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The 15 best thriller movies on Netflix (October 2020)

The best thriller movies on Netflix (June 2020)
Casino Royale and Silence of the Lambs are two thrillers on Netflix in June 2020. Pic credit: Sony/Orion

It is always the perfect time to watch a great thriller movie, and Netflix has a ton of options to keep any viewer on the edge of their seats this July.

From the early days of cinema and the brilliance of Alfred Hitchcock to the action-packed movies of the high concept era of the ’80s, thrillers come in all shapes and sizes with something for every movie fan.

If you are someone who likes to be scared, there are plenty of thrillers with serial killers, sociopaths, and cannibals to keep you awake at night.

For someone who likes their thriller movies to be more action-based, there are plenty of murder mysteries, spy thrillers, and crime stories that will have you on the edge of your seat.

From some of the best movies in cinema history to great Netflix originals that have hit the streaming service over the past few years, here are 15 of the best thriller movies you can catch in October 2020 on Netflix.

Updated on October 1 – Every month movies come and go from Netflix, and this month, there were two changes made to our list. It is a good thing that more movies arrive on Netflix all the time.

We added new movies to replace the departed ones, but if you are in the mood, here are more thrillers to hit Netflix this month once you complete our list: Red Dragon, Anaconda, Pineapple Express, Real Steel, Along Came a Spider, Colombiana, and Fargo.

Cape Fear (1991)

Cape Fear
Robert De Niro in Cape Fear. Pic credit: Universal

In 1962, one of the scariest movies of that era hit with the thriller Cape Fear. The movie starred Robert Mitchum as a man released from jail who sets out to ruin the life of the attorney (Gregory Peck) who helped send him to jail.

In 1992, Martin Scorsese remade the film and cast his long-time collaborator Robert De Niro as the crazed former prisoner who sets his sights on Nick Nolte’s attorney and his family.

The movie featured an early appearance by Juliette Lewis as Nolte’s young daughter.

Both De Niro and Lewis picked up Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for their roles in the movie.

Basic Instinct (1992)

Basic Instinct
Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. Pic credit: TriStar Pictures

The 1992 neo-thriller Basic Instinct lives in history for one very controversial scene in the movie.

Sharon Stone is a femme fatale under investigation for a series of murders and decides to seduce the police detective leading the case (Michael Douglas).

Directed by Paul Verhoeven, Basic Instinct is a sexually charged movie that most people remember for the interrogation scene where Stone wears a tiny white dress and slowly uncrosses her legs, causing every man in the room to break out in a sweat.

Basic Instinct was the fourth-highest-grossing film of 1992 and is now streaming on Netflix.

Casino Royale (2006)

Netflix: Casino Royale
Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. Pic credit: Sony

In 2006, the James Bonmd franchise replaced Pierce Borsnan with Daniel Craig and he sparked new life into the franchise with Casino Royale.

The series went back to a darker more violent era, more similar to Timothy Dalton and Sean Connery than Brosnan and Roger Moore. However, it also owed a lot to the Bourne movies, which changed how people looked at spy movies.

This film had Craig as 007, as he set out at the start of his career. He set out with the order to assassinat two targets. When this leads to the villain La Chiffre as the real threat, Bond goes undercover at a high stakes poker game with the orders to bring him down.

Mad Max (1979)

Mad Max
Mel Gibson in Mad Max. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

Before anyone ever heard of Mel Gibson, he appeared in the 1979 dystopian thriller movie Mad Max.

This Australian film had Gibson star as Mad Max Rockatansky, a highway patrol Pursuit Specialist who is a master driver behind the wheel of some souped-up cars.

However, the violence gets to be too much for him with the rising violence of motorcycle gangs and after his partner is killed, he tries to resign. Instead, he asked to go on vacation and think about it.

When his family is killed on this vacation, his rage sends him over the edge and he takes the Pursuit Special and heads out to kill every member of the gang.

The Town (2010)

The Town
The cast of The Town. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

Ben Affleck proved to be one of cinema’s best directors when he stepped behind the camera and one of his finest moments came in the action thriller The Town, which hit Netflix in July 2020.

Based on the Chuck Hogan novel Prince of Thieves, Affleck stars alongside Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Rebecca Hall Chris Cooper, and Joh Hann, in a film about lifelong Boston friends who rob a bank.

When Doug (Affleck) falls for a hostage they released unharmed, it starts to build friction as the old friends stop trusting each other and when the police close in, no one is sure who they can trust.

Renner picked up an Oscar nomination for his supporting role.

The Old Guard (2020)

The Old Guard on Netflix
The Old Guard on Netflix. Pic credit: Aimee Spinks/Netflix

The Old Guard is a new Netflix movie based on a comic book about a group of immortal warriors tasked with helping people through centuries.

Charlize Theron stars in the lead role as the oldest of them all while Kiki Layne stars as a newly resurrected immortal that shows up just in time.

The group, after years of fighting terrorists and pure evil now have their greatest enemy — a big pharm businessman who wants to replicate their gifts to become richer.

Check out our review of The Old Guard here, as this is one of the best new thriller movies on Netflix.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Silence of the Lambs
Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs. Pic credit: Orion

The Silence of the Lambs is a rare case where a horror thriller movie transcended the genre when it won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 1992 Academy Awards.

Not only did it win the top honors, but it also won Best Director for Jonathan Demme, Best Actress for Jodie Foster, and Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins.

This award-winning thriller movie is available on Netflix to watch right now.

Hopkins stars as a convicted murderer and cannibal named Hannibal Lecter. Foster is an FBI agent named Clarice Starling, who is trying to stop a new serial killer known as Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), and she interviews Lecter to try to see if he can help her get into the mind of a serial killer.

