Mystery/Thriller Movies You NEED To Watch | Emily Bashforth

Mystery/Thriller Movies You NEED To Watch


I'm not one for horror films because 1) I'm a wimp and 2) just watching the trailers for them causes me to have sleepless nights, however, I am a sucker for a good thriller movie or anything with a sense of mystery. I love anything unusual, anything which keeps me on the edge of my seat until the end, anything which puts me into a trance and doesn't allow me to remove my eyes from the screen for the duration of the film.
Anything tense is always great too, although, sometimes, when the suspense is just too much, I find myself skipping ahead in the film, just to check everything works out okay, then rewinding it back to watch it at ease - whoops.

Most of the movies I watch, (if they aren't romantic comedies) tend to be of the mystery/thriller genre, therefore, I wanted to share some of my favourites with you and BOY have I got some good recommendations. I feel as though all of the following films either scarred me or just turned me into a shell of a human being once I'd finished watching them but I'd happily endure that again because they were THAT good. Below are sixteen mystery/thriller movies which you seriously need to add to your 'movies I need to watch list,' especially if you're like me and aren't a horror fan but enjoy films with plot twists, gripping storylines and extraordinary climaxes. I hope you find something you like here, in fact, I know you will as some of these have made it into my 'favourite movies of all time.'

Exam (2009)
The final eight candidates for a highly desirable corporate job are locked together in an exam room and given a test with one question. It seems simple yet confusing that soon, tensions begin to unravel.

This is a low budget, British film that doesn't rely on special effects, CGI or extravagant locations but instead quality acting, a gripping plot and intriguing characters to tell its story. It isn't a widely known film so you probably haven't seen it, which is a shame as, honestly, it is one of the best things I have ever seen. I've watched it countless times and it never gets boring. I love the fact that the audience get to know the characters right from the word go and instantly decide which one they like, dislike, trust and do not trust. I also love the fact that, throughout the film, there are unanswered questions but, right at the end, everything is revealed, along with a shocking twist. If you want something which is going to hook you instantly, really put you into the film and make you feel as though you're one of the characters, this is the film for you. Even if you decide you hate the movie halfway through, its impossible to switch it off because you'll still want to know the answers.

The Loft (2014)
Five married guys conspire to secretly share a penthouse loft in the city--a place where they can carry out hidden affairs and indulge in their deepest fantasies. But the fantasy becomes a nightmare when they discover the dead body of an unknown woman in the loft, and they realise one of the group must be involved.

This is your classic plot, really. Someone gets murdered and the characters must work out who the killer is before the film's done. However, this one is carried out in a much more interesting way and the end reveal is far from predictable. Usually, as a viewer, you have your theory on who the perpetrator is from the start but, in The Loft, it really could be anyone and the film's climax is so unexpected and contains a shocking twist. I'll admit, the synopsis does make it sound like its just a film about a bunch of sleazy guys having affairs, but its so much more than that. Its a real puzzle that'll keep you gripped throughout and I love the way the film jumps from past to present in the form of flashbacks as it really contributes towards the mystery of it all. Overall, a really entertaining and very smart film.

Gone Girl
This film unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne reports that his beautiful wife, Amy, has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick's portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behaviour have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

You've probably seen this movie, or at least read the best selling novel by Gillian Flynn that it was based on,, but, if not, WHY? Gone Girl is like nothing else I have ever seen. To say the story is gripping seems criminal because it kept me hooked in ways that most other films fail to. I love a good murder mystery and, in this film, you're really forced to establish a relationship with the characters and, without intending to, become so heavily involved in the case. The "big reveal" comes not too far into the film, which seems early but, once it happens, you're still just as hooked and want to see how things play out. The reveal is a huge surprise but is done in such a clever way it leaves you speechless. Additionally, the acting in Gone Girl is second to done, particularly from Rosamund Pike, her portrayal of Amy is extraordinary. If you're looking for a movie which could potentially be added to your list of all time favourites, give this a try. It left me with my jaw open and it was one of those which I just had to Google once it'd finished as I could not stop thinking about it.

