The best Stan thrillers (August 2022)

Want a good thrill? There’s plenty on Stan. Critic Sarah Ward has combed through the archives and selected the top 25 thrillers currently available on the streaming platform.

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* Best New Stan Movies and TV Shows
* All new streaming movies and series

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One of the most influential Australian films of the past decade – and the film that earned Jacki Weaver an Oscar nomination – Animal Kingdom questions the anxious dynamics of Melbourne’s underworld. Also starring Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton and Guy Pearce, David Michod’s feature debut follows the machinations of the Cody family after teenage J (James Frecheville) is taken in by his crime matriarch grandmother.

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With their seductive and luscious directorial debuts, Bound, Lana and Lilly Wachowski have given the world a tight (and tight-budget) neo-noir crime thriller that’s as slick as anything that follows on their resumes, including the Matrix movies. Jennifer Tilly plays the hapless Violet, girlfriend of Joe Pantoliano’s gangster Caesar, and soon-to-be enterprising partner — in crime with a $2 million salary in mind, and otherwise — of Gina Gershon’s ex-con turned painter and plumber Corky.

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Forget it, all the other neo-noir mystery thrillers: Chinatown is the pinnacle of the genre, and the 1930s delight has been for nearly five decades. Jack Nicholson is phenomenal as private detective Jake Gittes, who is hired to track the husband of a new client, but finds himself embroiled in a scam over California water and becomes aware of a family situation too. complicated than that. Equally excellent in this superbly shot film: Faye Dunaway and Commander John Huston.

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In many films, Oscar Isaac’s dance might be the main attraction. It creates a glorious and frightening scene in Ex-Machina, but Alex Garland’s AI-focused debut film is packed with highlights. Isaac stars as tech company CEO Nathan Bateman, who holds a contest for an employee to come to his house to test out a new project. As the winner, Domnhall Gleeson navigates a tense situation. As Ava, an android with AI, Alicia Vikander puts on one of her best performances.

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Stanley Kubrick didn’t live to see the release of Eyes Wide Shut, passing away just months before it hit theaters, but the iconic director couldn’t have said goodbye with a better film. Its first feature in 12 years after Full Metal Jacket, the psychological thriller unpacks the lingering space in a stagnant marriage, with Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise inhabiting their roles to perfection. Primal, unsettling, erotic, wrapped in tension, stunningly orchestrated: you could fill a country mansion with its power.

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The erotic thriller that coined the term “rabbit boiler,” Fatal Attraction lays bare the fallout of a weekend affair between a married man. The constant phone calls to his home are just the beginning. Directed by Adrian Lyne, the 1987 film embraces its concept and works with it, with committed performances from Michael Douglas, Anne Archer and – as an obsessively abandoned lover causing unhinged mayhem – particularly Glenn Close.

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You could call Kill List a horror movie. You can also call it a crime movie or try to put it in the road movie category. But the amount of psychological tension flowing through Ben Wheatley’s grimly gripping second feature puts it firmly in thriller territory. Given the premise, it’s hardly surprising, with the calculating and disturbing film following a returned soldier who becomes a hitman and navigates a disturbing array of targets.

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In a different world, Mulholland Drive could have been a TV show. Movie buffs should forever be delighted that David Lynch’s noir puzzle didn’t work out on the small screen, leading to one of the most amazing films in a career filled with movies that deserve that term many times over. Naomi Watts plays an aspiring actress new to Hollywood, Laura Harring is her new friend with memory issues, and the results are Lynchian in the extreme.

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The neo-Western crime thriller directed by Ivan Sen that spawned a big-screen sequel as well as two TV seasons, Mystery Road combines its small-town cop thrills with an in-depth investigation into Australian race relations. Whether playing up its Western iconography and roaming the Australian outback, or closely watching Aaron Pedersen as determined detective Jay Swan, this local gem is never less than tense, moving and captivating.

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Two words: Anton Chigurh. Played with menacing unease by Javier Bardem in the role that won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the bolt-gun killer ranks among cinema’s finest villains. And, from a resume teeming with impressive and inventive films, not to mention an eclectic and varied body of work, this Cormac McCarthy adaptation ranks among the Coen brothers’ best.

Pi (1998)

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With hindsight, it seems obvious. If anyone was going to turn his first low-budget feature into a compulsive, gripping thriller about an obsessive mathematician, it’s Darren Aronofsky. Made for under $140,000, Pi premiered at Sundance in 1998 and instantly became the movie everyone was talking about, with its animated black-and-white frames charting a search for order and, thanks to the chaos of humanity, the impossibility of this quest.

