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Hold on to your seats and get ready for a wild cinematic ride! We've scoured the depths of Letterboxd user ratings to bring you the ultimate list of the top-rated thriller films of all time.
From heart-stopping suspense to mind-bending plot twists, these films will have you on the edge of your seat. Films include the often discussed Fight Club from David Fincher in 1999 to more modern classics like Get Out from Jordan Peele.
Let us know how many of these top rated thriller films you have seen before.
Directed by Bong Joon-ho, Parasite is a South Korean thriller film that tells the story of two families from different social classes—the affluent Park family and the struggling Kim family—whose lives become intricately intertwined. As the Kims infiltrate the lives of the Parks, dark secrets and unexpected twists unravel. Parasite is celebrated as one of the top-rated thriller films for its masterful storytelling, social commentary on class divisions, and its brilliant performances. The film's sharp satire, gripping suspense, and its exploration of the lengths people will go to for survival and prosperity have made it a critically acclaimed and highly regarded thriller.
Fight Club (1999)
Directed by David Fincher, Fight Club is a psychological thriller based on Chuck Palahniuk's novel. The film follows an unnamed narrator (Edward Norton) who forms an underground fight club with the enigmatic Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). As the club evolves into something more dangerous, the narrator's grip on reality starts to slip. Fight Club is regarded as one of the top-rated thrillers for its provocative exploration of masculinity, its biting social commentary, and its twist-filled narrative. Fincher's stylish direction, the film's memorable dialogue, and its examination of consumerism, identity, and anarchy have made it a cult classic and a highly influential thriller.
Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker is a psychological thriller that serves as an origin story for the iconic Batman villain. The film follows Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a struggling comedian whose descent into madness and transformation into the Joker challenges the societal order of Gotham City. Joker is celebrated as one of the top-rated thrillers for its powerful performances, particularly Phoenix's mesmerising portrayal of the character, and its exploration of mental illness, social inequality, and the nature of evil. Phillips' dark and gritty direction, the film's atmospheric cinematography, and its subversion of superhero movie conventions have made it a polarising but highly impactful thriller.
The Batman (2020)
Directed by Matt Reeves, The Batman is an upcoming superhero thriller film that reimagines the iconic character in a dark and gritty detective story. Starring Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, the film explores Batman's early years as he uncovers corruption in Gotham City and encounters his most notorious adversaries. While the film has not been released at the time of writing, it is highly anticipated and expected to be one of the top-rated thriller films due to Reeves' reputation as a skilled filmmaker, the intriguing noir-inspired tone showcased in the trailers, and the promise of a fresh and grounded take on the Caped Crusader.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction is a crime thriller that weaves together multiple interconnected stories of crime, violence, and redemption in Los Angeles. The film follows various characters, including hitmen Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), as they navigate through a world of criminals, lowlifes, and unexpected twists. Pulp Fiction is regarded as one of the top-rated thrillers for its nonlinear narrative structure, Tarantino's sharp and stylized dialogue, and its ensemble cast delivering memorable performances. The film's blend of dark humour, visceral violence, and its homage to the pulp fiction genre have made it a cult classic and a defining film in the thriller genre.
Get Out (2017)
Directed by Jordan Peele, Get Out is a social thriller that follows Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a young African-American man who visits his white girlfriend's family for a weekend getaway. As he uncovers the sinister truth beneath their seemingly friendly façade, Chris must fight for his survival. Get Out is celebrated as one of the top-rated thrillers for its biting social commentary on race and racism, its suspenseful atmosphere, and Peele's skilled direction. The film's examination of racial tensions, its clever twists, and its ability to merge horror with thought-provoking social commentary have made it a critically acclaimed and highly influential thriller.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Directed by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight is a superhero crime thriller that follows Batman (Christian Bale) as he faces the deranged and anarchic Joker (Heath Ledger) in Gotham City. The film explores themes of chaos, morality, and the nature of heroism. The Dark Knight is regarded as one of the top-rated thrillers for its complex and mature storytelling, Ledger's iconic performance as the Joker, and Nolan's masterful direction. The film's dark and gritty atmosphere, its exploration of moral dilemmas and the blurred line between hero and villain, and its intense action sequences have made it a benchmark in the superhero and thriller genres.
The Menu (2022)
Directed by Ben Wheatley, The Menu is a horror-thriller film that centres around a young couple who venture into a remote countryside to visit an exclusive and mysterious restaurant. As they discover the restaurant's disturbing secrets, their night takes a terrifying turn. The appearances of Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes and Nicholas Hoult have generated positive reviews and it is now seen as one of the top-rated thrillers in recent history due to Wheatley's track record as a skilled director, the film’s intriguing premise, and the promise of suspense, dark satire and compelling characters.
