5 Best Thriller Movies Of All Time To Watch Now

The best thriller movies are masterpieces of suspense and intrigue, expertly weaving captivating narratives that keep audiences on the edge of their seats from start to finish. These films skillfully balance tension, plot twists, and memorable characters, leaving viewers both captivated and unnerved. With their ability to elicit intense emotions and provoke thought long after the credits roll, the finest thriller movies continue to be celebrated for their enduring impact on the world of cinema.

That being said, these films might even do more for you than entertain you. Perhaps, prepare you for a global pandemic. A recent study conducted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed fans of horror films and other post-apocalyptic movies handled the real-life fear brought on by the coronavirus better than others. They’ve had practice courses. 

Thriller movies occasionally dip a toe in the water of horror. So, if you’re into that (and we know you are), you’ll love to know what flicks were picked as the scariest. A survey of 2,000 American adults revealed that the most terrifying film ever created was “The Exorcist”, followed by the first iterations of “Halloween”,Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. But what do the critics say? Find out in our list of best horror flicks.

So, why do people even watch scary movies? Perhaps for the villains. Fifty-one percent of Americans “always” or “often” root for the bad guy or gal when watching a movie or TV show. And in a survey of 2,011 U.S. adults, 60 percent say they watch a series or movie just for the villain. If you’re looking to watch a movie with the best villains, horror and thriller are of course in the go-to genres. 

What’s the difference between horror and thriller genres? Horror movies elicit fear or disgust in its audience, whereas thrillers are characterized by suspense and excitement. If you need some thrilling examples, you’re in luck! We searched 13 (not an accident) expert websites to find the consensus from critics on the best thriller movies. These movies are going to make you want to double check if your front door is locked! Leave your favorite flicks in the comments below.

silhouette of man inside the forest during dusk
(Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash)

Film Critics Rank the 5 Best Thriller Movies


1. The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

"The Silence of the Lambs"
“The Silence of the Lambs”

“The Silence of the Lambs” isn’t just a chilling thriller; it’s a cinematic masterpiece. Critics rave about its intriguing plot, where a young FBI trainee must play a dangerous game of wits with a cannibalistic killer to catch another psychopath. This “serial killer vs. serial killer” dynamic, as Parade puts it, is just one reason the film grips audiences. But it’s more than just thrills.

The film’s historical significance can’t be ignored. Winning the coveted “Big Five” Academy Awards places it in a league of its own, as Parade reminds us. The Manual delves deeper, praising the film’s ability to seamlessly blend thriller and horror while earning critical acclaim.

But “The Silence of the Lambs” offers more than just chills. It delves into deeper themes like gender dynamics and the lasting impact of trauma, as The Manual highlights. Clarice Starling’s journey isn’t just about catching a killer; it’s about confronting her own demons.

From its gripping plot and suspenseful cat-and-mouse game to its nuanced storytelling and award-winning excellence, “The Silence of the Lambs” is a film that stays with you long after the credits roll. It’s a must-watch for anyone who appreciates a masterful blend of thrills and psychological depth.

2. “North By Northwest” (1959)

"North By Northwest"
“North By Northwest” (1959)

Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest” reigns supreme in the thriller hall of fame. IGN says this espionage adventure, overflowing with intrigue and iconic sequences, could be the sole champion. Cary Grant’s mistaken identity throws him into a whirlwind of relentless pursuit, setting the gold standard for thriller storytelling.

But “North By Northwest” isn’t just good, it’s exhilarating, sexy, and unmatched. TimeOut champions its effortless charm, calling it a “gliding magic-carpet ride” through suspenseful locations and unforgettable moments. Cary Grant’s ad-man-turned-accidental-spy steals the show with his charisma, while Hitchcock’s masterful direction weaves an action-packed tapestry that remains unrivaled in its brilliance.

Esquire echoes the sentiment, praising it as a “classic crime caper” where Grant’s peak performance and Hitchcock’s signature flair collide. The mistaken identity sparks a cross-country chase, fueled by Grant’s irresistible charm and Hitchcock’s knack for crafting thrilling, iconic action sequences that countless others have tried, but never truly replicated.

It’s not just a movie, it’s a masterclass in suspenseful storytelling. With its captivating plot, unforgettable characters, and Hitchcock’s incredible filmmaking, it stands tall as a thriller masterpiece that continues to enthrall audiences with its timeless charm and unmatched excellence.

