Thriller movies are some of the most exciting and intense types of movies you can experience. From mysterious figures lurking in the shadows to criminals pitting their wits against each other and against the protagonists, these are some of the most gripping and tense moments on film – and they can be some of the hardest to forget too. That’s why it’s important to experience only the very best in this genre, which is why we’ve put together a list of the must-watch thriller movies on IMDb. From classic psycho-thrillers like Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”, to dark and brooding noir such as “Se7en”, these are the outstanding movies that you have to look out for when you search for your next thriller fix.
The tension starts almost from the very first frames in Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel, ‘The Shining’. Jack Nicholson’s tour de force performance as Jack Torrance, an unsuccessful writer who takes a job as caretaker of an isolated hotel in the wilderness, soon descends into pure terror as he begins to ‘Lose his marbles’ and reveals a cruel and murderous side to his character. Nicholson’s performance, coupled with a looming sense of dread, slowly builds to a crescendo of terror, made even more intense thanks to the genius of Kubrick’s direction and the uncompromisingly bleak winter setting.
It’s hard to think of a smarter, more stylish and thought-provoking thriller than David Fincher’s 1999 masterpiece, “Fight Club”. Based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, the film tells the story of two men, Jack (Edward Norton) and Tyler (Brad Pitt), who meet in a support group and soon find themselves engaged in a nihilistic underground world of bare knuckled brawls and terrorist activities. With a provocative script and razor sharp direction, “Fight Club” follows our protagonists on a path of soul-searching and self-actualisation, while also delivering a thrilling and unpredictable ride that will leave you breathless.
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 “Psycho” is a true classic of the genre. Although it has been parodied and referenced for decades now, the original source material still packs an eerie and unsettling punch. Anthony Perkins delivers an iconic performance as Norman Bates, the psychologically troubled motel owner who harbours a dark secret. While it might be a slightly campy affair, “Psycho” remains one of the most effective and influential thrillers ever made, thanks in no small part to the masterful direction of Hitchcock and the score by Bernard Hermann.
1995’s “Se7en” is perhaps the most compelling and intense psychological thriller ever to reach the silver screen. With a hauntingly bleak visual style, a complex and twisted story, and outstanding performances from Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey, there’s no denying the brilliance of this movie. The film follows two detectives on the hunt for a serial killer who is butchering people according to the seven deadly sins. As the detectives delve ever deeper into their investigation, they come face to face with an adversary whose modus operandi and depraved acts of horror will stay with you long after the movie ends.
The Usual Suspects
The 1995 classic “The Usual Suspects” is a masterclass in suspense and intrigue. Bryan Singer’s twisty tale of a group of criminals conning each other into stealing a mysterious shipment of drugs is packed full of brilliant performances, switchback plot developments, and a masterful turn from Kevin Spacey as the film’s enigmatic villain, Keyser Soze. Every scene is filled with tension and the film’s enigmatic ending will live with you long after you’ve seen it.
David Fincher’s 2014 psychological-thriller Gone Girl is another must-see. Adapted from the best selling novel by Gillian Flynn, the film follows Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) whose life is turned upside down when his wife, Amy, mysteriously vanishes. Soon, Nick finds himself the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance, whilst becoming increasingly exposed to the media’s glare and ever-shifting public opinion. It’s a brilliant, twisty tale, with a clever script and excellent performances that keep you guessing right up until the film’s finale.
12 Angry Men
It’s hard to think of a more influential thriller than “12 Angry Men”. This 1957 classic, directed by Sidney Lumet, tells the story of a jury trying to reach a verdict on a murder trial without ever leaving the jury room. With each member taking a different outlook on the case, the drama slowly builds to a startling conclusion. Featuring an all-star cast, superb direction and a razor-sharp script, this is a thrilling masterpiece that’s as relevant today as it ever was.
This 2003 Coen Brothers’ classic dives headfirst into the bizarre and cutthroat world of Los Angeles divorces and all the high-stakes moral dilemmas that come with it. Starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta Jones, it follows an iconic lawyer and an up and coming divorce attorney as they battle it out in the legal arena. Featuring the witty dialogue and stylish direction that the brothers are famous for, this is an intriguing tale of revenge and manipulation, with plenty of unexpected plot developments and thrilling scenes to keep you hooked.
No list of must-see thrillers would be complete without “Fatal Attraction”. This 1987 film follows Michael Douglas’ character, Dan Gallagher, as he finds himself caught in a downward spiral of obsession and betrayal. After a weekend fling he finds himself pursued by Glenn Close’s character, Alex Forrest, an intelligent career woman who eventually turns out to be more than Dan bargained for. With an intense and gripping story, and stellar performances by both leads, this is an essential and essential watch.
A Clockwork Orange
Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 dystopic classic “A Clockwork Orange” is a compelling and disquieting vision of a near future. The movie follows Alex, a young hoodlum living in a grimy near-future city, as he embarks on a life of crime and violence. With a psychedelic visual style, a majestic score and a chilling central performance from Malcolm McDowell, this is a thrilling and thought-provoking movie that will stay with you for years to come.
Themes and implications
From examining psychological unrest to delving into darker themes of morality, these films dive into all manner of serious issues and take us on a journey of exploration. By looking at these themes through such an immersive and intense format, these movies can help audience members to confront their own values, thoughts and doubts. In this way, thrillers can help provide invaluable insight into the human psyche and can offer a window of opportunity to explore our darkest thoughts and desires in a safe and cathartic environment.
Action and suspense
It’s not all heavy speculation- thrilling movies often also provide huge amounts of action and suspense. From chasing scenes to daring heists and explosive set pieces, thrillers are some of the best showcase for the genre. The expert pacing and attention to detail of these films transports us to a world of edge-of-seat excitement, as we witness characters outwit and out-manoeuvre their adversaries or narrowly escape death or disaster on a regular basis.
Visual and auditory stylings
Another reason why these movies remain so memorable is the way in which they are crafted visually and aurally. From the haunting scores of Bernard Herrmann and John Williams, to the bold editing and cinematography of directors like Alfred Hitchcock, thrillers often turn new ground when it comes to techniques and styles. From split-screen images to dramatic sound effects, thrillers often present us with beautifully crafted pieces of art that leave audiences enthralled and emotionally drained after witnessing.
The genre has continued to go from strength to strength in recent years, with more and more films in the genre being released each year. By their very nature, thriller films blur the lines between genres – often taking elements from other genres such as horror, drama, action and romance to create exciting stories that leave us on the edge of our seats. It’s not just films either- tales of murder and mystery can also be found in our most popular forms of media today – from books, to TV shows and even video games.
Perhaps the greatest testament to the genre’s power is its ability to inspire and thrill its audience. By exploring the darker aspects of human nature and our incomprehensive relationship with death and violence, thrillers can make us question our own values, challenge our preconceived notions, and even push us to rethink our identities. In this way, thrillers are able to both entertain and provoke – and that is why they remain so beloved by audiences around the world today.