All 16 A24 Thriller Movies Ranked From Worst To Best

8. Spring Breakers (2013)

Possibly the most divisive title on the list, “Spring Breakers” is probably the first A24 made their names heard. Some people were grossed out by the violent nature of the film and called the whole experience very dull, but some others found deeper meanings in the film which is about the superficiality of youth and culture. Filmmaker Harmony Korine, who wrote and directed this, is not a stranger to such divisive reactions. However, it seems like it’s establishing itself to be a cult classic. BBC has ranked it among their best films of the century list.

The film follows four American teenagers from the Bible Belt who want to take part in the “Spring Break” celebrations in Florida and soon later they rob a fast food stand to fill their travel budget. On the coast, they drink and do drugs non-stop and let themselves be harnessed by a small-time gangster for his purposes, played by James Franco in arguably his best performance. The forced amorality of the film can be alienating but also makes a challenging film.


7. Remember (2015)

Another one of the most overlooked A24 films. It probably has to do with the fact it was mostly a German-Canadian co-production and A24 only handled its American distribution but it’s great that they did deliver this movie to audiences on theatre. Unlike the previous Atom Egoyan film on the list (which was “The Captive”), this film is a rare back to form for the director. It’s actually thrilling and one of the finer works of Canadian cinema of the last decade. At the 4th Canadian Screen Awards, Benjamin August received the Award for Best Original Screenplay, and Remember was also nominated for Best Motion Picture.

It’s well-deserved because it’s not your average Nazi revenge movie. The camera work constantly keeps you engaged, the storyline is intriguing, and twists and turns only serve to the dramatic depth of the story. The true star here though is the late Christopher Plummer. The legendary Canadian actor was having a terrific late-career run which only makes his death sadder and more heartbreaking. It’s obvious that he kept delivering great performances and was not going to stop. This is one of his best performances. Not just a late-career but one of his best performances ever.


6. Enemy (2013)

Nowadays, Denis Villeneuve is busy making rather big-budget films with arthouse soul like “Arrival”, “Blade Runner 2049” and “Dune”. They all are great, no doubt but previously he was also making some small movies. It’s not complaining because he brings his artistic vision and the same qualities to big-budget movies and nowadays, big studio films indeed need a touch like that. Just like his recent works, “Enemy” also has that haunting quality, that incredible atmosphere. Villeneuve is so great at it which is why some audience members who’re usually turned off by slow-pacing in the movies still end up entertained by his stuff.

“Enemy” is loosely adapted from José Saramago’s 2002 novel “The Double” which some called unfilmable. Instead, Villeneuve delivered one of the most interesting films of the year which is still discussed in cinephile communities since its release. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal in a dual role as two men who are physically identical, but different in personality and he’s excellent at it. There had been lots of analyses and interpretations done on the film which already gives you an idea that it’s a challenging, thought-provoking film. One of those films that A24 can be proud of.


5. Room (2015)

Before all you people complain, have to say indeed “Room” is a drama but IMDb classifies it as “drama/thriller” and when you think about it, guess it probably makes sense. Let’s look at the plot: Joy Newsome, 24, lives with her 5-year-old son, Jack, in a nine-square-foot shed they call a room. It contains a bed, a toilet, a bathtub, a small table with chairs, and a rudimentary kitchen. The only window is a skylight. A man they both call Old Nick, who is Jack’s biological father, kidnapped Joy seven years ago and has been holding her in the shed ever since.

It’s a premise of a thriller and when you look at this movie as a thriller, it’s a gripping one indeed and even better than so-called pure thrillers. There have been enough such films that an entire genre exists; they’re called “woman in peril” films. This one, however, is not a traditional genre film but we still feel fearful for the characters more than we do for the ones in actual genre films. Even when the first act ends and our mother-son duo tries to adapt to the world, we still feel the tension. Their fears and the thing they go through still makes us uneasy and uncomfortable. “Room” is a brilliant mix of drama and thriller. Brilliantly acted and very touching, one of the best films company ever delivered.


