The Essential List of Modern Suspense Thrillers That Will Keep You Guessing till the End

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan

Love Suspense and mystery movies? Well, so do I. So here's a list of some of the best movies that will keep you guessing in the post-Hitchcock era (because most of his films would fill up the list!)

(Author's note - June 1, 2020) It has been 3 years since this post was originally published. Enough time to warrant a review and add a few more movies to this list. To the original 30, I have added a further 10. You will find my additions at the start of this article.

The Extensive List of Modern Suspense Thriller Movies That Will Keep You Guessing Till the End

New Additions

Knives Out

The mysterious death of a crime novelist surrounded by a highly dysfunctional family and the arrival of a suave detective set into motion one of the best mystery movies based on an original script in recent years. 

A Quiet Place

Featuring one of the most innovative uses of silence to heighten dread, the movie revolves a family struggling to survive in a world plagued by blind creatures that are extra sensitive to sound.

Bird Box

With mild similarities to A Quiet Place, Bird Box works on the premise of a world where seeing the creature is enough to make you die, forcing survivors to find ingenious ways to move around and survive without sight.

A Simple Favour

A widowed single mother takes it upon herself to investigate the disappearance of her more successful, glamourous best friend.  


Science fiction and beautiful visuals meet in this engaging story of a biologist who joins an expedition to uncover what happened to her husband inside a sinister quarantined phenomenon that is slowly expanding.


Brilliantly shot using only the medium of computer screens and mobile videos, the movie follows a father's search to find his missing daughter.

Game Night

A couple who enjoy having a game night with their friends find their lives turned into an actual mystery when one of them is kidnapped by burglars.


Having suffered a traumatic event as a child, a woman finds herself struck in the grip of a new horror when her house is invaded by 4 masked individuals, the faces within revealed to be mirror-images of her own family... including her.

Get Out

An African-American man's first visit to his white girlfriend's house finds him confronting not just a subtle trace of racism but something more mysterious from the people all around him.

Murder on the Orient Express

The 2017 version of the Agatha Christie classic novel does justice to the book, as legendary detective Hercule Poirot investigates a murder aboard a moving train.



01. Se7en

One of the most iconic endings ever, Se7en follows two detectives (Brad Pitt & Morgan Freeman) as they chase a serial killer obsessed with the seven deadly sins.

02. The Others

A devout Catholic woman and her two children begin to suspect that there are 'others' living in their house after strange occurrences in this wonderfully crafted atmospheric thriller.

03. The Usual Suspects

Again, iconic with its twist, The Usual Suspects follows the escapades of five criminals who meet during a police line-up and end up planning a dangerous robbery, commissioned by the elusive mob boss Keyser Soze.

04. Frailty

A young man visits the FBI, claiming his recently deceased brother was the serial killer they were searching for and explaining how their religiously fanatic father turned his brother into 'God's hand' to kill sinners.

05. Fight Club

A disillusioned ordinary guy gets motivated by a salesman he meets to join an underground fight club that has more on its agenda than throwing a few punches.

06. Shutter Island

When a patient disappears in a remote asylum, two US Marshalls travel to the island to find him. 

07. The Departed

Martin Scorsese once more in this cat-and-mouse cops & robbers game as undercover agents and espionage agents play devious games to avoid being detected.

08. Mulholland Drive

Dream and reality are fluid in this David Lynch as the sole survivor of a car crash suffering from amnesia takes the help of another woman to find out her past.

09. The Sixth Sense

This list would not be complete without this M.N. Shyamalan slow-boiling movie of a guy trying to help a boy who claims he 'sees dead people.' 

10. Saw

Forget about all the gory sequels. The first 'Saw' movie was an excellent low budget thriller with a brilliant twist as two men wake up shackled in a room with no idea what is going on.

11. What Lies Beneath

A middle aged woman begins to suspect her neighbour may have been murdered but is unable to convince her bemused husband. 

12. Gone Girl

With superlative performances by its leads, this David Fincher movie focuses on the disappearance of a beautiful housewife and the growing evidence that her husband may have killed her.

13. Zodiac

Again, David Fincher directs an all-star cast as the police and media try to work out the puzzles sent by the (real life) serial killer, Zodiac.

14. The Game

An early work of Fincher, this thriller weaves a mystery around a banker who receives a strange gift from his brother on his birthday and is drawn into a life-and-death game. 

15. LA Confidential

The best neo-noir suspense thriller in years features three cops with differing ideals and agendas investigating a case of police corruption.

16. Memento

Nolan's genius comes to the fore here as we rewind every 15 minutes to follow a man suffering from short term memory loss who uses tattoos and notes to hunt down his wife's killer. 

17. Prestige

Nolan once more directs this smart thriller of the rivalry between two magicians looking to outdo each other, no matter what the cost.

18. ChinaTown

One of the best detective noir movies features a young Jack Nicholson hired to spy on an adulterer who finds himself in over his head.

19. Gone Baby Gone

Two detectives find their ideals questioned as they dig deeper into the disappearance of a 4 year old girl.

20. Identity

One of director James Mangold's (famous now for Logan) earliest thrillers told the suspenseful tale of ten strangers stranded in a motel who find themselves slowly being ticked off as one of them may be a killer.

21. 12 Monkeys

A smart sci-fi thriller where a convict is sent back in time to find a virus that caused the death of billions.

22. Dead Silence

Before he became famous for The Conjuring and Insidious, director James Wan had a supernatural mystery revolving around a ventriloquist doll with a superstitious past that offered a very smart twist in the tale.

23. Primal Fear

An overconfident lawyer finds himself defending an un-winnable case: an young altar boy accused of the gruesome murder of a priest. (P.S. I am biased here since this was one of my all-time favourite lawyer based novels growing up.)

