There’s a lot of different ways to get your thrills on the big screen. Sometimes you want a tightly wound character-based drama. Other times you just want to see if a train full of plague victims is going to crash off a bridge. Whatever you’re looking for, SBS On Demand has got you sorted: these eight picks are just the tip of the iceberg (which a ship is probably about to crash into) when it comes to the line-up of white-knuckle thrillers on offer.
After a rough day working at a sign language call centre (and an after-work function that didn’t go well), deaf woman Kyeong-mi (Jin Ki-joo) and her mother (Hae-yeon Kil) are looking forward to a peaceful walk home. Unfortunately, their neighbourhood is the stalking ground for serial killer Do-Sik (Wi Ha-joon), and he’s decided Kyeong-mi will be his next victim – just as soon as he finishes off his current one (Kim Hye-yoon).
What follows is a cat-and-mouse, stalk-and-slash thriller on the streets of Seoul that constantly adds new elements while finding inventive ways to explore Kyeong-mi’s predicament (calling the police doesn’t help when she can’t hear their replies). Ha-joon makes for a more than memorable killer, though the real star here is the sound design that switches between putting the audience in Kyeong-mi’s shoes and letting us know of threats she can’t hear coming.
Midnight is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
To Die For
Nicole Kidman grabs the spotlight – and rightly so – as the manipulative celebrity-obsessed small-town weather reporter who decides her husband (Matt Dillon) has got to go in Gus Van Sant’s dark take on the desire for fame. But the supporting cast are nothing to scoff at, with early roles for Joaquin Phoenix (as the teen she seduces to convince him to kill her husband) and Casey Affleck (as his no-good buddy).
Affleck’s characters rarely have good luck in thrillers; in Out of the Furnace (now streaming at SBS On Demand) he plays a bare knuckle boxer deep in debt trying to punch his way out. Phoenix’s luck isn’t much better: in Clay Pigeons (also available at SBS On Demand) his character unknowingly befriends a serial killer who starts secretly murdering everyone around him.
To Die For is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
In a bunker high atop a Central American mountain, a band of teenage guerrilla soldiers live a near-idyllic life, their only duties to guard a foreign hostage and take care of a valuable milk cow. Then it all goes wrong, and keeps on going wrong until the survivors descend (literally) into the hellish greenery of the war-torn jungle below. At times this feels like a teen version of Apocalypse Now, as civilisation is stripped away and only the primal law of hunt or be hunted remains; a masterclass when it comes to cranking up tension, it’s a lightning-paced nightmare you can’t take your eyes off.
Monos is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
The Company You Keep
For a long time now, Robert Redford has symbolised a certain kind of square-jawed American decency. Which means some of his best roles have been where he seemingly plays against type – like in The Company You Keep. He plays a former Weather Underground terrorist and bank robber who’s been hiding from the FBI for 30 years, only to have a crusading journalist (Shia LaBeouf) come sniffing around. Other times, like in Spy Game (now at SBS On Demand) he plays the kind of CIA handler whose big picture worldview gets civilians killed (much to the displeasure of Brad Pitt’s more caring, hands-on agent). And then he can turn around and make The Old Man and the Gun (also available at SBS On Demand) where he’s a freewheeling bank robber with a killer smile who refuses to let age stop him from living wild and free.
The Company You Keep is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Based on the true story of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, this gripping look at the events at the Taj Mahal Hotel piles genre on top of genre to create maximum tension. There’s moments of shocking brutality as the terrorists go room to room killing anyone who opens the door, then as those inside realise the danger they’re in, it shifts into a disaster movie with survivors trying to escape alive. Outside it’s a siege movie as the police try to figure out what’s going on while dealing with other attacks across the city, and the terrorists themselves are trapped in a conspiracy as it becomes clear they’re merely pawns manipulated by the handlers that keep in touch via mobile phone. It’s edge-of-the-seat viewing from start to finish.
Hotel Mumbai is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
The Cassandra Crossing
A train can be an exciting location for romance and intrigue… and if you’re looking for something like that, then Night Train to Lisbon (now streaming at SBS On Demand) is probably more your speed.
Here we’re dealing with a good old-fashioned Death Train thanks to a terrorist on board infected with a deadly disease. The authorities’ plan is to divert the crowded train to a quarantine station as it crosses Europe: the problem is that to get there the train (which is packed with an all-star cast that includes Sophia Loren, Richard Harris, Burt Lancaster, Martin Sheen, Ava Gardiner and – slightly awkwardly now – O.J. Simpson) has to cross via an extremely unsafe bridge. Will everyone make it out alive? Being a very 1970s disaster movie, you wouldn’t want to bet on “yes”.
The Cassandra Crossing is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Successful Norwegian corporate headhunter Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) moonlights as an art thief, using his contacts to help him break into his clients’ homes and replace their paintings with fakes. But when he targets executive Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) he bites off a lot more than he can chew, and the net that tightens around him doesn’t have many holes he can squirm through.
A slick cross between a Nordic Noir drama and twisty Coen Brothers thriller, Headhunters keeps the (sometimes brutal) surprises coming right to the end – and if you’ve ever watched a movie where someone is on the run and shouted “why don’t you just cut your hair” at the screen, then this is the film for you.
Headhunters is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
In the 21st century conspiracy theories have turned all boring and weird. Capricorn One is a trip back to the 70s, a magical time when governments were (supposedly) getting up to some really crazy stuff. Based on the completely factual rumour (in that it’s a fact that there was a rumour) that the moon landings were faked – and possibly filmed by Stanley Kubrick – this thriller sees a trio of astronauts hidden in the US desert on a faked journey to Mars, only to realise that the script they’re following no longer ends with their successful return to Earth. Can a crusading journalist (Elliott Gould) expose the truth, or will his story go the way of so many other conspiracy tales?
Capricorn One is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Discover many more movies that will keep you on the edge of your seat at SBS On Demand.