Films should evoke some feelings inside of you. Whether it's amusement or fear, a movie's success has partly to do with whether or not the audience connected to it. Thrillers have been and always will be popular. Back during the days of Alfred Hitchcock, audiences couldn't get enough of movies that threw characters into nerve-wracking situations.
That tradition has remained intact after all these years. Popular contemporary thrillers like Black Swan, Se7en, and Gone Girl continue to seize viewers' attention today. If you're looking for some more low-key thrillers, though, then look no further. Lo and behold, here are ten thrillers from the last twenty years to keep you in total suspense.
10 Burn (2019)
A socially awkward gas station attendant named Melinda struggles with her loneliness. She secretly photographs a cop who visits; she flirts with every man to no avail. But things change one night when a man robs the store. What should have been over in a couple of minutes has now prolonged into a hostage situation. But who exactly is the hostage?
Burn never leaves its confines, which reflects the protagonist's own innate sense of isolation. The story is indeed impaired by its own shortcomings (e.g., lack of focus). Yet, the performances and characterizations all atone for those flaws in the best way possible.
9 The Glass House (2001)
After losing their parents in a car accident, teenage Ruby and her young brother Rhett move in with their parents' friends. It's a time of transition for everyone, especially for Ruby. She eventually suspects her new guardians have ulterior motives for taking her and her brother in.
This youth-aimed thriller is glossy and carefully drawn out. It's especially ideal for anyone who doesn't like to be squicked out by excessive violence. Sure, anyone can figure out the "twist" ahead of time. But be rest assured, taking a quick tour of The Glass House is a sound decision.
8 Loner (2008)
Orphaned teenager Su-na lives with her uncle and grandmother. After someone close to her dies, she refuses to leave her room. The uncle brings in a therapist to help Su-na, who has been diagnosed with hikikomori. Not only is she reclusive, Su-na thinks someone else — or something else — is living in her bedroom.
There's a fine line between a movie being categorized as horror and thriller. A lot of times, the terms are interchangeable because the aforesaid line is easily blurred. The South Korean film Loner straddles the fence in the best way possible, though.
7 Hush (2008)
A bickering couple driving home at night on the M1 motorway spots a possible crime. The tailgate of a truck in front of them opens, revealing what looks to be a woman being held against her will. The police can't help so the couple follows the truck in the meantime.
Even when they're not top-tier, road-based thrillers can at least keep you on the edge of your car seats. And that is definitely what Hush does. It offers a wholly upsetting situation, but director Mark Tonderai expresses a shred of optimism, too. His film reminds us that for every evil, there's still good left in the world.
6 The Dirties (2013)
Two bullied teenagers named Matt and Owen make a student film about getting revenge on their tormentors at school. Their project is supposedly fictional, but Owen suspects Matt is looking to make a documentary.
In light of the current political discourse regarding the Second Amendment, a film like this might not fly today. It showcases revenge in the context of bullying. At the same time, it doesn't firmly state its stance on the topic of school shootings. The film instead probes the mind of a would-be assailant. No doubt, The Dirties is an uncomfortable found-footage thriller.
5 The Dead Girl (2006)
At the center of a set of interlinking stories is a dead runaway named Krista. Her body is found by Arden, an abused caregiver; Leah suspects Krista is her long-lost sister; Ruth stumbles upon evidence regarding Krista's death; Krista's mother Melora finally finds her daughter, but is too late.
Karen Moncrieff's The Dead Girl is a somber omnibus of stories you're better off knowing in the long run. This series of connected tragedies and revelations will likely sting at first. Pushing aside the inevitable heartbreak, viewers will find profound storytelling and heartfelt characterizations.
4 The Bunker (2015)
A student looking for a quiet place to study is misled by a couple advertising a lakeside home. The truth is, they live in a remote bunker with their "young" son. Regardless, he stays and even agrees to tutor the son. Immediately, though, the student realizes this family is wildly disturbed.
This warped German comedy is beguiling. Sharply sensational. Its innate perversion seizes your attention from start to finish. You might try to look away, but at long last, your curiosity convinces you otherwise. This is one movie that tugs you along up until the very end.
3 Confessions (2010)
On her last day of teaching, a single mother and teacher explains to her class that two of their peers murdered her young daughter. She leaves a wave of paranoia and panic in her wake. Is she going to take revenge on the assailants now, or will she leave that in the hands of the public?
Tetsuya Nakashima captures maternal grief in the most stylish, arresting way in Confessions. The movie — shortlisted in 2011 for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards — is shot like an ultramodern music video, which ultimately helps convey the characters' anguish.
2 Tom at the Farm (2013)
When his romantic partner passes away, Tom travels to his family's farm for the funeral. It's during his prolonged stay that Tom then engages in twisted head games with the decedent's forceful yet alluring brother.
Xavier Dolan and his co-star Pierre-Yves Cardinal are nothing short of captivating in this French-Canadian thriller. The leads' scenes together are nail-biting; the film's impetus is, in fact, the pairing's sexually charged interactions. Like Tom and his handsome combatant, the audience has no idea of what's to come. Tom at the Farm waves that sense of uncertainty, however, in the most enticing way.
1 Hounds of Love (2016)
A sadistic couple abducts women off the streets and holds them captive. They do unspeakable things to their victims, who are left tied up when not being abused. After the couple picks up Vicki, the teenager drives a wedge between her captors until she can find a way to escape.
Fate is both cruel and merciful in this stellar Australian crime-drama. The actors' performances are all-around fantastic. So much so that you pause at that fact considering how loathsome the villains are. Then there's Ashleigh Cummings, who is, in short, spectacular. She perfectly runs the gamut of human emotions.