Top 10 Most Intense Movies You Can Watch on Netflix

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Top 10 Most Intense Movies You Can Watch on Netflix

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
These flicks will get your blood pumping without you even having to leave the couch. For this list, we'll be looking at movies currently streaming on Netflix that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Our countdown includes "Hush", "Uncut Gems", “Snowpiercer”, and more!
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Top 10 Most Intense Movies You Can Watch on Netflix


These flicks will get your blood pumping without you even having to leave the couch. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Intense Movies You Can Watch on Netflix.

For this list, we’ll be looking at movies currently streaming on Netflix that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

#10: “Burning” (2018)

This South Korean drama is a slow burn (no pun intended), although that’s part of what makes the results so fulfilling. The film centers on an aspiring writer, the woman of his dreams, her mysterious friend, and an elusive cat. For most of its runtime, the audience isn’t entirely sure what “Burning” is working towards, but director Lee Chang-dong keeps us hooked with quiet suspense that shows rather than tells. This is a mystery that spoons out information, and once we start connecting all the dots, it’s chills all the way. Based on its first act, the film’s conclusion isn’t at all what one would expect. It all lines up from a narrative standpoint, though, even if you’re left with some . . . burning questions.

#9: “Ex Machina” (2014)

“Ex Machina” blurs the lines between artificial intelligence and humanity, not unlike “2001” or “Blade Runner.” Where those were large-scale productions, however, Alex Garland’s directorial debut has the intimacy of a stage play, resulting in a claustrophobic mind game. The plot revolves around a curious programmer, an eccentric CEO, and a seductive android named Ava. Much like the film itself, Ava is hard to get an exact read on at first. Is she technology’s greatest breakthrough or its most dire mistake? “Ex Machina” leaves you guessing from start to finish, playing out like a tense chess match. Even when two people are merely having a conversation in a room, we feel the dread rising as one prepares to make the other their pawn.

#8: “Hell or High Water” (2016)

This western crime thriller warrants comparison to “No Country for Old Men,” although there’s no ‎Anton Chigurh in this scenario. Every character, while not necessarily justified in their actions, has an identifiable motivation. The story follows two bank-robbing brothers and the Texas Rangers hot on their trail. It’s a game of cat and mouse, but that doesn’t mean there are any heroes and villains. We empathize with each person involved, even if it’s evident from the get-go that there won’t be a win-win resolution. Therein lies the nail-biting nature of David Mackenzie’s film. It’s like watching two objects speeding towards each other. It’s going to end badly for at least one party, but that doesn’t make it any easier when the two objects finally collide.

#7: “Train to Busan” (2016)

Just when you thought zombie movies had been exhausted to death, “Train to Busan” injects new life into the genre. The best way to describe this South Korean film is “Dawn of the Dead” meets “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.” Zombies on a train is a simple enough premise, but the way director Yeon Sang-ho executes it makes for one of the all-time greats. The characters here aren’t just stock archetypes for the undead to sink their teeth into. We come to genuinely care about these people and our hearts sink whenever one meets their end. The action is pulse-pounding, the performances are excellent, and the social commentary rings especially true in a world where “quarantine” is becoming part of everyday lingo.

#6: “The Gift” (2015)

On a routine shopping trip, a man named Simon bumps into an old high school acquaintance, Gordo. This awkward encounter plants the seeds of a one-sided friendship as Gordo injects himself into the lives of Simon and his wife. While Gordo comes off as well-intentioned, he’s not what he seems. “The Gift” has the calling card of a traditional stalker thriller, although the outcome isn’t exactly what the audience anticipates. The film evolves into something far more complex and disturbing, touching upon bullying, misplaced trust, and the past coming back to haunt people. It’s a layered guessing game elevated by great performances from Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, and Joel Edgerton, who wrote and directed the film as well. Open the box, if you dare.

#5: “Hush” (2016)

“Hush” starts off with a familiar setup: an intruder terrorizes a woman who lives alone in her remote house. What adds another level of panic and unpredictability to the equation is that our heroine is a deaf-mute. Seeing no evil is one thing, but hearing no evil is equally unsettling. “Hush” thus relies less on dialogue and more on visual storytelling. The film is carried by a spine-chilling score, heart-pounding sound design, and a charismatic lead performance from Kate Siegel. At the forefront is director Mike Flanagan, who makes the most of a limited space and a basic idea, turning in a modern masterstroke of slasher horror.

#4: “Good Time” (2017)

The Safdie brothers know how to immerse audiences in a constant state of alarm, as demonstrated in this robbery-gone-wrong thriller. Robert Pattinson gives one of his most breathtaking performances as Connie, a lowlife who needs to come up with 10 grand, fast, to bail out his brother. What starts out as an already desperate situation snowballs into a marathon of mayhem, with a new obstacle confronting Connie around every turn. The editing, music, and cinematography further contribute to the paranoia, making the audience feel every ounce of anxiety running through Connie’s body. The film is like watching a rat in a maze, except there’s no exit. Regardless, the rat will keep looking for the cheese until the walls around him collapse.

#3: “Snowpiercer” (2013)

Bong Joon-ho’s profile has risen massively in recent years, and “Snowpiercer” remains among his most electrifying works. Of all the sci-fi films that have explored the clear and present danger of climate change, this is by far the most provocative, exciting, and harrowing. Set against a post-apocalyptic ice age backdrop, Chris Evans leads a group of lower-class rebels across a train carrying what’s left of humanity. With each compartment they power through, our heroes take one step closer towards the earth-shattering truth. “Snowpiercer” possesses echoes of other sci-fi classics, while also being an utterly unique entity. The film is only made more hair-raising when you consider its real-world parallels concerning the environment, classism, and corruption.

#2: “Uncut Gems” (2019)

The Safdies strike again! Released two years after “Good Time,” “Uncut Gems” is not only a nail-biting and critically acclaimed crime flick, but it’s also a welcome reminder that Adam Sandler’s acting chops extend beyond comedy. Playing the dramatic role of Howard Ratner, a NYC jeweler with huge gambling debts, Sandler’s standout performance earned him dozens of accolades. Is Ratner's dedication to making all the wrong moves in the face of seemingly impossible odds inspiring, just plain dumb, or both? It's honestly hard to say. Though the film’s out-of-this-world cinematography and the Safdies’ mastery of “anxiety-inducing cinema” - as one critic put it - may leave you breathless by the end, it’ll be in a good way.


Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Green Room” (2015)
“The Invitation” (2015)
“Cam” (2018)
“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (2017)
“The Perfection” (2019)

#1: “Taxi Driver” (1976)

Unlike some other movies on our list, this Martin Scorsese masterpiece needs no introduction. “Taxi Driver” never loses its impact, no matter how many times you rewatch it. If you haven’t seen it before, then you’re missing out on one of the most intense and influential pieces of cinema of all time. When we think of ticking time bombs, a character who immediately comes to mind is Travis Bickle, played by the immortal Robert De Niro. It’s not a matter of if, but when this unstable taxi driver will go off. The real question is who will get caught in the crossfire, leaving us to wonder if we should fear Travis, or root for him. This ain’t an easy ride.
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