The Greatest Thrillers on Amazon Prime Proper Now (November 2020)
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a thriller as “a work of fiction or drama designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense.” When you think about the standout thrillers from this genre a film, you’d be hard-pressed to find any that do not meet this definition’s description. The great thrillers also veer into the categories of mysteries, action-adventure, horror, sci-fi, spy films, and both noir and neo-noir. Amazon Prime has such a deep stable of thrillers in its library that choosing one to watch when you’re in the mood for a thriller can be an overwhelming and daunting task. You may be in one mood when you start looking thru their choices, but be in a completely different mood by the time you finally select one to watch.
We here at Collider have decided to help you accomplish the task of selecting the right thriller a bit easier for you with our guide to finding the best thrillers on Amazon Prime Video. We’ve thumbed through the library and assembled a list of some of the best films currently available for streaming, from classics to hidden gems to new releases and everything in between. This list of the best thrillers on Amazon Prime is updated weekly with all-new choices, so be sure to return the next time you’re looking for something great to watch.
A Simple Favor
Image via Lionsgate
Writer: Jessica Sharzer
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells
Twisted thrillers don’t get more deliciously absurd and provocative than A Simple Favor, Paul Feig‘s stylish mystery about a lonely single mother (Anna Kendrick) who gets caught up in an increasingly wild predicament when she agrees to look after her friend’s son. Turns out the friend in question is a real wild card (Blake Lively in a redefining role) and when she goes missing, everything gets all kinds of fucked-up. Easily one of the most slept on films of 2018, A Simple Favor is a bonafide gripping thriller with some next-level insane reveals and fashion porn that would make Ocean’s 8 tremble. Batshit insane with a trio of killer lead performances, A Simple Favor will keep you guessing, but even better, it will keep you grinning from start to finish. — Haleigh Foutch
Image via Paramount
Director: Julius Avery
Writer: Billy Ray, Mark L. Smith
Cast: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Olivier, Pilou Asbaek, Bokeem Woodbine and Iain De Caestecker
Overlord was one of the biggest surprises of 2018. Initially presented as a World War II film, director Julius Avery pulled off a brilliant switcheroo on unsuspecting audiences and treated them to a grindhouse horror instead. Jovan Adepo stars as Boyce, a young soldier still getting used to the perils of war, who is sent as part of a paratrooper team on the eve of D-Day to destroy a radio tower behind enemy lines. The plane is shot down over France and all of his squad is killed except for himself and three other soldiers. They infiltrate the small French town where the radio tower is located and get help from Chloe (Mathilde Olivier), a female resident who carries her own bit of firepower. As they infiltrate the base where the tower is located, they discover that the Nazis have been performing some horrific experiments on the town’s residents. The film totally goes full bore into some body horror and the creation of a new species that is half-animal and half-human. It’s all gloriously nuts in the best of ways, but it never devolves into camp at the expense of the very real terrors of war. Truly an incredible achievement and one that will stay with you for days afterward.
Image via A24
Writer/Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Gaston
“Will god forgive us?” Easily the most haunting thriller in recent memory Paul Schrader‘s First Reformed stars Ethan Hawke as Toller, a priest who suffers a bleak crisis of faith after counseling a suicidal man overcome with despair about the doomed ecological future of the planet Earth. The idea spreads to him like a devastating psychological plague, and as he grows closer to the dead man’s widow, he also spirals out into pure existential dread, a new faith to which he becomes fully, radically devoted. As the writer of greats like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, Schrader knows his way around an impeccable screenplay and here, he combines that skill with his best directing work yet. It’s a hell of a film and Hawke was absolutely robbed at awards season (not even a nomination smdh, though Schrader did get an original screenplay nod), but be warned, it’s a gloomy affair, queasy with ever-increasing tension and the gnawing dread that the same existential madness might have come for you. — Haleigh Foutch
Image via Amazon Studios
Director: Scott Z. Burns
Writer: Scott Z. Burns
Cast: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Tim Blake Nelson, Maura Tierney, Corey Stoll and Michael C. Hall
Noted screenwriter and producer Scott Z. Burns made his feature film directorial debut with The Report. A real life tale about the CIA’s attempts to cover up a report detailing their disturbing torture methods deployed on captive prisoners after 9/11. The Report stars Adam Driver as Daniel Jones, an idealistic Senate staffer who is assigned by Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) to lead an investigation into the CIA’s post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program. Jones is initially hesitant to take on the task, but is soon consumed by his charge and becomes dogged and determined to issue this report despite the protestations of the CIA and other Senators in Congress. Burns, who also wrote the screenplay, does a masterful job of jumping back and forth in time throughout the film. He shows us the pressures and influences that led to the creating go this program, the consequences it led to in the future and why two administrations sought to cover it up for the supposed good of the country. It’s a topical film for our times and one that speaks volumes about the top levels of power in this country and what measures they are willing to take to bury information that reflects negatively on their abilities to protect our country.
