Helmed by Grant Singer, “Reptile” is a 2023 crime-thriller movie set in the town of Scarborough. The movie puts the audience in the shoes of Detective Tom Nichols (Benicio del Toro) and his partner Dan Cleary (Ato Essandoh), delving into the murder of real-estate broker Summer Elswick (Matilda Lutz). Their investigation narrows down on potential suspects, including Summer’s boyfriend Will Grady (Justin Timberlake), her ex-husband Sam Gifford (Karl Glusman), and Eli Phillips (Michael Pitt), a man harboring resentment against the Gradys.
What initially seems like a straightforward murder case soon unravels into something much larger and more intricate, with far-reaching implications. If you’ve already streamed the movie and are scouring the World Wide Web for similar titles, this list of similar movies, like Netflix’s Reptile, is exactly what you need.
1. Memories of Murder (2003)
Helmed by visionary filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, Memories of Murder is a 2003 crime-thriller, drawing inspiration from the real-life serial killing that plagued the Hwaseong region between 1986 and 1991. The story takes place in a small South Korean town, shadowed by a series of harrowing murders of young women. Two dedicated detectives, Park Doo-man (Song Kang-ho) and Cho Yong-koo (Kim Roe-ha), take on the challenging task of solving the disturbing case. However, progress is slow, and they encounter numerous speed breakers along the way.
Frustrated by the lack of breakthroughs, they seek the expertise of Seoul detective Seo Tae-yoon (Kim Sang-Kyung), known for his meticulous and cultivated investigative style. As a team, they grapple with the complex dynamics of murder, the investigation, the mounting pressures from the locals, and the deranged serial killer, who always seems to be one step ahead of them.
Cinematically, “Memories of Murder” is stunning and eerily evocative. Director Bong Joon-ho, well-known for his visual storytelling, utilizes the camera to create a gloomy atmosphere befitting the heinous crimes being investigated. Surrounded by beautiful rural scenery, the film’s audience is all the more shocked by the cruelty of the killings that occur. Framing and composition add to the sense of discomfort and tension, heightening the film’s mounting drama and suspense.
2. The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo (2011)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a psychological thriller directed by David Fincher, takes inspiration from the pages of Stieg Larsson’s bestseller. At its core, the plot revolves around Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), a journalist wrestling with both professional setbacks and personal challenges. He finds himself drawn into a perplexing investigation when wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) hires him to investigate the decades-old vanishing of his niece, Harriet, from the Vanger family estate.
In the course of the investigation, Blomkvist forms an alliance with Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a socially awkward and gifted hacker with a troubled past. Despite their differences, Salander and Blomkvist join forces to unearth the mystery behind Harriet’s disappearance.
David Fincher’s directing is methodical and thoughtful, with all the usual precision and care that have come to characterize his work. His choice to be faithful to the original while maintaining the tone of dark and nasty serves the story well and keeps fans interested. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score enhances the film’s atmosphere and suspense, working well with the images. Some of the themes dealt with in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” include sexism, abuse, corruption, and the search for justice. It explores the dark side of human nature, concentrating on the misuse of authority and the mistreatment of women.
3. Wind River (2017)
Wind River is a 2017 neo-Western crime thriller penned and directed by Taylor Sheridan. The harsh, wintry landscapes of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming set the backdrop for this gripping tale. The plot centers on Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a proficient tracker and US Fish and Wildlife Service agent. While tracking a lion, he stumbles upon the lifeless body of a young Native American woman. Prompted by this grim discovery, the local authorities sought FBI intervention, leading to the assignment of rookie agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) to the case. Teaming up, they navigate the desolate and unforgiving terrain, diving deep into the layers of a murder mystery that lays bare the brutal realities endured by the community.
