23 Most Underrated Thriller Movies, Add to your watchlist now

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Looking for underrated thriller movies?

OK, here is a list of some movies from various genres; there may be numerous films that you have yet to see.

Thrillers have a unique class with specific qualities that divide them from other genres. A thriller’s power to spark your interest is the genre’s trademark. Evoke physical reaction and leave you breathless and packed with twists. But, how it triggers those responses is different for everyone.

My list is related to horror, mystery, action, sci-fi, and romance. Also, most murder mysteries are notable thrillers. You can categorize them as action thrillers, crime thrillers, mystery thrillers, sci-fi thrillers, and so on.

I noticed a lot of Spanish, Korean, and German films that are wonderfully crafted but criminally underrated. Check the underrated sci-fi movies.

You’ve probably seen a lot of thriller movies. However, these underrated thriller movies may not be because of a little conversation. These aren’t flawless, but their uniqueness can attract the audience. Let’s look, then.

Here are some underrated thriller movies that up your heart racing.

23. Locke (2013)

Locke 2013 is a most underrated thriller movie
Source: Commonsensemedia.org

Locke is a psychological thriller written and directed by Steven Knight. Tom Hardy plays the lead role and is the only character shown in the film. It follows the life of Locke, a successful manager whose life suddenly turns out when he receives a phone call from a woman.

Locke is a best-unknown thriller and a low-budget film. It is a pretty look into the shape of things, and this movie is nicely done. The storyline, centered on a single person, shows gripping and simple storytelling.

The acting is vital in this movie because only Tom Hardy portrays, and he provides excellent performance and received positive feedback for his steps and awards.

Steven Knight’s direction was one-of-a-kind. All were included within a small, tight space that drew the audience to the story. You can get a realistic view of the characters’ positions even if you never see them. 

These guys create a room with voices, use only a few cameras, and perhaps have great dialogues with little movement. This is only suitable for some people who like dramas with an exciting discussions. And if you like one person in the film

22. Exam (2009)

An Image of Exam (2009)
Source: Screendaily.com

The exam is one of the underrated psychological thriller movies directed by Stuart Hazeldine. The storyline follows: eight applicants compete to find a job with a big company. That takes some time to settle in, but it quickly becomes exciting. 

The movie has a relatively unknown cast, except for Gemma Chan. Stuart Hazeldine is not a well-known director. Some critics state that the film begins OK but crumbles in the end. However, it depends on how you view and enjoy it. 

If you watched Escape Room, this has a little bit of the same pattern, but not much, and a completely different ending. Also, the Escape Room has a lot of movement and settings. But this one is in just a room with eight people. 

This film explores some of the struggles of human competition and fraud.

Not one of your typical films, but perfect for a suspenseful movie with little movement and a shock twist. It received an average IMDb rating and a 63% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

21. Fracture (2007)

Anthony Hopkins in Fracture 2007
Source: New Line Cinema

Fracture is a law-crime thriller featuring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. That was created by the same person who directed “Primal Fear.”

The film follows Anthony Hopkins as Ted, who gets arrested for trying to murder his partner. An experienced lawyer Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling), believes it to be a clear-cut case but finds challenging competition in Ted, who represents himself.

I don’t think any other actor seems as good on screen in his role as Anthony Hopkins. Ryan Gosling and Rosamund Pike were also great.

A multilayered script with great dialogue and a dark sense of comedy scattered throughout the movie. The continuous booming rock music that plays throughout the film gives off an aggressive feeling, which fits the catch me if you can style of this movie. Enjoyable to watch. Not a classic, but it’s OK for me. Although it doesn’t end as “Primal Fear,” it does take an exciting, unexpected turn.

20. The Body (2012)

The Body (2012)
Source: Mubi

Spanish film by Oriol Paulo featuring Jose Coronado, Hugo Silva, and Belen Rueda. The story revolves around the sudden departure of Mayka Villaverde’s body from the morgue. An officer is set to discover the body and solve the puzzle’s mysterious death.

I like Oriol Paulo’s style because he writes and directs decent movies in this genre. This storyline is exciting, and the characters are well-built on a solid basis of a thriller. Also, the script and the performances are fantastic. They bring a unique story to reality, putting off bizarre suspense vibes throughout. 

The plot twist is one of the highest; perhaps little is known about set design or camerawork. However, it is balanced by a classic story and the flawless matching of every part. Suddenly, BOOM, surprise! 

You’ll be on the edge of your seat throughout the film.

