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The Best Thrillers on Amazon Prime (September 2020)

A solid thriller film can live in your brain for weeks, months, heck, even years. Thrillers are perfect movies to watch when you’re in the mood for some action, excitement, and suspense but don’t want a full-blown, gory horror flick. Thankfully, there are plenty of them on Amazon Prime that you can stream. From new titles to films that date back as early as the 1940s, here are the best thrillers you can currently stream via Amazon.

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With a sequel scheduled for release later this year, this post-apocalyptic thriller was a critically acclaimed box office success. Co-written, directed by, and starring John Krasinski alongside his real-life wife Emily Blunt, the movie follows a family trying to survive in a muted world where making even the slightest sound summons a creature with an acute sense of hearing that devours you alive. With a hearing-impaired teenage daughter, the family is able to communicate proficiently through sign language, but a new baby adds a tricky element to the situation. While a movie with zero dialogue sounds terribly boring, the nail-biting tension makes it edge-of-your-seat intense throughout the entire film.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski
Director: John Krasinski
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 90 minutes

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A star-studded cast, including Adam Driver, Annette Bening, and Jon Hamm, tackled this film’s deep-dive into the investigation of and controversy around torture used by the CIA following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Examining the full 6,700-page report by Daniel Jones of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the story is based, in part, on Katherine Eban’s Vanity Fair article “Rorschach and Awe.” Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2019, the Amazon Studios movie had a brief theatrical release then went straight to the streaming service.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Stars: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Morrison
Director: Scott Z. Burns
Rating: R
Runtime: 119 minutes

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The Machinist on Amazon Prime

A machinist suffers from severe insomnia and psychological problems, which eventually lead to a serious accident at the workplace involving a coworker. After being fired, he slumps into a world of paranoia and delusions while trying to deal with the guilt. With Christian Bale heading up the cast, it’s no surprise this film was well-received. His method acting and ability to fully immerse himself in roles of troubled characters like this one, including losing a serious amount of weight to play the role, create a character that is both captivating and terrifying.

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Stars: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon
Director: Brad Anderson
Rating: R
Runtime: 102 minutes

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The Conversation on Amazon Prime

Surveillance has come a long way since this movie about a surveillance expert who discovers that his recordings might reveal a murder, presenting him with a moral dilemma about whether to release them. Interestingly, while the plot had nothing to do with Watergate, the film came out in theaters right before Richard Nixon resigned as president of the United States, leading many to believe the movie was a reaction to the scandal. In any case, it received critical acclaim and a trio of Academy Award nominations.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Stars: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Rating: PG
Runtime: 113 minutes

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The Cabin in the Woods

College students head to a remote cabin in the forest where they think they’ll be able to enjoy some quiet fun and relaxation. Instead, they end up being controlled and manipulated by technicians in an underground lab who are watching them, feeding them drugs, and watching as monsters and zombies attack the students. The plot sounds silly but the film was very well received by critics and audiences alike, who called the Joss Whedon-produced flick “funny, strange, and scary,” often all at the same time.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison
Director: Drew Goddard
Rating: R
Runtime: 95 minutes

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To Catch a Thief

Go way back in time for this Alfred Hitchcock classic, based on the novel of the same name by David Dodge. Cary Grant is a retired cat burglar who, in an attempt to save his reputation, catches an imposter targeting wealthy tourists in the French Riviera. It marked the last film project for Grace Kelly, who starred as Grant’s love interest, before she retired from acting to become Princess of Monaco.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Rating: PG
Runtime: 106 minutes

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The Long Goodbye

This neo-noir thriller based on the 1953 Raymond Chandler novel of the same name is a period piece set in 1950s to 1970s Hollywood. It tells the journey of a private investigator as he tries to help a friend but finds himself entangled in a murder investigation surrounding the man’s wife. Tackling everything from Hollywood’s self-obsessiveness to drugs, alcoholism, and murder, it has all of the makings of a great thriller.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Elliott Gould, Nina Van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden
Director: Robert Altman
Rating: R
Runtime: 112 minutes

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A Simple Favor

A widowed single mother and vlogger from a small town befriends a wealthy fashion executive after their kids have a playdate. Next thing she knows, she’s trying to solve the friend’s mysterious disappearance. The plot sounds simple but the film was a box office success thanks to performances by the leads Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, earning over $97 million on just a $20 million budget.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells
Director: Paul Feig
Rating: R
Runtime: 117 minutes

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The Handmaiden

Dubbed an erotic psychological thriller, this South Korean film, also known as Ah-ga-ssi, is inspired by the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, with a change in setting from the Victorian era to Korea during Japanese colonial rule. At the heart of the story is a con man with a sinister plot to seduce a Japanese heiress so he can have her committed and steal her money.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong
Director: Park Chan-wook
Rating: NR
Runtime: 145 minutes

