12 Tantalizing Thriller Films With a Bit of Mystery and Intense Twists

Not knowing what will happen next while watching a movie is one of the most exciting tricks a movie can play. When someone asks for films that will keep them guessing what will come next in an online film forum, other movie fans are delighted to recommend their favorites. 

1. Wild Things (1998)

Kevin Bacon Wild Things Columbia
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures

Wild Things may have the most twists per minute of any movie. The film starts as a story about a high school girl accusing a guidance counselor of rape. But it soon develops into a broader, more complicated story involving shifting alliances, romance, and murder. 

2. The Skeleton Key (2005)

the skeleton key 1
Image Credit: Universal Pictures

One film fan recommends Southern gothic mystery The Skeleton Key, which follows a hospice worker who discovers a history of hoodoo in the home of one of her clients that may be impacting their lives now. It’s an atmospheric film that threads the needle between thriller and horror, and features a fantastic cast, including Kate Hudson, John Hurt, and Gena Rowlands. 

3. Audition (1999)

Eihi Shiina in Audition 1999
Image Credit: Lionsgate

Audition is Japanese auteur Takashi Miike’s well-known movie for a reason. The film, which follows a man whose friend sets up auditions for women under false pretenses so that they can find him a new girlfriend, takes several twists and turns that lead to one of the most iconic finales in film history. 

4. The Handmaiden (2016)

The Handmaiden Kim Min-hee, Ha Jung-woo
Image Credit: CJ Entertainment.

Park Chan-wook is best known for his revenge thriller Oldboy. But when it comes to movies that keep you guessing and regularly shift your fundamental understanding of what’s happening, there may be nothing better than his film The Handmaiden. The movie plays out across three parts, each altering the audience’s perspective on the events that follow a young pickpocket being recruited by a conman to help con a wealthy heiress. 

5. Prisoners (2013)

Prisoners Jake Gyllenhaal
Image Credit: Alcon Entertainment, LLC.

Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners isn’t an easy film to watch, but it is one of the best mystery thrillers of the last decade. The film follows parallel storylines of desperate parents and a young police detective, each investigating the abduction of children in different ways.

The parents kidnap a young man they suspect knows where their children are while the detective does good old-fashioned detective work. The answers they eventually uncover are horrifying, but the journey there is incredibly satisfying. 

6. Chinatown (1974)

Chinatown 1974 Jack Nicholson
Image Credit Paramount Pictures.

One of the earliest neo-noir films, Chinatown is also one of the best. The film follows private investigator Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) as he is drawn into a multifaceted mystery that literally goes all the way to city hall. It’s a fantastic movie with a mystery that continues evolving and changing over the course of the film. 

7. Split (2016)

Anya Taylor Joy James McAvoy Split
Image Credit: Universal Pictures

M. Night Shyamalan is famous for his twists, but none of his movies keep you unsure of what will happen next quite like Split. That’s likely due to the many personalities displayed by James McAvoy’s central character, who has 23 distinct personalities, and the increasingly creative and desperate methods that the three young women he’s kidnapped attempt.

There’s a now decently well-known final twist, but even if you know that, you still can’t guess how the movie plays out from scene to scene. 

8. Elle (2016)

Isabelle Huppert in Elle
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Based on the novel Oh… by Philippe Dijan, Elle is one of the most beguiling and complicated movies of the last ten years. The film opens with a scene of sexual violence, but instead of becoming a hard-edged genre film, or a grounded drama about the aftermath of sexual violence, it turns into a comedy.

 Elle (Isabelle Huppert) doesn’t respond to her assault as she is expected to by those around her and seems more frustrated and upset by her family and work life than the violence she experienced. The film also playws out like a mystery as Elle works alone to unmask her assailant, and no one can guess how that mystery unfolds.  

9. Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)

Edwige Fenech in Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key
Image Credit: Titanus

A very loose adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black CatYour Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key tells the story of a wealthy but unsuccessful writer who becomes the key suspect when his mistress is found murdered. Things only become more complicated when his niece arrives and causes chaos by seducing his wife, and that’s just the first third. 

10. Under the Silver Lake (2019)

Under the Silver Lake
Photo Credit: A24

One of the most delightfully confounding mystery movies of the last few years, Under the Silver Lake follows unemployed young man Sam (Andrew Garfield) as he investigates the disappearance of a beautiful neighbor. But questions only beget more questions until a truly unexpected but somehow perfect ending that still doesn’t answer all the questions posed throughout the movie. 

11. Good Time (2017)

Robert Pattinson in Good Time
Image Credit: A24

A movie that keeps you guessing less because there are multiple twists and more because our protagonist is an unhinged and desperate man. The film follows petty criminal Connie (Robert Pattinson) throughout one night as he tries to think of ways to get his brother out of police custody while at the same time keeping himself out of custody for the failed bank robbery they committed together.

It’s a thrilling movie that is essentially the cinematic equivalent of a panic attack, which is equal praise and warning. 

12. mother! (2017)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Another film that can’t be said to have “twists” so much as the entire movie is a thrilling question mark. The film centers on a couple whose idyllic home is visited by more and more people over a few days. It’s unclear what these visitors want, or who exactly they are, but their arrival presages a huge change, but what kind? mother! is far from a standard thriller or standard anything, but it’s one of the most exciting movies of recent years.  

This thread inspired this post.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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Kyle Logan is a film and television critic and general pop culture writer who has written for Alternative Press, Cultured Vultures, Film Stories, Looper, and more. Kyle is particularly interested in horror and animation, as well as genre films written and directed by queer people and women. Along with writing, Kyle organizes a Queer Film Challenge on Letterboxd.