Grab your magnifying glass and get ready to investigate as Mashable uncovers Big/Little Mysteries.
Nobody can resist a good mystery.
Whether it’s a whodunnit-based crime story, a suspense movie that keeps you guessing, or a mind-bending psychological thriller, sitting confused in front of your screen can be a way more enjoyable experience than it sounds.
Often, the best mysteries span out over a whole series on Netflix, making the TV side of things pretty well populated — think The Sinner, Dark, Midnight Mass, The Haunting of Hill House/Bly Manor — but there are plenty of mystery movies for those who’d like a more comprehensive experience. Spanning its horror, thriller, and sci-fi genres, the streaming service has a range of mystery films to offer in this regard, each offering up an unexpected twist or reveal.
What’s inside the walls in Remi Weekes’ His House? Why does the boarding house in Santiago Menghini’s No One Gets Out Alive have so many locked doors? What’s at the heart of the disturbing prison system in The Platform? What exactly, David Lynch asks, did Jack do? From creaking haunted houses to vengeful masked killers, here are the best mystery movies on Netflix.
1. Buster’s Mal Heart
Credit: Everything Is Everything / Kobal / Shutterstock
Directed by Sarah Adina Smith, Buster’s Mal Heart is one you might have scrolled right by on Netflix. But Rami Malek’s characteristically intense performance in this slow-burn mystery should walk you right back. The film centres around a man known to local authorities as Buster, who’s being tracked for breaking into and living in people’s holiday homes in mountainous Montana. But where we first meet Buster is by no means where the story begins, in fact, it’ll take several parallel narratives to try and uncover the terrible truth of it. — Shannon Connellan, UK Editor
2. The Call
Not the 2013 Halle Berry film or the revenge-based horror film of the same name, but based on Matthew Parkhill’s 2011 supernatural horror film The Caller, Lee Chung-hyun’s The Call is a dark, chilling South Korean mystery that you can’t hang up on.
When Kim Seo-yeon (Park Shin-hye) visits her family home, she loses her phone, then starts getting weird, disturbing calls and finds a connection to a woman called Young-sook (Jeon Jong-seo). Where this film twists and turns from here, you’ll never predict, so paying light attention is not an option. Strong performances, unnerving use of sound, stunning cinematography, and a well-woven structure make this one surreal and disturbing journey.* — S.C.
3. Fear Street
What could have just been a kitschy homage to classic horror films of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s actually has a really compelling core mystery, meaning it’s on the list! The Fear Street trilogy, inspired by R.L. Stine’s more grown-up novel series, centres around a cyclical curse that sees a string of murders plaguing the residents of Shadyside. Directed by Leigh Janiak, the three films (Part 1: 1994, Part 2: 1978, and Part 3: 1666) are set in different time periods, each linked by these happenings. A group of teenagers will have to delve into the past in order to figure it all out before the curse catches up with them. As far as horror mysteries go, Fear Street is the best thing since sliced bread (sorry). — S.C.
4. His House
The best types of horror films are more than just a trickbox of scares. Some are character studies, others explore deeper themes or grapple complex social issues, and a few manage to move you in more ways than just a raising of the pulse. Writer-director Remi Weekes’ debut His House does all of the above at once.
Following asylum seekers Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) as they arrive in the UK from South Sudan only to be thrust into an unforgiving world of bureaucracy and racism, His House melds drama with a claustrophobic haunted house mystery. Noises echo in the walls, and Bol’s fear and paranoia grows along with ours. But it’s only as the movie progresses, and Jo Willems’ creative cinematography starts hinting at what took place in the past, that the true horror of His House is revealed.* — Sam Haysom, Deputy UK Editor
5. I Am All Girls
Fair warning: this one isn’t an easy watch. Inspired by true events, the film begins with the interrogation of Gert van Rooyen, a South African sex offender who was suspected in the abductions of six young girls in the late ’80s. Set in the present day, the movie uses van Rooyen’s alleged crimes as a jumpin-off point, with a detective working to uncover a child trafficking ring while also investigating a serial killer who seems to be exclusively targeting the criminals involved. Donavan Marsh’s movie is a blend of mystery and thriller, a how-deep-does-this-go conspiracy that leads from dilapidated drug dens to the halls of government — uncovering a series of grim revelations with roots that go back 30 years. — S.H.
6. I Am Mother
The problem with robots is you can never tell what they’re thinking. This is a lesson we’ve had drilled into us time and again in the sci-fi space, and Grant Sputore’s futuristic mystery — about a girl being raised by a robot in a post-apocalyptic bunker — is of course no exception. Starring Hilary Swank, Clara Rugaard, and Rose Byrne, the suspense in this one comes hand-in-hand with the blank, impenetrable gaze of Mother (the robotic carer in question), before cranking into overdrive when a stranger’s arrival casts suspicion on the metal guardian’s real role.* — S.H.
7. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Credit: Mary Cybulski / Netflix
Is this the most entertaining movie on this list? Almost certainly not. But is it the best mystery? Well, judging by how incredibly confused I was when I finished watching it, possibly. Writer/director Charlie Kaufman’s story about a student travelling to meet her boyfriend’s parents for the first time is a head-scratching psychological nightmare that feels like watching a reality break for two straight hours. There’s plenty of deep writing, philosophical musings, and reality-bending clues, all of which add up to a very Lynch-esque feeling that what we’re watching isn’t as it seems. But what are we watching? The answer might take some figuring out. — S.H.