3. “Psycho” (1960)

"Psycho" (1960)
“Psycho” (1960)

It’s not psycho to be a fan of this movie. In fact, it’s very common. Hitchcock’s “Psycho” isn’t just a chilling tale of suspense; it’s a genre-defining masterpiece that continues to captivate audiences over six decades later. Collider hails it as one of the director’s best, praising its taboo-tackling story and iconic moments like the infamous shower scene.

The plot itself, as IMDb highlights, is deceptively simple: a secretary on the run stumbles into a remote motel shrouded in unsettling secrets. But Hitchcock’s magic lies in the execution. Flickside rightly praises the film’s masterful use of suspense, weaving a web of tension through monochromatic visuals, extreme close-ups, and clever foreshadowing.

Psycho is more than just a thrilling ride; it’s a cinematic landmark that pushed boundaries and redefined the possibilities of filmmaking. Its exploration of dark themes creates a lasting impact that keeps audiences hooked even after multiple viewings. No wonder it remains among the highest-rated films on IMDb.

4. “Mulholland Drive” (2001)

"Mulholland Drive" (2001)
“Mulholland Drive” (2001)

“Mulholland Drive” is a hypnotic labyrinth of psychological mystery that burrows deep into your mind. Taste of Cinema crowns it the “definitive thriller,” chilling in a way no other film has achieved. Forget linear narratives – this is a puzzle box, an “unending abstraction” waiting to be unlocked.

Critics may debate its genre-bending ways, but one thing’s clear: “Mulholland Drive” captivates. Its troubled starlet spirals through a mesmerizing world of make-believe and twisted realities, leaving viewers piecing together clues long after the credits roll. Men’s Health advises: let the film’s insanity linger, delve into its rabbit holes, and only then find solace in the cryptic “Silencio.”

While its meaning remains open to interpretation, the film’s power lies in its chilling atmosphere and unforgettable characters. There is a touch of dark humor to the unsettling journey, ensuring you’ll never forget your trip down “Mulholland Drive.” So, buckle up for a surreal ride – this isn’t a film to be passively watched, it’s an experience to be dissected, absorbed, and ultimately, cherished.

5. Rear Window” (1954)

"Rear Window" (1954)
“Rear Window” (1954)

In Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” the thrill resides in the intimate confines of an apartment window. Lethal voyeurism becomes the key theme, as a wheelchair-bound photographer named L.B. Jefferies seeks solace in observing his neighbors. What is lethal voyeurism? It refers to obsessive observation that escalates to harm or threatens the lives of those being watched. This innocent curiosity, fueled by boredom, metamorphoses into a dangerous obsession, blurring the lines between spectator and participant.

The film excels in its masterful construction of suspense. Confined to one setting, Hitchcock transforms Jefferies’ window into a stage, each neighboring window a portal to a private drama. Long takes draw us into his growing interest, amplifying the tension with every stolen glance and hushed whisper. This culminates in a nail-biting sequence, where Jefferies and his girlfriend get caught snooping, leaving viewers helplessly witnessing the rising stakes.

This film delves into the human psyche, exploring the allure and peril of observing others. Jefferies’ obsession isolates him, forcing him to grapple with the ethical implications of his actions and the responsibility that comes with witnessing a potential crime.

The film shines not only in its Hitchcockian suspense, but also in its stellar performances. James Stewart delivers a nuanced portrayal of Jefferies, his charm masking a growing desperation. Grace Kelly, as his sophisticated girlfriend, complements him perfectly, transforming from a glamorous observer to a risk-taking heroine.

Through its masterful direction, unforgettable performances, and timeless themes, “Rear Window” remains a cinematic gem. It serves as a chilling reminder of the thin line between curiosity and obsession, and the captivating, yet dangerous, allure of the secrets that may lurk just beyond our own windows. So, the next time you find yourself drawn to a neighbor’s life, remember L.B. Jefferies and the perilous price of voyeurism in “Rear Window.”

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  1. Although silence of the lambs was excellent, Anthony Hopkins (a man of exceptional talent)seriously overacts in this film. Hannibal Lecter is almost cartoonish. Kodie foster shows her excellent restraint and her character is a breath of fresh air, as strong female leads are rare. Her accent seems a little off, watch it again and see how you feel.

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