19. Kahaani (2012)

Vidya Balan in Kahaani 2012
Source: Viacom18 Studios

Kahaani is directed by Sujoy Ghosh featuring Vidya Balan. The story follows a pregnant woman who moves from London to Kolkata in search of her missing husband. But I can’t say any more because it might be a spoiler.

Usually, I am not a fan of most HINDI films, but this one is full of mysteries and tension at a robust rate. This film would be a goldmine for a beginner to crime thrillers. The cast delivered feat the story perfectly, notably Vidya Balan. 

Kahaani is one of those films that always feature in the ranks of the top Indian thriller movies. So, if you’re not a fan of Hindi but enjoy thrillers, I recommend this one. It included the ideal balance of action, humor, drama, and emotions! The stuff of God is also performed so well.

18. Identity (2003)

John Cusack, Ray Liotta Image of Identity (2003)
Source: Sony Pictures

“Identity” is an underrated mystery movie with a mind-blowing ending that feels like a shuffle for those expecting a typical thriller. The film provides an exciting, cold-night experience, and the suddenly dramatic end will leave you puzzled.

It follows 10 people suddenly murdered one by one while being shut off to the outside at a lonely motel. However, several things occur before the entry of the characters.

James Mangold, the filmmaker of Cop Land, Girl, Interrupted, 3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine, and Ford v. Ferrari. Identity takes a different approach from his other works. It begins as a murder mystery, but the ending is surprising.

The casting of each character is indicated in these conditions, notably John Cusack, Ray Liotta, and Amanda Peet.

There wasn’t a single twist in this film. You will be surprised several times. The story is full of suspense throughout the 90 minutes; it will keep your attention until the end. Scored 63% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.3/10 on IMDb.

17. Hide and Seek (2005)

Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning in Hide and Seek (2005)
Source: 20th Century Studios

Hide and Seek is a psycho-thriller featuring Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning and John Polson was the director. Following the death of his wife, David shifts to NY with his child, Emily, who makes an invisible friend called Charlie. However, mysterious happenings begin to occur in their home.

Rotten Tomatoes Meme

Don’t worry about the low ratings from critics; if you’re looking for a gripping thriller, this is worthy of favorable attention.

There are twist endings. Some say the movie is illogical and rather stupid. When viewed in this view, most films are perplexing.

Yes, it could be more flawless, but it is among the better horror and thriller flicks. Outstanding performances from Robert De Niro and little Dakota Fanning.

16. Tell No One (2006)

Tell No One (2006) is underrated mystery movie
Source: EuropaCorp

Tell No One is a French thriller movie directed by Guillaume Canet and based on Harlan Coben’s novel. 

The movie about Alexandre was a primary suspect in the murder of his wife a decade ago. Even after Alexandre realizes she is still alive, the situation is reopened when two more bodies are discovered.

Tell No One begins as a classic crime story but soon becomes a complex thriller, filled with visually stunning sequences and gorgeously tense moments. 

I’m sure this is one of the best thriller movies you haven’t seen. Yeah, it’s French and fabulous with a heartfelt romance story. Many things are taking place, difficult to predict. Never sets aside the plot, draws you in, and keeps you puzzled. Taped with a beautiful palette of colors and effects.

The film is a little long, but there isn’t a dull moment. It gets every twist by sensitively setting the stage with multi-layered and exciting that keeps you curious. No need for more explanation; watch if you like murder mysteries/thrillers.

15. Triangle (2009)

The actress Melissa George IN Triangle 2009 (underrated psychological thriller movie)
Source: Iconmovies

Triangle is one of the best underrated psychological thriller movies. 

The story revolves around a group of people near a ship whose boat capsizes in the sea due to bad weather. Admittedly, they realize they are in grave danger on the mysterious ship. But the movie’s insight is not the story’s point; it just focuses on the character “Jess.”

The script is excellent and combines the story twists perfectly. Drags you down a rabbit hole filled with unexpected psychological twists. 

You’ll enjoy this one even more if you’ve seen a movie like Timecrimes, The Orphanage, and The Others. 

The actress Melissa George does an excellent job as “Jess.” that performance deserved more than she greeted. 

The camera work and Christopher Smith’s direction are impressive. The ending scene focuses on the concept, leading audiences to questions. The perfect balance of giving audiences clear hints of what is occurring without presenting it. Tangle in a time loop with everything else we’ve done before. 