Taylor Sheridan’s directing and storyline are both captivating and thought-provoking. His willingness to address weighty yet underexplored societal themes enriches the story. Filming at the actual Wind River Reservation gives the picture more legitimacy and realism, and it helps the audience feel like they are a part of the character’s world as they face the same challenges. Jeremy Renner’s performance as Cory Lambert is strong and moving, capturing the character’s inner anguish and his will to seek vengeance. Elizabeth Olsen is also fantastic as Jane Banner; her tenacity and resourcefulness in the face of adversity and an alien setting are highlights of the film.
4. Cold in July (2014)
Cold in July is a 2014 crime thriller directed by Jim Mickle, adapted from Joe R. Lansdale’s novel of the same name. The film takes place in the late 1980s in East Texas and centers on Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall), an ordinary family man living in a small town. In a moment of fear and confusion, Richard accidentally takes the life of an intruder in his home. This accidental act transforms him into a local hero, but the situation takes a dark turn when he learns that the intruder’s vengeful father, Ben Russell (Sam Shepard), a recently paroled ex-convict, is seeking retribution. As tensions rise, they stumble upon a disturbing secret that propels them into the dangerous depths of a criminal underworld, where danger lurks at every turn.
Jim Mickle maintains a steady and deliberate pace as director, striking a nice balance between the thriller components and the character-driven drama. The film skillfully keeps its viewers on edge by never settling into a predictable pattern. It’s irrefutable evidence of Mickle’s brilliance as a filmmaker that he stuck with the original story even as he flavored it with his own distinctive cinematic style.
The film’s cinematography is moody and evocative, perfectly expressing the film’s grim and dismal subject matter. Lighting and composition do a great job of creating an atmosphere that serves to heighten the drama and suspense. The aesthetic and color scheme choices really immerse the viewer in the era of the story’s setting: the 1980s.
5. The Conversation (1974)
The Conversation, a psychological thriller released in 1974 and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is a riveting tale centered around Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), a proficient surveillance expert and wiretapper. The plot begins with Caul being hired to clandestinely record a conversation between a young couple. However, as he delves deeper into the recording and its potential consequences, he experiences a growing sense of paranoia and is haunted by moral and ethical dilemmas. The plot falls apart as Caul struggles with the repercussions of his job and the knowledge that he, too, is under continual surveillance.
The movie goes deeply and artfully into questions of privacy, ethics, and the mental toll of being under constant scrutiny. Gene Hackman’s performance as Caul is a masterful encapsulation of the character’s layered complexity, which enriches the story and makes “The Conversation” a powerful investigation of the human mind. The film’s unsettling tension and unease are largely the result of Francis Ford Coppola’s directorial choices.
Careful pacing, sparsely dropped hints, and strategically placed pauses all contribute to an atmosphere of mounting tension. Coppola’s choice to center the picture on Caul’s point of view offers a fresh viewpoint, allowing audiences to see inside the head of a troubled protagonist.
6. The Night of Hunter (1955)
The Night of the Hunter, a 1955 thriller by Charles Laughton, is set during the Great Depression. The story follows Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum), a sinister ex-convict posing as a preacher. Powell charms and marries wealthy widows, ultimately stealing their money and ending their lives. The plot takes a dark twist when Powell learns of a hidden fortune and tracks down Willa Harper (Shelley Winters), a widow, and her two children, John and Pearl. The children, aware of the money’s location, are forced into a terrifying struggle against the sinister preacher, creating a bone-chilling saga of survival.
The story “The Night of the Hunter” tackles themes such as good against evil, innocence, fake piety, as well as the detrimental impact of authority. It delves into the fight to protect naiveté against corrupting influences and the shadows that might hide beneath charming facades. The film serves as a cautionary tale about putting all of one’s confidence in the wrong people.
The direction choices made by Charles Laughton are daring and original, adopting a unique style that goes against the grain of the standards of the day. His choice to combine thriller and horror, along with fairy tale aesthetics, makes for an interesting and unnerving watch. The film’s unique aesthetic and symbolic usage of visual elements have contributed to its continuing popularity and inspired many movies.