24. Inception

Sci-fi gold as Nolan showcases the tale of a thief who steals information by infiltrating the subconscious and finds himself burdened with an impossible task - implanting one man's idea into another man's subconscious from within.

25. The Secret in their Eyes

Following two timelines, a judge and judiciary employee seek closure for a 25 year old case that haunted them in this beautiful Argentine thriller.

26. The Skin I Live In

In this dark polarizing movie, a surgeon cultivating an artificial skin for patients holds a dark secret in his house - a disfigured woman with a shocking past that you simply cannot guess. 

27. Secret Window

An author running away from divorce proceedings finds himself hounded at his cabin retreat by a stranger who claims the author plagiarized his work.

28. Orphanage

A young lady returning to the orphanage she grew in finds herself at a loss when her son goes missing there after an argument. 

29. Orphan

A couple who recently lost their child adopt a young girl who is not all that she pretends to be.

30. Arlington Road

A professor who lost his wife to an attack by an extremist group finds him getting paranoid about his new mysterious neighbours.

black and white image of two men standing

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Let me know what you think.

  1. That's a great list. As a rule I don't watch ghost or super natural movies :P I have seen a few, the rest will catch up soon

    1. Some of these do fall under that category, I admit. But plenty of good mysteries.

  2. Woaa there's a lot that I haven't seen yet. I can tick if only 12. Gotta do some binging over the weekend. You have awesome choices Doc :)

    1. 12 is still way more than others below you in the comment section :)

  3. That's a great list but I have not seen many of them. I loved Sixth sense and the inception. I have to still see some of them.

    1. quite a few good ones here... don't go searching for spoilers.

  4. Great list of turkey great movies. Have to catch a few. Still remember 'the others'

    1. i wanna rewatch it now... enjoyed it a lot back then

  5. That's quite a list of movies. I never watch supernatural or violent movies. My mind is too impressionable, and I don't sleep afterwards. I probably miss out on some good movies in the process.
    Have you ever had cold feet?

  6. Roshan..this list is amazing..Se7en is one of the deadliest movies I have ever seen, I couldn't sleep the entire night..all seven sins..Others is another movie till the end it was not understood that the lady and her kids were the real ghosts..fight club and sixth sense is also great..thanks for this amazing compilation of movies

    1. hope you find some more gems here. I loved Seven... it stuck in my head for years.

  7. What an exhaustive list, though a pity Inhacent seem most, as I'm a big fan of thrillers and horror.

    I got to watch Se7ven now! Going by yours and Balaka's review.
    Thank you doc with this detailed ready reckoner.

    1. You will love Seven... its a brilliant movie.

  8. That's a huge list here, I confess of not seeing many but the some that I have seen yes I agree with you completely - in fact the Island is one such picture I never understood the whole story, forget abt the ending lolz..
    great compilation.
    here's mine -

    1. haha.. Shutter Island was that kinda movie. The book was pretty good too, actually.

  9. Wow! That's a comprehensive list of suspense movies. From your list, I have watched just one and that's Fight Club. :O

    1. oooh... then you have plenty of wonderful movies to catch up on.

  10. I have seen (and loved) Sixth Sense and Gone Girl, but this list has given me ample options for a long movie marathon. Thank you for sharing. :)

  11. Replies
    1. yay! Finally someone who's seen almost all. :D

  12. Wow! have you watched all of them? Should save up the list for a rainy day

  13. That's a huge list, Roshan. I've seen #6, #9, #11, #12 and #24 and know these are one of the best from the genre. Good list to refer to, when I am looking for a suspense thriller next time around!

    1. do save the list and check out the others :)

  14. Among all the above movies, I have only watched Sixth Sense. I kept on wondering throughout the movie 'ho kya raha hai' cursing the group of friends, I went to watch the movie with. But the end was shocking which made it, interestingly, worth it. Still I never took to watching suspense movies unless I am forced to just like the cricket matches.

    1. haha... you know what? I had the same feeling watching Sixth Sense... we'd reached the last few minutes (was watching on a VCD back then) and I kept thinking what the hell was the big deal about this movie... and then WHAM!

  15. There are at least a couple of movies I haven't watched. Will make sure to watch them now. I'm sure there are a lot more that could have made this list. BTW, not surprising that a few Nolans have made the list.
    Would have been tough to zero in on this from an exhaustive list!

  16. You're ten steps ahead of me with this one. I see murder mysteries and suspense through covered hands so I definitely avoid this genre.

  17. Wow that's some detailed list. 15 out of 28 is my score.

    My personal favourite is Departed, Se7en and fight club.

  18. Definitely like departed seven fight club out if your list. Very well compiled

  19. Wow.. this is a nice and handy compilation. I am copying this list to by PDA. Will start watching this series.

  20. That's looks very interesting list filled with best horror and thriller combination. I've watched some. Will loved to watch more soon

  21. Wow! These are some beautiful books that have been converted to movies. I especially thought - The Usual Suspects, was too good.Will check others books that you have listed. ☺️

  22. Seven and Inception are my favourites on the list .Inception is a life changing storyline .We go on thinking what if this is the alternate reality !

  23. This is just awesome list. Among these I loved The Usual Suspects, that has so much of twist in the last that one gets surprised. Will check out others.

  24. Wow...what a list...almost all which deserved have got listed. Brought back some memories. Thanks for sharing.


  25. Hey!!! Thanks for sharing, surely added in my list if they all are available in netflix!!!

  26. Thats really an exhaustive list of suspense movies. To be frank, I know only sixth sense. All others are new to me.

  27. Have seen 12 and loved Gone Girl- Prestige and The departed. Good now I have few more to catch

  28. Now that's a such an interesting list. I would also add I see u!

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