Image via Amazon Studios / Magnolia Pictures
Director: Chan-wook Park
Writers: Seo-kyeong Jeong and Chan-wook Park
Cast: Min-hee Kim, Tae-ri Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Jing-woo Jo
The Handmaiden is the most downright gorgeous erotic thriller ever made. Liberally inspired by Sarah Waters‘ British melodrama, Chan-wook Park gives the source material a cultural transplant to 1930s Japan-occupied Korea where Sook-Hee (Tae-ri Kim) takes a job as a handmaiden to the mysterious, troubled Lady Hideko (Min-hee Kim), sparking a passionate affair that reshapes their lives. Our entry point to the twisted tale is through Sook-Hee, a thief by trade and family tradition who is in fact teaming with a fake count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo) in a scheme to defraud Lady Hideko of her fortune, but when Sook-Hee falls for her mark, the fiendish plan is thrown for a loop as new layers of deception and manipulation are uncovered at every turn. — Haleigh Foutch
You Were Never Really Here
Image via Amazon Studios
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Writer: Lynne Ramsay
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alessandro Nivola, and John Doman
Director Lynne Ramsay directs this powerhouse of a film that features Joaquin Phoenix as Joe, a grizzled veteran of the Gulf War whose lost in a world of hallucinations brought on by a tormented past. The fact that he is a hired hitman who delivers death in the most brutal of ways adds an unsettled and electric energy to this film. You’re not really sure if anything is actually happening or isn’t? While handing out deaths by hammer, Joe is also taking care of his elderly mother (Judith Roberts) and trying to remember to take his medicine. Joe gets hired to find Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov), a 13-year-old innocent daughter of a New York senator who is about to be sold into teen sexual slavery…or is she? He makes it a personal mission to find her and to make those responsible for her kidnapping pay…even those who may have hired him to do the job. But is it all real or another one of his hallucinations? You’ll have to decide during a brilliantly confusing end scene.
Image via Tribeca Film / Cinedigm
Directors: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Writer: Justin Benson
Cast: Peter Cilella, Vinny Curran, Emily Montague, Zahn McClarnon
The feature debut from Spring and The Endless filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, Resolution is a slowburn, surprisingly expansive existential thriller that builds a whole universe from the confines of a remote cabin. Petter Cilella and Vinny Curran co-star as two old friends who head for a getaway at said cabin — but what one doesn’t know is that the other plans to keep them there by whatever means necessary until he breaks his friend of his drug habit. That character drama provides the solid foundation from which Benson’s script builds a Lovecraftian terror when an unkown, unseen force starts sending them messages and toying with them, further trapping them in their dingy little pit of despair. It’s a slow burn that sticks the landing with an unforgettable conclusion, and it lowkey packs in enough mythology that Benson and Moorhead have built a whole cinematic world out of it. In fact, once you finish Resolution, you can head over to Netflix to watch the semi-sequel The Endless. — Haleigh Foutch
The Man from Nowhere
Image via Well Go USA
Director: Jeong-beom Lee
Writer: Jeong-beom Lee
Cast: Won Bin, Sae-ron Kim, Tae-hoon Kim, and Hee-won Kim
2010’s The Man From Nowhere is one of those South Korean films that occasionally breaks thru to American audiences and leaves an indelible mark. An action-thriller starring Won Bin as an ex-special agent Cha Tae-sik turned pawn shop owner. He befriends his neighbor’s daughter, Jeong So-mi (Sae-ron Kim) in the normal course of his life. When So-mi’s mother, who dances at the local club, steals a large pack of heroin from that club at the behest of her low life boyfriend, it sets off a chain of events that ensnares Tae-sik and So-mi in the world of Korean gangs and drug runners. After a gang takes them hostage, they use them in a war against another rival gang which leads to the possible death of So-mi. Tae-sik, fearing the worst, employs all the expertise and weapons in his arsenal to save the young girl and make those responsible for her possible death pay. Think Taken mixed with John Wick mixed with León: The Professional and you’ve got The Man From Nowhere. Stream this one tonight and get ready for one helluva ride.
Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films
Director: Daniel Barber
Writer: Gary Young
Cast: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, David Bradley, Iain Glen, Sean Harris and Charlie Creed-Miles
Once upon a time, Michael Caine was the premier badass in the late 60s and early 70s cinema. Films like The Italian Job and Get Carter really solidified Caine as a man not to be messed with. As he got older, he left those movies behind for more mainstream fare until 2009’s Harry Brown. This gritty action thriller from director and Academy Award nominee Daniel Barber, stars Caine as the titular character. Harry is as an elderly shut-in who plays chess in the local bar with his friend Leonard (David Bradley) and cares for his wife who is dying in a local hospital. The apartment complex he lives in is overrun by some brutal gangsters and drug dealers who care nothing about killing others to get what they want or for fun. When Leonard is killed so close to Harry’s apartment, the old man brushes the dust off his Royal Marine skills and sets about getting revenge on the people responsible for Leonard’s death and working out his anger on people who need to be punished in worst ways. Barber uses the film as a commentary on the way British society dismisses or minimizes the needs of the elderly. Giving them little respect as they try to live out the rest of their days in peace after giving so much to their country. It’s a graphic and savage film that features a tour de force performance from Caine that you won’t soon forget!
