Amber Midthunder in 'Prey'.

Four Great Thriller Movies You Need to See ASAP

As far as I’m concerned, the four elements of stuff I watch is horror, anime, music videos, and porn. But see, sometimes I’m not in the mood to watch any those things (no, not even that last one). But I also don’t want to watch a romcom (because there ain’t no fight scenes) and I don’t want to watch a drama (because the real world is honestly kinda boring). So the good people of the movie industry came up with a solution: the thriller. It’s for when you you need that good good adrenaline rush, but maybe you don’t want to necessarily be scared. You wanna be thrilled. Who doesn’t want to be thrilled?

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But see, if I just made a list that said “omg you should watch Fight Club, and American Psycho, and Seven” and all these other movies you’ve probably seen before that wouldn’t be very thrilling, now would it? So I came up with a list of some of my favorite thrillers that you might not be familiar with in order to get your adrenaline going in a way that only a visit to a strange, unfamiliar place can. So buckle up, kids. Here goes…

I Saw The Devil (2010)

(Peppermint and Company)

I Saw The Devil is basically South Korea’s answer to movies like Seven and Zodiac. It’s a movie about serial killers. Yay! Classic thriller material. It starts with a young pregnant women stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. Bad vibe. An off duty bus driver offers to fix her tire, but instead he beats her unconscious and dismembers her. Way worse vibe. He later dumps her remains in a river, where it is recovered by the police. The bad news for the bus driver is one of the cops who finds the dead woman’s body is her fiancé. When he discovers her body, he gets very upset (like any of us would) and swears to hunt the bastard down and take bloody revenge (like… some of us would?)

See, it would be all well and good if the fiancé tracked down his wife’s killer and then just, you know, killed him. But he doesn’t do that. He finds the guy, beats the shit out of him, and then shoves a GPS down his throat and releases him in order to capture him again. Oh no. So naturally, the killer goes off to do more bad shit and kill more people, and the woman’s fiancé keeps tracking him down, beating the shit out of him, and then releasing him again. But the bad news is, the killer is a pretty smart guy. Eventually he starts torturing the cop by using some his own tricks against him, and it turns into a cat and mouse thrill ride colored in all sorts of shades of moral grey. It’s essentially a movie about the price of vengeance, and it poses the question of whether or not revenge is something worth pursuing. What’s the answer? You’ll have to watch and find out.

Victoria (2015)

(Monkeyboy/Duetschfilm)

This movie is a cinematic triumph. Not because of the plot (which is awesome) or because of the actors (who are amazing) but because of the cinematography. This movie was shot in one take. Yes, one take. It’s a two hour film. And no, it doesn’t take place in somebody’s apartment, it takes place everywhere. Let me explain.

The film is about a young Spanish woman named Victoria who moves to Berlin on a whim. One night, she goes out to a nightclub and meets four charming young men. They invite her to go for a walk with them (not sketchy) and they end up breaking into an apartment building to smoke weed and drink on the roof (again, totally not sketchy). One of the members of the gang gets fall down drunk, and the boys begin arguing that they won’t be able to complete a “job” that they need to do that night (the least sketchy thing I’ve ever heard). Victoria volunteers for the job without knowing what it is, and the boys drive to meet a terrifying man who outfits them with guns (not even on the same planet as sketchy). The boys tell Victoria that they need her to be the getaway driver during a bank heist, and at that point she’s so freaked out that she goes along with it (alright now it’s a little sketchy).

And yes, they do the heist. And no, it doesn’t go as planned. Yes, they get chased by the police. Yes, they use the guns that they are given. And yes, this is still all one take. Apparently it took them a full month to rehearse the film and then they shot it three times before picking the final take as the one to release as the final cut. That is astounding. This movie literally has gunfights and a piano concerto within 40 minutes of each other. I have no idea how they pulled it off.

Climax (2018)

(Rectangle Productions/Wild Bunch)

Okay, fair warning here, this film is not for everyone. But honestly, neither is anything that Gaspar Noe has made. It’s about a group of sexy young dancers (uh oh) who travel to a remote building in a blizzard (bad move) in order to rehearse a dance piece for an upcoming performance (couldn’t have picked a better time?). The film starts out with an impeccably choreographed dance number, and then cuts between different pairs of dancers in conversation in order to establish a bit of backstory and relationships. The dancers all begin to share a punch bowl full of sangria, and begin to inexplicably start hallucinating. They come to the conclusion that one of their number has spiked the sangria with LSD, and shit immediately goes off the rails. Accusations are thrown about. People are locked outside in freezing temperatures. Somebody catches on fire. It’s a mess.

The film is not what you would call “plot heavy,” but it’s much more of an atmospheric piece (if that atmosphere was the nine circles of hell). Many of the scenes were entirely improvised, and the bulk of the film is made up of a 48 minute one shot take this entirely the stuff of nightmares. Because of its nontraditional nature, this film is a challenging watch. It is not always an enjoyable watch either, and sometimes you really just want to look away. But the thing about this film is that it stays with you, and not in an “omg I’m traumatized now” way, but a “wow that really was some art school kind of stuff” way.

As difficult as Climax is to stomach, it is also a gorgeously shot film, and will thrill you in a way that you will never expect. There just isn’t another film on Earth like it. So do yourself a favor and get out of your comfort zone and watch it. Just don’t get too far out of your comfort zone, or else you think it’s a good idea to drink hallucy-juice in an abandoned building in the middle of a snowstorm with all your frenemies. That might not necessarily be the kind of thrill for which you are in the market.

Prey (2022)

Amber Midthunder as Naru looking over the edge of a cliff with her dog. Image: Hulu.
(20th Century Studios)

This one is a recent thriller film that just came out this year! And it’s one of the best films that I’ve seen in a while. It’s a prequel to the Predator movies, which I wasn’t really that big of a fan of when I first saw them. Don’t get me wrong, the first one is good. But then they franchised it to death and totally killed it. Then they came up with Prey and gloriously brought the franchise back from the dead. The plot alone had me sold: the year is 1719, and a young Comache woman named Naru has a dream of becoming a great hunter like her older brother. However, sexism among her people relegates her to the role of a medicinal healer.

One day, while she’s out exploring the wilderness with her dog, she sees mysterious lights in the sky. Eventually, she realizes that she and her tribe are being stalked by a mysterious alien that is able to camouflage itself and is really good at murder. I mean she watches this thing fight a bear and win.

Eventually, the predator (a member of an alien race called the Yautja) begins targeting her, as it sees her as a worthy opponent. Overwhelmed by the alien’s superior technology, Naru has to use all of her wits in order to destroy the alien before it decimates her tribe for sport. The movie is in a sense a coming of age film, as Naru is hunting the creature in order to be taken seriously as a warrior by her people. It’s also a total thrill ride. The young warrior uses throwing axes, single shot pistols, and hunting knives against a being that is able to turn invisible and fire miniature homing missiles out of its helmet. It’s definitely not a fair fight, but she preservers. Honestly, if I were the predator, I would be pretty embarrassed.

(featured image: 20th Century Studios)


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Image of Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.