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The best thrillers on Netflix to watch right now

These thrillers on Netflix are perfect for a night in

The cast of Leave the World Behind

Many of the best movies on Netflix are also thrillers. But did you know that thrillers contain multiple subgenres? Netflix’s selection is so robust that it’s easy to pick a thriller from almost every popular subgenre and not repeat ourselves once.

That’s exactly what we did for this list of the best thrillers on Netflix, which range from classic theatrical thrillers to movies that were created as Netflix originals. All eight of our selections are very different from one another, but they’re united by the thrills they provide you, the viewer.

Fatal Attraction

Michael Douglas and Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.

Subgenre: Psychological Thriller

Fatal Attraction isn’t just a psychological thriller, it was THE psychological thriller of the ’80s. If you’ve ever heard anyone quoting the line “I’m not going to be ignored!” this is where it came from. The story is about Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) and his ill-advised affair with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close). Dan’s wife, Beth Rogerson Gallagher (Anne Archer), was out of town with their daughter, Ellen (Ellen Hamilton Latzen), so he decided to have a fling with Alex.

Unfortunately for Dan, Alex doesn’t see it as a fling. She is wholly obsessed with Dan, especially when he breaks off the affair and starts harassing his family. Alex is all about escalation, and if she can’t have Dan, then no one can.

Emily the Criminal

Aubrey Plaza in Emily the Criminal.

Subgenre: Crime Thriller

Despite sharing the same name as the lead character of Netflix’s Emily in Paris, Emily the Criminal has nothing to do with that show. Instead, it’s a story about Emily Benetto (Aubrey Plaza), a young woman who is drowning in debt, like so many other people in Los Angeles. Unlike everyone else, Emily is willing to get her hands dirty to make some quick money.

Youcef Haddad (Theo Rossi) brings Emily into his credit card fraud ring, and she develops a taste for a life of crime. Emily learns the tricks of the trade so well that she may soon surpass her mentor.


Choi Min-sik in Oldboy.
Show East

Subgenre: Action Thriller

Long before South Korean films and TV shows became worldwide hits, Oldboy got the attention of Hollywood by delivering an action thriller that easily outshines most of the American movies in the genre. Even Spike Lee’s Oldboy remake can’t compare to the original by Park Chan-wook, which is based on the Old Boy manga.

Choi Min-sik stars as Oh Dae-su, a businessman who is kidnapped and forced into captivity. During his 15 years locked away from the world, Dae-su learns that his wife has been murdered and he is the lead suspect. Dae-Su is also kept in the dark about who did this to him and why before he is mysteriously released. That’s when Dae-su goes out for his revenge as well as answers.


Thomas Jane in 1922.

Subgenre: Horror Thriller

Netflix has a handful of Stephen King adaptations, and 1922 reunites the author with Thomas Jane, who starred in the film version of The Mist. In this film, Jane plays Wilfred “Wilf” Leland James, a farmer who is so opposed to his wife, Arlette (Molly Parker), and her plans to sell the family farm that he decides to kill her. And then he blackmails their son, Henry (Dylan Schmid), to help him do it.

That’s when the horror begins, as Henry abandons Wilf while the house starts crumbling around him. Wilf is either going insane, or his dead wife is haunting him. Or possibly both.

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Elijah Wood and Melanie Lynskey in I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore.

Subgenre: Comedy Thriller

There aren’t a lot of comedy thrillers, but that’s the best way to describe I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. Melanie Lynskey plays Ruth Kimke, a woman whose home is robbed and the police are less than helpful. Tony (Elijah Wood), one of Ruth’s neighbors, is outraged by the crime, and he agrees to accompany her as she attempts to track down her missing property.

The problem with taking the law into their own hands is that Ruth and Tony are attracting too much of the wrong kind of attention. And that just leads danger back to their neighborhood.


Logan Marshall-Green in Upgrade.
OTL Releasing

Subgenre: Sci-fi Thriller

Upgrade is a sci-fi thriller that doubles as a revenge thriller. Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) has revenge on his mind when he is left a paraplegic by the same attackers who murdered his wife, Asha Trace (Melanie Vallejo). Billionaire Eron Keen (Harrison Gilbertson) offers Grey the chance to walk again with a cybernetic implant called STEM.

Grey soon discovers that STEM is much more than just an implant. STEM is an A.I. that has self-awareness, and it offers Grey the chance to get his vengeance if he turns over full control of his body.


The cast of Reptile.

Subgenre: Mystery Thriller

Reptile puts Benicio del Toro in the lead as Detective Tom Nichols, the lead investigator in the brutal murder of Summer Elswick (Matilda Lutz). Was Summer’s killer her boyfriend, Will Grady (Justin Timberlake), her ex-husband, Sam Gifford (Karl Glusman), or a vengeful stranger, Eli Phillips (Michael Carmen Pitt)?

Tom is able to use his wife, Judy Nichols (Alicia Silverstone), as a sounding board for theories and clues. But there’s something about this case that hits closer to home for Tom. And the truth behind Summer’s death may be bigger than he’s prepared to deal with.

Leave the World Behind

The cast of Leave the World Behind.

Subgenre: Post-apocalyptic Thriller

Who can you trust during the end of the world? Leave the World Behind attempts to answer that question as the vacation of Amanda (Julia Roberts) and Clay Sandford (Ethan Hawke), as well as their kids, is disrupted by something that may mean the downfall of civilization as we know it.

The owner of the Sanfords’ rental home, G.H. Scott (Mahershala Ali), and his daughter, Ruth (Myha’la), arrive soon after mysterious things happen around them. But the more answers that the Sandfords and Scotts get, the more it looks like there’s no turning back for any of them. Now, there are two questions at hand: What’s really happening? And who will survive?

Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell is a freelance writer for The Manual, Digital Trends, Fandom, Yahoo Entertainment, and more!
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