40 Best Thriller Movies on Netflix UK

40 Best Thriller Movies on Netflix UK

March 11, 2024

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From the country that gave us classic characters like Sherlock Holmes and James Bond also comes a tradition of noir, crime films, and suspense movies that are frequently referred to collectively as thrillers. In the UK—and on Netflix UK, in particular, these films have taken on every form, from hardboiled police procedurals to spy movies and working class social thrillers. But common to most, if not all, of them is a sense of danger or dread, and a certain level of deception or craftiness so the heroes can get what they need. These lesser-known but highly rated thrillers available on Netflix UK should give you that and more.

21. Contratiempo (2016)

best

8.0

Country

Spain

Director

Oriol Paulo

Actors

Ana Wagener, Annick Weerts, Barbara Lennie, Betsy Túrnez

Moods

Action-packed, Suspenseful, Thrilling

This movie is like thriller-candy. It is full of twists, it is very atmospheric, and in nicely predictable fashion it will deliver that excitement rush we (most of us) love. Accused of murder, a wealthy entrepreneur hires the best witness preparation expert he can find. They have three hours before the trial to come up with the most solid, plausible defence. But ?, a new witness surfaces. Don’t expect anything overly original, but expect to be entertained.

22. Official Secrets (2019)

best

8.0

Country

Canada, China, Switzerland

Director

Gavin Hood

Actors

Adam Bakri, Andrew Marr, Angus Wright, Brett Allen

Moods

Instructive, Suspenseful, True-story-based

Keira Knightley stars in this incredible true story of an Iraq War whistleblower who remains relatively little-known in the U.S. Katharine Gun was working for the communications office for the British government when she received a memo in the months leading to the war that showed that the U.S. requested illegal wiretapping assistance from the U.K. on U.N. diplomats. In a heroic act, she chooses to share this memo, hoping that it would stop her government (then led by Tony Blair) from going to war. Spoiler alert: didn’t happen, but this decision, which first seemed like a personal sacrifice, has severe implications on her family as the government finds out that she was behind the leak. A compelling political mystery of a case that deserves much more attention than it once got.

23. Dark Waters (2019)

best

8.0

Country

United States, United States of America

Director

Todd Haynes

Actors

Abi Van Andel, Aidan Brogan, Amy Morse, Amy Warner

Moods

Dramatic, Thought-provoking, True-story-based

Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, and Tim Robbins star in this well-executed and eye-opening drama based on a true story. Robert Bilott (Ruffalo) is a successful corporate lawyer in New York. He is visited by a distressed farmer from his hometown in Cincinnati whose cows have been developing strange behaviors and diseases. Robert decides to take on this case in what will become one of the biggest class-action lawsuits in the country: the use of cancerous chemicals by the company that commercializes Teflon (the stuff in pans). Excellent acting in an incredibly frustrating but necessary story that will trouble you more than any other legal thriller you have watched in the past: prepare to be outraged (and throw away your pans).

24. Monos (2019)

best

8.0

Country

Argentina, Colombia, Denmark

Director

Alejandro Landes

Actors

Deibi Rueda, Jorge Román, Julián Giraldo, Julián Giraldo

Moods

Action-packed, Mind-blowing, Thrilling

This crazy adventure thriller was Colombia’s nomination for the 2020 Oscars. “Monos” translates to monkeys, the nom de guerre of a group of teenagers holding an American hostage in an isolated bunker. Other than the occasional visit from their supervisor, they’re left to their devices, forming relationships, smoking weed, drinking, and eating psychedelic mushrooms. One day, on top of the hostage, they’re also trusted with a milk cow, named Shakira. A party goes wrong and one of the Monos accidentally kills Shakira, triggering a series of events that sends them deep into the jungle, and deep into despair. 

Monos is not an action movie, it’s more of a character study. It was loosely based on The Lord of the Flies.

25. How to Blow Up a Pipeline (2023)

best

8.0

Country

United States of America

Director

Daniel Goldhaber

Actors

Ariela Barer, Calhoun Koenig, Christopher Hagen, Clint Obenchain

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Gripping, Intense

On the one hand, How to Blow Up a Pipeline is a tense thriller—an excellently set-up heist that makes you wonder, until the end, whether the low-budget operation succeeds or not. On the other hand, it’s a thoughtful rumination on the evil and influence of Big Oil, which despite its relentless destruction of environments and communities, continues to run scot-free. 