Image via Oscilloscope
Written and Directed by: James Ward Byrkit
Cast: Nicholas Brendan, Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Lorene Scafaria, Elizabeth Gracen, Hugo Armstrong, Alex Manugian, Lauren Maher
Shot over the course of five nights with an almost entirely improvised script, Coherence is a tremendous feature film debut from Gore Verbinski’s frequent storyboard artist James Ward Byrkit, and one of the best original science fiction concepts in recent memory. Set at a dinner party reunion among old friends on the night of a rare astronomical event, tensions rise as the laws of science and the firmaments of reality bend and break over the course of one mind-bending night. Part sci-fi, part horror, the no-budget chamber piece succeeds not by banking on its fantastic concept, but seeing that concept to its completion through honest character arcs and the unsettling reality that there’s nothing more frightening than the way we perceive ourselves. – Haleigh Foutch
‘Climax’ director Gaspar Noe
Writer/Director: Gaspar Noé
Cast: Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub, Kiddy Smile, Claude-Emmanuelle Gajan-Maull, Giselle Palmer, Taylor Kastle, Thea Carla Schott, Sharleen Temple
A buckshot blast of paranoid, unhinged kinetic insanity, Gaspar Noé‘s Climax is the filmmaker’s most crowd-pleasing and accessible film, but this is the director of Irreversible and Enter the Void, so take that for what you will. Sofia Boutella stars as the lead dancer in an international dance troupe, who Jetes, fan kicks, and backbends down a nightmarish rabbit hole to hell when the punch bowl winds up spiked with drugs. The fiilm’s first act is a euphoric display of athleticism and talent, featuring one dance sequence after the next, but once things get dark, they cascade into a grimy, grim clusterfuck in a hurry. This is some bravado filmmaking, bolstered by performers (most of them novice actors) who put it on the line for this brutal, hallucinogenic talent show. — Haleigh Foutch
Image via Aviron Pictures
Writer/Director: Steven Knight
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jason Clarke
Serenity is without a doubt one of the wildest movies of 2019. The trailers provide a glimpse of the plot, which is that weary fisherman Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) has been roped into a scheme by his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) to murder her abusive husband Frank (Jason Clarke) in exchange for $10 million. But Serenity is so much weirder than this, and to say why would spoil the fun. You may see Serenity and absolutely hate it, but if you’re willing to go along for the crazy ride, you might end up having a blast. At the very least, writer-director Steven Knight has created one of the most unpredictable movies in years. – Matt Goldberg
Brawl in Cell Block 99
Image via BCB99, Inc.
Writer/Director: S. Craig Zahler
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson, Udo Kier
A word of advice: Don’t eat anything before diving into Brawl in Cell Block 99. Director S. Craig Zahler had already proved he was particularly adept at unflinching, bone-crunching violence with his Western Bone Tomahawk when he took his talents to jail for Cell Block 99. The result is a brutal, grimy prison tale featuring the best dramatic performance of Vince Vaughn‘s career as Bradley Thomas, a former drug mule who spirals into the darkest depths of a corrupt and endlessly violent prison system. Both hard to watch and hard to look away from, Brawl in Cell Block 99 literally drags itself across glass and crushed skulls to arrive at a conclusion that’s, shockingly, kind’ve sweet. A journey well worth taking, even if you’re watching some of it through your fingers. — Vinnie Mancuso
Image via Fingerprint Releasing / Bleecker Street
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writers: James Greer and Jonathan Bernstein
Cast: Claire Foy, Jay Pharoah, Joshua Leonard, Amy Irving, Juno Temple, Colin Woodell
Unsane is an up-close panic attack assault that uses the intimacy of an iPhone to tap into centuries of female oppression and transform it into the kind of psychological thriller that gets way too deep under your skin. Led by an unpredictable, exciting performance from The Crown breakout Claire Foy, Unsane follows a recently relocated survivor who starts to see her stalker everywhere she looks, and accidentally winds up committed to a mental institution against her will.
Steven Soderbergh and psychological horror are a natural fit, especially with the added element of experimentation that comes with shooting a whole damn film on a phone. The director mines the human history of female institutionalization and modern statistics of assault to underscore a very relatable and real terror of the way women’s’ bodies are controlled and exploited, but he makes it universal by also tapping into the primal fears of lost autonomy and doubting your own mind. Throw in a dose of commentary about the American mental health system and some truly bleak moments of violence and you’ve got the makings of an all-timer psychological horror. Unsane had a so-so reaction when it dropped in theaters in early 2018, but I have a feeling time is going to be very generous to this one. — Haleigh Foutch
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