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30 Best Thrillers On Netflix [August 2022]

Few movies can suck us in as quickly and thoroughly as thrillers. And since all they need to offer is gripping suspense and a battle against the odds, they're tremendously flexible, crossing over with genres like horror and science fiction and alternating between gritty realism and gleeful implausibility. They can be grueling feats of endurance, so darkly dramatic that you can only watch them between your fingers, or they can be high-octane roller-coaster rides designed to make you scream with delight.

Whatever you want, there's a good chance Netflix has it. The service has assembled (and often created) a top-notch selection of thrillers from all across this exciting spectrum. The only downside of it all is that Netflix's huge catalog can make it hard to narrow down your choices, so we're determined to point out the absolute best. Any of these films should keep you glued to the screen.

Updated on August 1, 2022: It seems like a new movie comes out every minute, and of course, streaming service catalogs are constantly in rotation, with old favorites both coming and going. In classic thriller fashion, we're going to race against the clock every month to make sure this list reflects Netflix's current selection. The only tension here should come from the movies — not from wondering if they'll still be there for you to watch.

1BR

Sarah is new in Los Angeles. Shy and lonely, she's understandably attracted to the sense of warm community her new apartment complex offers — but is it possible everyone's a little too friendly? And what are the strange noises coming from the pipes at night? Wherever you initially think this is going, "1BR" will probably surprise you. When the movie finally reveals its true plot, it turns into a chilling psychological thriller that deals partly with how people break, how far they can go, and whether or not they can ever come back from being molded into someone else.

  • Starring: Nicole Brydon Bloom, Giles Matthey, Taylor Nichols

  • Director: David Marmor

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 90 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Argo

When hostage-takers pour into the U.S. embassy in Tehran, six staff members manage to escape. They secretly take shelter with the Canadian ambassador, but as time goes on, the odds of their capture rise. Enter Tony Mendez, the CIA's exfiltration expert. He hatches an audacious scheme: Use their Hollywood contacts to create and promote a fake movie, and pretend the six embassy workers are really just a film crew there to scout a location. "Argo" leans into the comedy of its strange-but-true premise, but it also racks up the tension, especially during the nail-biting climax.

Calibre

A mistake leads to a crime, and a crime leads to a cover-up, and a cover-up leads to a conspiracy. That's the lesson in "Calibre," where an ordinary hunting trip in Scotland turns tragic. When inexperienced hunter Vaughn accidentally kills a boy instead of the deer he was aiming at, his friend, Marcus, kills the boy's vengeful father to protect them. Soon, the two of them are plunged into a dark cover-up where the complications keep multiplying. The movie looks at the tensions between rural people and the city tourists they need but loathe, using the isolated, close-knit nature of the area to heap the pressure on Vaughn and Marcus.

  • Starring: Jack Lowden, Martin McCann, Tony Curran

  • Director: Matt Palmer

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 101 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Coming Home in the Dark

The sins of the past come to powerful and ambivalent life in this dark horror-thriller. "Coming Home in the Dark" starts with a familiar premise when two armed robbers crash a family's picnic. There's no way to prepare for the escalation that follows when the robbers realize that they know Alan, a seemingly ordinary father and husband. They have an old and potent grudge against him: Years ago, he worked at their extremely abusive group home, and he never did anything to put a stop to what was happening. The movie's well-crafted drama and suspense make it as thrilling as it is thoughtful and morally complex.

  • Starring: Daniel Gillies, Erik Thomson, Miriama McDowell

  • Director: James Ashcroft

  • Year: 2021

  • Runtime: 92 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Contagion

In this tense, panoramic medical thriller, a pandemic sweeps the world. It starts, in its most traceable form, with Beth Emhoff, who unknowingly contracts the virus on a trip abroad, but the film takes a sweeping approach that isn't limited to any one character. Instead, we get the high-stakes, fraught process of contact-tracing and vaccine development and rollout — actions that bring in an enormous cast and allow for a wider perspective. "Contagion" covers the wider political implications of its premise — including scam cures, uneven vaccine distribution, and interrupted childhoods — right alongside individuals' grief and worry. It can be hard to balance the personal and the global, but "Contagion" does it seamlessly.

  • Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne

  • Director: Steven Soderbergh

  • Year: 2011

  • Runtime: 106 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Croupier

Jack Manfred wants to be a writer, but in search of subject matter — and a regular paycheck — he finds himself drawn back into the casino world he once left behind. He's a skilled, highly professional croupier, and while the job drives a wedge between him and his girlfriend, it suits his sense of cynical cool and gives him plenty of material for his novel. It even provides him with a free plot when a beautiful woman brings him into her complicated life and asks him to help knock over his own casino. Jack thinks he doesn't gamble, but it's hard to say who's playing and who's being played in this chilly, noir-infused thriller.

  • Starring: Clive Owen, Kate Hardie, Alex Kingston

  • Director: Mike Hodges

  • Year: 1998

  • Runtime: 94 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

The Decline

A training session at a survivalist camp goes disastrously wrong in "The Decline." Alain is convinced that society could easily collapse at any moment and that everyone needs to know how to survive on their own — up to and including killing their enemies with homemade pipe bombs. When one of his students dies during this training, Alain is determined to cover it up. The last thing he wants is the government's attention on his camp. The rest of the students don't necessarily agree, and soon, the collapsing society is here in miniature as they all scramble to survive this high-stakes conflict. This tightly paced thriller makes great use of its creative premise.

  • Starring: Marc Beaupré, Réal Bossé, Marilyn Castonguay

  • Director: Patrice Laliberté

  • Year: 2020

  • Runtime: 83 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Deliverance

A canoeing trip through the Appalachian wilderness takes a dark turn in this taut, agonizing, and rightfully iconic thriller. Ed Gentry and his friends run afoul of vicious locals who deeply resent this big city intrusion into their territory. A confrontation on the riverbank quickly escalates to a horrific assault — and a death that needs to be covered up. Ed and his friends are in a dangerous position: They have no nearby allies and only limited knowledge of the terrain, and the most experienced member of their party is seriously injured. Revenge, desperation, and the quest for escape and survival keep the tension excruciatingly high.

  • Starring: Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty

  • Director: John Boorman

  • Year: 1972

  • Runtime: 109 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

The Departed

It's rat-versus-rat in this twisty, high-stakes crime thriller. State Trooper Billy Costigan goes undercover to infiltrate mobster Frank Costello's organization, risking both his life and his psychological well-being in a game full of betrayal and conflicted loyalties. Unbeknownst to him, Staff Sergeant Colin Sullivan is working the same job in reverse: Costello began molding Sullivan into the perfect spy when Sullivan was only a child. Now, Sullivan is deep within the Massachusetts State Police and able to pass its secrets — including, potentially, the names of its undercover operatives — along to his real boss. This gritty, morally ambiguous gangster movie finally won Martin Scorsese an Academy Award for Best Director.

Dirty Harry

Dirty Harry Callahan is a classic thriller antihero: He's violent, ruthless, and mostly unscrupulous. He may wear a badge, but at heart, he's a cold-eyed rogue who dispenses justice on his own (often fatal) terms. When San Francisco is plagued by the murderous, taunting Scorpio (a parallel to the Zodiac Killer), Harry might be the one man who can catch him — but his loose cannon approach has problems of its own. Grim, gritty, and sometimes troubling, "Dirty Harry" is a visceral experience made iconic by Eastwood's performance and a sharp, quotable script.

