The Best Mysteries to Stream on Netflix

Tune in for the twists and turns.

michael douglas in the game
'The Game' | Polygram Films
'The Game' | Polygram Films

Who doesn't love a good mystery? Especially when that mystery can be solved over the course of an evening or two sitting in your living room, watching TV. 

Netflix knows what you love, and has a plethora of mystery-driven movies that will entertain you for hours on end. The next time you want to play armchair Sherlock, check out these titles. 

the clovehitch killer
IFC Midnight

The Clovehitch Killer (2018)

Movies about kids and teens who find themselves on a dark adventure, left to confront something horrible, are a dime a dozen. This indie is one of those, but a rock-solid chiller that burns slowly with a grim atmosphere. It's about a kid who slowly becomes convinced that his father is an infamous serial killer who escaped justice years earlier. Strong performances from Charlie Plummer and Dylan McDermott and a smart screenplay by Christopher Ford keep this potentially familiar tale from ever becoming obvious or redundant. 

The Game (1997)

Michael Douglas gives great thriller face. With his slicked-back hair, wrinkled brow, and penetrating eyes, the actor excels at playing rich, entitled white guys who are either losing their cool or getting their comeuppance. In The Game, director David Fincher's fiendishly clever mouse-trap of a movie about an investment banker thrust into a possibly dangerous ARG, Douglas must react to a Kafkaesque scenario where every element of existence might be part of a vast conspiracy. Luckily, the Oscar-winner is up to the task, grounding the occasional ludicrous twists with subtle emotional responses and a brittle sense of humor. Functioning as both a satirical take on '90s corporate America and a Hitchcockian roller coaster ride, the film is a masterful showcase for Douglas's oily charms.

the guest

The Guest (2014)

After writer-director Adam Wingard notched a semi-sleeper horror hit with 2011's You're Next, he'd earned a certain degree of goodwill among genre faithful and, apparently, with studio brass. How else to explain distribution for his atypical thriller The Guest through Time Warner subsidiary Picturehouse? Headlined by Dan Stevens and kindred flick It Follows' lead scream queen Maika Monroe, The Guest introduces itself as a subtextual impostor drama, abruptly spins through a blender of '80s teen tropes, and ultimately reveals its true identity as an expertly self-conscious straight-to-video shoot 'em up, before finally circling back on itself with a well-earned wink. To say anymore about the hell that Stevens' "David" unleashes on a small New Mexico town would not only spoil the fun, but possibly get you killed.

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016)

A meditative horror flick that's more unsettling than outright frightening, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House follows the demise of Lily, a live-in nurse (Ruth Wilson) who's caring for an ailing horror author. As Lily discovers the truth about the writer's fiction and home, the lines between the physical realm and the afterlife blur. The movie's slow pacing and muted escalation might frustrate viewers craving showy jump-scares, but writer-director Oz Perkins is worth keeping tabs on. He brings a beautiful eeriness to every scene, and his story will captivate patient streamers. Fans should be sure to check out his directorial debut, The Blackcoat's Daughter.

i don't feel at home in this world anymore

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)

In this maniacal mystery, Ruth (Melanie Lynskey), a nurse, and her rattail-sporting, weapon-obsessed neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood) hunt down a local burglar. Part Cormac McCarthy thriller, part wacky, Will Ferrell-esque comedy, I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore is a cathartic neo-noir about everyday troubles. Director Macon Blair's not the first person to find existential enlightenment at the end of an amateur detective tale, but he might be the first to piece one together from cussing octogenarians, ninja stars, Google montages, gallons of Big Red soda, upper-deckers, friendly raccoons, exploding body parts, and the idiocy of humanity.

