25 Best Thrillers on Netflix Canada You Need to Watch Right Now
From nail-biting murder mysteries to pulse-pounding capers, here are the most suspenseful offerings on Netflix Canada.
Photo: Paramount Pictures
Primal Fear (1996)
In this box office hit, Richard Gere stars as Martin Vail, a Chicago defense attorney who loves the limelight just as much as he enjoys winning in the courtroom. His latest client? Nineteen-year-old altar boy Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton, in his debut film role), who has been charged with the brutal murder of the local archbishop. With no motive to speak of, Vail believes the case is a home run, but when a mysterious videotape and Stampler’s violent split personality emerge, the hotshot lawyer realizes he’s getting more than he’s bargained for. Brilliantly acted, wonderfully paced and packing a handful of astonishing twists, Primal Fear is one of the best thrillers of the ’90s.
When his teen daughter Margot disappears one night, widowed father David (John Cho) joins forces with a San Jose police detective (Debra Messing) to find her. The catch? Searching is set entirely on computer screens, smartphones, televisions and security cameras, as David traces Margot’s digital footprint and discovers just how little he actually knew his daughter. Unpredictable and original, Searching is the perfect edge-of-your-seat thriller for our increasingly virtual world.
Margin Call (2011)
Quite possibly the greatest film ever made about Wall Street, the nerve-racking Margin Call is mainly comprised of emergency meetings, heated confrontations and backroom deals. Taking place over a 24-hour period in 2008, the film’s premise is simple: if a large investment bank predicted the stock market crash before anyone else, how would it go about saving itself? Featuring a star-studded cast (Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany and Stanley Tucci, to name a few) and an Academy Award-nominated script by writer-director J.C. Chandor, Margin Call is a scathing condemnation of human greed.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Based on the international bestseller by Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo follows Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a brilliant computer hacker with a troubled past. Together with disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), Salander investigates the 40-year-old disappearance of a wealthy heiress. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is unapologetically lurid—and definitely not for the faint of heart.
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All the Money in the World (2017)
Ridley Scott’s thriller tracks the story of John Paul Getty III: the 16-year-old grandson of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty who in 1973 was kidnapped by a Mafia offshoot in Rome. When his mother (Michelle Williams) approaches his rich-beyond-belief grandfather (Christopher Plummer, who famously shot all of his scenes in eight days after replacing Kevin Spacey), the older Getty refuses to pay the $17 million ransom. Part true crime thriller, part morality tale, the absorbing All the Money in the World is above all a testament to the late Mr. Plummer’s acting prowess.
Captain Phillips (2013)
When his U.S. containership is hijacked in the Indian Ocean by a group of Somali pirates, Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) must figure out a way to protect his vessel, his crew and himself from certain ruin. Expertly acted and excruciatingly intense, Captain Phillips is a powerful depiction of survival—at any cost.
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Photo: Netflix Canada
22 July (2018)
On July 22, 2011, Norwegian far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik carried out two attacks in his home country: a car bomb explosion in Oslo and a mass shooting at a Workers’ Youth League summer camp on the island of Utøya. The attacks claimed 77 lives and injured more than 300 people. 22 July depicts the events of that day in harrowing detail, before a superb coda that ends things on a hopeful note.
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Hell or High Water (2016)
In order to stop their family’s West Texas ranch from being foreclosed, two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) begin robbing small banks. Meanwhile, a clever Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) is hot on the brothers’ tail and vows to ambush them at the scene of their next crime. A sleeper hit, Hell or High Water was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2017, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Bridges.
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Set in the dangerous border lands between the United States and Mexico, idealistic FBI agent Kate Mercer (Emily Blunt) is enlisted by a sly government official (Josh Brolin) to bring down a lieutenant in the notorious Sonora Cartel. Joining the team is Alejandro (Benicio del Toro), an enigmatic “adviser” with a dark past. Sicario is a visceral and intelligent thriller—and a unique deep-dive into America’s War on Drugs.
Photo: Netflix Canada
Operation Finale (2018)
After the end of the Second World War, Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), one of the principle masterminds of the Holocaust, disappeared without a trace. Almost two decades later, a team of Israeli Mossad agents led by Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaacs) locate him in Buenos Aires under a new identity. Their mission? Kidnap Eichmann and bring him back to Israel to be tried for his crimes. Based on Palkin’s memoir, Operation Finale is first and foremost a late-career acting showcase for Kingsley.
Wind River (2017)
Rookie FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) teams up with Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), an expert game tracker for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to investigate the murder of a local woman on a remote Native American Reservation in Wyoming. Nothing, however, can prepare the duo for the devastating truth about the young girl’s death.
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Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
The 10-year mission to find Osama bin Laden is painstakingly dramatized in this Academy Award-nominated war thriller. At the heart of the covert intelligence and military operation is Maya (Jessica Chastain), a CIA analyst on a single-minded pursuit to bring him down. The 28-minute sequence depicting the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, is a masterclass in action filmmaking.
