This month’s installment in our regular roundup of the best thrillers to watch on Netflix brings yet more bespoke recommendations plumbed from the depths of the service’s broad and ever-changing library. Side-step the algorithm and let us tell you what to watch this week.
What makes for a great March thriller? We’re nearing the latter half of winter, which means the days are getting drearier with infrequent rain, hail, and intermittent snowstorms combined with bitter wind chill. At this point in the season, the only recourse is to bundle up and grin and bear the frigid temperatures until spring finally rears its head. As such, this month’s thrillers roundup is spotlighting some of the best comedic thrillers Netflix has to offer, as well as an assortment of other more straight-laced choices to enjoy.
Here are some thrilling suggestions for your March viewing pleasure.
Run time: 1h 34m
Director: Mike Hodges
Cast: Clive Owen, Nick Reding, Nicholas Ball
Nobody before or after Clive Owen has rivaled the signature blend of cool masculinity and petty, catty smarm that he brings to so many of his movies. It’s particularly keen in the criminally underseen 1998 heist thriller Croupier, which leaves Netflix on March 25. Mike Hodges’ film casts Owen as a would-be novelist who runs out of ideas and cash, so he takes a job at a small casino. Then he watches and judges everyone around him, using them as fodder for his work, until he’s drawn into a heist plan that forces him to decide whether he’s a player in this world, or just a voyeur. It’s a stylish, intense character piece that never goes particularly big on the action, but does find all the possible flavor in Owen as a performer and casinos as a setting. —Tasha Robinson
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Run time: 1h 33m
Director: Macon Blair
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, David Yow
In this grungy potboiler, nurse Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) and her gun-toting neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood) become amateur sleuths to find a burglar who stole her laptop, antique silverware, and perhaps the most precious thing to a person who thinks “everyone fucking sucks,” her anxiety meds. Directed by Macon Blair (star of Green Room and Blue Ruin), I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is a frozen slush cocktail of Cormac McCarthy violent turns with Seth Rogen-esque punchlines, where there’s room for cussing octogenarians, ninja-star fights, upper-deckers, friendly raccoons, exploding body parts, and a cast of characters representing the full spectrum of human idiocy. But for all the hijinks, Blair’s still spinning a tight thriller with points to make about our place in the world, and while the light at the end of the tunnel might be dim, it’s there. —Matt Patches
Play Misty for Me
Run time: 1h 42m
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Jessica Walter, Donna Mills
Before Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, and Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood made his directorial debut on this unnerving thriller about fan obsession. Eastwood stars as Dave, a disc jockey who picks up a woman at a bar only to discover their meet-cute is no accident: Evelyn (Arrested Development’s Jessica Walter) is his number-one fan. While not among the great stalker thrillers that would build on its legacy, the combination of Play Misty for Me’s glowing ’70s sheen and lusty danger makes this one to watch. Walter may be known for her late comedic turns, but here’s she’s violent and baroque, stopping at nothing in order to pierce Dave’s heart and become not only his biggest fan, but his only one. —MP
Run time: 1h 26m
Director: Oren Uziel
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Rainn Wilson, Stephanie Sigman
Shimmer Lake is a comedy-of-errors thriller in the vein of the Coen brothers’ Fargo with the nonlinear editing style of Christopher Nolan’s Memento. The film stars Rainn Wilson (The Office) as Andy, a hapless prosecutor who is implicated in a bank robbery and the subsequent murder of the bank’s owner — a notable local judge — and Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) as Zeke, Andy’s brother and the town’s sheriff assigned to investigate and apprehend the culprits responsible.
It only gets crazier for the fact that the situation itself unfolds in reverse chronological order, beginning in the days following the robbery and working backward to unravel the motives and actions of those both knowingly and unknowingly complicit in the crime. Truth be told, Shimmer Lake is a fairly standard neo-noir pulp thriller that doesn’t need to be quite as complicated as its editing style makes it out to be, but the experience of watching — and the revelations afforded by dint of its editing — make it a worthwhile watch. —Toussaint Egan
Run time: 1h 52m
Director: Lee Chung-hyeon
Cast: Park Shin-hye, Jeon Jong-seo, Kim Sung-ryung
In his 1610 play The Tempest, William Shakespeare wrote, “What’s past is prologue.” Had Shakespeare lived to see the 21st century, he could easily have been describing Lee Chung-hyun’s supernatural horror thriller starring Park Shin-hye (Miracle in Cell No. 7) and Jeon Jong-seo (Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area).
The Call centers on Kim Seo-yeon (Park), a 28-year-old convenience store cashier who journeys to her childhood home in the rural outskirts to visit her sickly, estranged mother. After her phone is stolen while traveling, Seo-yeon answers the cordless phone in her mother’s house believing it to be the thieves demanding ransom, only to realize that she is speaking to Oh Young-sook (Jeon), a troubled young woman held captive by her controlling mother. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that the call is not only coming from inside the house, but (dun dun dun) from 20 years apart.
As Seo-yeon and Young-sook agree to help one another, transferring information between the past and present to improve their respective situations, their motivations and emotions become entangled with one another in a deadly game that threatens the lives of everyone around them. In other words, The Call is like 2006’s The Lake House meets 2021’s The Black Phone. It’s a brilliant, albeit at times unwieldy, time-tripping thriller, and one that certainly warrants status as one of Netflix’s hidden gems. —TE