Entertainment

The Best Thrillers on Amazon Prime

For when you're in need of an adrenaline rush.

panic room
'Panic Room' | Sony Pictures Releasing
'Panic Room' | Sony Pictures Releasing

Some people like to drink green tea and meditate to wind down after a long week. Other people like to rock climb and skydive to blow off some steam. Then there’s a third group of people -- presumably including you -- who like the adrenaline rush of a good scare, but don’t want to leave the couch to get it. That's why we're giving you what you want: the best nail-biting thrillers you can find on Amazon Prime. So check your windows and doors to make sure they’re locked, turn on all the lights, and sit on the edge of your seat, because you’re in for a wild ride.

Don't forget to check out the full list of the best movies on Amazon Prime. You can't stop streaming!

blow the man down
Amazon Studios

Blow the Man Down (2020)

This indie is a sharp, pleasantly nasty tale about women and murder in a tiny Maine town. The movie, by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, opens with a chorus of burly fishermen singing the sea shanty that gives the film its title, but it quickly grows disinterested in any of the dudes. Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor, the latter of whom is best known as Dana Brody on Homeland, play the Connelly sisters. The day of their mother's funeral, Saylor's Mary Beth acts out, absconds to a bar, and takes up with a shady character who she ends up accidentally killing. That incident leads the siblings to discover a whole new seedy facet of their community. Blow the Man Down is constantly tense, and features wonderfully prickly performances from the likes of Margo Martindale, who plays the brothel owner next door. 
Watch it now on Amazon

the conversation movie
Paramount Pictures

The Conversation (1974)

If you think domestic surveillance is spooky, imagine how it feels for the guy on the other end of the microphone. Starring Gene Hackman in his prime, Francis Ford Coppola's subdued thriller builds paranoia out of an overheard conversation and the lengths to which one private investigator goes to uncover its meaning. Hackman’s Harry Caul can only get so close to his subjects, and Coppola plays by similar rules, making sound as essential to the viewing experience as picture. Wildly influential, this one will have you looking over your shoulder for days.
Watch it now on Amazon

the girl with the dragon tattoo
Nordisk Film/Music Box Films/Alliance Films/Lumiere/GAGA

The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy (2010)

This Swedish book series was a worldwide phenomenon, and Amazon Prime has all three of its original film adaptations available as an easily bingeable extended-edition miniseries. Broken down into six 90-minute episodes, the saga of hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) and journalist Mikael Blomkvist unfolds with enough murder, sexual violence, concealed identities, and techno-stalking to keep even the most hardened of mystery buffs enthralled.
Rent it now on Amazon

high life
A24

High Life (2019)

French filmmaker Claire Denis makes movies that claw at the brain and activate the senses, and with High Life, she crafted a story that's equal parts heady prison thriller, psycho-sexual medical mystery, and bong-rip journey through the cosmos. Bouncing backwards and forwards in chronology, the story tracks quiet inmate Monte (Robert Pattinson) as he raises a baby in a cavernous, dorm-like shuttle in one timeline and attempts to thwart the secretive plans of an oddball scientist (Juliette Binoche) in another thread. Exactly how Monte ends up alone with the baby, playing the role of single parent in the stars, would be the central question of a more conventional sci-fi narrative, and there are surprising plot twists and shocking violent acts committed here. But Denis fills the movie with curious images and wild ideas that complicate the dystopian set-up. High Life resists the solutions of puzzle-box filmmaking, choosing instead to explore its own perilous terrain of desire.
Watch it now on Amazon

in the heat of the night
United Artists

In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Norman Jewison's Best Picture-winning look at racial tension and Deep South law enforcement is as (or more) relevant than ever. Rod Steiger also picked up an Oscar for playing prejudiced police chief Bill Gillespie, but it's Sidney Poitier as Mr. Tibbs ("They call me Mister Tibbs!") whose force and fear give In the Heat of the Night needed edge. As soon as the two step out the door to investigate the death of a wealthy businessman, they're slapped with bigotry, a systematic ignorance that causes the murderer to bubble to the surface.
Watch it now on Amazon

the commuter
Lionsgate

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

Matthew McConaughey is Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer: the lawyer who works out of his Lincoln Town Car. Heller represents criminals, and as you might expect, talks business while his chauffeur shuffles them around LA as opposed to making deals in an office. While the character adapted from Michael Connelly's popular crime series is used to defending your typical sleazy career criminals, when he's hired to defend a privileged young man accused of murder, he finds his client may not be telling the truth and the case isn't what it seems to be. McConaughey is as McConaughey-y as he comes here, and he's supported by a fully rounded cast featuring Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Bryan Cranston, and Ryan Phillippe who make it hard to look away in each and every scene. Don't let the silly title make you take an exit too soon: This is exactly what you want out of a legal thriller. 
Watch it now on Amazon

midsommar
A24

Midsommar (2019)