The most crucial part is that it is not overly complicated, but it will leave you quite baffled and keep your mind reeling. It deserves more attention than it received! 

Read this if you still need help understanding the movie: Ending Explained.

14. The Orphanage (2007)

Belen Rueda in The Orphanage Movie
Source: Warner Bros

The Orphanage is a Spanish Gothic thriller and the directorial debut of J. A. Bayona.

The story follows Laura has memorable moments in her early orphanage life. She tries to convince her husband to convert it into a home for orphan children. But Simon, her adopted son, disappears one day. And I won’t tell you the rest of the story because it would give away the ending.

This is a typical horror film, but it’s not scary. The same pattern as “Triangle, The Others,” but the story and concept are entirely different. So exciting in every way; each part delivered in the film has senses, improves the level, and sets it.

Highly underrated in acting, directing, cinematography, and storyline. J.A. Bayona’s works are a more polished variant, likely the basis for many modern ghost house horror films. It’s a gripping mystery and an outstanding performance by Belen Rueda. It has gained some fame and has a tragic ending.

13. The Gift (2015)

The Gift stars Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, and Joel Edgerton.
Source: Stxfilms

Joel Edgerton makes his feature film directing debut with the thriller The Gift, which he also wrote and directed. In the following story, a married couple moves in with an old acquaintance. Things start to change worse when Gordo comes to their house with an unexpected parcel.

This is the most underrated thriller movie of the past few years. It is a highly suspenseful and crazy ride from beginning to end.

Jason Bateman is proving he can portray serious roles well. Rebecca Hall delivers a captivating performance, and Joel Edgerton gives a compelling performance. They did an excellent job of keeping you on the edge of your seat.

The suspenseful buildup and little story twists made it impossible to guess how it would turn out. It has excellent twists and dramatic moments, with one of the most surprising endings. I like these types of psychological thriller movies.

12. Escape from Pretoria (2020)

Daniel Radcliffe IN Escape from Pretoria 2020
Source: Signature-Entertainment

Escape from Pretoria is an Australian prison/thriller directed by Francis Annan and leads to Daniel Radcliffe. Based on Tim Jenkin’s 2003 book Inside Out: Escape from Pretoria. A real-life prison break of three prisoners in South Africa in the 80S.

I enjoy watching films about prison escapes. Yes, I am a big fan of “The Shawshank Redemption.” I thought the character selections seemed brilliant, and Daniel Radcliffe did an excellent acting performance as Tim Jenkin. It was well-balanced, with unique camera work and a thrilling-paced storyline.

However, this story is highly underrated, and most people don’t even know this story. If you watched “Papillon,” this movie followed some of the same stuff. It was unusual and indeed raised the tension. Yeah, I guess it’s typical for people to remark that a film is “dizzy,” but I felt something here.

11. The Best Offer (2013)

The Best Offer Movie Image
Source: Warner Bros

If you’ve never heard of this film, you’re not alone, and one of the finest thriller movies you may haven’t seen.

The Best Offer is an English Italian thriller written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore and stars Geoffrey Rush and Sylvia Hoeks.

The story follows the director of a prestigious auction house, Virgil Oldman, who finds love with a lonely young girl. She disappears with all his artworks after he reveals valuable collections of paintings to her.

The film is not a blockbuster with an A+ cast, mind-blowing visual effects, or dazzling tricks, but the plot is well-thought-out and keeps your attention.

Geoffrey Rush’s impressive performance made him a highly realistic movie character. As captivating as the movie is, the ending is somewhat painful, which could have left some of you unhappy. Overall, it is worth watching for its clever filmmaking. Read; Thought-provoking movies.

10. Enemy (2013)

Jake Gyllenhaal  as two characters in Enemy 2013 Movie
Source: Entertainment One

“Enemy” is a mystery movie by Denis Villeneuve. It offers a mysterious cinematic experience because Villeneuve always prioritizes his camera work. 

The film follows Adam, a prof, who sees a performer in a movie who represents him. Adam finds his in secret, resulting in a confusing situation. Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of his best performances, as he always does. 

I assume you have already watched these movies by Denis Villeneuve: Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival, Blade Runner 2049, and the recently directed DuneHe is one of the top film directors with a unique strategy. I enjoy this guy’s direction; he always comes up with unique concepts.

Other brilliant, tense sound effects and a doubtful and unsettling mood pervade your thoughts. A visually stunning experience that is deeply and profoundly puzzling. I won’t go into more detail about the film’s content because I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t watched it yet. 