Speed (1994)
A young police officer must prevent a bomb exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph.

The summary for this one really does say it all. After reading it, I'm certain that you want to watch it, right? Its far from the most recent movie in this compilation but I would go as far as to say it is easily the most gripping. I spent the entirety of it biting my nails and gasping out of sheer panic and terror at what was happening. Its an incredibly fast paced film, which I love. There's no time to stop for breathers, its just full on all the way through, which creates a real adrenaline rush in any viewer and keeps you on your toes. The way the story plays out really is quite clever and one of my favourite things about this movie is the fact that you automatically put yourself in the characters' positions and think "What would I be feeling if I was on that bus?" I'd say this film is a great one to watch with friends or family in order to really amplify the tension.

Phone Booth (2002)
Stu Shepard is a brash, cynical, and self-centred public relations man who juggles a busy career with both a wife, Kelly and a mistress, Pamela. Stu steps into a phone booth on a busy New York street to make a call to Pamela without Kelly being the wiser, but as soon as Stu hangs up, the phone begins to ring. Curious, Stu picks it up and a stranger on the other end informs him that if he hangs up the phone, he'll be shot.

Yet another absolutely brilliant film which, ugh, I don't know what else to say other than it was flipping amazing. I'm a big fan of movies which don't switch locations frequently and don't feature an overwhelming amount of characters. I much prefer one or two settings and a handful of characters which I can really bond with and set to know. Phonebooth has both of those features and uses them to their full potential. The whole film is, pretty much, set inside the, yep you guessed it, phone booth with all of the action being focused on Stu, whom Colin Farrell does a remarkable job of portraying. Its a highly unrealistic situation, of course, but, once again, gets you thinking about what you would do in that situation. It is undeniably gripping and you're almost sad when its over, however, it doesn't leave you feeling let down, oh no, there's nothing anticlimactic about this film. Even the ending leaves you thinking due to a slight twist. Honestly, Phone Booth is so good. Watch it, like now.

Before I Go To Sleep (2014)
A woman wakes up every day, remembering nothing as a result of a traumatic accident in her past. One day, new terrifying truths emerge that force her to question everyone around her.

Before I Go To Sleep is so original and has such a fantastically unique plot for a thriller. I mean, it stars Colin Firth so that instantly makes it amazing but, apart from that, you're hooked right from the first scene and Nicole Kidman plays Christine spiffingly. She really becomes her character and allows viewers to relate to her and see life through her eyes. As a viewer, you almost go on a journey with the protagonist as you're left to fit the puzzle pieces together as the film progresses and, finally, have a light bulb moment at the same time as Christine. The film contains a mere three characters, making the viewing experience rather 'intimate,' shall we say, which I really like.

Would You Rather (2012)
Desperate to help her ailing brother, a young woman unknowingly agrees to compete in a deadly game of "Would You Rather," hosted by a sadistic aristocrat.


This is one dinner party you would not want to be invited to as the host tempts his guests into a game of 'Would You Rather,' which soon turns far more sinister than they could have expected but, of course, when money is up for grabs, people will do anything. I love how this film puts a dark spin on the classic game we've all played since school and brilliantly portrays how people can act selfishly to get what they want. Despite its harrowing plot, this film is extremely entertaining and, as the characters fall down one by one, you're left wondering what direction the film is going to go in. For me, the ending was a little predictable but, simultaneously, I enjoyed it nonetheless and I was pleased that it ended on a positive (kind of) note. If you want something gripping but also disturbingly humorous, watch Would You Rather.

Circle (2015)
Held captive and faced with their imminent executions, fifty strangers are forced to choose the one person among them who deserves to live.


