92 Best Releases From the Genre Thriller

The Spool Staff

1- Title (Year) for Movies or 2- Title Season X for TV shows

Thomasin McKenzie & Anne Hathaway burn up the screen in William Oldroyd’s unsettling thriller. Eileen will likely be lost in the holiday season shuffle among such spectacles as the upcoming Wonka and awards-friendly fare like Ferrari. On the other hand, it’s unclear under what circumstances Eileen would make a big splash. It’s an odd, occasionally off-putting little film that wouldn’t work as well as it does if not for the scorching chemistry between its two leads. Continue Reading →

The Killer

To talk about The Killer is to strip away pretense. Well, one can try. Cold it may be, but David Fincher's latest is an incredibly open film. The houses are made of glass; the windows are ceiling-high; the voiceovers from the title character (Michael Fassbender) give infallible insight into his worldview. The film is his worldview, simple in its machinations and complex in its philosophy. In most other circumstances, this would unfold over time. And it does here, at least to an extent. Continue Reading →


With her first film, Promising Young Woman, writer-director Emerald Fennell took a storyline that was essentially a cloddish-but-glossy retread of such female-driven revenge sagas as Ms .45 and I Spit on Your Grave, infused it with insights regarding gender issues that would barely have passed muster in a 100-level college class and somehow rode it to inexplicable praise and an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Continue Reading →


Both the main characters in Michel Franco’s Memory are struggling to deal with the echoes of their past. Sylvia (Jessica Chastain), a recovering alcoholic and single mother to 13-year-old Anna (Brooke Timber), desperately wants to forget the unspoken traumas of her childhood. Saul (Peter Saarsgard), on the other hand, can’t grab a hold of his past. He’s powerless as early-onset dementia slowly but inevitably steals it from him. After their high school reunion, he wordlessly follows her home and spends the night standing outside her building. In turn, she visits him at the house he shares with his brother (Josh Charles) and niece (Elsie Fisher). Then she takes him for a walk and accuses him of participating in a rape that she endured at the age of 12, a crime that he has no memory of committing.  Continue Reading →

Suitable Flesh

There have been numerous film adaptations of the work of H.P. Lovecraft, featuring everyone from Sandra Dee (The Dunwich Horror) to Nicolas Cage (Color Out of Space). However, it was the late filmmaker Stuart Gordon who best managed to capture the peculiar and often perverse charms of Lovecraft’s work. With their combination of weirdo humor, bizarre imagery, kinky sex, grisly bloodshed and better-than-expected performances, his Re-Animator and From Beyond became instant cult classics and unquestioned high points of the entire horror genre in the 1980s. Continue Reading →

Killer Joe

Upon the news of the passing of William Friedkin, every headline reporting on the news focused on two films. It’s not surprising that the media spent so much time talking about The French Connection and The Exorcist, two bona fide masterpieces that paved the way for a new era of American filmmaking. What was disappointing was this seeming willingness to reduce a cinematic legend’s legacy to a burst of time in the early 1970s, thus dismissing the five decades that followed as either negligible or outright unworthy of interest.  Continue Reading →

The Hunted

At the risk of making a "getting a lot of Sorcerer vibes from this" guy out of myself, The Hunted—William Friedkin's 2003 old-master-hunts-rogue-student thriller really does make for a fascinating counterpart to his earlier men-on-a-desperate-mission masterwork. Both delve into the lives of damaged, forlorn, isolated men on perilous quests for deliverance. And both of those quests lead deep into madness. Both pointedly contrast man-made, flame-choked hellscapes (Sorcerer's exploding oil well, The Hunted's secret mission amidst the Kosovo War) with the vast, amoral green of the deep forest (Columbia and Oregon, respectively). Both turn on setpieces that thrill while maintaining a grounded (if not necessarily "realistic") feel and weave surreality in with care. Continue Reading →


After the aggressively negative critic and audience response to 1980’s Cruising, William Friedkin took a curious “hell with it, I’m going to do whatever I want” approach to projects. None of what he directed over the next decade, save for To Live and Die in L.A., came close to receiving the kind of acclaim his early 70s career did. If anything, it seemed as though he had given up his precise, occasionally unreasonable eye for perfection in favor of churning out the most generic cable-friendly nonsense possible.  Continue Reading →

Fair Play

Fair Play is all about the rules of engagement—in business, in bed, in relationships—and the chaos that ensues when someone who lives and dies by those rules suspects his partner is breaking them. However, it isn’t the fairness of the righteous or the just she’s violating. No, it is the unwritten rules he believes everyone should play the game by. Continue Reading →

To Live and Die in L.A.

