Find a list of 40 best thriller movies you must see.
It’s quite a difficult task, determining the best thriller movies to watch. There are so many on the shortlist and, frankly – the best movie thrillers is a very subjective topic.
However, I’m sure most of us will agree that a good thriller is centered around a gripping story-line, strong characters and a great deal of suspense, anticipation and mystery. If you’re an Alfred Hitchcock fan (the King of suspense and psychological thrillers) – you’ll already be familiar with this type of film.
Our list of best thriller movies to watch includes some of the greatest ever made (including those with a horror crossover).
1. The Silence Of The to Lambs (1991)
Undoubtedly, one of best thriller movies ever made is The Silence Of The Lambs. With unforgettable performances from both Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, this chilling and dramatic thriller depicts the story of a young FBI agent, fresh out of the Academy who’s been recruited to work on the case of serial killer, Buffalo Bill. But this requires her to infiltrate with the infamous Hannibal Lecter.
2. Se7en (1995)
Next on our list of best thriller movies is Se7en which has everything you’d expect from a good thriller movie. It’s a dark and gritty crime story, leaving you in suspense and mystery all the way through. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman play the parts of two New York detectives who are assigned to catch a serial killer who’s creating the seven deadly sins on his victims – pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.
3. Shutter Island (2010)
Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island is a prime example of a good psychological, mystery/thriller movie. It’s cast include Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio who are two US Marshals, sent to Shutter Island to investigate a missing person. But all is not what it seems when they start to spend time on the island.
4. Inception (2010)
Inception is a Motion picture directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this is an action packed science fiction thriller about a group of thieves who use modern science technology to enter the dreams of company CEOs. When they’re in there, they steal information and plant suggestive thoughts
5. The Others (2001)
The Others is one of the best supernatural thriller movies around. It’s thriller horror at its best – jumpy, spooky and with an unexpected twist. Nicole Kidman plays a woman who lives in a large isolated house. Caring for her two children, she starts to feel tortured by paranormal activity.
6. Mystic River (2003)
Mystic River is must see movie, based on a great crime mystery by Dennis Lehane. Directed by Clint Eastwood, it tells the story of three young boys who were close as friends before going on different paths in their lives. But the boys are brought back together and for all the wrong reasons.
7. The Prestige (2006)
Based on the novel by Christopher Priest, The Prestige is psychological thriller with a good storyline. Starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, the two work together as magicians until there is a tragic accident on stage, leading to their fall out. They become in competition with each other and things quickly start to get out of hand.
8. Prisoners (2013)
If you’re after a good suspense movie, then look no further. Prisoners will keep you guessing until the end. With a fantastic performance by Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, this is a dark story of two girls who are mysteriously abducted. When police fail to act, one girl’s father takes all the necessary means to get them back.
9. The Sixth Sense (1999)
This is best described as a thrilling, ghostly tale about a successful child psychologist who finds himself helping a troubled, young boy who believes he is able to see dead people. Starring Bruce Willis, it’s jumpy in parts and has an unexpected twist at the end.
10. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Next up on our list of best movie thrillers is Twelve Monkeys. This film is more of a science fiction but it’s still a dark and thrilling movie. You’ll see the best of Bruce Willis in this, who plays a great part in a storyline of a deadly virus that wiped out a lot of humanity when released. In the year 2035, convict James Cole is sent back in time to recover data from the virus in order to find cure.
11. The Game (1997)
The Game is a good mystery thriller that stars Sean Penn and Michael Douglas. It portrays the story of Nicholas van Orton who leads a lonely life, absorbed in his career. But after his younger brother buys him a birthday gift, he finds it hard to distinguish what’s real and what’s not.
12. The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
Taylor Hackford’s supernatural thriller, The Devil’s Advocate, has chilling moments and a mystery plot which makes this movie all the better. Starring Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves, a young, hot-shot lawyer who has never lost a case if offered a job at a NYC law firm. But things take a sinister turn when he starts to hallucinate.
13. American Psycho (2000)
Based on a novel by Bret E Ellis, American Psycho is a psychological thriller that has a slightly humorous feel about it. Portrayed by Christian Bale, Patrick Bateman is a psychopath investment banker who fantasizes about killings and torture.
