best thrillers on amazon prime - neon demon

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20 thrillers on Amazon Prime that will make your heart race

Amazon is full of movies that will quicken the pulse.


Audra Schroeder


Amazon Prime is home to thousands of great movies and shows, but if you’re looking for something to quicken your pulse, its selection of thrillers will do the trick. From action to horror to psychodramas, here’s a list of the best thrillers on Amazon Prime right now.

The best thrillers on Amazon Prime

The Neon Demon

Nicolas Winding Refn’s movies are not for everyone. He makes aggressive, confrontational films that practically dare you to turn them off. But he’s too skilled a craftsman to completely dismiss outright. The Neon Demon is about a young woman (Elle Fanning) breaking into and ascending the ranks in the L.A. modeling world. The movie is a treatise on the male gaze, the perceived vapidity of models, and the dog-eat-dog nature of the industry—or at least the version of the industry depicted here. The good thing about Refn and The Neon Demon is that you’ll know within the first few minutes of the movie if it’s something you want to see. —Eddie Strait


Esme Creed-Miles gives a compelling performance as Hanna, a teenage girl on the run from the CIA, in this thriller miniseries that blends Jason Bourne action with teen drama. Hanna may not be too exciting for diehard fans of the original movie, which benefitted from its aesthetic flair and offbeat humor. But if you’re looking for a mainstream action thriller with a compelling emotional core, you’ve come to the right place. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw 

Train to Busan

The average zombie movie comes prepackaged with ramped tension, but Train to Busan dials it up a few notches. As a zombie outbreak spreads through South Korea, a woman who’s been infected gets onto a train heading to Busan. Once she perishes and rises again, all bets are off for the many passengers who are now faced with a zombie outbreak within a very confined space. —Michelle Jaworski

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Based on the 1967 novel by Joan Lindsay, cinephiles will likely be familiar with Picnic at Hanging Rock from Peter Weir’s 1975 adaptation of the same name. Both versions focus on the disappearance of a group of students and a governess from an Australian girls’ school called Appleyard College during a picnic on Valentine’s Day, 1900. Where the miniseries and the film diverge is in how they chronicle the aftermath of these events. While the film resolves little of the mystery, choosing to focus more on the effects the women’s disappearance has on the school and its denizens, the miniseries expands the story to include more from Lindsay’s novel, providing additional backstory and answering some of the questions the movie ignores. —Chris Osterndorf 

The Handmaiden

If you haven’t seen it yet, stop everything you’re doing and spend the next two-and-a-half hours in Park Chan-wook’s exhilarating The Handmaiden. The movie is chock full of twists and role-reversals and is so much fun that mentioning any story specifics would be unfair. Chan-wook is one of the world’s most entertaining directors, and The Handmaiden is arguably one of his best. Everything that makes him great is on display here, from the dizzying tonal shifts to the luscious photography, and idiosyncratic indulgences. —Eddie Strait


It’s hard to follow Sir Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter—numerous actors have tried—but Mads Mikkelsen easily gives Hopkins a run for his money. This delightfully twisted and bloody cult series from Bryan Fuller (that somehow managed to get past NBC’s censors every single week) follows Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), an FBI profiler who forms an incredibly complex relationship with Hannibal, which becomes more complicated as more elaborately staged bodies start to appear. The only thing more lavish than Hannibal Lecter’s wardrobe is his dinner parties full of dishes so artfully created you almost forget that he used human organs in his cooking. —Michelle Jaworski

A Simple Favor

Is A Simple Favor a comedy, a thriller, or a satire of the Lifetime original movie genre? Paul Feig’s takes a blend of all three to portray a wildly entertaining, sexy, and outlandish tale of tension, murder, and twists upon twists as mommy blogger Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) befriends working mom Emily Nelson (Blake Lively). When Emily disappears, Stephanie starts to embed herself in Emily’s husband’s (Henry Golding) life, but the past continues to haunt her. —Michelle Jaworski

Suspiria (2018)

The original Suspiria is a memorable concoction of bold creative choices: a multilingual European slasher movie about a young woman who discovers that witches run her dance school. The score (a blaring prog rock album by the band Goblin) and visual design are astounding, but the characterization is thin, and by modern standards, it’s neither scary nor an effective psychological thriller. So with a filmmaker like Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) in charge, there’s plenty of reason to get excited about this new retelling. Guadagnino specializes in luxurious romantic dramas, often starring women and always seasoned with a biting sense of humor. With a script by horror screenwriter David Kajganich (The Terror) and music by Thom Yorke, you have a promising creative team. Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Brawl in Cell Block 99

Vince Vaughn has never been better onscreen. He plays a man who gets himself mixed up with the wrong people and finds himself in prison. In order to keep his wife safe, he must brawl (there it is) his way through to the jailhouse kingpin. Anyone familiar with S. Craig Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk knows that means plenty of skull-cracking violence will ensue. Brawl is a brutal, somewhat stunning B-movie. Oh, and there’s a scene where Vaughn pummels and tears apart a car with his bare hands. —Eddie Strait


