20 mind-blowing thrillers available to stream in Australia

If you’re not that into horror, a twisty psychological thriller is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

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We don’t know about you, but we like our thrillers with a little bit of substance. Not that there’s anything wrong with straight-up action flicks; in fact, they’re ideal for when you need to lay back and give your brain an entertaining break for a couple of hours. Otherwise, there’s nothing quite like a solid thriller of the psychological variety, one that will mess with your mind in exciting and unexpected ways.

But what makes a good thriller? Compelling protagonists? A copious dose of suspense? A few mind-bending twists? We vote all of the above. With so many titles out there waiting to be streamed, why settle? We’ve gathered some of the best thrillers currently available in Australia. Proceed with caution as some of these are not recommended for the faint of heart.

Dark Waters

1. Dark Waters


  • Year: 2019
  • Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Pullman

A terrific legal thriller, Dark Waters stars Mark Ruffalo as an attorney who uncovers a secret that connects a growing number of unexplained deaths to one of the world's largest corporations. Unfortunately, as he's struggling to expose the truth, he puts both his life and his family at risk.

The movie dramatises Robert Bilott's case against DuPont after the company contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals. It's powerful and compelling, with memorable performances from everyone involved. The fact that it tells a true story only makes it even more terrifying.

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2. I Care a Lot


  • Year: 2020
  • Cast: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Dianne Wiest, Chris Messina

If you like your thrills with a side of comedy, look no further than I Care a Lot. The story follows a crooked court-appointed guardian who takes advantage of the elderly by placing them in assisted living facilities and seizing their assets for her own gain. However, she lands in hot water when she tries to con a woman with ties to a powerful gangster.

I Care a Lot is a well-acted and outrageous black comedy that touches on capitalism, greed and the exploitation of those whom society deems unable to care for themselves. The characters are sort of irredeemable so you may have no-one to cheer for, but you'll have a whole lot of fun nonetheless.

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Split

3. Split


  • Year: 2016
  • Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula

Would this list be complete without M. Night Shyamalan? Probably not. When three girls are kidnapped by a man suffering from dissociative identity disorder and having 23 distinct personalities, they must find a way to escape before a 24th one emerges. Yikes!

If that premise isn't enough to get your blood pumping, we're happy to report that Split is both gripping and fascinating. James McAvoy is a treat in the lead role, perfectly capturing the battle between his character's many alter egos. To say that you'll be glued to the screen would be an understatement.

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Searching

4. Searching


  • Year: 2018
  • Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, Michelle La

Searching is a brilliantly-executed mystery thriller, one that uses an original format to draw you in.

The story revolves around a father who becomes desperate when his teen daughter goes missing. He decides to take matters into his own hands and looks through his daughter's laptop, hoping to uncover clues that will lead him to her whereabouts.

The movie is set entirely on computer screens and smartphones – a gimmick, but an effective one. Suspenseful and twisty, Searching is the kind of movie you'll want to tell your friends about. That's always a good thing.

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Zodiac

5. Zodiac


  • Year: 2007
  • Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards

Directed by David Fincher, Zodiac is a movie you wouldn't necessarily expect to be thrilling. After all, most of the world has heard of the Zodiac killer and knows that he's never been caught. Showing the turmoil the investigators went through while he was active doesn't sound too enticing.

Yet enticing it is. As detectives and reporters become obsessed with finding the elusive monster, you'll be struggling to piece together the puzzle yourself. Intense and engrossing, Zodiac may be more dialogue-heavy than your average thriller, but it's definitely worth putting your phone away.

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The Invitation

6. The Invitation


  • Year: 2015
  • Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michiel Huisman

When a man accepts an invitation to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife, he begins to suspect that she and her new beau have sinister plans for their guests.

That's pretty much all you need to know before streaming this slow-burning thriller, as the tension is bubbling up just under the surface.

With a solid ensemble cast, The Invitation is eerie and rewarding. The movie may take its time building up to the climax, but you'll be happy to stick around to see your patience finally pay off.