  • Starring: Clint Eastwood, Andy Robinson, Harry Guardino

  • Director: Don Siegel

  • Year: 1971

  • Runtime: 102 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Donnie Brasco

Meet Donnie Brasco, a well-connected thief who is really undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone. Using his in with Lefty Ruggiero, a fading mobster stuck on the middle rungs of the crime family ladder, Donnie gathers up prime intelligence on the Mafia. As much good as that will do in the long run, though, it's soul-draining while it's happening. Undercover work means a lot of blurred lines and confused loyalties, and it's hard to say who Donnie is becoming, or what — and whom — he's risking in the process. This movie makes the most of that agonizing emotional suspense, and stellar performances from Johnny Depp and Al Pacino sell it all, especially the increasingly genuine attachment between Donnie and Lefty.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

"El Camino" might only be for "Breaking Bad" fans, but it's the perfect postscript to the hit series. This gripping thriller follows Jesse Pinkman's attempt to get out of town in the midst of a firestorm of press and police attention — and all the while, he's still struggling with his recent nightmarish trauma. He needs money and safety, and both are hard to come by. "El Camino" offers audiences closure for a beloved character, but it also serves up plenty of tension and inventiveness in its own right.

  • Starring: Aaron Paul, Jesse Plemons, Krysten Ritter

  • Director: Vince Gilligan

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 122 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Eye for an Eye

This ruthless revenge thriller goes to some dark places, and it keeps the plot moving at a breathless pace. Drug lord Antonio Padin moves into a nursing home, where he deals with his physical decline and the constant demands — and sometimes deceptions — of his son and organization. He forms a kind of friendship with head nurse Mario ... but what he doesn't know is that he irreparably damaged Mario's life years ago. Now that Mario has the infamous Padin at his mercy, he intends to exact his revenge. "Eye for an Eye" is a brutal and surprising meditation on the dangerous allure of payback.

  • Starring: Luis Tosar, Xan Cejudo, Ismael Martínez

  • Director: Paco Plaza

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 108 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

Forgotten

"Forgotten" is a complicated, layered mystery with twist after twist. Jin-seok witnesses his brother's kidnapping, and when his brother comes back, Jin-seok can't shake the nagging sense that something here is horribly wrong. The sense of disorientation goes deeper and deeper until he begins to doubt that his family is his family at all ... and when he tries to convey all this to the police, he's blindsided by another shocking revelation. Repressed memories, elaborate deceptions, guilt, and family all intertwine to create a thriller that will keep you guessing.

Gerald's Game

A weekend at the lake goes wrong when Jessie's husband, Gerald, takes out a pair of handcuffs — just to add a little spice. Jessie doesn't want to play-act this particular fantasy, but Gerald refuses to take no for an answer. A struggle ensues ... and ends with Gerald on the floor, dead of a heart attack, and Jessie still handcuffed to their bed. Helplessly stuck in the middle of nowhere and frantically trying to think her way out of the problem, Jessie has to figure out how to escape both her predicament (including a very hungry stray dog and a possible intruder) and her own haunted past. "Gerald's Game" is agonizingly tense, and Carla Gugino turns in a spectacular performance that's both vulnerable and charismatic.

  • Starring: Carla Gugino, Chiara Aurelia, Bruce Greenwood

  • Director: Mike Flanagan

  • Year: 2017

  • Runtime: 103 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

The Gift

Simon and Robyn have a glossy, picture-perfect life — at least until they move back to Simon's hometown and bump into Gordo, the class "weirdo" from Simon's high school days. Robyn sees a little of her own shyness in him, and she doesn't mind his awkward, excessive friendliness ... but Simon is unnerved by him and won't explain why. When he tries to nip their fledgling friendship in the bud, things go sour. Gordo starts lashing out, and Robyn begins to uncover the disturbing truth about what really happened between her husband and his old "friend." The movie wrings every possible ounce of discomfort and visceral dread out of its premise, and the three key performances are all outstanding.

The Guilty

A 911 call comes in, and Joe, the operator who takes it, winds up getting swept into a terrifying family tragedy. Joe, a cop, craves distraction from his own worries about the professional consequences of an upcoming hearing, so he throws himself into finding Emily, the caller who claims to have been abducted. While Joe tries to save Emily through an endless series of phone calls and favors, he learns that the scenario is more complicated than he could have imagined. The real story may force him to face some truths of his own. Like the Danish film it's based on, "The Guilty" is a creative use of a limited setting, and it's a great showcase for Jake Gyllenhaal's considerable skills.