Have you ever found yourself on a vacation trip you immediately regretted? Weird people, freaky food, uncomfortable lodgings, and all you can do is try your best to grin and bear it until you can finally return home? We've all been there, and now there's a supremely creepy new "folk horror" story from horror auteur Ari Aster (Hereditary) that captures that discomfort perfectly. In a nutshell, four college friends, plus one of the group's grieving girlfriends (Florence Pugh), decide to visit an obscure Swedish festival deep in the Scandinavian forest -- and things quickly go from odd to uncomfortable to downright horrific. To say much more would ruin the dreadful fun.
Watch it now on Amazon

mississippi burning
Orion Pictures

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Mississippi Burning turns a tragic, true event of the Civil Rights Movement into an engrossing crime thriller. The film stars Willem Dafoe and Gene Hackman as two investigators sent from the North down to Mississippi where, as total outsiders, they're tasked with facing down the KKK and looking into the murder of three civil rights activists. By focusing on the work of the officers, the story unfortunately fails to veer away from a white savior narrative, but Dafoe, Hackman, and Frances McDormand deliver powerful performances that are effective in illustrating the complexities of morality at the time. Even if you're familiar with the somber events, the film manages to grip you as it puts a not-so-distant, frightening past on trial. 
Watch it now on Amazon

panic room
Sony Pictures Releasing

Panic Room (2002)

Panic Room is a clever and propulsive David Fincher thriller starring Jodie Foster as a divorced Manhattanite surviving a home invasion. The script, written by Jurassic Park screenwriter David Koepp, is packed with effective twists, sharp dialogue, and authentic-seeming details that help complicate the stripped-down premise about a trio of thieves looking for the hidden money of the house's former owner. Foster and a young Kristen Stewart, playing the precocious diabetic daughter, are both gripping in tough, demanding roles, while Forest Whittaker brings a weariness and warmth to his villain role. It's as intense as it is frighteningly claustrophobic. 
Watch it now on Amazon

the report
Amazon Studios

The Report (2019)

When Zero Dark Thirty came out in 2012, controversy erupted whether or not it was accurate in claiming that American torture practices played a role in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Seven years later, The Report calls bullshit on that aspect of Kathryn Bigelow's film. But the value of The Report is not just cinematic in-fighting. Director Scott Z. Burns has made an enthralling film about Daniel Jones (Adam Driver), who authored the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the inhumanity and inefficiency of the CIA's torture tactics in the wake of 9/11, offering an exacting play-by-play of his work, from its inception to the attempted suppression of the information he uncovered. Though it sometimes slides into book report territory, the level of talent on screen keeps it fascinating. Driver lends Jones sober-minded compassion for his task, while Annette Bening is a dead ringer for Senator Dianne Feinstein. It's a smart, fair indictment of US policies that spares no one. 
Watch it now on Amazon

the silence of the lambs
Orion Pictures

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The late director Jonathan Demme's 1991 film is the touchstone for virtually every serial killer film and television show that came after. The iconic closeup shots of an icy, confident Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) as he and FBI newbie Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) engage in their "quid pro quo" interrogation sessions create almost unbearable tension as Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) remains on the loose, killing more victims. Hopkins delivers the more memorable lines, and Buffalo Bill's dance is the stuff of nerve-wracking anxiety nightmares, but it's Foster's nuanced performance as a scared, determined, smart-yet-hesitant agent that sets Silence of the Lambs apart from the rest of the serial killer pack.
Watch it now on Amazon

a simple favor
Lionsgate

A Simple Favor (2018)

A Simple Favor is probably best marketed as "Blake Lively wears a lot of high fashion menswear and drinks martinis" -- and while that would not be wrong, it's important to note that it's also a twisty thriller, like Gone Girl though an Instagram filter. Director Paul Feig, known more for comedies like Bridesmaids and Spy, moves into more of a middle ground that remains funny despite its murderous themes. Lively plays the impossibly glamorous and filterless Emily Nelson who starts hanging out with Anna Kendrick's overachieving YouTube mom Stephanie Smothers after their children demand a playdate. Both women have some significant skeletons in their respective closets, which start to emerge after Emily goes missing.
Watch it now on Amazon

the uninvited
Paramount Pictures

The Uninvited (2009)

Stepmothers have gotten a bad rap in fiction, and The Uninvited leans into this nightmare of a fairytale-trope with all of its weight. The movie centers on a young woman named Anna (Emily Browning) who returns home from a stint in the hospital following a suicide attempt after the disturbing death of her mother, only to find her father remarried to her late mother’s former nurse. Not only is she haunted by what feels like an entirely new home life, but she also sees visions of her dead mother yearning for her to uncover the truth of her death. The plot may be pretty predictable, but there’s a handful of frights that will leave you just as fearful as Anna in her own home. 
Rent it now on Amazon

we need to talk about kevin
Oscilloscope Labratories

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

Horror at its most primal. Director Lynne Ramsay teams up with the incredible Tilda Swinton for a stylized, psychologically rich portrait of a mother sent into crisis after her son commits an unforgivable crime. Featuring winning turns from John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller, the movie explores visceral, ugly truths without blinking. It's the type of movie that will get you talking -- unless you're left in stunned silence. 
Watch it now on Amazon

you were never really here
Amazon Studios

You Were Never Really Here (2018)

You've seen hitman movies, but you've never seen Lynne Ramsay's hitman movie. The Scottish director, who many first discovered with 2002's elliptical nightlife odyssey Morvern Callar, can take a John Wick-ian premise and invest it with new meaning by reframing it from an askew angle. This crime story, adapted from a novella by Bored to Death writer Jonathan Ames, is about an ex-soldier named Joe (Phoenix) who finds himself tasked with recovering a kidnapped girl amidst a sinister political conspiracy involving human trafficking. What makes it so special? Between Phoenix's muted performance, Jonny Greenwood's string-drenched score, and Ramsay's expressive jump-cuts, every image crackles with energy, style, and possibility. It's a death-obsessed movie vibrating with life.
Watch it now on Amazon

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