Movies Meme

I’d say this is one you should try at least once. However, I believe this film needs to be eyed at least twice. It might be the creepiest ending of all time. 

Related: Best Parallel Universe Movies

9. A History Of Violence (2005)

Viggo Mortensen in A History Of Violence movie
Source: Warner Bros

A History of Violence is an action thriller movie by David Cronenberg. Ed Harris, William Hurt, and Viggo Mortensen deliver outstanding performances in the film. That is impressive and far more enjoyable than you might expect. It kept me wondering from start to finish, and the movie was only 95 minutes long.

The film around a man who decides to rescue himself by becoming a good man, but a few incidents reveal another nasty person within him.

The storyline is more closed, involving a lot more in-depth thinking. Lines of dialogue questions the characters with a question about history. The concept is interesting because it includes impressive shots and unexpected scenes. Well-balanced without going over the top with thrills or action. 

A History of Violence has all of it, so you won’t be bored while watching it. This one is a little like “The Road to Perdition,” but the story is entirely different. 

8. Side Effects (2013)

Rooney Mara in Side Effects 2013 Movie
Source: Open Road Films

Side Effects is a thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh, known for other notable works such as Traffic, Erin Brockovich, and the Ocean’s film series. Outstanding performances by Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Jude Law. 

The story follows Emily’s keeps haunting her, so psychologist Jonathan Banks proposes a new medication for her. What happens next leads to her husband’s killing and affects Jonathan’s career.

The story is filled with exciting scenes in the script that focus on different characters and several thoughts. The lines were not overlong; they were all just proper. Scott Z. Burns previously wrote “The Bourne Ultimatum and Contagion.” 

This underrated thriller movie is perfect for watching on a freezing night. The soundtrack, the camera work, and the adjustment curve are unique. It messes with its mystery framework, playing with the story and creative touches of the mask. It might help you understand how well a woman thinks. “Just kidding.”

Side Effects isn’t accurate. I enjoy these kinds of psychological thrillers. The concept, surprise ending, and performances are top-notch, becoming the finest thriller movie.

7. The Village (2004)

Bryce Howard in The Village (2004)
Source: Cinemablend

The Village is a horror/thriller directed by Night Shyamalan, featuring Adrien Brody, Bryce Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Brendan Gleeson.

The film follows an unconnected village scared of an unknown creature hiding in the nearby woods. When a civilization member is critically injured, a blind girl ventures into the forest in search of help from outside. Read movies about hope.

The critics and, possibly, audiences have given it low ratings. Yes, there are some cinematic faults in this film. It also contains Shyamalan’s typical twist ending, which is not smart this time. However, throughout the film, you get a feeling of suspense, as in many of Shyamalan’s films, and this one is no exception.

The movie is underrated, except for the ending. The rest of the film is impressive, and there is always tension. Also, the tunes provide more engaged, well-handled scenes. You’d never think something like this could be accurate. Despite the unrealistic ending, the rest of the story is awe good, so don’t miss this film.

6. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)

The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
Source: Sbs

The Secret in Their Eyes is a Spanish thriller film directed by Juan Jose Campanella, based on the novel “La pregunta de sus ojos” by Eduardo Sacheri.

It blends with crime, thriller, romance, and even comedy. In the story, a former legal consultant returns to the incident of her daughter’s homicide death years later to write a book on it after finding new hints that lead them to far more factual truth.

The film maintains that it leads the audience to a clear objective and an exciting ending. Every cast member’s act is memorable, and Ricardo Darn is robust. He’s the star that everybody on-screen gets attracted to with his captivating performance.

A brilliant movie begins with a strong script, and The Secret in Their Eyes is no different. Arranged for a sense, and the conversation is always fascinating. Everyone should watch it at least once. There were many unexpected turns, and I enjoyed the end.

5. Nightcrawler (2014)

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler 2014
Source: Open Road Films

Nightcrawler is an underrated classic thriller, and The debut film by Dan Gilroy was both directed and written. 

It follows Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal), a weird man who realizes he can make more money by taking photos of crimes and making extreme efforts to collect them.

Characters have the same feel as Taxi Driver. But the story and content are entirely opposite. This is about a different kind of Loneliness and how he strives for success and gains achievements. It makes me unpleasant, but that is the way to success.

It received the highest ratings from critics and audiences. Gyllenhaal’s acting has been vastly underrated; he needed more credit than he received.