It must have been easy to be cynical about William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A. in 1985. After a blazing hot early 1970s, his critical and popular reputation bottomed out with four straight disappointments. So, it makes sense that someone might think Friedkin’s return to the cop-on-the-edge genre was a purely commercial decision, a hope to rekindle the fire he lit in 1971 with The French Connection. After all, that movie was both a commercial and critical smash.  Continue Reading →


If Sorcerer’s sole highlight was Roy Scheider's descent into hallucinatory madness amidst an almost lunar rock field, it would still be a special movie. Scheider is Jackie Scanlon, an American getaway driver turned washed-up exile in the isolated Columbian village of Porvenir. He’s the last survivor of a desperate mission to transport increasingly unstable dynamite to a burning oil well. The blaze is so bad that only controlled explosions to burn off its fuel stand a chance of extinguishing it. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, including Jackie’s kibashed truck giving out a long walk from the well. Haunted by—or just plain hallucinating—the laughter of his dead co-driver, he stumbles forward. Surrounded by the surreal with nothing but a rickety crate between him and the hair-trigger death, it’s all he can do besides die. Continue Reading →

A Haunting in Venice

The first two entries in director/actor Kenneth Branagh’s foray into Agatha Christie adaptation lost the magic of the English writer’s mysteries. With his third attempt, A Haunting in Venice, Branagh decides to make considerable changes to the story. Using the bones of Christie’s Hallowe’en Party, writer Michael Green changes the setting from a small town in the English countryside to a palazzo in Venice. Branagh emphasizes the gothic elements of Christie’s story, leaning on the horror of the location, the manic nature of the children’s Halloween party, and the gruesome moments before and after an unexpected death.  Continue Reading →


There's more than one transition going on in Park Chan-wook's 2013 thriller Stoker. Yes, the film tells the story of how the seemingly carefree India (Mia Wasikowska) goes from worshipping her father to worshipping her uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode). But the Hitchcockian thriller -- and it is one, beyond the shadow of a doubt -- was also Director Park’s first English-language title. Continue Reading →


“Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again…” So begins Daphne du Maurier’s gothic masterwork Rebecca, one of the most famous opening lines in fiction. Rebecca proved a hit upon release in 1938 and has remained in print ever since. Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation, coming just two years later, netted him his first Best Director nomination. That interpretation of the text has come to be considered a classic, and with good reason. Its misty black-and-white photography and mysteries hypnotize.  Continue Reading →

A Field in England

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movies being covered here wouldn't exist. Continue Reading →

Heart of Stone

In the 2023 sea of action movies, setting yourself apart from others becomes increasingly hard. John Wick: Chapter 4, Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part 1, Extraction 2, and more have sparked an action cinema revival. It’s a rebirth that I am incredibly grateful for, certainly.  Continue Reading →

The Last Voyage of the Demeter

The Last Voyage of the Demeter feels like a movie from a different era. To a point, it is—writer Bragi Schut first drafted his adaptation of the 'Log of the "Demeter"' sequence in Bram Stoker's Dracula in the early 2000s. It's a capital letters Hollywood Creature Feature—a grimmer straight horror cousin to 2004's action/horror hybrid Van Helsing. At its best, it's an admirably gnarly monster flick—bolstered by sturdy craft from director André Øvredal and consistently good performances from a game ensemble. At its worst, it loses confidence and resorts to bumbling attempts to guide its audience by the hand—most notably in its prologue and epilogue. Continue Reading →

Cade: The Tortured Crossing

Say what you will about independent film auteur Neil Breen: he has a vision. All of his movies have a common theme, in which a man with superhuman abilities (played by Neil Breen) directs those abilities toward vanquishing evil corporate and government entities. Many people die in the process, but in Breen’s vision it’s all in the name of world peace. What he’s trying to say isn’t all that hard to figure out: he thinks the world would be better off without corrupt CEOs and pass-the-buck lawmakers (and hey, I don’t disagree).  Continue Reading →

Kill List

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movies being covered here wouldn't exist. Continue Reading →


Fantasa International Film Festival gets wild. Animals feature prominently in our first three films of the 2023 Fantasia International Film Festival. From the bottom of the ocean to the reaches of the Arctic, these films mix their natural settings with unnatural mediums to create enchanting works that are wondrous to look at. Though they have different objectives, these films remind us that cinema is a world of dreams that combines things from our lived reality with our limitless imagination.  Continue Reading →

Talk to Me

Things have been very bad for much of the world for a very long time, and they won’t improve any time soon. I don’t mean to start things off on a bummer note, but to point out that from such dire circumstances comes one benefit: the horror movie renaissance that started in the late 2010s only seems to be getting better. Just this year we’ve gotten the low-fi nightmares Skinamarink and The Outwaters, horror comedy with M3GAN and Cocaine Bear, another mostly solid entry in the Scream franchise, too many indie horror films to list here (Bad Girl Boogey and Brooklyn 45 are but a couple), and the roaring return of the Evil Dead series. Even if there weren’t another release for the rest of the year, it’d still be a great year for horror. Continue Reading →