In the Cut (2003)

Director Jane Campion (The Piano) turns the psychological thriller on its head with this thoughtful and bracing film starring Meg Ryan as a woman who gets caught up in a murder investigation in Manhattan. In a role originally developed for Nicole Kidman, who has a producing credit here, Ryan digs deep into her character's curiosity and fear. In the Cut functions as an often disturbing mystery, one with a shocking ending, and as a portrait of a woman managing her own desires and struggling with the demands of the troubled men who circle around her.

the invisible guest
Warner Bros. Pictures

The Invisible Guest (2016)

Spain tends to churn out captivating thrillers, but this mystery in particular was a huge success overseas, spawning a handful of other international remakes. Why? The twists are that good. The confined thriller from Oriol Paulo is about a successful businessman named Adrián Doria, accused of killing his lover after waking up next to her dead body, and must lay out his story for defense attorney Virginia Goodman in a matter of hours before standing in front of a judge. Pay attention from the second you press play because there are twists and turns aplenty, leaving you guessing what's really the truth until the very end.

lost girls
Michele K. Short/Netflix

Lost Girls (2020)

Documentarian Liz Garbus made her narrative feature debut with this real life story based on a deeply reported book by Robert Kolker about the mystery surrounding a series of murders on Long Island. At the center of her narrative is Amy Ryan as Mari Gilbert, the ferocious mother of a young woman who disappeared. As Mari, Ryan is fiercely guarded but is drawn into a movement when she realizes her plight is being ignored because her daughter was a sex worker. At times, the film flattens into a routine procedural, but Ryan's anger is palpable and she's matched by strong performances from Lola Kirke and Miriam Shor.

Murder Mystery (2019)

For an Adam Sandler movie that looks like an excuse for the cast and crew to go on a fancy vacation––a good chunk of the film is set on a luxury cruise ship––Murder Mystery has a surprisingly fun, knotty plot. Sandler, playing a New York city police officer, has a natural, easy-going chemistry with Jennifer Aniston, who plays his mystery-novel loving wife, and the two find a pleasurable comic rhythm as they go about attempting to find the killer of a wealthy patriarch. Even if some of the gags are a bit broad, the script from Zodiac writer James Vanderbilt keeps you guessing.

mystic river
Warner Bros. Pictures

Mystic River (2003)

In the early 2000s, director Clint Eastwood was cranking out Oscar bait like it was his job, which it was, and Mystic River actually delivers the goods (not to mention actual Oscars for Sean Penn and Tim Robbins). Part mystery, part revenge narrative, part meditation on grief and trauma, Mystic River's complexity remains accessible as an exploration of the unbreakable links between childhood and adulthood. Even Sean Penn haters will be moved.

Shutter Island (2010)

In his haunted adaptation of Dennis Lehane's pulpy gothic novel, director Martin Scorsese uses visceral horror imagery to convey despair. Leonardo DiCaprio's terrified mug is the film's spookiest special effect. With every grimace, furrowed brow, and anguished sob, he brings you into the tortured psyche of Edward Daniels, a man who cannot escape his past no matter how hard he tries. It's a carefully modulated performance that helps sell the film's occasionally wonky twists. While Shutter Island is more of a psychological thriller than a horrifying spook, DiCaprio will have you feeling as if you're thrown right into Daniels' mind—which is just as scary. More than anything, it makes you wish DiCaprio will return to the horror genre in the future. 

state of play
Universal Pictures

State of Play (2009)

Do you find yourself engrossed by political thrillers uncovering ploys that go all the way to the top? Then this movie should keep you engrossed. Inspired by '70s movies that shaped the genre, like All the President's Men and Three Days of the Condor, State of Play follows a journalistic probe into the assassination of a charming congressman's mistress, which leads to deep-state and corporate conspiracy theories. The cast is rounded out by a handful of big names, like Ben Affleck as the new hot shot in DC and Russell Crowe as an old school reporter, who also happens to be (unconvincingly) college buddies with Affleck, as well as Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman, and others. Its portrayal of newsrooms may not be totally realistic, painting it like a dangerous form of espionage, but you'll be enthralled by their investigation nevertheless. 

Unknown (2011)

It's best to go into Unknown, well, unknown. All you really need to know is that Liam Neeson delivers an absurd man-in-peril performance, which means it's as entertaining as action-thrillers come. Adapted from a novel by Didier Van Cauwelaert, the movie follows Neeson as professor Dr. Harris, a man en route to a high-profile biotech conference who wakes up after a four-day-long coma with his identity stolen. His wife (January Jones) doesn't recognize him, but she and everybody he knows seems to know a different Dr. Harris—oh, and all of a sudden he's at the center of some sort of assassin conspiracy plot. It's a premise you've likely seen many times before, but this one's slick, fast-paced, and of course Neeson holds it together to keep you glued to the screen as he tries to piece together his identity and stave off terrorists.

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