4. Good Time (2017)

Nick Nikas, whose mentally disabled and had been ordered into forensic therapy sessions, talks to his doctor about his abusive grandmother with whom he lives in Queens, New York, and how he doesn’t know how to deal with his anger or the social impact of his actions can control. He is pulled out of the meeting by his brother Connie, who has been planning a bank robbery so they can run off to Virginia. They want to loot 65,000 US dollars. But Nick, who is the first to run away in panic after the attack, is caught by the police and taken to Rikers Island.

The plot might have ended up being a Coen-style black comedy but at the hands of Safdie brothers, it turned into something else. Something vibrant, and intense, feels like a fever dream in the best way possible unless you don’t like to face anxiety in your movies that much. It is about the domino effect that wrong decisions can trigger, about merciless overconfidence, and about chasms that can open up very suddenly.

Safdies are heavily influenced from the 1970s American cinema on their crime films, some Scorsese elements are all over the film but it’s also distinctive in its own way. They’re already establishing themselves as auteurs with their own style and with this one and their follow-up film which is also on the list, they seem to be getting even better and better at what they do.


3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)

Coens have been mentioned through the list, now it’s time for an actual Coen movie. Not by the brothers but for the first time, by only Joel Coen who also wrote the script. The magic of Shakespeare is that many of us know his plays, at least the famous ones, but we never get tired of them. Almost every (good) adaptation manage to find something interesting to say with it, with its own style. “Macbeth” is particularly tricky because it’s been adapted into movies many times before; Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa, Roman Polanski – masterful filmmakers have put their spin on the classical story and each time, they turned out to be great.

Coen’s version is amazingly well-done, it feels very Bergman-esque in its style. The set and production design are amazing and so is the casting. Some might find it strange that the lead characters are played by somewhat older Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington but they bring even more freshness to the whole story. Washington’s performance, in particular, was outstanding. One would wish to see him doing more of such Shakespeare roles in movies. Overall, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” is a brilliant cinematic experience and one of the best historical thrillers of recent years.


2. First Reformed (2018)

Paul Schrader’s dramatic thriller is something we can discuss for too long. Often considered to be one of the best films ever made and one of the best scripts ever written, “Taxi Driver” was the first time Schrader had used his “man in a room” formula, which he later used in other films like “Light Sleeper” and “The Card Counter”. In this case, “First Reformed” is similar. It follows a priest with lots of personal problems who starts to get radicalized for environmental causes.

The film is very complex, we keep wondering if Ethan Hawke character is really that dedicated to environmentalism, or is he just seeking a reason to exist, for making his existence meaningful for somebody or something? There are lots of topics explored including the relationship between capitalism and churches, environmentalism, radicalism, what kind of moral stance religious organizations should take on environmental causes, Iraq War, depression, and so many other things. This is heavily on the dramatic side, that’s why it’s not on number one but it works as a thriller as well, because most of the time it feels really tense, especially the last act.


1. Uncut Gems (2019)

You could put First Reformed here but Uncut Gems is only number one because it’s heavier on the thriller aspect and yet, it’s also well-deserving to top the list. Uncut Gems is a master class of anxiety-inducing cinema thanks to the direction of the Safdie Brothers whose another film “Good Time” was also on the list. “Uncut Gems” is an urban thriller with the authenticity of 70s crime classics like “Fingers” and “The Gambler” shot with unrelenting energy. Adam Sandler has recently is on a roll with this, “Hustle” and “The Meyerowitz Stories”. You can’t take your eyes off him because what does on screen is just constantly interesting.

Even though the film has constant energy, we don’t just follow Sandler’s character Howard, a Jewish jeweler with a gambling addiction from place to place just for the sake of the story. We actually do get rich character development in anything he does and Sandler is convincing in every part of it. The supporting cast is also excellent, everybody is convincing and everything feels authentic. The third act is particularly jaw-dropping.

This is a modern-day New York cinema classic and something that will be remembered years later. Hopefully, Sandler’s next collaboration with Safdies will be as good. We have no doubt that A24 will not stop such great thriller films to produce or distribute and we’re grateful for that.