The idea behind this film is fantastic, highly original and just provides an insanely gripping story from start to end. Its the classic tale of fifty people in a room, only one gets out alive, but everything plays out in such a clever way, in which the characters are forced to vote for which members of their group they want to be killed off. Some act out of compassion, thinking logically about the whole thing and so trying to convince the others to save children and pregnant women. Some act selfishly, however, putting themselves forwards as the one who should live. Its also one of those films where not all characters are as they seem and it later becomes apparent that some have been playing games in a bid to be victorious. For me, the ending was a little anticlimactic but the film as a whole was extremely enthralling and I was kept on my toes, constantly debating whether or not I should trust certain people. Truly amazing.


The Invitation (2015)

While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.


Admittedly, this isn't at the top of the list of my favourite mystery/thriller movies, simply because the ending was a tad disappointing, however, up until that point, I did really enjoy it and would highly recommend that you watch it, especially if you want something unusual and unnerving. The first half is so tense as both the audience and dinner guests are unaware of what is yet to happen. It isn't made clear what the hosts' intentions are but you know that something just isn't quite right - everything just seems a little creepy. But then, there's a defining moment where, suddenly, everything switches and the drama kicks in, which is makes the film tense but on a whole new level.

Elevator (2011)
Racism collides with corporate greed when nine strangers - one of whom has a bomb - become trapped in a Wall Street elevator.

Warning: You will never want to set foot in an elevator again after watching this film. Its terrifying, not because it contains ghosts or spooky music but because this film is set in an ordinary, everyday location and causes you to, instantly, place yourself in the shoes of the characters and consider how you'd feel if you were, too, trapped in an elevator with an ACTUAL BOMB. As previously mentioned, I love films set in one location, therefore, I love this. I was weighing up all the possible endings throughout and, even when the ending came, there was one final twist just before the movie finished. This film is totally worth your time as it'll keep you hooked throughout thanks to the well-crafted plot and personalities of the characters. Their emotions are, naturally, heightened in the situation and the fact that they're in such a confined space makes everything even more tense.

The Prestige (2006)
Two stage magicians engage in competitive one-upmanship in an attempt to create the ultimate stage illusion.

This film was directed by Christopher Nolan so there should be no doubt in your mind that it's incredible and trust me when I say that it is. This is, undoubtedly, one of the best movies I have ever seen and it took me a while to really fathom what had happened and take it all in because it was THAT GOOD. I think I just sat, staring at the wall, with my mouth open for four hours afterwards. It is officially one of my all time favourite films, I've decided. The number of plot twists in this film, well, I couldn't even count them. Even right at the end, when you think a resolution is just around the corner, there's one final twist which really messes with your brain. This film is long but it is more than worth watching. Honestly, you'll thank yourself for it. Not only is it capturing, but its beautifully made too and, despite the two central characters being magicians, you don't need to be that interested in magic to watch this film. All you need is the ability to stay focused, an attention to detail, a curious mind and a passion for bloody brilliant movies. The Prestige is so much more than the story of two illusionists, it is also a complex character study about how self destructive obsessions are with a sideline love story. This film truly stays with you and its the kind of thing you can discuss for weeks afterwards as its so open to interpretation. Watch it. Now.

The Machinist (2004)
An industrial worker who hasn't slept in a year begins to doubt his own sanity.

The summary for this one is short but that's really all you need to get you hooked, plus, its a film you simply have to watch to understand. This film has also been added to my favourite films of all time list because, OH MY LIFE it was beyond phenomenal and I put that solely down to Christian Bale's performance. He really went above and beyond for his role of an emaciated machine operator who begins doubting his own mental well-being due to severe insomnia. Did you know that Bale lost 4.
 stone (62 lbs) for this part? In fact, he wanted to go down further but was told it was too dangerous and the required weight was actually intended for a shorter actor. He did this by dieting dramatically, surviving on just water, an apple and one cup of coffee per day, with the occasional whiskey. At the end of filming he had six months to regain weight for his role in Batman Begins, which he did through weightlifting and binging on pizzas and ice cream. (Nice little bit of trivia for you there. Don't say I never teach you anything). Honestly, this film blew my mind, especially as the story is told from the protagonist's perspective, meaning viewers are just as clueless as he is (due to his lack of sleep) until a certain point when the puzzle pieces slowly start fitting together and there's a, yep you guessed it, plot twist. I spend a long time reading up about this film after watching it as it seemed to really strike a chord with me. I doubt I'll ever watch a film like this ever again and, whilst I understand it won't be everyone's cup of tea, I'd advise you to at least give it a go. It changed my life so it may change yours.