14. Panic Room (2002)
David Fincher’s panic room is a well put together thriller film that is capable of provoking quite an intense feeling of suspense and, well – panic. Starring Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart, a Mom and daughter move into a new home when three men break into their house, forcing them to use a panic room.
15. Nightcrawler (2014)
The Nightcrawler is must-see, dark thriller movie. Jake Gyllenhaal gives us an outstanding performance, so good in fact that it may leave you feeling quite uncomfortable. He portrays a man who is both creepy and weird and who makes a living filming random, tragic events and selling them to news studios. If that wasn’t bad enough, this man with no morals starts to do whatever it takes to get a story.
16. Identity (2003)
A must see movie that’s a great psychological horror/thriller that’ll leave you on the edge of your seat, wondering who on earth did what. Starring John Cusack, Ray Liotta and Amanda Peet – a group of strangers are forced stay at a motel due to bad weather conditions. With nowhere else to go, it’s not long before they realize that they are all being hunted and killed, one by one.
17. Disturbia (2007)
Admittedly, Disturbia isn’t as good of a movie as some of the others on our list. Yet it still has all the ingredients of a good thriller movie. Shia LaBeouf portrays a school pupil who ends up on house arrest after punching one of his teachers. Whilst confined, he believes he may have found a serial killer the police have been looking for – one of his neighbors.
18. From Hell (2001)
Johnny Depp stars in this dark crime movie thriller. In 1888, a string of sex worker murders take place in Whitechapel, London. The case is passed to a troubled inspector, Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp) who has the psychic ability to see how the murders occurred.
19. The Number 23 (2007)
A psychological drama with an unexpected twist. Lead character, Jim Carrey plays animal control officer, Walter Sparrow. He’s given a novel to which he finds a lot of similarities to his own life. Walter soon becomes obsessed with the book (and the number 23).
20. Basic Instinct (1992)
27 years on and it’s still a good thriller to watch. Basic Instinct has a crime and mystery thriller theme with a touch of raging erotica. Starring a very sexy Sharon Stone, a homicide detective (Michael Douglas) believes a novelist is responsible for a brutal murder.
21. Split (2016)
Split has a great, unsettling storyline that will keep your attention all the way through. It is definitely one for your must-see movie list. Three young girls find themselves kidnapped by a man who has 23 split personalities. They need to find a way to escape by choosing one of his personalities that may help them.
22. Phone Booth (2002)
Phone Booth is an entertaining, gripping, neo-noir thriller that’s well worth a watch. Colin Farrell stars as a New York publicist who has gotten through life by lying to others. But all that is about to change. The moment Stuart Shepard picks up a phone in a booth, he’s forced into telling the truth for the first time in his life.
23. The Gift (2000)
A must watch on our list of best thriller movies is The Gift. It’s a gripping and dark drama-mystery with a great performance by Cate Blanchett. When a young woman disappears without a trace, the police are struggling with leads until they approach a clairvoyant.
24. Misery (1990)
Next on our best thriller movie list is 1990 film, Misery. It’s quite a distressing watch, giving you a real sense of suspense and dread all the way through. Starring Kathy Bates and James Caan, a well-known writer has a bad accident whilst driving in bad snow. He is rescued by a woman who claims to be one of his biggest fans but it doesn’t take long before things take a very sinister turn.
25. The Machinist (2004)
This dark, psychological thriller is both chilling and disturbing. It’s a great thriller movie to watch and one that will play on your mind long after the film has finished. Christian Bale plays the part of machinist, Trevor Reznik, who has insomnia and extreme weight loss. People are so concerned with his appearance and behaviour that they start to avoid him.
26. The Illusionist (2006)
Even though this has a romantic touch to the film, it’s still worth a mention for its twisted and mysterious plot. Starring Jessica Biel and Edward Norton, a magician in 1889 can perform necromancy – the ability to talk to the dead. When the magician’s lover is murdered, he knows he must summon her to speak of her death.
27. The Skeleton Key (2005)
This is an underrated thriller but we don’t know why. It’s jumpy, creepy and mysterious and will leave you wondering what the hell’s going on all the way through. Kate Hudson plays a hospice nurse who travels to New Orleans to help take care of old man. But it’s not long before she discovers there’s something dark and sinister going on in the house.