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Buried

7. Buried


  • Year: 2010
  • Cast: Ryan Reynolds, José Luis García Pérez, Robert Paterson, Stephen Tobolowsky

Probably the most claustrophobic thriller of all time, Buried centres on Paul, a truck driver in Iraq who is attacked by insurgents and buried underground with just a lighter and a cellphone.

Faced with a dwindling oxygen supply, Paul has to keep his anxiety in check as he waits for a rescue team that may not reach him in time.

The movie is intense and exciting, to the point where it will leave you gasping for breath. Who thought that watching a man trapped inside a coffin for an hour and a half could be anything but boring?

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Mulholland Drive

8. Mulholland Drive


  • Year: 2001
  • Cast: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Jeanne Bates

Mulholland Drive is about an aspiring actress, Betty, newly arrived in Los Angeles. She meets and befriends an amnesiac woman, Rita, who is recovering from a car accident. Together, the two attempt to solve the mystery of Rita's real identity and figure out what happened to her.

Directed by David Lynch, this neo-noir thriller has an unconventional structure and a dream-like quality that instantly makes it stand out from the crowd. Stream it when you're in the mood for something artsy, but with enough twists to keep you entertained throughout.

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A Quiet Place

9. A Quiet Place


  • Year: 2018
  • Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds

If you like your thrillers with a touch of horror, A Quiet Place fits the bill. The movie follows a family that struggles for survival in a world where most humans have been killed by blind but noise-sensitive alien-like creatures. They have to make as little noise as possible to keep undetected, which can be quite a challenge as far as everyday life is concerned.

Dark and chilling, A Quiet Place manages to create suspense with very little dialogue and excellent editing, proving that a relatively simple premise can go a long way.

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Ex Machina

10. Ex Machina


  • Year: 2014
  • Cast: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Sonoya Mizuno

A sci-fi thriller that will mess with your mind in the best way possible, Ex Machina revolves around a programmer tasked by his CEO to assess an intelligent humanoid robot by interacting with it.

Things escalate to the point where the programmer isn't sure who to believe, the CEO or the robot, especially when the robot turns out to be way more deceptive than anyone would have thought.

This is a movie about a small group of people conspiring against each other – and it's sensational from beginning to end. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

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Parasite

11. Parasite


  • Year: 2019
  • Cast: Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Cho

All the buzz and acclaim surrounding the 2020 Best Picture winner is well-earned, to the point where this movie should be on everyone's watchlist. A black comedy, Parasite starts off funny only to evolve into a beast of thrills and class commentary. It will also give you plenty to think about.

To put it simply, the movie follows a symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan. Who are the real bottom feeders? It's up to you to decide.

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The Machinist

12. The Machinist


  • Year: 2004
  • Cast: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón

The Machinist is an uncomfortable movie, to say the least. It centres on Trevor, a factory worker who suffers from a severe case of insomnia that causes him to lose a concerning amount of weight and also severely affects his mental health. When Trevor causes an accident that injures a co-worker, his condition gets even worse, escalating into full-on paranoia.

While the movie became popular due to Christian Bale’s extreme physical transformation for the role, it’s also important to note that the actor offers a brilliant performance – one that will stay with you for a long time. The Machinist is the kind of movie you admire more than enjoy. However, we guarantee that you won’t forget this trip into Trevor’s nightmarish reality anytime soon.

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The Usual Suspects

13. The Usual Suspects


  • Year: 1995
  • Cast: Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri

The Usual Suspects is, like The Sixth Sense, the type of movie everyone loves to spoil, so you might be familiar with the big twist already. But if you somehow made it this far without seeing the movie and learning the ending, rejoice! You can bask in its glory without a pre-blown mind.

A massive explosion leaves 27 men dead and millions of dollars worth of cocaine missing. The movie follows the interrogation of Kint, a small-time con man who tells a convoluted tale about the days before the explosion. Although The Usual Suspects looks like a pretty straightforward whodunnit at first glance, it turns into much more as Kint’s story progresses. Suspenseful and entertaining, the movie serves plenty of fun twists along the way, building up to a truly satisfying ending. You can’t go wrong with this one.