The Number 23 (2007)
Walter Sparrow becomes obsessed with a novel that he believes was written about him. As his obsession increases, more and more similarities seem to arise.

This is another film which stays with you after you've watched it. It really gets inside your brain and alters the way you think. You almost become as obsessed with the number 23 as Jim Carrey's character is in the movie who, by the way, he portrays excellently. Its great seeing him in something so thrilling as oppose to his usual comedic roles. This is an entertaining thriller with a unique storyline and a good old fashioned twist. For some reason, this film didn't receive the most positive reviews, although the people who hated it couldn't always explain why. trust me though, stick with it. It'll all make sense soon enough and I'd hate for you to miss the plot twist. This film really keeps you guessing up until the final moment and is a great one to watch with friends.

Identity (2003)
Stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rain-storm, ten strangers become acquainted with each other when they realise that they're being killed off one by one.

Identity had me, literally, sitting on the edge of my seat right from the opening credits. This is a psychological thriller at its very best. It begins as a classic 'whodunnit' and your brain is working overtime, attempting to work out whose doing the killing and, just when you think you have the right answer, you're proved wrong, but I love that as I enjoy being kept on my toes. It would probably be impossible for you to figure out how the movie ends, however, because its such a shock. It isn't just a case of figuring out who the bad guy is as, at the end, everything flips on its head, and then flips on its head again and, before you even know what's happening, you have sweaty palms, shortness of breath and are utterly astounded. This film needs to be watched by everyone as its like nothing else out there.

Panic Room (2002)
A divorced woman and her diabetic daughter take refuge in their newly-purchased house's safe room, when three men break-in, searching for a missing fortune.

This film made me desperately want a panic room in my house, just in case three men break in to search for my non-existent fortune. Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart's acting in this film is second to none and they kept me gripped all the way through, as well as allowing me to relate to them. I'll admit that some of the scenes were too tense for my liking, therefore, I had to skip them, just to check the characters survived, then I'd go back and watch it again, but that's just me being a loser. I think this film deserves more recognition as, if you can conjure up a story and play it out based in one single room, (like Elevator) and still manage to make it engaging and exciting, you're a genius. Okay, there are a few plot holes, however, I'm prepared to look past those as this movie had me in a trance from the word 'go.'

American Psycho (2000)
A wealthy New York investment banking executive hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he delves deeper into his violent, hedonistic fantasies.

Aaaaand last but not least we have this Christian Bale classic and I've just realised that there are three of his films in this post but each character is so different, you'd think they were all played by a different actor. The chances are, you've already seen it or at least know the plot but, if you haven't, I'd suggest that you do. This film is a well known crime drama in which Bale perfectly portrays a, yep, American Psycho, (I'm starting to believe there is not a role he cannot play). I think Patrick Bateman is one of the most complex characters ever created, but so fascinatingly, intriguingly complex and complex in such a way that you can't stop thinking about him once the film has ended. The film follows him and his obsessions, telling the story of how nothing is ever enough for him, however, the ending is shocking, (have you gathered by now that I love a plot twist?) and leaves you thinking. This is definitely a film you have to Google once its finished...although other search engines are available. I'd hate to spoil this one for you so I'll just strongly urge you to watch it. It isn't the most recent of films but its a classic, which you'll love if you've also read the book it was  based on. The audience are never sure whether Patrick Bateman's crimes are real, or just imaginary, but his slide into insanity is clearly real and paced expertly by Christian Bale and viewers really get inside his mind thanks to his unreliable narration. 

Found something you fancy watching? I hope so! What are your favourite mystery/thriller films? <3

Love, Emily :) xx

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