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30 Best Thrillers On Netflix [January 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 December 30, 2021: 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.

Army of Thieves

You might not expect a prequel to a zombie movie to be a lively comic thriller, and that's why you should watch "Army of Thieves." It depicts a world in the early stages of a zombie apocalypse — one that will eventually appear in "Army of the Dead" — but its professional thief characters are mostly interested in how all this social upheaval gives them a chance to snag a big score. Jewel thief Gwendoline assembles an expert crew — including amateur safecracker Sebastian, who falls for her — to break into a series of soon-to-be-decommissioned safes. Conflicts between teammates and the threat of Interpol closing in keep things lively.

  • Starring: Matthias Schweighöfer, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ruby O. Fee

  • Director: Matthias Schweighöfer

  • Year: 2021

  • Runtime: 127 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%

Bad Day for the Cut

One of the eternally popular thriller plots is that of the usually quiet, law-abiding person who suddenly gets pushed too far, and "Bad Day for the Cut" handles it with grim aplomb. When Donal's mother is murdered, he sets out to avenge her. He teams up with Bartosz, whose sister is being held and used by the same gangsters who killed Donal's mom. The further they go in their quest, however, the more sordid truths they uncover and the more their chances for a happy ending diminish. Gripping, bleak, and traditionally satisfying, "Bad Day for the Cut" joins the ranks of great revenge movies.

  • Starring: Nigel O'Neill, Susan Lynch, Józef Pawlowski

  • Director: Chris Baugh

  • Year: 2017

  • Runtime: 99 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

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%

The Clovehitch Killer

Ten years ago, a small Kentucky town was plagued with a horrible string of serial murders committed by the Clovehitch Killer. It's all supposed to be in the past ... but then 16-year-old Tyler starts to wonder whether his seemingly upstanding father could be connected to the crimes. As he starts digging into his father's life, he uncovers more and more links to the Clovehitch Killer. With suspicions and dark secrets building up, something has to happen — and "The Clovehitch Killer" builds that suspense into a drawn-from-the-headlines nightmare. There's nothing quite like the betrayal of discovering that, sometimes, the people you love aren't who they claim to be.

  • Starring: Charlie Plummer, Dylan McDermott, Samantha Mathis

  • Director: Duncan Skiles

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 109 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

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%

The Devil All the Time

This moody rural thriller brings viewers into the grimy world of Knockemstiff, where a lot of scheming, hopeless, and desperate characters collide. The moral center might be Arvin, a tough, orphaned teenager who's highly protective of his vulnerable adopted sister. And a moral center is what you need in a film that includes a husband-and-wife serial-killing team, a corrupt sheriff, a venal and predatory preacher (and an honest one who handles spiders and eventually turns psychotic), and a father who sacrifices his son's dog. "The Devil All the Time" features an excellent cast and is a dark tour of human need and depravity.

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%

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Outstanding performances and an icy sense of directorial style make the American remake of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" a worthy companion to the original. Troubled loner hacker Lisbeth Salander investigates former journalist Mikael Blomkvist, whose life and career fell apart after a libel suit. She clears the way for the wealthy Henrik Vanger to make Blomkvist an intriguing offer: If Blomkvist can solve a decades-old disappearance (and probable murder) in Vanger's family, Vanger will give him the evidence he needs to rehabilitate his public image. Blomkvist enlists Salander's help, and the two of them plunge into a dark histork of murder and misogyny.

  • Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer

  • Director: David Fincher

  • Year: 2011

  • Runtime: 158 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Good Time

Two criminal brothers wind up in every kind of trouble in "Good Time." Connie Nikas is always coming up with hustles and crimes that his intellectually disabled brother, Nick, can't completely grasp, but none of them tend to work out. For example, they rob a bank, but an explosive dye pack ruins most of the money. Connie then tries to break Nick out of custody, but he winds up taking the wrong person. Connie's life is a constant series of frantic adjustments and painfully bad choices, and we're along for the agonizing ride — and hooked in by a great, fully human performance by Robert Pattinson.

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.

Identity

A bad storm forces a disparate group of people to seek shelter at a rundown motel ... where they begin dying off one by one. There's no shortage of suspects — including a convicted murderer who ostensibly can't escape his chains — but there may be too little time to solve this mystery. The audience gets one additional puzzle: How does all this relate to the late-night sanity hearing we see happening elsewhere? "Identity" has a great premise and plenty of atmosphere, and it should keep viewers guessing.

  • Starring: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet

  • Director: James Mangold

  • Year: 2003

  • Runtime: 90 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%

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%

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

This visceral, offbeat thriller — which uses purposefully stilted, off-kilter dialogue — delves into how a surgeon's upper-class family is infiltrated and gradually endangered by a disconcerting teenage boy. At first, it's hard to know why Dr. Murphy has taken such an overwhelming interest in 16-year-old Martin, buying him expensive gifts and inviting him to meet his family. The secret that emerges is stranger than any of the likely guesses, and it leads directly to Martin issuing a bizarre threat: Unless Dr. Murphy kills a member of his family, Martin will kill them all.

Killing Them Softly

When a Mafia poker game gets robbed, the mob hires matter-of-fact hitman Jackie Coogan to mop things up. Jackie needs to deal with both the real robbers — effectively solving the crime and tracking them down — and the man they framed, all while handling a colleague who's past his glory days. "Killing Them Softly" is an unusually philosophical and political thriller, blending Jackie's efforts with some commentary on the recession and the 2008 election. It's a smart, taut film with a great central performance from Brad Pitt.

