10 best thrillers of 2021, according to Rotten Tomatoes

Among the most critically acclaimed films of 2021, the thriller genre showed many excellent entries. These movies delivered the kind of tension that leaves audiences on the edge of their seat while showing off the incredible variety the thriller genre can offer audiences.

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Among the top-rated thrillers of the year on Rotten Tomatoes, critics highlighted gripping stories based on real events, based on famous works, or completely original stories. Yet they all manage to deliver the kind of thrill that fans won’t soon forget.

ten Lucky (93%)

Brea Grant stares at a broken window in Lucky

Among some anticipated and popular titles, the most acclaimed thrillers of the year feature many smaller films that fans might have missed. Fortunate is one of those overlooked films and tells the unique story of a woman who finds her home attacked by a dangerous man every night. When she can’t find help to escape the situation, she takes matters into her own hands.

Critics found the film blended genre thrills with sharp social commentary effectively.

9 Old Henry (94%)

A prospector stands outside his home in Old Henry.

Although the genre is no longer as popular as it once was, several excellent Westerns have shown in recent years that there is still potential for this type of story. Old Henry is another stellar and surprising entry in the genre starring Tim Blake Nelson as a farmer whose murderous past is revealed when his quiet life is invaded.

Combining intense elements of the thriller genre with the classic feel of a western, Old Henry surprised many critics. They pointed to Nelson’s strong lead performance and straightforward story as reasons for the film’s success.


8 The novice (95%)

The little movie The newbie proves that thrillers don’t need complex plots to tell intense stories. The grounded story follows a freshman who joins her school’s rowing team and embarks on an obsessive journey that challenges her physically and emotionally.

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First-time filmmaker Lauren Hadaway wrote and directed the film that many critics called a triumphant start. He’s also been praised for his thrilling and disturbing character study that examines obsession in a visceral way.

seven The tragedy of Macbeth (94%)

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth

There have been countless known and lesser known adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays, but there’s no denying the talent involved in Macbeth’s Tragedy. Joel Coen wrote and directed this latest version of the play starring Denzel Washington as Macbeth and Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth.

Instead of opting for a more epic feel as some adaptations did, many reviewers appreciated Coen’s stripped-down take that simplified the storytelling. Washington’s towering performance was also highlighted as a must-have role for the iconic actor.

6 Judas and the Black Messiah (96%)

Daniel Kaluuya speaking in public in Judas and the Black Messiah with Darrell Britt-Gibson on the side

it is not a surprise Judas and the Black Messiah was critically acclaimed this year as it had already been a hit at the last Academy Awards. It tells the gripping true story of the FBI’s attempts to bring down Fred Hampton, the charismatic leader of the Black Panther Party.

Daniel Kaluuya’s powerful Oscar-winning performance as Hampton was the film’s most notable aspect for many critics. They also called it an electric retelling of historical history while addressing issues that are very relevant all these years later.

5 The boy behind the door (97%)

The boy behind the door

It’s rare to see a thriller with young children at the helm of the story, but that’s part of the reason why The boy behind the door is as intense as it is. It follows two young friends, Bobby and Kevin, who are kidnapped and taken to an unknown house. As Bobby manages to escape, he stays behind to help his friend.

The Cat and Mouse movie was another winning debut in the thriller genre from director duo David Chardonier and Justin Powell. Reviewers found it to be an incredibly effective thrill ride that will also appeal to horror fans with its edge-of-the-seat story.

4 Pig (97%)

Rob (Nicolas Cage) shares a meal with his truffle-hunting pig in Pig (2021)

In one of the biggest surprises of the year, Pork took a strange premise and turned it into a gripping and unexpected tale. Nicolas Cage stars as a reclusive man living in the woods with his truffle-hunting pig. When the pig is stolen, he goes on a desperate mission to a seedy underworld to get it back.

Cage gives one of his best performances by most critics, and the movie itself doesn’t waste his talents. It was called a once-in-a-lifetime odyssey that has some great things to say about love and loss.

3 7 inmates (98%)

The best thrillers of the year also spotlight some international films that fans might not have been aware of, such as the Brazilian film 7 prisoners. The film follows a young man named Mateus who leaves his rural home for a job in the city where his boss turns out to be a corrupt and dangerous man who forces Mateus to face tough decisions for his own survival.

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7 prisoners is another thriller that pleased most critics with its ability to address social issues while meeting the expectations of the genre. It was considered a hard-hitting and grounded story with sharp narration.

2 My heart can’t beat unless you say so (98%)

Suzie and Dwight at the dinner table in My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell Me

Vampire stories have often been part of the landscape of thrillers and My heart can’t beat unless you say so finds another unique way to approach this kind of tale. It focuses on Dwight and Jessie caring for their chronically ill brother by providing him with the human blood he needs to survive.

The haunting and unsettling story was a hit with many critics who found it compelling even if it was difficult to watch at times. The captivating nature of the story leaves the audience with a unique and challenging experience.

1 Azor (100%)

A man and a woman gazing into the distance in Azor

Another international film ranks as the highest rated thriller of 2021. Azor tells the story of a private banker who travels to Argentina to take over from his partner who has disappeared at work. As the man tries to figure out what happened, he is drawn into a complex mystery.

Critics were very impressed with the film’s slow approach to telling its complicated story. Many found that it gradually drew audiences in and hooked as the mystery unfolded.

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