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The Most Captivating Thrillers of the 2020s (So Far)


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by Xtreme HD IPTV

The thriller genre does exactly what its name says it will do; it thrills the audience. Thrillers are meant to captivate the audience with a gripping storyline that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. Every moment should be exciting, in the sense that the viewer is always drawn to the world of the movie for one reason or another. The story should be intriguing enough that you simply have to pay attention to nothing else but what’s unfolding on the screen in front of you. Whether it’s because the story is action-packed, the characters are multidimensional, or the plot is complex, a thriller should keep its audience fully invested.

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Updated Jan. 28, 2024: This article has been updated with additional content and useful features, including where to stream the most captivating thrillers of the 2020s.

Thrillers can easily be blended with other genres to create interesting and exciting worlds, with horror and action being the most notable genre blends. Sci-fi, mystery, drama, and crime also pair excellently with thrillers. Thrillers can scare you, motivate you, perplex you, and enamor you. Many thrillers have gone on to be considered classics of cinema, and each decade has produced incredible films in the genre that still wow audiences today. We are not even halfway through the 2020s yet, but the decade has already given moviegoers some truly unbelievable thrillers. Here are some of the most captivating thrillers of the 2020s so far:

10 Influencer (2022)

Influencer is a horror thriller that will certainly leave you questioning your online presence once the credits roll. As the title suggests, the film is about an influencer named Madison (Emily Tennant) on a solo trip to Thailand where she vlogs her vacation activities and makes video content to advertise the resort she’s staying at. Disappointed that her boyfriend didn’t come on the trip with her, she decides to make friends with another solo traveler named CW (Cassandra Naud), who shows her more of the country than she ever saw on her own. However, CW’s interest in helping Madison quickly turns sinister.

Influencer Is More Than Its Title Suggests

The title is on the nose, but this indie influencer thriller is surprisingly engaging and goes places you may not expect it to. Think along the lines of Triangle of Sadness and Cam. Its lavish scenery contrasts wonderfully with the grim tension on offer here, and its surprisingly methodical pacing even hearkens back to films like Single White Female. It’s a film that leaves its true surprises underneath its simple title, defying expectations to become a shockingly impressive thriller.

Stream Influencer on Shudder

9 The Black Phone (2022)

Black Phone

The Black Phone

Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson adapt a script based on Joe Hill’s sory, The Black Phone. Ethan Hawke stars as a child killer whose latest abductee is receiving calls from dead victims.

Release Date
June 24, 2022

Read Our Review

Ethan Hawke is no stranger to playing dark characters, but in Scott Derrickson’s The Black Phone, he plays his most sadistic character yet. Set in a suburban town in the ’70s, the horror thriller centers around a shy but intelligent 13-year-old boy named Finney (Mason Thames) who is abducted by a despicable child murderer known to the locals as “The Grabber” (Hawke). He is trapped in a soundproof basement, where the only communication he has comes from the disconnected phone on the wall. This allows Finney to talk to the killer’s previous victims, who are determined to help him escape. The only living person who has any shot at finding Finney is his precocious little sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw).

Ethan Hawke Shines in The Black Phone

The film does a great job of keeping the viewer hooked on Finney’s desperate attempts at escape, as well as his sister’s very different journey to discover where her older brother is being held captive. Knowing that Derrickson and Hawke previously worked together on Sinister, Hawke shines in one of his few outright villainous performances to date. It’s a thriller whose low budget allows for genuinely engaging storytelling, relying more on the strength of its individual performances and pacing in lieu of bombastic effects.

Buy or Rent The Black Phone on Prime Video

8 I’m Your Woman (2020)

Set in the 1970s, a woman named Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) is forced to go on the run with her baby after her criminal husband betrays his corrupt business partners. Jean and her baby must endure a dangerous journey to free themselves of the mess he left in his wake and get to safety.

I’m Your Woman Offers a Different Perspective

I’m Your Woman offers a different perspective than most crime thrillers as it focuses completely on the spouse of the criminal in question. We get to see how the actions of Jean’s husband directly effect her and their child and how it quickly turns their lives upside down, rather than seeing just the effects the criminal’s actions have on them. Jean is forced to go into hiding with her infant child and abandon everything she has ever known to be true because of the selfish actions of someone who is supposed to be there for them.