Sam Esmail’s first major project since the success of Mr. Robot is Homecoming, the new Amazon Prime show starring America’s sweetheart Julia Roberts, and America’s soon-to-be sweetheart, Stephan James. While the series was actually created by Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg, based on their podcast of the same name (because Amazon loves making shows like that, apparently,) it has Esmail’s fingerprints all over it. Like Mr. Robot, the series is a paranoid thriller, deeply skeptical of government and powerful entities in general. It follows a program designed to acclimate soldiers to civilian life, with Roberts as Heidi Bergman, a primary caseworker at the facility, and James as Walter Cruz, a veteran with whom she forms a special bond. The supporting and recurring cast consists of a seemingly endless array of talented actors, including Bobby Cannavale, Shea Whigham, Alex Karpovsky, Sissy Spacek, Jeremy Allen White, Hong Chau, and in the My Best Friend’s Wedding reunion nobody expected, Dermot Mulroney, playing Heidi’s drip of a boyfriend. —Chris Osterndorf

The Americans

In FX’s critically acclaimed series, two KGB intelligence officers (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) pose as an inauspicious married American couple in Virginia. With an FBI agent as a neighbor, The Americans takes you through the 1980s and the final years of the Cold War as both personal and political drama threaten to upend their lives. —Michelle Jaworski


Most filmmakers would kill to make a film as accomplished as Hereditary, writer-director Ari Aster’s debut. It’s atmospheric as hell, features outstanding acting, and is full of terrifying imagery. The film centers on a family dealing with the loss of their grandmother. The family’s grief is amplified by disturbing visions and more tragedy. Anchored by great performances by Toni Collette (who, in a just world, would get an Oscar for her work) and Alex Wolff, Hereditary is the kind of horror movie that burrows itself into your head and sticks with you long after you finish watching it. —Eddie Strait 

First Reformed 

Some movies leave your brain after you watch them, and some lodge themselves so deep you can’t stop thinking about them. Paul Schrader’s stunning First Reformed is the latter. It tells the story of a pastor named Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke in an Oscar-worthy turn), who presides over a small congregation in upstate New York and spends his days journaling and drinking away his pain. When he meets an environmental activist who questions whether God can forgive us for corrupting the planet, a new crisis of faith is ignited. First Reformed doesn’t provide easy answers for the questions it asks, but it underscores how our thinking (and our institutions) can be corrupted and infected, paired with some truly transcendent scenes. Audra Schroeder 

We Need to Talk About Kevin

I know what you’re thinking: school shooting movie, pretty tough sell. Well, you’re not wrong. But We Need to Talk About Kevin is worth watching for how it subverts the genre. From the always bold Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher), the film tracks the relationship between Eva (Tilda Swinton) and her son, Kevin (Ezra Miller), from his birth to the incident in question. We Need to Talk About Kevin doesn’t pull its punches: Kevin is naturally disturbing and unsympathetic, and Eva is wary of him from a young age. Was Kevin always the way he was or was it his mother’s inability to love him that made him that way? And more importantly, should Eva have been a mother to begin with? Some people aren’t meant to be parents. Those are the probing questions Ramsey asks in We Need to Talk About Kevin, ones made all the more haunting by a final scene where mother and son are forced to finally come together, having no one else left to turn to. —Chris Osterndorf


A young woman (Florence Pugh) tags along on a trip with her emotionally distant boyfriend (Jack Reynor) and his friends to visit a remote Swedish commune that’s about to start a Midsummer celebration that occurs once every 90 years. But the longer they stay in the commune, the more they start to discover that the people who welcomed them in might have had much more nefarious reasons for doing so. Aster’s follow-up to Hereditary touches on many of the themes as his first film while exploring new territory on how his characters handle grief and loss. —Michelle Jaworski

The Fall

In this British-Irish drama, Gillian Anderson plays Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, who’s tasked with reviewing a murder case that quickly unfolds to reveal that a serial killer is murdering women in Belfast. The audience learns who the killer is (played by Jamie Dorman) as we see how much his normal day life differs from his murderous nightlife. —Michelle Jaworski

Good Omens 

Adapted from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s 1990 fantasy novel of the same name, Good Omens follows an angel (Michael Sheen) and a demon (David Tennant) who team up to try to stop the end of the world. With beautiful visuals and a humorous tone, this Amazon Prime series is hard not to like. Good Omens won’t make you root for heaven or hell, but it will make you want to see both Tennant and Sheen in more roles, preferably together. —Tiffany Kelly


A Category 5 hurricane makes its way through Florida, trapping a young woman (Kaya Scodelario) and her estranged father (Barry Pepper) in the crawl space of his home. As the house begins to fill with water, several alligators who made their way into the house through a storm drain prevent them from getting out and escaping somewhere to safely ride out the storm. —Michelle Jaworski

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Did Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film really need a sequel? Only if Nicolas Cage picked up the Harvey Keitel role and Werner Herzog directed it. This 2009 film moves the bad lieutenant to post-Katrina New Orleans, where Cage embodies a morally bankrupt, drug-addled police officer in the Cage-iest way possible. There are many surreal scenes (this is a Herzog joint after all), plus standout performances from Eva Mendes and Xzibit. —Audra Schroeder

You Were Never Really Here 

Joaquin Phoenix has never been better with a hammer. In Lynne Ramsay’s dark thriller, Phoenix plays Joe, a closed-off husk of a human who makes his living as a hitman. When he’s hired to save a politician’s daughter from sex trafficking, his past trauma starts to unravel and we’re left to battle demons with him. —Audra Schroeder

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