Based on the novel by Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs remains one of the best mainstream horror movies in history.

Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems
Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems. Pic credit: A24

For anyone who thinks that Adam Sandler only stars in juvenile sophomoric comedies, check out Uncut Gems to see a very different side of the comedian.

Uncut Gems is in no way a comedy, and Sandler proves to be up to the task of changing genres in this thriller that hit theaters in a limited release in 2019 before arriving later on Netflix.

Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie had previously created a dark and disturbing thriller where they changed everything people knew about Twilight actor Robert Pattinson in Good Time. It made sense that Sandler would trust them in Uncut Gems.

Sandler stars as a New York City jeweler who does anything he can to stay afloat when his gambling debts start to rise. Sandler picked up a ton of critics awards for his role, including winning the Best Male Lead Award at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Zodiac (2007)

Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. in Zodiac. Pic credit: Paramount

David Fincher has made some of the best thriller movies in history, from Fight Club and Seven to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but one of his best movies might be one based on a true story.

Fincher tells the story of the Zodiac killer from the point-of-view of the men investigating the case in his 2007 movie Zodiac.

Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) are journalists at the San Francisco Chronicle reporting on the murders while Mark Ruffalo is one of the lead officers on the case.

The identity of the Zodiac killer remains a mystery to this day. Fincher instead focuses the movie on Graysmith and his belief that he knew who the killer was, obsessing so much on solving the case that it destroyed his entire life.


The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

The Lincoln Lawyer
Matthew McConaughey in The Lincoln Lawyer. Pic credit: Lionsgate

Released in 2011, Matthew McConaughey stars as a defense attorney in the thriller movie The Lincoln Lawyer.

The character originated in the Harry Bosch novel series by Michael Connelly. McConaughey is Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half-brother, and a defense attorney who doesn’t mind defending lowlives.

The film doesn’t mention Bosch, who has his own series on Amazon Prime, but takes Mickey on a thrill ride as he agrees to represent a man accused of murder (Ryan Phillippe).

When he realizes his client is not only guilty but will do anything he can to avoid a conviction, including threatening those that Mickey loves, it is up to the attorney to find a way to get through this case alive and see justice through in the end.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver
Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. Pic credit: Columbia

Netflix seems to love thriller movies starring Robert De Niro. In the 1978 film Taxi Driver, he plays the iconic Travis Bickle, a New York City taxi driver.

Martin Scorsese directed this film, which has been called one of the best in cinema history by many publications and is preserved as part of the National Film Registry.

Bickle is a Vietnam veteran who works as a taxi driver in New York City and becomes obsessed with two women. One is a political campaign volunteer named Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), and the other is a teenage prostitute named Iris (Jodie Foster).

As his mind starts to break down, he seeks to save Iris from her dangerous pimp (Harvey Keitel) while starting to lose his grip on reality.

Extraction (2020)

Chris Hemsworth in Extraction. Pic credit: Netflix

In 2020, Netflix created a new thriller movie starring Chris Hemsworth, the actor who portrayed Thor in the Avengers movies.

The film has developed an infamous reputation because Hemsworth kills a lot more people in this movie than most action thrillers. According to Netflix, Hemsworth’s character murdered 183 people in the two-hour running time.

Hemsworth stars a is Tyler Rake, a black-market mercenary hired to rescue a boy from Bangladesh. The movie follows his rescue mission, where he kills anyone who gets in his way, racing with the kid to freedom.

Drive (2011)

Ryan Gosling in Drive. Pic credit: FilmDistrict

Former Disney star Ryan Gosling shocked moviegoers in 2011 with his hyper-violent thriller movie Drive.

Directed by auteur Nicolas Winding Refn, Gosling is an unnamed character known only as Driver, who works as a stunt driver for movies and a getaway driver for criminals.

He meets his neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and develops a protective relationship with her and her young son. When her husband gets out of prison and returns home, danger follows him, and The Driver finds himself in the middle of a life or death chase.

The film, based on the novel by American crime writer James Sallis, won several national critics association awards and is available for streaming on Netflix.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Pic credit: StudioCanal

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is arguably one of the most underrated and overlooked spy movies ever made.

Gary Oldman turned in an Oscar-worthy performance in this story, set in the 1970s, of a British Intelligence Agency known as The Circus that might have a Russian mole in its ranks.

Oldman is George Smiley, the former right-hand man of Control, the head of British Intelligence; both forced to retire after a botched assignment. Smiley is asked to investigate the claims that there is a mole, which sends him into a wormhole of treachery and deceit.

The cast of this movie is top-of-the-line, with Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Graham, Toby Jones, and John Hurt all appearing.

Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) directed the film based on the spy novel by John le Carre. The movie won Outstanding British Film at the BAFTA Awards.

Green Room (2015)

Green Room
Imogen Poots in Green Room. Pic credit: A24

Green Room was a horror thriller movie released in 2015 that starred the late Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots.

Yelchin is Pat, the bassist of a punk band who is touring the Pacific Northwest. After a concert is canceled, they get a chance to play a show at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar outside Portland.

When Pat goes into the green room at the bar and sees a girl stabbed to death by a member of the band they opened for, they have their phones taken and the skinheads decide to kill Pat and his bandmates to cover it up.

The band then has to fight for their lives as they try to escape. Patrick Stewart stars in the movie as Darcey, the leader of the skinheads.

Shawn S. Lealos has been a freelance writer for 25 years, starting with magazines and newspapers before moving to the internet. He has been published... read more
Shawn S. Lealos

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