Looking for some stress to go with your stress?
With people everywhere continuing to socially distance themselves, there’s no better time to test the limits of your entertainment consumption. For the adventurous among us, that means cranking the tension up to its maximum with the best of the best in heart-wrenching thrillers. (No, not the best horror movies — that’s a different list).
Ranked from least to most intense films, here are the top 10 best thrillers streaming on Netflix.
Starring Tom Hardy and only Tom Hardy, Locke takes place exclusively in our protagonist Ivan’s car. Taking phone calls from his wife, children, co-workers, and the mother of his unborn child from a one-night stand, Ivan barrels down the road managing emotional wreckage from every corner of his rapidly deteriorating world. Plenty of thrillers (including those on this list) have had higher stakes, but few are as totally engrossing as this film.
How to watch: Locke is streaming on Netflix.
Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel of the same name, The Talented Mr. Ripley follows a young forger and impersonator (Matt Damon) who becomes intent on stealing the life of a wealthy heir (Jude Law). A twisted web of lies, deceit, and desperation, this is the kind of psychological thriller that’ll make you nauseatingly nervous. Think Catch Me If You Can, but more personal and without the fun costume changes. Performances by Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
How to watch: The Talented Mr. Ripley is streaming on Netflix.
In this Ryan Gosling staple, a stuntman-turned-getaway driver becomes entangled in a criminal plot that puts the woman he loves (Carey Mulligan) and her husband (Oscar Isaac) at risk. Supporting performances by Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, and Albert Brooks make this an excellent film for lovers of good acting, great driving, and excellent silk jackets.
How to watch: Drive is streaming on Netflix.
The directorial debut of Annihilation‘s Alex Garland, Ex Machina is a sci-fi mystery that dodges viewer expectations with remarkable skill. Domhnall Gleeson plays a computer programmer hired by a famous CEO (Oscar Isaac) to evaluate his latest creation: an artificially intelligent robot with strikingly human features (Alicia Vikander).
Featuring performances from a stellar cast — including Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburn, Marcia Gay Harden, and Emmy Rossum — Mystic River combines tragic narrative development with a painful, Boston-set murder mystery. Director Clint Eastwood delivers a uniquely dark film that drags you into the psyche of its broken characters with each frame.
How to watch: Mystic River is streaming on Netflix.
When members of a touring band, played by Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, and Joe Cole, become involuntary witnesses to a young woman’s murder, they are held captive by the group of neo-Nazis responsible. A tense tale of survival complete with brutal gore and action, Green Room offers extremely stressful insight into being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Imogen Poots plays the friend of the murdered woman, and Patrick Stewart plays the main antagonist.
How to watch: Green Room is streaming on Netflix.
In this haunting Netflix original, Madeline Brewer portrays Alice, an ambitious webcam model working hard to nurture her flourishing career. But when a mysterious doppelgänger takes her place online and begins broadcasting without her, Alice begins to fear for her safety. Immensely intense and fabulously feminist, Cam is the perfect film when you want something closer to a horror movie.
How to watch: Cam is streaming on Netflix.
For fans of Green Room, check out Jeremy Saulnier’s even better movie, Blue Ruin. This heart-stopping meditation on revenge and grief follows a young man (Macon Blair) rocked by his parents’ deaths and a burning desire to avenge them. Refreshingly unexpected, yet strikingly simple, this is a slowly escalating terror film at its finest.
How to watch: Blue Ruin is streaming on Netflix.
From the geniuses behind Uncut Gems, Good Time is a panic-inducing nightmare movie that refuses to let up for any moment of its 101-minute runtime. Robert Pattinson stars as Connie, a criminal willing to do anything to get his vulnerable brother (co-director Benny Safdie) bailed out of a New York City jail. Heart-breaking and jaw-dropping, this character study will devastate you.
How to watch: Good Time is streaming on Netflix.
How can you tell when overly friendly is becoming dangerously friendly? In The Gift, Jason Bateman portrays Simon, a new homeowner who runs into a former acquaintance (Joel Edgerton) while out shopping with his wife (Rebecca Hall). Soon, a warm welcome turns into unexpected visits, cryptic messages, and a series of escalating threats. Ripe with sensational twists, The Gift is, well, a gift of a movie.
How to watch: The Gift is streaming on Netflix.