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A Simple Favor

14. A Simple Favor


  • Year: 2018
  • Cast: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding

Thrillers can be funny, too. Case in point: The delicious A Simple Favor, a bonkers movie following a mummy vlogger, Stephanie, who befriends a secretive upper-class woman, Emily. When Emily goes missing, Stephanie decides to do a little investigating to figure out what's going on, with outrageous results.

A Simple Favor will not only mess with your mind, but also your expectations. It's hilarious, sexy and just the right amount of clever to keep the plot from going completely off the rails. You'll be thoroughly entertained.

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Parasite

15. The Others


  • Year: 2001
  • Cast: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Fionnula Flanagan

This spooky thriller centres on Grace, a mother of two who lives with her family on the island of Jersey during World War II. While awaiting word from her missing husband, Grace does her best to protect her kids from a rare photosensitivity disease. When her daughter claims that she can see ghosts, Grace believes that the servants are playing tricks. However, she soon discovers that supernatural occurrences are not quite out of the question.

Chilling and creepy, The Others is the kind of movie that doesn’t need special effects to give viewers goosebumps. Elegant and beautifully shot, it relies on mood and suspense instead of jump scares and masked serial killers. If you’re into that type of thing, you’ll be hooked from the first scene.

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Widows

16. Widows


  • Year: 2018
  • Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo

Widows was co-written by Gillian Flynn, which can only mean good things as far as psychological thrillers go. The story follows a group of widows with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities. To forge a future on their own terms, they decide to band together and pull off an ambitious heist.

A thought-provoking and timely thriller, Widows has a tremendous cast and delivers on the suspense front, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats.

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Looper

17. Looper


  • Year: 2012
  • Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt

Looper’s premise is mind-blowing enough, but the movie ups the ante with some fine acting and exciting action scenes. In a future society, time travel is invented. There’s a catch, though – it’s illegal and only available to those with the means to pay for such sought-after black market shenanigans. For instance, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, they send their target 30 years into the past, where a hired gun known as a looper lays in wait to mop up. All goes well until one day, when the mob sends the looper’s future self back in time for assassination.

Starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Looper is thrilling, smart, fast-paced and riveting. It may suffer from the occasional plot hole, but the movie’s got enough going on to keep you entertained.

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Bird Box

18. Bird Box


  • Year: 2018
  • Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson

Based on the book of the same name, Bird Box takes place in a world where a mysterious force has decimated the population. Only one thing is certain – if you see it, you die. As a result, a woman and her children have to embark on a dangerous journey in the hope of finding sanctuary.

Look, taking a trip blindfolded is no easy feat, which is exactly how Bird Box manages to build tension. Add in the fact that Sandra Bullock is perfectly cast, offering an exquisite performance, and you've got yourself a winner.

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Gone Girl

19. Gone Girl


  • Year: 2014
  • Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris

Gone Girl is a terrific psychological thriller adapted with flair and elegance from the popular novel of the same name. The movie follows Nick Dunne, whose wife Amy mysteriously disappears one day. The result? A bona fide media frenzy as everyone starts to suspect him of wrongdoing. But are they right?

We won't spoil the big twist – enough to say you'll be in for the surprise of a lifetime. Gone Girl is nutty in the best way possible, dark, compelling and tremendously entertaining. Buckle up.

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John Wick

20. John Wick


  • Year: 2014
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen

Never mess with a man's dog. That's the message behind John Wick, a revenge movie about a retired hitman who is forced to return to his old ways after Russian gangsters steal his car and kill his puppy. Mayhem ensues.

Sleek and brutal, this movie kicked off an entire franchise, with sequels you might want to check out as well. With gripping action scenes and swift fighting choreography, John Wick makes for a highly satisfying watch.

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What changed on our list?

New additions

  • Dark Waters
  • I Care a Lot
  • Split
  • Searching
  • Zodiac
  • The Invitation
  • Buried
  • Mulholland Drive
  • Ex Machina
  • A Quiet Place

Didn't make the cut

  • Snowpiercer
  • Inception
  • Donnie Darko
  • Source Code
  • Memento

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