Stuck for something to watch? Would love to curl up and get engrossed in a good thriller, but not sure where to start? Then you have come to right place.
In this post I am serving up a collection of must watch thrillers. These are the films which will have you on the edge of your seat, biting your finger nails, and sweating profusely.
The films below include crime thrillers, dark stories, murder mysteries, stone-cold classics, and much more. So, delve into the list of movies and see what you should be watching next.
First up is Buried – a tense thriller about a man who finds himself trapped underground in a makeshift coffin, slowly running out of air. Ryan Reynolds takes the lead, playing against type, in a brilliantly simple movie filled with suspense and an engrossing story.
The Fugitive (1993)
Next up, Harrison Ford plays the role of Dr. Richard Kimble, in a frantic thriller about a man wrongly accused of murdering his wife. The Fugitive is hands-down one of the best thrillers of the 1990s and features a superb performance from Ford as well as co-star, Tommy Lee Jones.
Bird Box (2018)
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Bird Box is a surprisingly creepy movie about a woman and two children, trying to find sanctuary in a world overrun by supernatural forces. Atmospheric and very effective in its story-telling, Sandra Bullock stars in this thriller from director Susanne Bier.
The Hunt (2012)
Mads Mikkelsen takes the lead in this Danish thriller about a small-town teacher wrongfully accused of sexual abuse. Nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, The Hunt is an intriguing movie about a misunderstanding which has huge ramifications.
Lady in a Cage (1964)
Directed by Walter Grauman, Lady in a Cage is a psychological thriller about a wealthy woman who becomes trapped in an elevator in her home. As the film unfolds, the woman watches on as her house becomes invaded by miscreants with dark intentions.
The Cell (2000)
Jennifer Lopez stars in this bizarre, yet visually stunning psychological horror about a child psychologist who uses cutting edge technology to enter the mind of a serial killer. Filled with imaginative and dark imagery, The Cell is a stylish and fascinating picture.
Denis Villeneuve directs this taught thriller about the abduction of two girls in Pennsylvania, and the aftermath that follows. Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal deliver incredible performances, while the supporting cast includes Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, and Paul Dano.
Knives Out (2019)
Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, and an all-star cast fill the screen in this superb murder mystery from writer/director Rian Johnson. Played out like a quirky Agatha Christie story, Knives Out is an imaginative and humorous thriller not to be missed.
Panic Room (2002)
A mother and daughter find themselves trapped inside their panic room, when three burglars enter their home during the night. Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart play the mother/daughter duo, while David Fincher directs this excellent pulse-pounder from the ‘00s.
Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)
In Sleeping with the Enemy, Julia Roberts plays a young woman who escapes from her abusive husband, only to find him in pursuit. Roberts is fantastic in the lead role, while Patrick Bergin is superbly sinister as her unsettling husband who will stop at nothing to take her home.
Rear Window (1954)
Based on the short story It Had to Be Murder, Rear Window is a tense mystery thriller about a man who believes he has witnessed a murder in his apartment block. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, Rear Window is a gripping thriller starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, and Raymond Burr.
Phone Booth (2002)
Colin Farrell stars as a New York publicist who finds himself trapped in a phone booth, at the mercy of a mysterious sniper. Joel Schumacher directs, while Forest Whitaker, Katie Holmes, and Kiefer Sutherland round out the supporting cast.
The Hitcher (1986)
While travelling through the West Texas desert, a young driver makes a huge mistake – he picks up a mysterious and unhinged hitchhiker. C. Thomas Howell and Rutger Hauer play the lead roles, while Robert Harmon directs this chilling horror/thriller from the 1980s.
Cape Fear (1991)
In Cape Fear a convicted felon seeks revenge against the public defender who he blames for his incarceration. Martin Scorsese’s dark, disturbing thriller stars Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, and Jessica Lange.
Thomas Harris’ psychological novel, Red Dragon gets the big screen treatment via Manhunter – a story about an FBI profiler and his attempt to catch a serial killer. Michael Mann directs, while the cast includes William Petersen, Tom Noonan, and Brian Cox as cannibal Hannibal Lecktor.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Hannibal Lecter (different spelling) returns to the big screen for his second and arguably most famous outing, via The Silence of the Lambs. Jodie Foster takes the lead as an FBI agent in search of a serial killer, while Sir Anthony Hopkins plays Hannibal.
A former police detective turned private investigator is hired to keep tabs on a woman who appears to be acting rather odd. Kim Novak and James Stewart star, while Alfred Hitchcock directs.
North by Northwest (1959)
Another entry for Alfred Hitchcock, this time directing Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in a story of mistaken identity. In North by Northwest, Grant plays an innocent man caught up in a plot to obtain government secrets.
Parasite tells the story of a low-income family who see an opportunity to improve their financial situation – even if it is at the expense of others. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, Parasite is a superb thriller, and the winner of the Best Picture Award at the 2019 Academy Awards.
