As a lover of all things dark and sinister, two of my favorite genres of entertainment are thrillers and mystery dramas. With the advent of Netflix, I often feel overwhelmed by my options in the field, so it can be hard to discover new shows and movies that will actually be captivating, suspenseful and well written. Here are some of my personal picks:
Stephen King’s “The Shining” is arguably one of the most popular thrillers ever written, and Stanley Kubrick made it even more famous in 1980 when he adapted it into a film starring Jack Nicholson. While this version of the film is often considered a classic, I much prefer the 1997 remake.
Looking back at the original, I can’t help but find most of the moments that were meant to be scary, a bit laughable. Maybe it’s because I just love Jack Nicholson too much as a person, or maybe I am just desensitized to the 1980’s style of storytelling, but I think that the remake, which is split into three episodes, is much more gripping. And I’m not alone on this opinion. Stephen King himself hated Kubrick’s adaptation of his book so much that he was personally involved with the remake. At six hours, its slowness carefully builds to paint a story with deep complexities and chilling tension. If you can get past Courtland Mead as Danny, it is a really good miniseries to invest yourself in for a weekend.
Admittedly, I am not the biggest fan of crime dramas, but there is one film that I love that fits into that category, and that is “Gone Girl.” Released in 2014, the screenplay was written by Gillian Flynn, based on her best-selling novel of the same name. The film stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry, and builds tension around events that surround a husband who becomes the primary suspect in the sudden disappearance of his wife. It is best to go into this type of movie knowing the least amount of information about it that you possibly can. There is just the right amount of twists in this film to keep you glued to your seat. And since February is often thought of as the month of love, this is the perfect film to watch with your significant other (especially if you’re keen on smothering each other.)
One of my favorite series recently within the realm of thrillers and mysteries is “Black Mirror”. It has been called a contemporary reworking of “The Twilight Zone”, but as a fair warning, it is not a series for those get queasy easily. Each episode is a stand-alone drama that focuses on themes of social observation of the modern world. Each episode unfolds in a way that immediately makes the viewer uncomfortable, and there is always a twist. This is the type of series that will challenge you both mentally and emotionally. While I love it, I have to take long breaks between every couple of episodes just so my mind can fully divulge what it saw, and to mentally repair myself.
Personally, I love to watch these sort of things because they let me experience complex and extreme emotional content from a safe distance. So even though I am carefully wrapped up in a cocoon on my couch, and there is absolutely no chance that Jack Nicholson is going to come chopping down my door with an axe, there is still that little hint of adrenaline and sense of horrific fascination that rushes through me as I watch. With the exception of the 1997 remake of “The Shining,” all of the titles that were mentioned are available on Netflix.