There have been hundreds of movies in the last decade alone. A recent movie can be one that came out last fall. Or, as my 80-year-old dad who has trouble with his Windstream online bill pay would say, anything after 1990 is recent. A thriller is even more difficult to pin down. Most thrillers merge with other genres like horror and slasher or sci-fi these days. I focus more on the thrillers of the last decade that somehow fell through the cracks.
10 Underrated Recent Thrillers from The 2010s
Thriller is a very versatile genre, mainly because of the varied emotional responses it can invoke. Thrillers explore emotions and psyche in stressful and often traumatic situations. Many people I know enjoy thrillers because they explore how humans interact when removed or insulated from society and norms. My guess is that people get a thrill out of imagining themselves in the same position as the protagonist.
Of course, the thriller genre has extremely great films, from Alfred Hitchcock’s groundbreaking Psycho to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. One cannot compile a list big enough to list all the great thriller movies ever made. It is unfortunate that some of the bigger movies and some of the not-so-good but well-advertised movies push out many great thrillers from the limelight. Such as the 10 from the 2010s that we look at below:
- The Dirties
- The Bunker
- Hounds of Love
- Hold the Dark
- Tom at the Farm
- Cold in July
Let’s take a quick look at these underrated thriller films you may never have heard of.
The Dirties (2013) is a found-footage thriller but with a much darker twist and more relatable setting than the likes of paranormal films. The film revolves around two bullied high school teenagers named Owen and Matt. After some particularly nasty bullying episodes, the pair start to make a “fictional” film about getting revenge on their school bullies.
At some point in the film, Owen becomes suspicious of Matt’s intentions. What starts out as fictional storytelling quickly starts taking on the appearance of a documentary. The Dirties gives us a glimpse into the mind of a bullied and troubled young man driven to extreme measures. TRIGGER WARNING: If school shootings are too sensitive for your taste, you might want to let this one go.
This 2010 thriller film is different from Disney’s popular animated film of the same name. Frozen revolves around three friends up at a ski resort for a weekend of snowboarding. However, their last trip up the slope results in disaster. A miscommunication with their lift operator leaves them stranded on the lift to the mountaintop. That’s not even the worst part. The ski resort only opens on weekends, so they’re stuck there until next Friday. Watch as the three friends battle the freezing cold, wild animals, ‘and failed attempts at rescuing themselves in an attempt to survive.
Burn is a film about a socially awkward and extremely lonely gas station attendant who ends up in a hostage situation. Melinda struggles to make social contact, so she resorts to flirting with everyone even photographing a police officer who visits the station. However, none of it seems to work. Then suddenly, a gas station robbery turns into an intense hostage situation. But as the 2019 film progresses, it is harder to figure out who is the hostage in this situation.
Foreign language films often manage to convey an out-of-the-box idea of what a thriller should be. The Bunker is a German thriller from 2015 that has everything it needs to be a cult classic. A studious young man agrees to live in an advertised lakeside home so he can pursue his academics in peace. However, when he gets there, he finds the house advertised by the couple living there is actually a couple with a young son. Still, our protagonist decides to stay, and even tutor the son. But it isn’t long before he begins to realize something is very wrong with this family.
A healthy dose of science fiction is always good for any thriller film, and this 2018 flick does not fail to impress. Meet Grey Trace, a technophobe who is also quadriplegic, in a time where technology permeates every aspect of daily life. Trace agrees to a STEM implant, which is an AI chip that can allow him to regain function in his paralyzed limbs. The implant does more than restore movement to Trace’s limbs, however, and he begins to unlock certain strange abilities.
Confessions is a 2010 thriller masterpiece from Japan that also made it to the 83rd Academy Award nominations for Best Foreign Language Film. A teacher on her last day at school informs her class that two students have murdered her young daughter. What follows is a hyper-modern showreel like a music video as students struggle to understand if their teacher will take revenge or go to the authorities.
Hounds of Love
This Australian masterpiece of a crime-drama thriller from 2016 will have you hating the antagonists. A sadistic and violent couple abducts females off the road, torturing them, abusing them, and doing horrible things to them. When they abduct a young woman named Vicki, a wedge forms between the villainous couple. Top-grade acting all around!
Hold the Dark
Released in 2018, Hold the Dark centers around the rugged Alaskan wilderness. Russel Core, a retired naturalist and wolf expert, goes on an expedition to track down a pack of wolves. He does so at the request of one of three children supposedly attacked and killed by the wolves. During this expedition, he develops a troubling relationship with the grieving mother. This is an added flashpoint when the woman’s husband returns from the Iraq War and finds his child dead.
Tom at the Farm
This French-Canadian thriller from 2013 explores a troubled and twisted relationship. Tom returns to his family farm to attend his lover’s funeral. During his extended stay, he becomes involved with his deceased lover’s brother. The sexual energy quickly devolves into twisted mind games and nail-biting uncertainty.
Cold in July
This 2014 psychological thriller is about a clash of personalities between two very different people. A murderous ex-con and a protective, loving father cross paths and become entangled in a sticky situation. Both deviate from their respective paths as they try to navigate violence, lies, deceit, and their own psyche.
So there you have it. 10 of the most recent underrated thrillers of the 2010s. You can watch many of these titles on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. However, if you’re anything like me, you know your cable subscription comes with access to an on-demand library. I access most of my favorite libraries on cable, thanks to the wonderful folks at Frontier Customer Care. Let us know if there are any recent films you believe should be on this list.