Apt Pupil (1998)
In Apt Pupil, a high school student uncovers the true identity of his seemingly innocent neighbour in this dark thriller from Bryan Singer. Brad Renfro plays the student, while Sir Ian McKellen takes on the part of the neighbour in an adaptation of a Stephen King novella.
Above Suspicion (1995)
Christopher Reeve and Kim Cattrall star in this largely forgotten crime thriller about a cop and his adulterous wife. In the movie, Reeve suspects his wife is having an affair, and decides to deal with the matter through an elaborate scheme.
Fight Club (1999)
Brad Pitt and Edward Norton star in a mind-bending thriller about an underground fight club. David Fincher directs, while Helena Bonham Carter, Jared Leto, and Meat Loaf co-star.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)
Directed by Joe Berlinger, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile tells the story of real-life serial killer, Ted Bundy. Efron plays the role of Bundy, while Lily Collins, Kaya Scodelario, and John Malkovich provide support.
21 Bridges (2019)
Chadwick Boseman takes the lead in this action thriller about a New York detective on the hunt for two suspected cop killers. Brian Kirk directs this beautifully shot, expertly acted crime picture.
Oft-overlooked, Copycat is a ‘90s thriller about a criminal psychologist and a police inspector on the trail of a serial killer. Copycat is a gem of a movie from director Jon Amiel, with Sigourney Weaver and Holly Hunter in the lead roles.
Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman play detectives, investigating a bizarre murder case involving the seven deadly sins. Incredibly unnerving, this psychological crime thriller from David Fincher (him again), is one of the best thrillers of the 1990s.
When a young girl goes missing, her father attempts to retrace her steps through her social media accounts in Searching, a clever, low-budget mystery thriller. John Cho plays the father who learns more about her disappearance as he delves further into her online life.
Another Alfred Hitchcock movie, and arguably his most famous. Psycho tells the story of a young woman who steals $40,000 then goes on the run, stopping off at the Bates Motel – a decision which proves to be a huge mistake.
When a Stranger Calls (1979)
The urban legend of ‘the babysitter and the mysterious caller’ is explored in When a Stranger Calls – a psychological thriller from director Fred Walton. The movie stars Carol Kane and Charles Durning and boasts one of the greatest opening sequences in any movie.
Director Christopher Nolan presents a complex thriller about a man suffering from short-term memory loss. Told through the use of colour sequences and black-and-white scenes, Memento is one of the most innovative thrillers ever committed to film.
The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)
Rebecca De Mornay is on fine form as a vengeful and disturbed nanny in Curtis Hanson’s The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Annebella Sciorra and Ernie Hudson co-star in this engaging thriller from the early ‘90s.
Single White Female (1992)
Another ‘90s thriller, this time focusing on a software designer who finds herself the subject of another woman’s obsession. Bridget Fonda, and Jennifer Jason Leigh star, while Barbet Schroeder directs.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment take the lead in this supernatural thriller from writer/director M. Night Shyamalan. The movie follows the story of a young boy who claims he can see ghosts, and includes a truly shocking moment.
Shutter Island (2010)
In Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller, Shutter Island, Leonardo DiCaprio plays the role of a Deputy U.S. Marsal who is investigating the disappearance of a patient at a psychiatric facility. The movie is based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, features a cast that includes Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, and Ben Kingsley, and is a fantastic picture from the 2010s.
Changing Lanes (2002)
A Wall Street layer and an insurance salesman get involved in a traffic accident with escalating and devastating consequences. Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson play the lead roles, while Roger Michell directs this clever thriller.
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Clint Eastwood takes on the role of a prisoner who is determined to escape from the maximum security prison of Acatraz, in this action thriller from director Don Siegel. Escape from Alcatraz is a fantastic and tense picture featuring Fred Ward, Patrick McGoohan, and Danny Glover.
The Call (2013)
In Brad Anderson’s The Call, Halle Berry plays a 911 operator who receives a frantic phone call from a kidnapped teenager. What follows is nail biting race against the clock as Berry attempts to track down the teen before it is too late.
Arlington Road (1999)
Mark Pellington directs this dark and surprisingly effective thriller about a university professor who comes to suspect his neighbours are terrorists. The cast includes Tim Robbins, Jeff Bridges, and Joan Cusack.
In this tense thriller, a business man travelling to an appointment is terrorised by an unseen truck driver with a grudge. Steven Spielberg made his feature-length directorial debut with this movie, which is often overlooked, but never forgotten.
The Bourne Identity (2002)
Matt Damon plays a mysterious man unsure of his true identity in The Bourne Identity, an intense action thriller from director Doug Liman. The film is based on the book of the same name by Robert Ludlum, and features a cast which includes Clive Owen, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Ahbaje.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Told through flashbacks, The Usual Suspects is a mystery thriller from director Bryan Singer. The film tells the story of a mysterious crime boss, and the rag-tag gang of criminals that get involved with him.
