Brad Pitt leans in to look closely at a corpse in Se7en

10 Blood-Curdling Crime Dramas Streaming on Max Right Now

Season four of True Detective has come to an end, leaving fans of psychological thrillers and crime dramas flipping channels in search of their next great watch. Relax, we’ve done the channel surfing for you!

Recommended Videos

Below you’ll find ten highly rated and critically acclaimed movies that fall solidly into the “gritty” category of thrillers. These burgeoning classics are brimming with scenes and quotes that became staples in the pop culture lexicon, so watching them is practically educational from an entertainment standpoint. The best part is they’re all streaming right now on HBO Max!

Se7en (1995)

Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt as detectives in Se7en
(New Line Cinema)

David Fincher directed this dark tale of a young cop (Brad Pitt) and an old cop (Morgan Freeman) investigating a series of horrific murders based on the seven deadly sins from the Bible.

Fair warning, when we say this movie is gritty, we mean it! The crime scenes are so realistic (and nasty) that viewers can practically smell the feculence right through the screen. However, if you’ve ever heard someone cry out, “What’s in the box?!” and didn’t get the reference, now’s your chance to get in on the joke.

The Little Things (2021)

Denzel Washington shouts with his arm raised while two men look on.
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Little Things is classified as a neo-noir psychological crime thriller, and it lives up to that title with its moody direction and the smoldering detectives at its core. Denzel Washington and Rami Malek play detectives in 1990s Los Angeles who are investigating several grisly murders. Jared Leto plays their primary suspect and for better or for worse, nobody plays a menacing loner quite as convincingly as Leto.

Fargo (1996)

Francis McDormand as Margie bending over dead man in Fargo
(PolyGram Filmed Entertainment)

This Coen Brothers production was an instant classic when it premiered in 1996 and more recently spawned a popular television spinoff.

Set in the remote northern Minnesota city of Fargo, the story centers on an extremely pregnant police chief called Margie Gunderson (Frances McDormand in a career-defining role) forced to investigate a brutal triple homicide tied to a used car salesman (William H. Macy) who’s hiding a major secret. Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare are terrifying yet somehow hilarious as deadly criminals and kidnappers.

Fargo received tons of award nods and won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Joel and Ethan Coen and a Best Actress award (the first of three … so far) for McDormand.

Nightingale (2014)

David Oyelowo looking desperate wearing Blutooth earbud in The Nightingale
(HBO Films)

Nightingale brings us inside the mind of an extremely troubled man named Peter Snowden (David Oyelowo) who admits right off the bat that he killed his mother. The rest of the film follows Peter as he runs errands, records videos for social media (including a confession video), and arranges a dinner date with an old army buddy. As the dinner date draws closer, Peter’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic and he vacillates between moving his mother’s body and forgetting she’s dead entirely, all while fending off concerned phone calls from his sister and other family members. The ending is as shocking as it is inevitable.

Eastern Promises (2007)

Viggo Mortensen and wears sunglasses next to Vincent Cassel in Eastern Promises
(Focus Features)

Eastern Promises is an unyielding gangster film directed by David Cronenberg and starring a fierce, sinewy Viggo Mortensen as henchman Nikolai Luzhin. Mortensen is the perfect iceman for this film, and Naomi Watts is equally excellent as Anna, a Russian-British midwife who becomes intertwined with the Russian mob when she delivers a baby for a 14-year-old Ukrainian girl kidnapped and forced into the sex trade industry.

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

LaKeith Stanfield and Jesse Plemons shake hands in Judas and the Black Messiah
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Shaka King co-wrote the script for Judas and the Black Messiah with Will Berson. He also directed and produced the film, which tells the story of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), chairman of the Black Panther Party in Illinois in the late 1960s. LaKeith Stanfield plays William O’Neal, an FBI informant sent to spy on the organization from the inside.

American Gangster (2007)

Russell Crowe in American Gangster
(Universal Pictures)

Ridley Scott directed and produced American Gangster, which was written by Academy Award-winning writer Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List). While the story is fictional, it is based on the real-life criminal Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), who used American service planes returning from Vietnam to traffic heroin to the United States. Russell Crowe appears as Detective Richie Roberts, a Newark cop who heads up a task force to bring Lucas to justice Josh Brolin, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ruby Dee, and Cuba Gooding Jr. also star.

Parasite (2019)

The Kim family crouches on the floor folding pizza boxes in Parasite
(CJ Entertainment)

Parasite received dozens of award nominations and won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director Bong Joon-ho), Best Original Screenplay (Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won), and Best International Feature Film. It was the first non-English-language film to ever win Best Picture!

The Korean movie centers on the Kims, a family living in abject poverty who quietly infiltrate the lives of a wealthy family. The contrast between the classes under capitalism is the core of Parasite, but it’s the individual characters who get under our skin and stay there.

No Sudden Move (2021)

A woman stands while a man sits on a bed and rests his forehead against her stomach
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

No Sudden Move is a crime thriller with an ensemble cast that’s to die for: Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Amy Seimetz, Jon Hamm, Brendan Frasier, Kieran Culkin, Julia Fox, and Ray Liotta, among others. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the film is about a group of criminals forced to work together after a heist goes terribly, terribly wrong.

Blood Simple (1984)

Francis McDormand in Blood Simple
(Circle Films)

Blood Simple is a movie of firsts: It was the first major movie written, edited, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen; the first major motion picture role for Frances McDormand; and the first film for cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld. Side note: This is also the movie set where McDormand and Joel Coen met and fell in love. They’ve been married ever since, and she has starred in at least eight of their films (including Fargo!).

Blood Simple stars John Getz as Ray, a bartender in Texas who starts an affair with Abby (McDormand) even though she’s married to his boss Julian (Dan Hedaya). The affair kicks off a series of increasingly brutal events involving a private investigator (M. Emmet Walsh) hired to kill the cheating couple by Abby’s husband.

There you have it, creepy movie buffs! All of these delightfully spine-tingling stories of crime and deception are available for your entertainment on HBO Max. Enjoy, but don’t get any ideas! Crime doesn’t pay, folks.

(featured image: New Line Cinema)


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article 10 Best Movies Like ‘The Proposal’
The-Proposal, Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White
Read Article Is There a ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ English Dub? Answered
Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Read Article The Latest Trailer for Dakota Johnson’s New Movie Is a Major Improvement on the First
Dakota Johnson in 'Daddio'
Read Article ‘Alien’ Is Returning to Theaters This Month
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in 'Alien'
Read Article Pamela Anderson Joins Liam Neeson in ‘Naked Gun’ Remake
(L-R) Liam Neeson at the 'Marlowe' premiere, Pamela Anderson at the Vanity Fair Oscar party.
Related Content
Read Article 10 Best Movies Like ‘The Proposal’
The-Proposal, Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White
Read Article Is There a ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ English Dub? Answered
Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Read Article The Latest Trailer for Dakota Johnson’s New Movie Is a Major Improvement on the First
Dakota Johnson in 'Daddio'
Read Article ‘Alien’ Is Returning to Theaters This Month
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in 'Alien'
Read Article Pamela Anderson Joins Liam Neeson in ‘Naked Gun’ Remake
(L-R) Liam Neeson at the 'Marlowe' premiere, Pamela Anderson at the Vanity Fair Oscar party.
Author
Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She writes about pop culture, entertainment, and web memes, and has published a book or a funny day-to-day desk calendar about web humor every year for a decade. When not writing, she's listening to audiobooks or watching streaming movies under a pile of her very loved (spoiled) pets.