American Psycho (2000)
Directed by Mary Harron, American Psycho is a psychological thriller based on Bret Easton Ellis's novel. The film follows Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), a wealthy investment banker with a dark and violent double life as a serial killer. American Psycho is regarded as one of the top-rated thriller films for its satirical critique of 1980s yuppie culture, Bale's mesmerising performance, and Harron's meticulous direction. The film's exploration of identity, obsession, and the masks people wear in society, coupled with its stylish aesthetics and biting social commentary, have made it a cult classic and a standout in the thriller genre.
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (2019)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood is a neo-noir thriller that takes place in 1969 Los Angeles. The film follows actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they navigate a changing film industry and encounter the infamous Manson Family. Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood is celebrated as one of the top-rated thrillers for its immersive recreation of the era, Tarantino's masterful storytelling, and the stellar performances of the cast. The film's blend of fictional characters with real-life events, its homage to classic Hollywood, and its tension-filled climax have solidified its place as a beloved and critically acclaimed thriller.
The Shining (1918)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, The Shining is a psychological horror thriller based on Stephen King's novel. The film follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), a writer who takes a winter caretaker job at the isolated Overlook Hotel with his family. As supernatural forces unravel Jack's sanity, the film explores themes of isolation, madness, and the malevolent power of the hotel. The Shining is regarded as one of the top-rated thrillers for Kubrick's meticulous attention to detail, its haunting atmosphere, and its exploration of psychological terror. The film's iconic imagery, memorable performances, and its ability to create a sense of unease and dread have made it a seminal work in the thriller genre.
Tom Girl (2014)
Directed by Lee Kwang-kuk, Tom Girl (also known as A Hard Day) is a South Korean crime thriller that follows detective Ko Gun-su (Lee Sun-kyun) as he accidentally kills a man and attempts to cover up the crime. As Gun-su's actions spiral out of control, the film delves into themes of guilt, corruption, and the blurred lines between right and wrong. Tom Girl is highly regarded as one of the top-rated thrillers for its tightly woven narrative, intense pacing, and Kwang-kuk's skillful direction. The film's gripping tension, dark humour, and its exploration of the consequences of one's choices contribute to its reputation as a standout in the thriller genre.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds is a World War II thriller that follows a group of Jewish-American soldiers, led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), as they plan to assassinate high-ranking Nazi officials. The film also intertwines the story of Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), a young Jewish woman seeking revenge against the Nazis. Inglourious Basterds is celebrated as one of the top-rated thrillers for Tarantino's distinctive dialogue, its revisionist take on history, and its ensemble cast delivering memorable performances. The film's tension-filled set pieces, Tarantino's homage to classic war films, and its ability to blend suspense, humour, and violence have made it a critically acclaimed and highly regarded thriller.
Directed by David Fincher, Se7en is a neo-noir psychological thriller that follows detectives Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Mills (Brad Pitt) as they hunt down a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as inspiration for his gruesome murders. Se7en is regarded as one of the top-rated thrillers for its dark and atmospheric tone, Fincher's stylish direction, and its exploration of the human capacity for evil. The film's intricate plot, its gritty visuals, and its memorable climax have made it a cult classic and a standout entry in the thriller genre.
Black Swan (2010)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan is a psychological thriller that follows Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a ballerina vying for the lead role in "Swan Lake." As the pressure mounts, Nina's pursuit of perfection and her burgeoning rivalry with fellow dancer Lily (Mila Kunis) take a toll on her mental and physical well-being. Black Swan is celebrated as one of the top-rated thrillers for Aronofsky's visceral direction, Portman's transformative performance, and its exploration of obsession, duality, and the dark side of artistic pursuit. The film's immersive portrayal of psychological horror, its stunning visuals, and its blending of beauty and madness have made it a critically acclaimed and highly regarded thriller.
Directed by Ari Aster, Hereditary is a supernatural horror thriller that follows the Graham family as they cope with a series of tragic events that unravel their lives. As the family's dark secrets are revealed, the film explores themes of grief, inherited trauma, and the influence of the supernatural. Hereditary is highly regarded as one of the top-rated thrillers for Aster's atmospheric direction, Toni Collette's powerhouse performance, and its ability to create a sense of dread and unease. The film's slow-burn pacing, its exploration of psychological terror and family dynamics, and its shocking twists have solidified its place as a modern classic in the horror-thriller genre.
The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
Directed by Jonathan Demme, The Silence of the Lambs is a psychological thriller based on Thomas Harris's novel. The film follows young FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) as she seeks the help of incarcerated cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to catch another serial killer, Buffalo Bill. The Silence of the Lambs is regarded as one of the top-rated thriller films for its tense atmosphere, standout performances, and its examination of the dark and twisted minds of its characters. The film's psychological cat-and-mouse game, its chilling portrayal of Lecter, and its skillful storytelling have made it a critically acclaimed and highly regarded thriller.
