For a movie to be in the thriller genre can have numerous causes, but the one sure thing is that it will be filled with suspense. Because the term is so broad, usually it is accompanied with another genre, the most common being action, horror, or fantasy and science-fiction. With thrillers there’s often a sense of danger for the protagonist, causing for adrenaline-inducing moments. This sense of danger or urgency is what makes thrillers so appealing to watch.
The thriller genre is well represented on Amazon Prime. Their huge library includes classics like Diabolique, Inferno, and Lynch’s Blue Velvet, but also recent hits like You Were Never Really Here. Amazon Prime is a perfect place to catch up with all the gems you’ve yet to see, but it’s also the perfect place to discover great movies that have gone unnoticed by many. The following list includes some recent thrillers that fit the description. Here are 10 great recent thrillers that you may have missed.
1. The Man from Nowhere (2010)
It feels like South Korean thrillers have really excelled in the 21st century. It’s as they’ve cracked the thriller formula and put it to good use. Of course, the most popular example would be Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite; a movie that deserves all the praise coming to it, but Korean cinema has a lot more sensation to offer. Bong Joon-ho’s earlier work often explores the thriller genre as do the films of the popular directors Park Chan-wook and Kim Jee-woon. But besides these popular names, South Korea has lots more talented directors that often miss the conversation, one of them being Lee Jeong-beom.
Lee Jeong-beom is a great action director that made one of the best recent thrillers coming out of South Korea. The Man from Nowhere follows a retired special agent who now passes his time keeping a pawn shop. The little girl that lives next door is his only friend, so when she’s kidnapped by an organ-trafficking gang, he follows a violent path to try and save her.
It’s no surprise why Jeong-beom is primarily an action director, since this shows he perfected the craft. The movie is filled with fantastic, unique action sequences getting increasingly bloodier as the story progresses.
2. Brimstone (2016)
Westerns seem like a rare sight nowadays with only a handful of great ones coming out each year, so it’s always a treat when a unique voice surprises us with one. Chloé Zhao did so with The Rider, John Maclean gave us Slow West and the fantastic Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho made an epic genre film in Bacurau. All great westerns and all deserve to be seen by more, in fact, the modern westerns deserve a list of their own! Brimstone would make that list as well, but also deserves its place here since it’s thrilling from beginning to end.
Brimstone is a co-production between the US and various European countries, most prominently the Netherlands, home country of director Martin Koolhoven. Koolhoven is a respected Dutch filmmaker, known for Winter in Wartime, Schnitzel Paradise, and Suzy Q. He’s also respected for his love and knowledge of cinema, and most notably his love for spaghetti westerns.
His love for the genre is noticeable in Brimstone, which is filled with nods to the old days. Without going into any details; Dakota Fanning is fantastic as the mute Liz and Guy Pearce makes for a compelling villain with a believable Dutch Accent. Koolhoven’s knowledge for the genre combined with a great non-chronological plot and a stellar cast make Brimstone one of the better thriller-westerns out there.
3. The Salesman (2016)
Iran has a well-respected movie industry which is praised more and more since the early nineties. Filmmakers like Jafar Panahi, Abbas Kiarostami, and Asghar Farhadi put their local industry on the map with great artistic work. Asghar Farhadi might be the most internationally well-known director the country has seen, since both ‘The Salesman’ and ‘A Separation’ took home the Oscar for best foreign film. While they are both very well-crafted films, The Salesman is considerably less seen than its predecessor.
The story is about a married couple, Emad and Rana, that both portray a role in a play called The Salesman. One day Rana is assaulted in their home they recently moved into, which leaves her with PTST. After the incident Emad is determined to discover the identity of his wife’s attacker. The play they have a role in shares similar themes with their situation, making for an interesting symbolization of the message Farhadi is conveying.
The Salesman is equally thrilling and in no way inferior to A Separation and since the latter sadly isn’t on Amazon Prime, this one might be the best film to get into Iranian cinema.
4. Brawl in Cellblock 99 (2017)
S. Craig Zahler has made a name for himself as an auteur director that doesn’t shy away from brutal violence. With his debut film Bone Tomahawk (talking about westerns), he immediately put himself on the map as one to look out for. He didn’t disappoint with his follow ups Brawl in Cellblock 99 and Dragged Across Concrete. Zahler’s movies are all distinctively his thanks to their visual style, their slow-paced tension, and the always gory violence.
Vince Vaughn impresses, portraying the role of Bradley Thomas; a former boxer getting back into a criminal life as a drug dealer. After a deal goes wrong Bradley is taken in to custody and sent to a medium-security prison. One of Bradley’s criminal associates kidnaps his pregnant wife and orders him to kill a target that stays in the high security block. Bradley complies and a gruesome journey follows.
With Brawl in Cellblock 99, Zahler upped the violence a notch compared to Bone Tomahawk, how far that’s even possible. While the build-up might be long, the pay-off is very worth the watch!
5. Let the Corpses Tan (2017)
Director duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani are two more directors on this list that have a fantastic personal style and there are more to come below. Cattet and Forzani started out directing short films together and after that they’ve directed three features, Let the Corpses Tan being the most recent one and hopefully not the last one. With 2009’s Amer and 2013’s The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears they displayed their love for Giallo movies. With electric stylization they brought back the genre in this modern era.
Let the Corpses Tan feels like another dive into 60’s genre cinema, this time no Giallo, but euro-crime with a touch of western. The movie starts out with two stories: The first one about a gang wanting to lay low after stealing a big amount of gold. The second one about an eccentric artist in a love triangle. Quickly these two stories merge at the rural home of the artist. When cops arrive at the estate, it is not long before the situation turns into a day-long gunfight.
The movie might be even more stylized than Cattet and Forzani’s first two. Filled with symbolism, homages, and unique shots, it truly is a feast for the eyes.