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The 12 best mystery movies on Netflix right now

From whodunnits to total mind-scramblers, these are the best movies on Netflix to challenge your sleuthing skills

Written by
Matthew Singer
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Before putting together a list of the best mystery movies on Netflix, we had to ask ourselves: ‘What defines a mystery movie?’ Is it simply a film about a dead body dumped in a remote location and the people tasked with figuring out who put it there? Is it about strange, inexplicable happenings that may or may not have a logical explanation? Or is the mystery the movie itself – a complex narrative puzzle that refutes easy solutions? Turns out, it’s all of the above. Below, you’ll find our picks for the best mysteries streaming on Netflix right now, and they run the gamut from classic whodunnits to detective capers, to psychological thrillers, to films whose plots are a riddle in themselves. Oh, and at least one David Lynch noodle-fryer.

Best mystery movies on Netflix

  • Film
  • Drama

Any fan of Charlie Kaufman knows that his cinematic puzzles aren’t really meant to be ‘solved’. That’s especially true of his third film as writer-director: a surreal drama about a young woman going to visit her new boyfriend’s parents that pulls closer to Lynchian territory than anything he’s done before. Again, it’s best that you don’t try to untangle the story’s many knots – it will only frustrate. Give yourself over to the experience, though, and it’s like a dream you can’t dislodge.   

Enola Holmes (2020)
Image: Netflix

Enola Holmes (2020)

Millie Bobby Brown proved that she was destined for stardom beyond Stranger Things in this delightful young adult detective story, playing Sherlock’s plucky teenage sister who turns out to have the sleuthing gene as well. A sequel is forthcoming, and probably several more after that. 

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Lost Girls (2020)
Michele K Short

Lost Girls (2020)

Documentarian Liz Garbus (Bobby Fischer Against the World) dramatises activist Mari Gilbert’s search for answers in the suspicious death of her daughter. Officers insisted it was a drug-related accident, despite evidence to the contrary, and her dogged insistence to dig out the truth ended up uncovering the murders of nearly a dozen sex workers on Long Island. Amy Ryan gives a raw, humane performance as Gilbert, barely keeping it together as she runs up against smug, indifferent cops, and Garbus’s barebones direction lets the emotion drive the story. 

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)
  • Film
  • Comedy

Yellowjackets fans digging into the filmography of the Showtimes series’ standout Melanie Lynskey are advised to start with this jet black comedy thriller. Lynskey stars as a nursing assistant living in rural nowheresville who has had it up to here, and is finally gets pushed over the edge when her house is robbed while she’s at work. She teams up with her weirdo neighbour (Elijah Wood) to figure out who stole her stuff — and when the criminals involved turn out to be more than petty thieves, she takes out some long-simmering frustrations that don’t really have anything to do with her missing possessions. Hijinks ensue, along with some jarring moments of violence.  

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Forgotten (2017)
BA Entertainment

Forgotten (2017)

In this psychological thriller from South Korea – an ever-growing leader in the genre – a young man witnesses his brother being kidnapped, only to have him return 19 days later as a seemingly different person. It gets stranger from there. Like Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy, the Rube-Goldbergian plot machinations strain believability on paper, but when the movie’s on, the sheer intensity is enough to suck you in. 

The Clovehitch Killer (2018)
IFC Midnight

The Clovehitch Killer (2018)

Dylan McDermott, serial killer? An odd casting choice, to be sure, but his unassuming presence lends this domestic horror-thriller a chilling sense of familiarity. The plot followsa Boy Scout who begins to suspect his father is responsible for the wave of unsolved murders that shocked his small hometown before he was born.

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  • Film
  • Drama

Deadpan genius Yorgos Lanthimos has used his talents to subvert the romantic comedy (The Lobster) and weird-out the period piece (The Favourite), but this stab at surreal horror might be his most screwed-up achievement yet. A surgeon (Colin Farrell) befriends the young son (Barry Keoghan) of a man who died on his operating table, and then inexplicably strange, terrible things begin happening to his own family. 

Shimmer Lake (2017)
Netflix

Shimmer Lake (2017)

Looking at the cast of Oren Uziel’s debut feature, you might expect a Wet Hot American Summer riff, with a bunch of TV comics – Rainn Wilson, Rob Corddry, Adam Pally et al –  improvising around some kind of rustic locale. Instead, you get Memento by way of the Coen brothers. Uziel tracks a small-town sheriff’s investigation of a bank robbery gone wrong, which feels pretty standard until the reverse-chronology storytelling kicks in and the unexpected cast begin to do their thing. It’s perfect viewing for a do-nothing Saturday night.

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Mirage (2018)
Warner Brothers

Mirage (2018)

A little bit Poltergeist, a little bit that Simpsons Halloween vignette where Homer keeps going back in time and mucking up the present, this Spanish sci-fi thriller finds a woman communicating with a dead child via an old television set, a development that mucks up her own life. She must figure out how to fix the bend in space-time in order to set things right. Good luck!

  • Film

Along with Sharon Stone uncrossing her legs in that Basic Instinct interrogation room and Elizabeth Berkley licking Showgirls’ stripper pole, the poolside threesome between Neve Campbell, Denise Richards and Matt Dillon in Wild Things was a significant coming-of-age moment for kids whose parents had HBO subscriptions in the ’90s. But this erotic noir, about a high-school guidance counselor accused of rape who may be a pawn in a larger conspiracy, has enough sleazy thrills to a justify watching without fast-forwarding. 

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What Did Jack Do? (2017)
Netflix

What Did Jack Do? (2017)

It’s David Lynch interrogating a monkey that’s been implicated in a murder. What else do you need to know?

  • Film
  • Thrillers

John Cusack, Ray Liotta and several other early 2000s dependables walk into a Nevada hotel, get stranded due to flooding and start dying off one-by-one in this loose Agatha Christie adaptation, which makes good use of fractured-timeline storytelling before the device became as played-out as it is today.

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