All the Money in the World (2017)
Based on John Pearson’s book, Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs, All the Money in the World tells the real-life story of John Paul Getty III – the grandson of an oil tycoon, who was kidnapped and held for ransom. Ridley Scott directs, while the cast includes Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, and Michelle Williams.
Another thriller from Steven Spielberg’s and this one is his iconic movie about a shark that terrorises a small coastal town. Jaws is packed with memorable scenes, an iconic score from composer John Williams, and is as good now as it was back in 1975.
The Vanishing (1988)
In this Dutch thriller, a young girl mysteriously disappears after she briefly leaves her friend to get a drink at a service station. As the film progresses the circumstances of her disappearance are slowly teased, creating an intriguing story that leads toward an unforgettable finale.
The final Alfred Hitchcock movie on this list is Rope – a simple, yet effective tale about a grisly murder and a dinner party. Largely presented as one continuous take (with a hidden few cuts here and there), the film is a masterclass in storytelling and suspense.
Pacific Heights (1990)
In Pacific Heights, a young couple find themselves in a desperate situation when one of their tenants proves to be a nightmare. Michael Keaton plays the unhinged tenant, while Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine play landlords who find themselves in an increasingly dire and deadly situation.
Basic Instinct (1992)
While investigating the murder of a wealthy rock star, a police detective finds himself caught up in a steamy situation with the chief suspect. Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone star, while Paul Verhoeven directs.
The Game (1997)
Another David Fincher movie, and yet again another great thriller. This movie focuses on an investment banker who becomes an unwitting player in a real-life game which turns his world upside down.
The Invisible Man (2020)
Elisabeth Moss leads the way in this superb thriller about domestic abuse. The film is a clever reworking of The Invisible Man story by H. G. Wells, and features some frightening moments as well as a stand-out performance from Moss.
Fatal Attraction (1987)
In Fatal Attraction, Michael Douglas plays the role of a married lawyer who engages in a one-night stand with a publishing editor, played by Glenn Close. Although the lawyer wants to put the affair behind him very quickly, he soon realises that is not going to happen and his actions have dire consequences.
Falling Down (1993)
In this action thriller from director Joel Schumacher, Michael Douglas (him again) plays a former defence lawyer who one day decides he has had enough of the stress and hassle of life and sets out on a life-changing journey across Los Angeles. With each passing moment he finds himself at odds with an increasing number of people, and becomes incredibly unhinged in what becomes an incredibly worrying portrait of the social and economical divisions that exist in the US.
Gone Girl (2014)
Yet another David Fincher movie, this time based on a book by Gillian Flynn. The movie – which stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike – revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a woman and the twisted events that follow.
Don’t Breathe (2016)
In Don’t Breathe, three friends break into the house of a blind man, in the hope of scoring some quick cash. However, the trio discover more than they bargained for in this tense thriller from director Fede Álvarez.
Kathy Bates and James Caan play the lead roles in director Rob Reiner’s Misery – a big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s book of the same name. The story concentrates on an author and an obsessive fan, and is one of the strongest King adaptations of all time.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
And finally, Agatha Christie’s most famous mystery novel, Murder on the Orient Express is brought to life courtesy of director, Kenneth Branagh. This thrilling murder mystery features an all-star cast including Dame Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Derek Jacobi.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post about must watch movie thrillers on It’s A Stampede!. Should you be on the look-out for a thriller to watch tonight, tomorrow, or next weekend, then I hope this list proves useful.
To save you some time, so you don’t have to scroll back through the post, here is the list in full:
- Buried (2010)
- The Fugitive (1993)
- Bird Box (2018)
- The Hunt (2012)
- Lady in a Cage (1964)
- The Cell (2000)
- Prisoners (2014)
- Knives Out (2019)
- Panic Room (2002)
- Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)
- Rear Window (1954)
- Phone Booth (2002)
- The Hitcher (1986)
- Cape Fear (1991)
- Manhunter (1986)
- Silence of the Lambs (1991)
- Vertigo (1958)
- North by Northwest (1959)
- Parasite (2020)
- Apt Pupil (1998)
- Above Suspicion (1995)
- Fight Club (1999)
- Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)
- 21 Bridges (2019)
- Copycat (1995)
- Seven (1995)
- Searching (2018)
- Psycho (1960)
- When a Stranger Calls (1979)
- Memento (2000)
- The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)
- Single White Female (1992)
- The Sixth Sense (1999)
- Shutter Island (2010)
- Changing Lanes (2002)
- Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
- The Call (2013)
- Arlington Road (1999)
- Duel (1971)
- The Bourne Identity (2002)
- The Usual Suspects (1995)
- All the Money in the World (2017)
- Jaws (1975)
- The Vanishing (1988)
- Rope (1948)
- Pacific Heights (1990)
- Basic Instinct (1992)
- The Game (1997)
- The Invisible Man (2020)
- Fatal Attraction (1987)
- Falling Down (1993)
- Gone Girl (2014)
- Don’t Breathe (2016)
- Misery (1990)
- Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
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