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For obvious reasons, Contagion was one of the most-watched movies on Netflix Canada at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This A-list thriller—it stars Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet and Marion Cotillard, to name a few—charts the global spread of a virus and the race to manufacture a vaccine. The scariest thing about Contagion? As we now know, it’s much closer to reality than any of us could have imagined.
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This criminally under-seen political thriller follows Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm), a former U.S. diplomat who is called to Beirut in 1982 to negotiate the release of his kidnapped CIA friend. Ten years earlier, a terrorist group ambushed Skiles’s villa, murdering his Lebanese wife and abducting their adopted son, a Palestinian refugee. Together with CIA operative Sandy (Rosamund Pike), Mason must uncover the true meaning of his mission before time runs out.
Bad Genius (2017)
Set in the high-stakes world of university admissions testing, the exhilarating Bad Genius follows Lynn, a Thai math prodigy who builds a lucrative exam-cheating business. Her ultimate goal: cracking the Standard Test for International Colleges—the correct answers to which could net her millions of dollars from her wealthy clientele. Answering multiple-choice questions has never been so nerve-racking!
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Gerald’s Game (2017)
Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) travel to an isolated lake house in the hopes of reviving their marriage. Once there, Gerald handcuffs Jessie to their bedposts to act out a sexual fantasy, but suddenly dies of a heart attack. Quickly succumbing to dehydration and hunger, Jessie must battle her own demons (and a hungry dog) in order to escape. Gerald’s Game is one of the most horrifying Stephen King adaptations in recent memory.
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Don’t Breathe (2014)
This delirious thriller turns the “home invasion” genre on its head: in Detroit, three burglars, including Rocky (Jane Levy), plan to rob a small fortune from blind Gulf War veteran Norman Nordstrom (Avatar’s Stephen Lang). Once inside, however, the trio learn that their intended victim is more terrifying than anything they could have imagined—and more than willing to turn the tables on them.
These scary movies on Netflix Canada will appeal to even the staunchest non-horror fans.
About to join a prestigious law firm, Los Angeles district attorney (Ryan Gosling) takes on his final criminal case. The defendant? Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins), a wealthy structural engineer who shot his unfaithful wife and signed a confession. Believing it to be an open-and-shut case, Beachum agrees to go to trial, but soon learns that Crawford—acting as his own attorney in court—is his most cunning foe yet.
With Hush, writer-director Mike Flanagan (Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House) adds an irresistible twist to the home invasion genre. Author Maddie Young (Kate Siegel) lives in complete isolation in the woods while working on her novel. Her world quickly unravels, however, when she discovers that a psychopath has been stalking her home—and aims to make her his next victim. The twist? Maddie just so happens to be deaf and mute, putting her at a major disadvantage to her would-be killer.
Two childhood friends, macho businessman Marcus and shy father-to-be Vaughn, reunite for a weekend hunting trip in the Scottish Highlands. Their happy get-together, however, quickly turns into a nightmare when Vaughn accidentally kills a young boy during one of their expeditions. Can Marcus and Vaughn hide their horrible crime without arousing suspicion from the locals? One of the best thrillers on Netflix Canada, Calibre is an edge-of-your-seat ride from start to finish.
The Decline (2020)
Convinced that a cataclysmic event is just around the corner, Antoine (Guillaume Laurin) travels to rural Nord-du-Québec to meet Alain (Réal Bossé), a survival expert. The charismatic Alain has built a self-sufficient compound on his 500-acre property, and has also invited five other survivalism enthusiasts to his intensive training program. When a freak accident leaves one person dead, however, the group argues over what to do next, provoking a tense—and violent—showdown.
The Fury of a Patient Man (2016)
After serving eight years in prison for his part in a failed jewelry heist, Curro returns to his old neighbourhood in Madrid expecting to be welcomed back by his girlfriend, Ana. Instead, Curro finds Ana in a new relationship with Jose, whose mild-mannered facade masks sinister intentions. Tightly-constructed and ruthlessly violent, The Fury of a Patient Man shows the lengths people will go to exact revenge.
Shot Caller (2017)
When his drunk driving gets his best friend killed, wealthy stockbroker Jacob Harlon (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is sent to a notorious maximum-security prison: the California Institution for Men. Once inside, Jacob joins a white supremacist gang in return for protection, but learns the hard way that once you join a prison gang, there’s no getting out—even when you’re released early on parole.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
The bleak and bloody No Country for Old Men is the closest to perfection the Coen Brothers will likely ever achieve. While hunting in the Texas desert, everyman Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) comes across the aftermath of a drug deal gone sour—and a briefcase filled with $2-million. Unfortunately, Llewelyn’s decision to take the money and run makes him a target of hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), one of the most terrifying villains in movie history.
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The Red Sea Diving Resort (2019)
Inspired by true events, The Red Sea Diving Resort follows a group of international spies—led by Israeli Mossad agent Ari Levinson (Chris Evans)—as they attempt to rescue thousands of refugees fleeing Sudan in the early ’80s. The Wire‘s Michael K. Williams co-stars.
Now that you know the best thrillers on Netflix, check out the highest-rated movies on Netflix Canada according to Rotten Tomatoes!