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Sixty years after its initial release, Psycho’s status as a horror-thriller masterpiece is long established. Alfred Hitchcock turns the story of a woman on the run (Janet Leigh) and the strange motel where she is staying into one of the most memorable films ever – with its famous shower scene, Bernard Herrmann’s piercing score going with and a very big final reveal.

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Of the plethora of films in Alfred Hitchcock’s name, few are both entertaining and thrilling like Rear Window. Based on a short story from 1941, the premise of the film is simple: follow a man confined to a wheelchair due to a broken leg and trace the suspicious antics he spys on by looking out his back window. But from the performances of James Stewart and Grace Kelly to the way Hitchcock sets the whole voyeurism feature, it’s all brilliantly executed.

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Starring Al Pacino as drug lord Tony Montana, directed with the flair Brian De Palma is known for and set to a heart-pounding score by Giorgio Moroder, Scarface is the quintessential 80s crime thriller. as sharp and dark, both over-the-top and steeped in the ups and downs of criminal behavior. And it quite rides the narrative roller coaster. Yes, it’s over-quoted and over-referenced in popular culture, but it definitely packs a punch.

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One of the most savvy contagion thrillers ever made, particularly in the past two years, She Dies Tomorrow charts a surge of existential despair. Here, each infected person is cursed with the feeling that they will perish the next day, and this state of mind is contagious. Writer/director Amy Seimetz shrewdly avoids explanations in favor of conveying how the afflicted feel, tracing the leap of deadly paranoia as it spreads from new owner Amy (Kate Lynn Sheil).

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Thanks to Martin Scorsese’s illustrious five-decade directorial resume, Shutter Island doesn’t get as much love as his other work. But, adapting Denis Lehane’s novel of the same name, it’s one of his underrated gems – with a stellar cast (including Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow), a story sharp set in a creepy mental institution and an abundance of moody style.

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Sicario can fall into several genres, but he resonates with such a tense, anxious and nervous tune that he’ll always tick the thriller box. Denis Villeneuve’s feature films often do this, the filmmaker having a knack for keeping the audience in suspense for a long time. Here, however, the story – following an FBI agent (Emily Blunt) recruited into a government task force to apprehend a Mexican drug cartel – is responsible for a lot of jitters.

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In Anthony Minghella’s lavish 1999 film, Matt Damon plays the iconic character of Patricia Highsmith, using his everyday charm to embody a role of assuming identities and indulging in the lives of others. It’s also the most unsettling, which matches the material perfectly. Minghella also brings together an impressive cast of stars, including Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Gwyneth Paltrow.

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Only one film fits the greatest short film ever made and, when it comes to the pandemic, also manages to be ahead of the curve by a quarter of a century. This movie is Twelve Monkeys. Earning Brad Pitt his first Oscar nomination, Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi thriller unravels a complex, clever and twisty story about a virus that is wiping out much of humanity – and, with Bruce Willis in the lead and a good dose of time travel involved, traces the events before and nearly 40 years after.

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Upgrade doesn’t just add “thriller” to its list of genres, alongside sci-fi, action, and body horror: it’s also thrilling to watch. A visceral, kinetic calling card for Australian writer/director Leigh Whannell ahead of The Invisible Man, the cool-lensed cyberpunk-style revenge flick charts a grieving man’s quest for revenge, aided by the implanted computer chip in his brain. Logan Marshall-Green does his best work yet in the lead, with his character’s name – Gray Trace – one of Upgrade’s only flaws.

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Gone are the days when a movie’s big twist could remain a secret for months after release, allowing each new audience to discover its untouched surprises. The usual suspects benefited from being released at a time when that was still the case, and what a narrative that sparked. Structured around the tell-tale story of a petty criminal, it etched Keyser Soze’s name into popular consciousness and rewarded attentive eagle-eyed viewers.

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Rian Johnson’s endlessly rewatchable sci-fi thriller exploits every possible exhilarating moment of its time-deception-laden concept, which centers on an elaborate, futuristic contract killing scheme and the assassins, or loopers, center. For the uninitiated, details are best discovered by watching, as is every twist. And, on the cast side, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt are all superb.


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Titles are added and removed from his page to reflect changes to Stan’s catalog. Reviews that are no longer available on this page can be read here.

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