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The Rainmaker

In the film based on the John Grisham novel of the same name, a recent law school graduate with no real career prospects finds himself caught up in a scheme with an ambulance chaser who hires him to find potential clients in a local hospital. With a star-studded cast, it has been called one of the best Hollywood adaptations of a Grisham novel.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Stars: Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Mary Kay Place, Mickey Rourke, Danny DeVito
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 135 minutes

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The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs is regarded as one of the greatest thrillers of all time, one based on Thomas Harris’ novel of the same name. The harrowing film follows young FBI cadet Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), who is on a race against time to capture Buffalo Bill, a serial killer who literally takes the skin of his female victims. Her only hope to capture him, however, is to work with iconic villain Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), an imprisoned serial killer known to eat his victims. The Silence of the Lambs swept the 1992 Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, among other accolades.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Ted Levine
Director: Jonathan Demme
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 minutes

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Knives Out

In a family gathering that ends in tragedy with the death of the patriarch, a master detective must figure out who the perpetrator is. A classic thriller whodunit trope with a modern twist, the star-studded cast alone makes this film a must-watch. Performing well at the box office and receiving plenty of accolades for the screenplay, direction, and story, the movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was dubbed one of the top movies of 2019 by the National Board of Review.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plummer
Director: Rian Johnson
Rating: PG
Runtime: 130 minutes

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The Usual Suspects

Arguably one of the best movies ever made, you’re taken through twists and turns as a small-time con man is interrogated by the police about a massacre and fire on a boat. As he takes the detective through a crazy and confusing story and reveals the identity of his crime lord boss, Keyser Soze, the detective listens intently, hoping to get some nugget of useful information out of the man to help the case. It’s one of the biggest twist endings ever that will shock first-time viewers and makes the movie worth watching again and again. The Writers Guild of America has ranked the film 35th on its list of the greatest screenplays of all time.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Stars: Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite, Kevin Spacey, Suzy Amis, Benicio del Toro, Giancarlo Esposito
Director: Bryan Singer
Rating: 14A
Runtime: 106 minutes

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Mission Impossible IV – Ghost Protocol

In the fourth film in the Mission Impossible franchise, Tom Cruise returns as IMF agent Ethan Hunt who is presented with yet another mission, should he choose to accept it. The plot of this film sees Hunt purposely imprisoned in Moscow in an attempt to track down a man known as Cobalt who is about to receive a file containing Russian nuclear launch codes from an assassin. Filled with high-tech scenes and high-flying action, as is par for the course with any of the Mission Impossible movies, it’s no surprise the film was a roaring success at the box office. It’s edge of your seat, popcorn in hand, movie night at home material.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton
Director: Brad Bird
Rating: 14A
Runtime: 133 minutes

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Margin Call

Taking place over the span of 24 hours, the film chronicles what happens with several employees of a large Wall Street investment bank during the inset of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008. With themes of capitalism, greed, and investment fraud, director J.C. Chandor drew from personal experience — he is the son of an investment banker and invested in real estate in New York just before the financial crash. Nominated for an Academy Award for its screenplay, the film has been called one of the best Wall Street movies ever made.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Ashley Williams, Aasif Mandvi
Director: J.C. Chandor
Rating: 14A
Runtime: 109 minutes

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Safe, on Amazon Prime

Break out the popcorn and turn down the lights to enjoy the high-velocity action that characterizes any Jason Statham film. In this one, he stars as Luke, an ex-cop who also, of course, has a background in cage fighting and a deep desire for revenge against the men who killed his pregnant wife. By chance, he comes across one of them chasing down a gifted child to use for their criminal activities, and he takes it upon himself to not only seek vengeance once and for all, but also to protect the little girl. Predictably, she has nothing to worry about because Luke will do what needs to be done with gusto, flare, and a grimace that has enemies shaking in their boots. There’s lots of gun-wielding and epic fight scenes to make for a thoroughly entertaining watch when you’re in the mood for an escapist flick.

Rotten Tomatoes: 58%
Stars: Jason Statham
Director: Boaz Yakin
Rating: 14A
Runtime: 95 minutes

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You Were Never Really Here, on Amazon Prime

Joaquin Phoenix is on point in Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here. The Oscar-winning actor plays Joe, a brutalizer-for-hire, with a speciality in rescuing trafficked girls. Suffering from suicidal thoughts and years of trauma from his childhood through his military career, Joe agrees to a new mission. It’s standard fare: Rescue a senator’s daughter and take down anyone that gets in the way. The only trouble is that those involved are part of a much deeper political conspiracy, and Joe lands right in the middle of the villains and their victims. You Were Never Really Here has teeth, and it bites — a lot. Those uneasy with gore may want to choose something else on this list. For those that can stomach Joe’s reign of hammer-blows, you’ll be rewarded with a brilliantly directed character study and a mesmerizing lead performance from our latest cinematic Joker.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Rating: 14A
Runtime: 89 minutes

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