Stream I’m Your Woman on Freevee

7 Nobody (2021)

Nobody

Nobody

A docile family man slowly reveals his true character after his house gets burgled by two petty thieves, which, coincidentally, leads him into a bloody war with a Russian crime boss. Starring Bob Odenkirk and Christopher Lloyd.

Release Date
March 26, 2021

Director
Ilya Naishuller

Read Our Review

There have been many comparisons between Nobody and the John Wick movies, which is valid considering the subject and the violent nature of the film. However, John Wick and Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) have completely opposite personalities. Hutch is a docile husband and father who is underestimated by everyone in his life. He takes all of life’s inconveniences and never pushes back. When two intruders break into his home one night, he doesn’t defend himself or his family in order to avoid any violence, disappointing his wife and teenage son. The incident reawakens a killer instinct he locked away for years, putting him on a brutal path that brings to light dark secrets in a quest to save his family from a Russian crime boss.

Bob Odenkirk Trades Comedy for Action in Nobody

Aside from the fact that he is clearly a skilled fighter, Hutch really isn’t anything like John Wick. So, when this dormant instinct to fight back is finally awakened, he revels in getting beat up just as much as he enjoys handing out the beatings. He wants to feel alive again. Bob Odenkirk absolutely owns this role in a way that probably will surprise a lot of viewers, and it will undoubtedly have you cheering each time Hutch lands a punch. It’s one of the few times Odenkirk gets a chance to shine in a dramatic setting, selling the authenticity of his character’s age and rage in equal measure.

Stream Nobody on Freevee

6 Kimi (2022)

Kimi

Kimi

An agoraphobic Seattle tech worker uncovers evidence of a crime. Zoë Kravitz stars in this Steven Soderbergh thriller.

Release Date
February 10, 2022

Read Our Review

Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, Steven Soderbergh’s Kimi is a tight thriller that utilizes its time period and environment to its advantage. The film takes place in Seattle, where an agoraphobic tech worker named Angela (Zoë Kravitz) discovers evidence of a violent crime while reviewing a data stream. She is met with much resistance from executives when she attempts to report the crime to her company. She realizes that she must become more involved if she wants to bring justice to the victim, which means she must face her greatest fear by leaving the safety of her apartment and venturing out into the dangerous world.

Paranoia and Agoraphobia Add to the Tension

The backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic is used expertly to tell a story about paranoia and privacy within the world of tech. It even shares some passing similarities to the works of Alfred Hitchcock, with Rear Window likely being a notable inspiration for the plot’s progression. COVID-19 really is simply the background in this film, as it isn’t about the pandemic at all. It’s a nice change of pace for the post-pandemic media landscape, and a thrilling watch for a weekend night spent at home.

Stream Kimi on Max

Related

35 Best Thrillers of All Time

With more suspense than dramas but less intensity than horror, these are the 35 greatest thriller movies ever made.

The Menu

The Menu

Release Date
November 18, 2022

Director
Mark Mylod

Read Our Review

Between the second season of FX’s hit show The Bear and the release of Mark Mylod’s comedic horror thriller, the phrase “Yes chef!” was a staple of the early 2020s. The Menu is a single-location thriller that takes place in a lavish, upscale restaurant that exclusively serves the ultra-wealthy with demanding palates. Among them is obsessive and ill-mannered Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and his unimpressed date Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy). While Margot has no interest in the elaborate multi-course dining experience, Tyler and the rest of the patrons eagerly await Chef Julian Slowik’s (Ralph Fiennes) decadent meal plan, unaware of the surprises that are in store for them.

This film uses black comedy to portray its social commentary boldly. From the moment the first course of the night is served, it is evident that something is not quite right about this world-famous restaurant, and it is impossible to look away as the true nature of Chef Julian’s intentions are slowly revealed. It would later receive a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards, with Ralph Fiennes receiving multiple Best Actor nominations elsewhere.

Stream The Menu on Max

4 How to Blow Up a Pipeline (2023)

Read Our Review

In this fictional adaptation of climate activist Andreas Malm’s titular book, How to Blow Up a Pipeline sees friends, strangers, and partners come together in the Texas desert to enact a sabotage plan on the oil industry. All deeply affected by the negative impacts that industrialism and capitalism have on the environment, the misfit group resorts to domestic terrorism to prove a point to the corporations who have wronged them. With hardly any signs of hesitation, the unlikely group meets at an abandoned West Texas house and gets straight to work to detonate a bomb under a huge portion of an oil pipeline.