Hold the Dark

Wolf expert Russell Core gets in over his head when he travels to a remote part of Alaska where a woman named Medora Slone is claiming that wolves are responsible for multiple missing children. It doesn't fit with what Core knows of wolf behavior, and what he finds with Medora and her husband, Vernon, might not fit with what he knows of humans either ... especially once a search uncovers their son's body. "Hold the Dark" is a transfixing, uncanny look at the depth — and strange draw — of darkness.

I Care a Lot

The darkest of humor is at the heart of this vicious thriller where the amoral Marla makes her living framing elderly people as incompetent and assuming control of their assets. It's a cruel and nightmarish situation, but Marla is always able to make it at least technically legal. She unexpectedly meets her match in Jennifer Peterson, a wealthy woman who doesn't seem to have any connections — but who turns out to have a powerful criminal son who takes it very personally when she falls under Marla's control. The characters are brutally unlikable, but the story is compelling, and the acting is top-notch.

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Equal parts funny and quietly sad, "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore" is the story of Ruth, a nursing assistant whose modest life is interrupted by a burglary that the police refuse to seriously investigate. Ruth teams up with her neighbor, Tony, to try to get the job done themselves. They're exhausted by the world and fed up with everything, and this might offer catharsis. Before solving the theft can bring Ruth too much closure, however, she accidentally gets herself embroiled in more than she can handle — and she's being forced into criminal activity of her own. It's all handled with intelligence and emotional complexity.

  • Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, David Yow

  • Director: Macon Blair

  • Year: 2017

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Level 16

Vivien has grown up in a strange, claustrophobic all-girls school. The school — especially in the form of the icy Miss Brixil — tells the girls many things: The air outside the school is poisonous, girls must be obedient at all times, and one day, they'll all be adopted by high-society families. But as Vivien enters Level 16, the final stage of her "education," she finds out that nothing at the school is as it seems. The "vitamins" the girls are given are actually high-grade sedatives, and both Miss Brixil and the superficially affable Dr. Miro have sinister plans for them. "Level 16" is a smart, creative thriller with a dystopian sci-fi atmosphere.

  • Starring: Katie Douglas, Celina Martin, Peter Outerbridge

  • Director: Danishka Esterhazy

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 102 minutes

  • Rating: TV-14

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Michael Clayton

Every powerful institution has a cool-headed, morally ambiguous "janitor" who mops up hard-to-handle messes, and Michael Clayton is one of the best. But the consummate legal fixer meets an especially difficult problem in Arthur, a high-profile lawyer at Michael's firm, who has a breakdown that jeopardizes a multi-million dollar case. He's decided he can't live with the deadly secrets of the company he's defending: U-North's weedkiller is causing cancer, and Arthur has the paper trail to prove they know it. They'll do anything to cover that up, and handling Arthur is about to put a target on Michael's back. This sleek, well-paced, and complex legal thriller has surprising moral weight.

  • Starring: George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton

  • Director: Tony Gilroy

  • Year: 2007

  • Runtime: 120 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Nightcrawler

The amoral Lou Bloom finds the career of his dreams when he stumbles across freelance photojournalism — specifically, the kind that consists of filming violence and tragedy and selling the footage to local networks for sensationalized news coverage. The grimmer and gorier the videos, the better, and the most lucrative shots of all are the ones that scare people in the suburbs. Bloom has a real gift for the work, since he's willing to go to any lengths necessary to get the footage he wants. He'll even manipulate crime scenes ... and create a few of his own. "Nightcrawler" keeps you queasy and on edge while also serving up some vicious criticism of fear-mongering.

  • Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed

  • Director: Dan Gilroy

  • Year: 2014

  • Runtime: 117 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Nocturnal Animals

Stories are buried within stories in "Nocturnal Animals," where a woman becomes engrossed in her ex-husband's dark thriller novel. Years ago, Susan left Edward to start a new life with the more driven and successful Hutton, but now she might regret that decision. Meanwhile, we also see inside Edward's novel, where a man devotes himself to revenge after his family is destroyed by a random act of violence. The two stories support each other in curious ways, each adding emotional resonance to the other. Sophisticated, bleak, and powerful, this twists the genre in new ways and gets strong results.

  • Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon

  • Director: Tom Ford

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 116 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

Official Secrets

Katharine Gun uncovers a shocking secret about an attempt to manipulate the United Nations' decision involving the invasion of Iraq. It's highly classified intelligence, but Katharine is so outraged by the human cost of the memo's plans that she leaks it — and when it needs to be verified and her colleagues are falling under suspicion, Katharine takes a public stand. She soon becomes the center of a legal whirlwind and a controversy over war, classified intelligence, patriotism, and ethics. "Official Secrets" is a grim, well-acted political thriller with a story pulled from the headlines.

  • Starring: Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Matthew Goode

  • Director: Gavin Hood

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 111 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

The Perfection

A love affair between two cellists — Charlotte, who had to leave her training at a young age, and the successful Lizzie, who still admires her — takes a dark turn in this unpredictable horror-thriller. Beautifully shot and deliciously, gothically over-the-top, "The Perfection" combines a jaw-dropping plot with two terrific lead performances. The balance of power between Charlotte and Lizzie is constantly shifting, and new revelations about the situation they're really in continue to shock, making audiences question everything: Is Charlotte jealous of Lizzie? Who is playing whom? And what's really going on at this prestigious musical academy? 

  • Starring: Allison Williams, Logan Browning, Steven Weber

  • Director: Richard Shepard

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 90 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Seven

Gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy, and wrath — these are the seven deadly sins, and they're at the heart of the pitch-black serial murders detectives Somerset and Mills are in charge of solving. A killer is creating gruesome murder tableaux to sermonize about the state of the world, and he's building up to a real crescendo of a finale. Can our heroes stop him in time? The crimes in "Seven" are as bleak and terrifying as anything in the horror genre, and they leave Mills and Somerset struggling to find a ray of hope amidst the darkness. No wonder "Seven" has been a major influence on subsequent thrillers — though few have equaled its bleak poetry.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Wealthy Herbert Greenleaf mistakenly believes Tom Ripley and his son Dickie were friends at Princeton. He hires Tom to go to Italy and convince Dickie to return home and take up his place in the family business. Once there, Tom becomes obsessed with both Dickie and the easy extravagance of his life ... which spells trouble when Dickie begins to turn on him. While forgery, assumed identities, murder, and complex lies keep the story moving, it's Tom's characterization — unsettling, romantic, unscrupulous, and balanced on a razor's edge — that really makes this lush thriller unforgettable.

  • Starring: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law

  • Director: Anthony Minghella

  • Year: 1999

  • Runtime: 139 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

The Town

Professional crook Doug lives a stripped-down life, but all that changes when he needs to track down a witness who could potentially identify him and his crew. Claire, an assistant bank manager, was briefly held hostage during one of their robberies. Finding out how much she knows means getting close to her ... which leads to Doug falling in love. Claire reconnects Doug with his wistful side, and soon, he wants out of his criminal life. But with the police hunting him and his own partners unwilling to let him go, that may not be possible. Suspenseful and intense, "The Town" is a modern-day classic.

  • Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm

  • Director: Ben Affleck

  • Year: 2010

  • Runtime: 124 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

A Walk Among the Tombstones

Ex-cop Matt Scudder takes a private case that leads him into pitch-black territory in the gripping "A Walk Among the Tombstones." Scudder's mission is to find out who kidnapped, killed, and dismembered a drug dealer's wife. It's a brutal crime that turns out to be part of a series — hunting down the cold-blooded men responsible leads him to the fresh kidnapping of a different drug trafficker's teenage daughter. It's all grim, violent material, which makes the funny and tender friendship between Scudder and his homeless teenage assistant TJ a welcome ray of light.