  • Starring: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn

  • Director: Andrew Dominik

  • Year: 2012

  • Runtime: 97 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

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%

Looper

Joe works as an unconventional hitman: An organized crime outfit in the future sends his targets back in time to him, and Joe kills them and collects the silver bars strapped to their bodies. Joe is an efficient killer, patiently building up his stash of silver bars. He knows that if he survives too long, one day the Mob will send his older self back in time so the younger Joe can "close the loop" by killing himself. The payout? Solid gold. The consequences of letting himself live? Disastrous and horrifying. But when that day finally comes, the older Joe — who has a complex story of his own — escapes. "Looper" is a wild thriller full of smart science fiction delights.

  • Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt

  • Director: Rian Johnson

  • Year: 2012

  • Runtime: 118 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Miss Sloane

Strategizing and down-and-dirty gamesmanship are at the heart of "Miss Sloane," where Jessica Chastain shines as the titular Elizabeth Sloane. Sloane is a veteran, hard-as-nails lobbyist who takes on the task of promoting a gun control bill. She knows that it will attract national attention and make her some powerful enemies, but she's determined to come out on top — no matter what it takes. And due to a flash-forward at the beginning of the film, we know that the professional cost might be huge. "Miss Sloane" has plenty of smart, cynical power and makes for an unconventional Washington thriller.

Mystic River

Years ago, young Dave was abducted one day while playing with his friends, Jimmy and Sean, and although he eventually came home safely, everyone knows what must have happened. Years later, the three former friends are reunited by another crime: Jimmy's beloved daughter Katie is murdered. Sean is the detective assigned to investigate, and Dave, it emerges, is a strong possible suspect. Jimmy is growing more suspicious of Dave by the day, and he may not be willing to wait for Sean's version of justice. "Mystic River" is a complex, thoughtful, well-acted, and character-driven thriller all about choices and the influence of the past on the present. 

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%

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%

Rust Creek

A college student winds up in desperate trouble when she gets lost on her way to a job interview. Stranded deep in unfamiliar Appalachia, Sawyer accidentally stumbles onto a murder cover-up. Brothers Hollister and Buck aren't sure whether or not Sawyer spotted them burying a body, and their attempt at keeping her quiet soon turns violent. This leaves Sawyer fighting for her life — and in the middle of a tense, complex community situation that gives her at least one unexpected ally and one unexpected enemy. Complexity and a strong sense of place make this a riveting thriller.

  • Starring: Hermione Corfield, Jay Paulson, Sean O'Bryan

  • Director: Jen McGowan

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 108 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

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%

Shutter Island

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels has come to the dark and rainy Shutter Island to find a missing woman: Rachel Solando, who's been shut up in the island's hospital for the criminally insane after she drowned her own children. It's a disturbing case, one where the clues suggest some kind of sinister conspiracy — and in trying to unravel it, Teddy starts falling apart. He's suffering from migraines, nightmares, and visions, and he's haunted by his own past ... and finding out the truth on Shutter Island could cost him everything. "Shutter Island" succeeds through its strong sense of gloomy atmosphere and its gripping suspense.

  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley

  • Director: Martin Scorsese

  • Year: 2010

  • Runtime: 138 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%

Uncut Gems

Full of manic tension and told at a breakneck pace, "Uncut Gems" perfectly captures what it's like to be inside the constantly hustling life of jeweler and gambling addict Howard Ratner, who's only ever one step ahead of his massive debts and can't stop looking for a big score. Howard has pinned most of his hopes on the sale of a black opal he specially imported from Ethiopia, but one thing after another keeps going wrong. He's stuck appeasing both Kevin Garnett, the Celtics player who wants to buy the opal, and his loan shark brother-in-law, who's running out of patience. Adam Sandler turns in one of his rare — and stellar — dramatic performances here, making Howard sympathetic, infuriating, and consistently gripping.

  • Starring: Adam Sandler, LaKeith Stanfield, Julia Fox

  • Directors: Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 134 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Eccentric sisters Merricat and Constance live in seclusion with their fragile uncle. Years before, their parents were fatally poisoned, and although Constance was acquitted for the crime, suspicion still hangs over her, especially in their small provincial village. Still, it's a kind of status quo — one that gets shattered by the sudden arrival of their scheming, seductive cousin, Charles. Merricat instantly loathes him, and he her, but he courts Constance and tries to win access to the family's fortune. As tensions rise between Charles and Merricat, things in this off-kilter house get even darker and stranger, and old secrets are revealed. "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" is a movie of powerhouse performances and stunning production design.

  • Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Alexandra Daddario, Sebastian Stan

  • Director: Stacie Passon

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 95 minutes

  • Rating: TV-14

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

What Keeps You Alive

The horror-thriller "What Keeps You Alive" starts with Jackie and Jules celebrating their one-year anniversary at Jackie's family's lakeside cabin. It should be a happy and peaceful trip, but all too quickly, little things begin to unsettle Jules — and then they turn out to not be so little after all. She realizes that there's a lot she doesn't know about her wife. And just when Jules thinks she's made her peace with this strange series of revelations, Jackie crosses one final line and pits the two of them against each other in a grueling cat-and-mouse game in the wilderness. Sharp and disconcerting, "What Keeps You Alive" may test the limits of plausibility, but it rewards its audience with both tension and twists.

  • Starring: Hannah Emily Anderson, Brittany Allen, Martha MacIsaac

  • Director: Colin Minihan

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 99 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Wind River

Both a somber, moving thriller and a well-crafted Western mystery, "Wind River" zeroes in on the investigation of an 18-year-old Indigenous girl who is found barefoot and frozen in the middle of nowhere. Cory Lambert, a veteran tracker with his own painful history, teams up with FBI Agent Jane Banner to try to find the truth behind Natalie Hanson's tragic death. Even solving the murder could be easier than sorting out what justice means and who gets to decide upon it. One of the movie's biggest strengths is its sense of place, especially its wintry landscape and its complex community.