The best thrillers on Netflix include plenty of original movies, along with award-winning favorites and some hidden gems. Ranging from intense crime flicks to physiological thrillers, here are the greatest thriller movies available to stream on Netflix.
Update, 11/14/22: After reviewing our guide, we’ve replaced five of our thriller picks that left Netflix with five fresh movie recommendations.
Tom Hanks gives one of his best performances as the title character in fact-based thriller Captain Phillips. Director Paul Greengrass tells the true story of an American container ship hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia. Barkhad Abdi makes a striking debut as the leader of the pirates, with a mix of menace and desperation.
Greengrass brings clear-eyed immediacy to the tense stand-off, and Hanks makes Captain Phillips a model of cool competence, until the weight of his ordeal comes crashing down on him in a brilliant final scene.
New Zealand slow-burn psychological thriller Coming Home in the Dark is unrelentingly bleak and brutal, starting with the abrupt murder of two teenagers. The man responsible for those murders takes a teacher and his wife hostage, revealing details about his background and motivations over the course of a long road trip. The movie is a somber meditation on guilt and redemption, with a bracingly stark view of human nature and a fascinating performance from Daniel Gillies as the unrepentant killer.
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Director Patrick Brice’s Creep is a found footage thriller that creates maximum suspense from its minimalist style. Mark Duplass stars as an eccentric recluse who recruits a videographer (Brice) to record what he says is his final testament before dying of a brain tumor. The man is obviously not what he claims to be, and things get weirder and weirder as the videographer keeps shooting, even with his own life potentially in danger.
Stars Al Pacino and Johnny Depp do some of their best work in underrated crime thriller Donnie Brasco. The title character is a fiction, an undercover alias created by FBI agent Joseph Pistone (Depp) to infiltrate a New York City crime family. He befriends low-level enforcer Lefty Ruggiero (Pacino) as an entry point to the organization, but the bond they form makes Pistone question the morality of an investigation that puts the vulnerable Lefty in danger.
It’s a surprisingly touching story about cross-generational connections, with all the suspense and danger of a good mobster movie.
Although it’s based on a Stephen King novel, Gerald’s Game is more psychological thriller than horror flick. Director Mike Flanagan finds a creative way to approach what’s essentially a single-character story.
Jessie (Carla Gugino) is stuck handcuffed to a bed in a remote lake house after her husband dies of a heart attack during an attempt at sexual roleplay. Via flashbacks and imagined conversations, Jessie comes to terms with her past while finding a way to escape from her increasingly desperate predicament.
A nature writer and renowned wolf expert played by Jeffrey Wright travels to a remote Alaska town that’s being plagued by wolves in Jeremy Saulnier’s ethereal thriller Hold the Dark. Wolves aren’t the only dangerous predators in town, though, and the characters confront the darkness of human nature along with the dangers posed by nature itself. Saulnier builds an eerie atmosphere punctuated with bursts of intense violence, keeping the audience on edge along with the characters.
Denzel Washington won an Oscar for his portrayal of a corrupt but charismatic LAPD detective in Training Day. Washington’s Det. Alonzo Harris terrorizes Officer Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) on the day he spends evaluating Hoyt for a promotion. Washington is fascinating as the amoral cop who lies, steals, and murders with impunity, confident that he can get away with anything. Director Antoine Fuqua creates a tense atmosphere that never lets up, with Washington and Hawke as the well-matched adversaries.
A group of former Special Forces operatives (played by Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal) reunite to steal a massive amount of cash from a Colombian drug lord in J.C. Chandor’s Triple Frontier. The real thrills come less from the heist itself and more from the monumental effort required to transport literal tons of cash out of the remote South American jungle.
As far as Liam Neeson action thrillers go, A Walk Among the Tombstones is a bit more thoughtful than most, with more of a focus on its central mystery. Neeson plays private detective Matt Scudder, who’s hired by a drug dealer to find his kidnapped wife. Scudder, the protagonist of a series of Lawrence Block novels, is himself a recovering addict, and Neeson gives him a sense of haunted vulnerability. Writer-director Scott Frank delivers a quiet but effective neo-noir, with Neeson fitting into the genre perfectly.
With only three characters onscreen for the majority of its running time and a single location, Netflix original thriller Windfall still pulls off a twisty, engrossing story of greed and deception. Jason Segel plays against type as a small-time criminal who’s surprised by the arrival of the wealthy couple (Jesse Plemons and Lily Collins) whose vacation home he’s attempting to rob.
He almost reluctantly takes them hostage, and a power struggle ensues among the unnamed characters. Director Charlie McDowell mixes sly humor with social commentary and low-key suspense.
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