8. Lost Girls
Credit: Jessica Kourkounis / Netflix
Based on the real disappearance of Shannan Gilbert in 2010 and her mother Mari’s attempts to find her, Lost Girls is a dark exploration of events surrounding an infamous serial killer cold case that places a focus on the families left behind. Liz Garbus directs with a sense of grim realism, while Amy Ryan is a picture of angry desperation as she goes up against a police force that seems apathetic at best, and incompetent at worst. — S.H.
9. No One Gets Out Alive
Credit: Teddy Cavendish / Netflix
More horror than mystery? Perhaps. But Santiago Menghini’s claustrophobic haunted house tale, based on an Adam Nevill novel of the same name, still comes with plenty of questions. Questions like why does the boarding house that Mexican immigrant Ambar (Cristina Rodlo) arrives at have so many locked doors? And what are the noises she keeps hearing at night, and the nightmares about a strange stone box that she keeps seeing when her eyes are closed? You’ll have a hard job guessing, but this tense and well-written thriller will have you trying until the end. — S.H.
A futuristic twist on the fear of being buried alive, Alexandre Aja’s Oxygen is a claustrophobic nightmare about a woman who wakes up in a cryogenic box with no idea of who she is or how she got there. The good news? She’s able to communicate with the outside world via a robotic medical unit called M.I.L.O. The bad news? Nobody she speaks to seems willing to come clean with her, and her oxygen reserves are quickly spiralling toward 0 percent. Mélanie Laurent perfectly captures the short-breathed dread of this role, and Christie LeBlanc’s screenplay has enough twists and turns to keep the story racing along at a heart-pounding pace. Just tread carefully if you have a fear of tight spaces — this one won’t be a fun watch for claustrophobics.* — S.H.
11. The Perfection
This isn’t the kind of movie you want to be watching while you eat. Richard Shepard’s musical nightmare leans heavily into the body horror genre, with protégés Charlotte (Allison Williams) and Lizzie (Logan Browning) going on a truly hellish journey that starts with a bus ride through rural China and ends with them revisiting the prestigious music school where they both trained — and where all is clearly not as it seems. Tread carefully, because this story is really not for the faint-hearted — but it is full of surprises. — S.H.
12. Things Heard and Seen
Credit: Anna Kooris / Netflix
Don’t let the low Rotten Tomatoes score put you off. Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s Things Heard and Seen — based on the novel All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage — is one of those films that’s sure to divide people. It hovers between multiple genres, splicing drama and thriller with horror and mystery in a balancing act that could easily be off-putting to some. The film follows a young couple – Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) and George (James Norton) – whose decision to move into a farmhouse in upstate New York leads to the discovery of some fairly unsettling secrets (both of the ghostly and the non-ghostly variety). Don’t go into it expecting straight horror, though, or you’ll be disappointed. But if you like well-drawn characters and plenty of simmering dread, it’s worth checking out. — S.H.
13. What Did Jack Do?
For a truly baffling mystery, it’s time for you to watch David Lynch asking a suited monkey if he’s ever been a card-carrying member of the Communist party. It’s a genuine thing that happens in David Lynch’s What Did Jack Do?, a 17-minute film which sees the director interrogating a monkey called Jack in a train carriage.
Co-presented by Lynch’s company Absurda and Parisian contemporary art museum Fondation Cartier, the film was written, directed, and edited by Lynch himself. Along with a small crew, he also did the sound editing, set design, and assisted with set construction.
We won’t spoil what happens, but look out for a cameo from actor Emily Stofle (Twin Peaks star and David Lynch’s wife), and make sure you stick around for the catchy musical number toward the end. Yes, you read that right.* — S.H.
14. The Guilty
Credit: Glen Wilson / Netflix
Following a cop with an anger problem during a 911 dispatch shift, The Guilty sees Jake Gyllenhaal at his vein-bursting best in this twisty thriller about a kidnapped woman.
“With the camera focused on him for almost the full 90 minutes in The Guilty, Gyllenhaal combines all [his] skills into one excruciatingly tense performance,” I wrote in my review. “He throws himself into the role of detective-turned-911-dispatcher Joe Baylor with so much anger, pain, and sadness that you’re forced to go through every single emotion with him.”* — S.H.
15. The Platform
Prison cells are stacked one on top of the other, with holes in the floor and ceiling. Randomly-assigned levels change each month. And a platform of food gets slowly lowered from the very top, getting sparser and sparser with each floor it descends. This is the concept at the centre of Spanish director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s The Platform, a disturbing sci-fi thriller that wears its capitalist analogy plainly on its prison garb sleeve. It’s one of those rare gems where the execution is as strong as the idea at its core, driven by an excellent screenplay from David Desola and Pedro Rivero that’s dripping with horror and suspense. If you’re a fan of movies like The Cube or Saw, this is well worth checking out.* — S.H.
Need even more streaming recommendations? Mashable has so many streaming guides for you to make your way through. You can find:
*This writeup also appeared in a previous Mashable list or article.
UPDATE: May. 17, 2022, 4:06 p.m. EDT This article was originally published in Nov. ’21 and updated in May ’22.