A thriller comes in many shapes and forms. It could be a detective drama or a crime caper. Regardless of how it looks, the feeling a thriller induces remains the same. We’re left biting our nails, with hearts in our mouths, and our stomachs in knots. We live vicariously through the protagonist because for most of us, robbing a bank or solving a crime is the kind of outlandish that even the weekends can’t accommodate. To make the adrenaline rush more accessible, we’ve put together a list of the 20 best thrillers movies on Netflix. Go bonkers.
The Net (1995)
Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock) is a computer programmer whose relationships are almost completely online and on the phone, with the exception of her mother, who has Alzheimer's and frequently forgets who Bennett is. When she is trapped in a conspiracy, with her identity stolen and nobody to vouch for her, Bennett has to take extreme measures to snatch her life back.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the film follows Danny Ocean and his ten accomplices as they plan to rob three casinos, the Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM Grand, one after another. In an article, we had written, “The first part of Steven Soderbergh's slick, sophisticated crime caper is still the yardstick for not only a great heist movie, but also a killer ensemble cast that became the very definition of cool.” The cast includes George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts.
The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Based on Dan Brown’s novel of the same name, the film follows Robert Langdon’s (Tom Hanks) attempts at solving a murder that takes place at the Louvre, and the clues are in Da Vinci's paintings. His investigation leads to a discovery that could shake the fundamentals of Christianity.
The Zodiac Killer is a murderer who haunted San Francisco in the Sixties and Seventies. David Fincher’s film follows a cartoonist turned detective who becomes obsessed with hunting down the criminal. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo and is an intricate portrayal of a case that was marked by deadends and missing evidence.
Shutter Island (2010)
In 1954, U.S. Marshal Edward "Teddy" Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) visit a hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island to look into the disappearance of Rachel Solando, who killed her three children. Director Martin Scorsese builds a nerve-wracking reality that has us contemplating the line between truth and fiction.
7 Khoon Maaf (2011)
An adaptation of ‘Susanna's Seven Husbands’ by Ruskin Bond, the film follows a woman’s pursuit to find the most untainted, unadulterated kind of love. In her quest, she marries six men, and when each of their flaws is too much to bear, she finds a way to leave them behind. With Priyanka Chopra as the protagonist, John Abraham as a debaucherous singer, and Irrfan, a sadomasochist poet, 7 Khoon Maaf is a compelling watch.
Talaash: The Answer Lies Within (2012)
Written and directed by Reema Kagti, Talaash stars Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukerji. In the film, Inspector Surjan Shekhawa has to investigate the death of a renowned actor and also deal with his crumbling marriage. “He is haunted by memories of his son, for whose horrible death he blames himself. And then Surjan gets a lead from a mysterious prostitute named Rosie, a character who unites all the film's strands with a supernatural touch.” Read more about the best whodunits on streaming, here.
Starring Sridevi in her 300th role, the film follows a biology teacher who sets out to avenge her stepdaughter after she is raped at a party. “There is such a confrontational tone about this – a foreboding sense of craft – that's difficult to escape. Much of the film's unforgiving first half is like this. It locks eyes with us. It doesn't scream chaos. It mutters, menacingly, about something singularly bad happening in an inherently civilized universe,” we wrote in our review.
Bird Box (2018)
Directed by Susanne Bier and starring Sandra Bullock, Bird Box is set in a post-apocalyptic world. Plagued by supernatural entities, most of society has committed suicide. Five years after the incident, in a bid to reach safety, a mother instructs her two children to keep their blindfolds on, or they die.
Starring Tabu, Ayushmann Khurrana, Anil Dhawan and Radhika Apte, the film is about a blind piano player who gets mixed up in the murder of a retired actor. “"What is life?" asks a character in Sriram Raghavan's new film. He gives the answer himself – it all depends on the liver. This liver could be the person living the life or it could be an organ in your body. We are now in Sriram's world. Everything has at least two meanings and nothing is what it seems,” we wrote in our review.
Uncut Gems (2019)
Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a formerly successful gems dealer whose gambling addiction has left his family and career in shambles. In a rare uncut Opal from Ethiopia, he sees the possibility of finally hitting the jackpot. “Here in Uncut Gems, the Safdies again create that world of chaos that has become their signature. How they keep the tension so palpably high right through the 2-hour-15-minute duration is nothing short of a miracle,” Pratim D. Gupta wrote in his review.
An entrepreneur (Taapsee Pannu) finds herself locked in a hotel room with her lover’s corpse. She hires a lawyer (Amitabh Bachchan) to defend her as they attempt to unravel what really happened. The film is directed by Sujoy Ghosh, who also helmed Kahaani (2012). “For a director whose breakthrough film centered on a woman out for revenge under the ruse of impending motherhood, Badla remains forcibly consistent to this oeuvre of maternal rage. Only, it focuses on the other side of the kahaani, which is why you can see the strings and the puppeteers running the show.” Read the review here.
The Woman in the Window (2020)
Set in New York, this Amy Adams starrer follows an agoraphobic woman who lives alone. While spying on her new neighbours, she witnesses an act of brutality. The movie follows her attempts at proving what she saw. The Woman in the Window is based on A.J. Finn’s novel of the same name.
Directed by Aneesh Chaganty, the film follows a teenager (Kiera Allen) kept in isolation, who begins suspecting her mother (Sarah Paulson) of harbouring dark secrets about her upbringing.
The Guilty (2021)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film revolves around a demoted police officer assigned to a call dispatch desk and what transpires after he receives a phone call from a kidnapped woman. “The film does poke holes in the renegade cop trope, writing its police as flawed, fallible men trying to do their jobs rather than as men who know they're the heroes of a cop movie,” Gayle Sequeira wrote in her review.
Haseen Dillruba (2021)
The film, starring Taapsee Pannu and Vikrant Massey is “genre-busting – it's a murder mystery but also a feverish romance with dollops of comedy bunged in. The film swerves from raging hormones to the raw, muddled emotions of two strangers in a marriage to things darker and bloodier,” we wrote in our review.
A remake of the Malayalam thriller Helen (2019), the movie stars Janhvi Kapoor as the titular character, trapped in a freezer and fighting to survive. “Mili is high-pitched and mostly effective. The sound design is terrific, simulating an endless cycle of danger and dread. The visual transitions are smart and well-timed. It helps that Janhvi Kapoor’s fourth author-backed role of a short career is perhaps her most impressive so far,” we wrote in our review, here.
Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
At a hurricane party, a group decides to play a wink murder-style game. The game becomes deadly when one by one, they drop like flies. Facades are uncovered, and fake friends are exposed, as they take turns playing suspect and victim. The movie stars Amandla Stenberg, Rachel Sennott and Pete Davidson.
In Jasmeet K. Reen’s directorial debut, two women (Alia Bhatt and Shefali Shah) navigate grave circumstances and even find love on the way. “Darlings is the sort of movie that might look a little strange while you're watching it. The premise is serious; the treatment is playful. The demons are real; the slaying is wishful. The method is messy; the madness is cinematic. But the more you think about Darlings, the more sense it makes,” Rahul Desai wrote in his review.
Monica, O My Darling (2022)
This Vasan Bala directorial stars Rajkummar Rao, Huma Qureshi and Radhika Apte. It involves a plot to kill which emerges when a passionate affair goes awry. “I spent a majority of the film pausing and replaying moments. The reasons are purely sensory. It has something to do with – to quote director Andrew Dominik – the “musicality of film”. This musicality was once inherent to the beats of a Bollywood potboiler, but it’s a forgotten art in modern Hindi cinema,” reads Rahul Desai’s review.