Together, these parts make for a powerful, nerve-racking film about both the danger and necessity of eco-terrorism—a radical act that is impressively humanized and spared from caricature here. How to Blow Up a Pipeline’s themes may be big and its means explosive, but its rich characterizations of the young activists ground it into a relatable reality. One is dying due to toxins released by the nearby plant, another is forced to give up his property to make way for the construction of a pipeline. All are tired of the fruitlessness of government promises and peaceful protests. Rousing and relevant, there’s never been a more timelier film than this. 

26. The Guard (2011)

7.9

Country

Ireland, UK

Director

John Michael McDonagh

Actors

Brendan Gleeson, Conor Moloney, Darren Healy, David Pearse

The Guard played by Brendan Gleeson is a new character in cinema that appeals to the funny bone inside all of us. A character like this can make any movie lovable. It also features Don Cheadle playing an FBI agent who is in town to solve a crime under Gleeson’s jurisdiction. An overall great movie with great writing. Please note, for those who have a hard time understanding different accents, subtitles are advised.

27. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2012)

7.9

Country

Spain, UK, United Kingdom

Director

Female director, Lynne Ramsay

Actors

Aaron Blakely, Alex Manette, Andy Gershenzon, Annie O'Sullivan

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Intense, Mind-blowing

Adapted from the Lionel Shriver novel of the same name, We Need to Talk About Kevin is the story of a mother (Tilda Swinton) that never quite bonds with her child, but not by her choice. The son grows up to do a heinous act that begs the question: nature or nurture? This film is an uncompromising view on the development of an unloved child. Silent pain gets voice. Feelings are shown by actions not emotions in an authentic, comprehensible and aesthetic manner. Great work.

28. Uncut Gems (2019)

7.9

Country

South Africa, United States of America

Director

Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Actors

Abel Tesfaye, Adam Sandler, Alexander Gilkes, Andrea Linsky

Moods

Action-packed, Dark, Intense

A crazy, anxiety-inducing thriller that turns Adam Sandler into a thrill-generating machine, which in its own speaks volumes about the rhythm of this movie. It follows a jeweler who gets himself in trouble with what feels like all of New York – a gang, Kevin Garnett (the NBA player), other jewelers, his family, odd twins that appear out of nowhere – everyone. This all happens in the backdrop of him feeling he has “hit big” and is on the verge of receiving a lot of money.

If you watched Good Time, you know what to expect from directors Safdie brothers: excruciating tension that keeps building up when you thought it wasn’t possible. And that might be the only problem with Uncut Gems; the tension doesn’t feel that different from Good Time, and having watched one you can guess where the other one is going.

29. The Constant Gardener (2005)

7.9

Country

China, France, Germany

Director

Fernando Meirelles

Actors

Anneke Kim Sarnau, Archie Panjabi, Bill Nighy, Danny Huston

Moods

Emotional, Suspenseful

Ralph Fiennes plays a mild-mannered British diplomat in Kenya who is stunned by the news of his wife Tessa’s (Rachel Weisz) sudden death while in the company of another man. He sets off to investigate the suspicious death––and secret life–-of his late wife, within a tangle of personal betrayals, political threats, and corporate conspiracies. This film presents an exquisite contrast between Justin’s (Fiennes) gentle, contemplative demeanor and the progressively gripping details he uncovers; between rapturous romanticism and darkly corrupting interests. It’s a touching, smart, and suspenseful feast of a movie.

30. Under the Shadow (2016)

7.8

Country

Iran, Jordan, Qatar

Director

Babak Anvari

Actors

Amir Ranjbar, Aram Ghasemy, Arash Marandi, Avin Manshadi

Moods

Intense, Suspenseful

Horror movies have always been creepier to me when they play on our fear of the “unknown” rather than gore. Under The Shadow does exactly that. The story is based around the relationship of a woman, Shideh, and her daughter, Dorsa, under the backdrop of the Iran-Iraq war. As widespread bombings shake the ground beneath their feet, the two grapple with a more insidious evil that is faceless and traceless, coming and going only with the wind. The movie’s dread-effect plays strongly on feelings of isolation and helplessness. The scares are slow and it’s obvious the director takes great care in making every single second count and in raising the unpredictableness of the action. Like the bombs, the audience never knows when or how the next apparition will materialize. The former is always on the edge of fear, wondering what is no doubt there, but is yet to be shown on the frame. In terms of significance, Under The Shadow features too many symbolisms to count and will most likely resonate with each person differently. But one thing remains relatively unarguable: this is a wonderful movie.

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