A good thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat, whether that’s at home or in the theater. There were a lot of good examples from the 2000s, but many of them may have flown under your radar. Here are fifteen you may not have seen…but you should!
15. First Snow (2006)
Mark Fergus would go on to write the script for Children of Men, but here he sits in the director’s chair and guides Guy Pearce through a very solid story with some very good performances.
14. The Crimson Rivers (2000)
A murder mystery on a French college campus, this one packs some horrific chills. Multiple investigations gradually converge into one larger story, and the two lead actors, Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel, carry the weight nicely.
13. 11:14 (2003)
Another fine example of multiple stories converging together, this one features a slew of names who all contribute to the frantic pace. What starts off as a normal night in a rural town hits the gas pedal towards some twisted turns.
12. Amores Perros (2000)
This was my introduction to both Iñàrritu as a director and Garcia-Bernal as an actor, and I was floored by each of them. A horrific car accident connects multiple threads together to create an unforgettable, violent picture.
11. Mulholland Drive (2001)
Ah, David Lynch. Dreamscapes, questioning reality, striking and insane visual imagery, more questions than answers, and lesbians kissing. Okay, that last part has nothing to do with why this is a good film, but it always gets mentioned when people discuss this, so I had to throw it in there.
10. Funny Games (2007)
Full disclosure: I hate this movie (as my brother will attest). But I cannot deny it’s effectiveness and how well it accomplishes what it sets out to do. You will be biting your nails and supremely uncomfortable the entire time, as you revel in the violence the director wishes society would shun. It’s something, alright…
09. Night Watch (2004)
This one blew me away when I caught it in its very limited theatrical run in America. There were visuals, including the use of subtitles, that I’d never seen before, and it stuck with me for years. I’ve probably never been let down harder by a sequel (Daywatch) after being so impressed by its predecessor. All I will say is that it’s Russian and pits the forces of good and evil against each other in an epic fashion.
08. The Machinist (2004)
Yes, everyone has heard of the shockingly disgusting transformation Bale made, dropping over 60lbs (down to around 110 for filming) for the role of a factory worker who hasn’t slept in a year. No, that’s not the reason you should watch it. The way the film toys with the idea of the main character’s sanity is something to behold. And yes, the striking visuals of Bale’s frame will haunt you.
07. Frailty (2001)
I know a lot of people have probably seen this one, but if not, it is one of my favorite things Bill Paxton (RIP) ever made, and made me more of a believer in Matthew McConaughey. It’s a wonderful, scary story about a father who convinces his children that their family is on a mission from God to destroy demons presented as humans. And maybe, just maybe…he isn’t as crazy as he sounds.
06. Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
One of the best, most affecting revenge stories I’ve ever seen, this tells the story of a soldier returning home to discover that his mentally-challenged younger brother has been brutalized and killed by a group of locals. My jaw dropped several times watching this and I highly recommend it!
05. One Hour Photo (2002)
Coming off the hells of Insomnia, Robin Williams took a big chance here, and it paid off remarkably well, earning him very high praise. A photo developer at a local superstore begins to obsess over a family that always brings their photos to him. They are the perfect family. They should be his family…
04. Oldboy (2003)
An epic tale of long-sought-after revenge that includes some stark, brutal violence and a twist ending that haunted me for weeks after seeing it, this is a true classic…if you can take what it has to offer!
03. Transsiberian (2008)
A film I have been recommending for ten years now, this is an underappreciated gem full of gripping tension, great performances and squeamish moments. It takes the “foreign couple on a train” trope and offers up something fresh and unforgettable.
02. Little Children (2006)
Someone will tell me I’m cheating and that this is more of a drama than a thriller, but I felt the undercurrent of tension the whole time and it was very unnerving. I absolutely love this movie, and feel that Todd Field did an excellent job at creating something that lived up to the source material. It’s beautifully shot and acted, with a memorable climax.
01. Tell No One (2006)
This is another one I will never stop recommending. It’s a brilliant French film about a man who survives a violent encounter that sees his wife murdered. He attempts to pick up the pieces and move on, until years later when he receives an email…from his wife. Bodies become unearthed and a forgotten case is opened back up and the audience is along for the main character’s pulse-pounding ride.
What do you think of my list? What would you add or take away? Let us know in the comments below!