The segments are crazy good, exciting, and well-shot, and the movie is terrifying and thrilling. And the ending is weird, but I like films like this. They are impressive and seem to come at the correct time. I highly recommend it if you like crazy characters in the cinema. If you enjoy these types of films, check out my list of movies with psychotic characters.

4. Midsommar (2019)

Hey guys, this movie is for you if you want to stress out, but it’s not for everyone. Midsommar is a folk shock film written and directed by Ari Aster. The leading actress is Florence Pugh, and she gives an outstanding performance. 

The story follows a couple who travels to Sweden with friends for a midsummer festival but turns the journey with devious cult practice.

The movie is strange and uncomfortable at all times, and I loved that. It isn’t something generic like demons and ghosts. 

Midsommar’s excellence stems from its attractive production design. It explores psychological horror and contains some very horrific content. I don’t know what category this is, as it includes parts of both scary and psychological. More terrifying than the typical thriller or horror film.

If you like Ari Aster’s Hereditary, this one is a good fit, but the concept is very different and has a unique feel. 🤒

3. Memories of Murder (2003)

Memories of Murder 2003 poster
Source: CJ Entertainment

Fellas, this is a fantastic thriller movie with some hilarious moments. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, with many twists and turns that will you on the edge of your seat the entire time. The story follows a big-city detective who supports two small-town police officers in investigating a psychopath’s murder. 

Memories of Murder may be the best Korean film until the release of Parasite 2019. The cinematography and soundtrack are great, and the movie has a feel close to Se7en, which works nicely for this type of crime thriller.

Unsettling and odd sometimes, but that’s what it needs to be. It also features fantastic performances, with all the leading performers smashing their roles.

The story is around mystery and unexpected plot twists, with maybe some dark touches of humor. The ending is one of the most touching in modern cinema, and the last shot is also one of my favorites. I’ll say it: Bong Joon-Hon is a genius.

2. The Invisible Guest (2016)

The Invisible Guest Movie Image
Source: Nostromopictures

The Invisible Guest is a suspense movie by Oriol Paulo. It’s now one of my favorite movies of all time. The story around a young business owner who wakes up in a stuck hotel room beside his killed partner’s body. He hires an attorney to protect him, and they work together to determine what happened throughout the case.

Oriol Paulo is an attractive writer and director. You are familiar with his others, including Mirage, The Body, and Julia’s Eyes.

I loved this unique story, and something always happens, nothing dull. You must watch the best thriller. It makes an incredible thriller out of the story through twists and turns, topped with exceptional acting. Great cinematography and twists keep you on the edge of your seat.

People can only guess how long it will take from start to finish. You might want to revisit it as if it was the first time. I won’t discuss much of the story to give anything away. Even though this film has an uncomplicated plot, there is a surprise every ten minutes. The dialogue between the characters is like a chess game, although you sometimes need to know which one is. 

It is highly recommended because it will have you questioning what you’ve seen so far and will delight you to watch this underrated mystery movie.

1. Mulholland Drive (2001)

Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring in Mulholland Drive 2001
Source: Universal Pictures

David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive is an excellent cinematic work. That mystery puzzle is unlike any other, with a tragic and twisted story in his unique concepts featuring Naomi Watts, Justin Theroux, and Laura Elena Harring.

The story begins with Rita and Betty, two curvy girls, working together to solve the mystery of Rita’s accident and discover her real identity.

It’s more than just a thriller; it includes a meaningful movie about dreams and reality. Others claim that the film is about the bad side of Hollywood, although it is much about the mind and imagination.

Yes, it is popular, but it is an underrated thriller, even at the box office. It has a captivating plotline involving two alternative facts: it starts with a dream and finishes with reality. Acting and music heavily influence that emotion, notably from Naomi Watt’s performance. Lynch was nominated for an Academy Award. 

It received a yellow rating from all critics.

You will be trapped in a different dimension because of the unique storyline, imaginative thought, camera works, and the twist ending.

Conclusion

There are plenty of underrated thrillers. I can’t name them all. You can watch the best thrillers from the above list, but there are others I have yet to mention, such as I Saw the Devil, Changeling, The Girl on the Train, A Perfect Murder, Lucky Number Slevin, The Invitation, The Strangers, etc.

Thrillers never lose their fashion. Whatever else is going on in filmmaking, people always want movies that cause their hearts to thump, so filmmakers are always looking for fresh ways to crank up the suspense.

This list has offered you some recommendations. If you know of any other underrated movies, please let us know in the comments.

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