How to Blow Up a Pipeline Sparked Controversy

Told through seven perspectives, the group’s journey to get to their end goal is both riveting and upsetting. Aside from featuring one of the most blunt titles of the past few years — one that will likely raise some alarm bells with local authorities, if you’re not careful — the film’s content and premise sparked a degree of controversy in public discourse. However, the film opts to explore its violent ideas instead of outright endorsing them, allowing for the audience to think critically against the backdrop of a tense thriller.

Stream How to Blow Up a Pipeline on Hulu

3 Infinity Pool (2023)

Read Our Review

Coming from the mind of David Cronenberg’s son, Brandon Cronenberg, it should be no surprise that Infinity Pool is a disturbing, hallucinogenic nightmare that you simply can’t look away from. While staying at an isolated beach resort on the fictional island of Li Tolqa, James (Alexander Skarsgard) and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) enjoy an idyllic vacation filled with exceptional service and beautiful views. When they meet the mysterious Gabi (Mia Goth) and her husband, James and Em venture off the resort grounds with the couple and find themselves involved in a culture of violence and hedonism.

Infinity Pool Melds Body Horror With Palpable Tension

The film is deeply unsettling from the start, but after they venture off the resort property, it becomes a deranged and unnerving thrill ride. It is not afraid to throw its audience for a loop more than once, and it lets its characters run absolutely wild. It is ridiculously engrossing and rightfully tense. It will certainly have you gripping the edge of your seat by the end of the third act.

Stream Infinity Pool on Hulu

2 The Call (2020)

South Korean cinema creates incredibly well-made, captivating, thought-provoking films in every genre. Still, it takes horror and thrillers to an entirely new level, especially when the genres are combined. The Call is a particularly excellent example of this idea, being released directly on streaming in 2020.

It follows two 28-year-old women living in the countryside who correspond with each other via a landline telephone. Seo-yeon is visiting her mother’s house in 2019, while Young-sook lives with her step-mother in the same house, but in 1999. The two women talk every day on the phone, despite living in two different decades, and become friends. They start to wonder if the past can be changed, but Seo-yeon soon realizes it may be better left alone.

The Call Melds Time Travel With Thrilling Tension

Despite originally being intended for a theatrical release, this Netflix exclusive thriller doesn’t disappoint. Underneath the ratcheting tension and escalating stakes, it’s ultimately an examination of trauma, showcasing how intergenerational trauma in particular is something that is difficult to escape. This film is as entertaining as it is unsettling, and it throws twists and turns at you like it’s nothing. There is no doubt it will keep you hooked for the entire 112 minutes.

Stream The Call on Netflix

Related

The 23 Best Thrillers of 2023, Ranked

2023 found a variety of movie genres flirting with thrillers, so there are a lot of films to consider for the best of the year.

1 Emily the Criminal (2022)

Student loan debt is the bane of many Millennial and elder Gen Z’s existence. It can be crippling for many, even with a full-time job. Emily the Criminal portrays the difficulties that student loan debt can wreak on college graduates and how difficult it can be to secure any job, but takes it to the extreme. It centers around Emily (Aubrey Plaza), a 30-year-old woman saddled with student debt. She works odd jobs in an attempt to try to pay back the debt, but has an incredibly difficult time trying to land higher-jobs due to a minor criminal record. Desperate for cash and feeling helpless, Emily gets involved in a credit card scam that pulls her deep into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, which ultimately leads to deadly consequences.

Emily the Criminal Is as Relevant as Ever

Aubrey Plaza shines in this intense and relevant thriller. Emily is so fed up with capitalism and the way that the world treats working-class people that she succumbs to criminal activity, just to free herself of the shackles that come with her student loan debt. It’s well-written and well-acted, but also does a great job at displaying the problems associated with the rising student loan debt and economic inequality in the United States. It keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time, all while resonating with a significant portion of the population.

Stream Emily the Criminal on Netflix

Some of the best thrillers also double as pulpy revenge movies. To see our picks for the best revenge movies of all time, be sure to check out the video below:

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