28. Copycat (1995)
Directed by Jon Amiel, this psychological crime drama stars Sigourney Weaver who plays a criminal psychologist. Dr Helen suffers from agoraphobia after an attack by a deranged man, but is recruited to help the police with a case of a serial killer who mimics the murders of killers before him.
29. Along Came A Spider (2001)
Along Came A Spider was slated by film critics. But we think it’s a psychological mystery with a good twist that’s worth a watch. Morgan Freeman plays a retiring officer (Alex Cross) who’s been persuaded to take on another case. The case involves the kidnapping of a state senator’s daughter who was taken by her teacher.
30. One Eight Seven (1997)
One Eight Seven is film that really should get more credit than it does. It’s a dramatic crime drama that’s both thrilling and gripping. It stars Samuel L Jackson who gives an outstanding performance as a teacher who is stabbed by one of his students in the corridor. A few months after the traumatic event, he returns to work when he is threatened again by another student and, this time, he’s ready for the challenge.
31. Hide and Seek (2005)
Hide and Seek received a heavy bashing off movie critics but we’re struggling to see why. It’s a psychological horror/thriller that’s full of scary and jumpy scenes. Robert De Niro plays a man who loses his wife and struggles move forward. His daughter creates an imaginary friend and very strange things start to happen.
32. 88 Minutes (2007)
We’ll be honest – this isn’t one of the best on the list, compared to some of the others anyway. Nevertheless, it’s still an enjoyable film and worth seeing. This film portrays a serial killer who is captured and sentenced to death under the recommendation of a professor forensic psychologist. Near to the time of the serial killer’s death, the professor receives a chilling phone call and is told he has 88 minutes to live.
33. The Butterfly Effect (2004)
The Butterfly Effect is an intriguing and psychologically moving thriller. It would have been a lot better if it hadn’t had Ashton Kutcher in it but it’s still worth a go despite this. A young man suffers an explainable blackout. He realizes he can go back to visit past events in his life to change them for a better outcome and future. But this has dark and devastating consequences.
34. The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
The Lincoln Lawyer is a dramatic mystery thriller movie that’s both gripping and enjoyable to watch. There is no doubt that Matthew McConaughey’s acting truly enhances this film plot. He plays a lawyer who is representing a wealthy young man that’s accused of assault. Whilst defending him, he comes to realise that the young man may not be who and what he makes out to be.
35. The Girl on the Train (2016)
Based on the novel by Paula Hawkins, The Girl On The Train is a powerful drama that has its fair share of mystery. With an outstanding performance by Emily Blunt, she plays the part of a woman who is struggling with a divorce and drink problem. While traveling to work on the train she becomes fixated on young couple who she sees through the window. When one of them goes missing, she finds herself embroiled in mystery.
36. Gone Girl (2014)
Gone Girl is a good psychological thriller with dramatic scenes. It has the same feel as an Alfred Hitchcock style movie and so, if you’re a fan, this is one to put on your to-watch list. Starring Ben Affleck as a man whose wife suddenly disappears, the police find multiple clues that indicate she has come to harm by his hands.
37. The Bone Collector (1999)
The Bone Collector is a classic crime drama involving a serial killer. Starring Denzel Washington as a top New York homicide detective, he is paralyzed from the neck down after an incident. But a serial killer is at large and police require his knowledge. A young, female officer adopts his eyes and eyes on the ground.
8MM is a thriller that some people may find a little too dark. It has a distressing and chilling story line including Nicolas Cage who plays the part of a private investigator. He’s hired by a wealthy old woman who recently lost her husband and who has discovered a disturbing video tape of a snuff movie.
39. Gerald’s Game (2017)
Gerald’s Game is a tense, Netflix original thriller movie which leaves you in a state of disbelief and suspense. Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood are a married couple who are struggling in their relationship. They decide to go to a remote lighthouse to try spice things up a little. But whilst she’s restrained and tied to the bed, her husband has a heart attack and dies on top of her.
40. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Gone Baby Gone has a dark and powerful storyline that’s full of mystery and suspense. It will leave you emotionally gripped until the end. Starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan, two investigators from Boston take on a kidnapping case of a missing girl. This results in a string of leads and suspects.