Times critic A.O. Scott notes that he does so by "balancing dread with tenderness." The director filters his story through the perspective of an innocent orphan boy who slowly discovers the ghostly secrets of his new home during the Spanish Civil War.

  • Starring: Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi

  • Director: Guillermo del Toro

  • Year: 2001

  • Runtime: 107 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Breach

It's always interesting to watch a thriller based on a true story. The operative emotion in the genre is suspense, and how can a film expect us to entertain suspense when we already know how its story ends?

Well, "Breach" pulls it off by remaining gripping and unsettling the whole way through and offering us a glimpse into the dark world of espionage. It's so clandestine that we can't get enough of it, especially when it's done well — and in the case of this story of one FBI agent assigned to surveil another and ultimately bring him down, it's well-done indeed.

  • Starring: Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, Laura Linney

  • Director: Billy Ray

  • Year: 2007

  • Runtime: 110 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

Panic Room

For a film that revolves around a tiny, windowless space, "Panic Room" is absolutely riveting. Perhaps it's the cast, which includes Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart as a mother and daughter hiding from home invaders in their panic room. Or maybe it's David Fincher's notoriously suspenseful and cerebral style.

But "Panic Room" stands apart even from the director's own catalogue in the way it takes a simple, familiar premise and adds excruciatingly human elements. The medical needs of a diabetic daughter certainly complicate attempts to shelter in an isolated room. We're breathlessly aware of the vulnerability of childhood and the overarching tension of human mortality: Is a panic room a fortress or a coffin? Either way, you'll be on the edge of your seat.

Akilla's Escape

As if the high-stakes, perilous world of the gangland thriller didn't supply enough tension, "Akilla's Escape" ratchets the pressure up a notch by anchoring itself in the stoicism of its core character — a world-weary Akilla (Saul Williams) who knows this dangerous world all too intimately and is trying to prevent a young boy from getting too acquainted with it himself. Everything about this film, from the creative choices to the music (which Williams also helped compose), serves the personal and sociopolitical tension between the past, the present, and the choices that move us between them. (Coming October 15.)

  • Starring: Saul Williams, Thamela Mpumlwana, Vic Mensa

  • Director: Charles Officer

  • Year: 2020

  • Runtime: 90 minutes

  • Rating: Not Rated

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%