Shutter Island (2010)
Directed by Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island is a psychological thriller set in 1954. The film follows U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner (Mark Ruffalo) as they investigate the disappearance of a patient from a remote mental institution on Shutter Island. As Teddy delves deeper into the mysteries of the island, he begins to question his own sanity. Shutter Island is celebrated as one of the top-rated thrillers for Scorsese's masterful direction, its atmospheric tension, and its exploration of psychological manipulation and the nature of reality. The film's gripping narrative, its haunting visuals, and its thought-provoking twists have made it a standout entry in the thriller genre.
The Lighthouse (2019)
Directed by Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse is a psychological horror-thriller set in the late 19th century. The film follows two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) who are isolated on a remote and mysterious island. As their sanity begins to unravel, the line between reality and madness blurs. The Lighthouse is highly regarded as one of the top-rated thrillers for Eggers' atmospheric direction, the captivating performances of its leads, and its exploration of psychological torment and isolation. The film's striking black-and-white cinematography, its eerie and claustrophobic setting, and its ambiguous storytelling have made it a critically acclaimed and highly influential entry in the thriller genre.
Directed by Jordan Peele, Us is a horror-thriller that follows the Wilson family as they encounter their doppelgängers during a beach vacation. As the terrifying truth unfolds, the family must confront their own inner demons. Us is celebrated as one of the top-rated thrillers for Peele's inventive storytelling, the layered performances of the cast, and its social commentary on identity and societal divisions. The film's thought-provoking themes, its suspenseful atmosphere, and its skillful blend of horror and psychological thriller elements have solidified its place as a highly regarded and impactful thriller.
Uncut Gems (2019)
Directed by Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems is a crime thriller that follows Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a New York City jeweller and compulsive gambler who gets involved in a high-stakes bet that could either save him or ruin his life. Uncut Gems is highly regarded as one of the top-rated thrillers for its relentless pacing, Sandler's career-defining performance, and its immersive portrayal of a man constantly teetering on the edge. The film's anxiety-inducing narrative, its frenetic energy, and its examination of addiction and the pursuit of the American Dream have made it a critically acclaimed and highly intense thriller.
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive is a neo-noir crime thriller that follows a Hollywood stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) who moonlights as a getaway driver. When he becomes involved in a heist gone wrong, he must protect a woman and navigate a dangerous criminal underworld. Drive is celebrated as one of the top-rated thrillers for Refn's stylish direction, Gosling's enigmatic performance, and its atmospheric neo-noir aesthetic. The film's slow-burn tension, its memorable soundtrack, and its exploration of the allure and violence of the criminal world have made it a cult favourite and a standout entry in the thriller genre.
Directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler is a neo-noir thriller that follows Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a driven and morally ambiguous freelance videographer who captures violent crime scenes and sells the footage to news networks. As Louis becomes increasingly obsessed with his work, he becomes entangled in a dangerous web of ambition and manipulation. Nightcrawler is highly regarded as one of the top-rated thrillers for Gyllenhaal's transformative performance, Gilroy's gripping storytelling, and its exploration of the dark side of the media industry and human obsession. The film's intense atmosphere, its morally complex protagonist, and its examination of the blurred boundaries between journalism and exploitation contribute to its reputation as a critically acclaimed and thought-provoking thriller.
No Country For Old Men (2007)
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men is a neo-western thriller based on Cormac McCarthy's novel. The film follows a hunter (Josh Brolin) who stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and finds himself pursued by a relentless hitman (Javier Bardem). No Country for Old Men is celebrated as one of the top-rated thrillers for the Coen brothers' masterful direction, Bardem's chilling performance, and its gripping tension and suspense. The film's sparse and atmospheric storytelling, its exploration of fate and morality, and its expertly crafted cat-and-mouse game have made it a modern classic and a standout entry in the thriller genre.
Directed by Ti West, X is an upcoming thriller film that centres around a woman named Mandy who accepts an invitation to a mysterious party at an underground club. As the night progresses, she becomes trapped in a surreal and terrifying nightmare. While the film has not been released at the time of writing, it has generated anticipation and is expected to be one of the top-rated thrillers due to West's reputation as a skilled filmmaker, the intriguing premise showcased in the trailers, and the promise of psychological terror and suspense within a nightmarish setting.
Our adrenaline-fueled journey through the top-rated thriller films according to the Letterboxd community comes to an end. We hope this list has provided you with some fantastic movie recommendations that will keep your heart racing and your mind guessing. Whether you prefer psychological mind games, intense action sequences, or supernatural mysteries, these films have it all.
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