Karlie’s International Thriller Recommendations

Posted on April 14, 2022

I love the thriller genre. From action, psychological dramas, horror, and even romance, thriller is a transformative genre that can be difficult to define, but definitely easy to enjoy. Below I have compiled a very brief list of a few of my favourite international thriller movies that I would definitely recommend to others who are interested in watching movies from around the world. The list below is European/East-Asian centric, and I hope to continue to expand my catalogue over the summer. 

Similarly to horror, thriller movies can contain topics and imagery that may be potentially troubling and triggering to certain audiences. If you are okay with spoilers, I would strongly recommend checking out the crowd-sourced website doesthedogdie to find out any content warnings. I would definitely recommend taking this action if you are interested in any of the movies I have listed below. Content warning for these films include sexual assault, body horror, gore, sexuality, trafficking, and more. Discretion is advised. 

This list contains very mild spoilers! Enjoy! 

Border (2018) - dir. Ali Abbasi

I first watched Border last month for my Film and Literature class, and it absolutely blew my mind. This Swedish film is a dark fairytale tells the story of Tina, a woman who has been ostracized and ridiculed her entire life because of her physical appearance. The film follows Tina as she works for the Swedish Customs Service, and who has a knack for sniffing out-quite literally-contraband. One day, Tina meets an individual with similar facial features as her and her life is forever changed. This is a film that I will definitely never forget. 

Train to Busan (2016) - dir. Yeon Sang-ho

If you’re into the thriller/horror/action genres, you have definitely heard of Train to Busan– and rightfully so! This Korean action-thriller follows fund manager Seok-woo and his young daughter Su-An, who are caught in the middle of a zombie apocalypse while on a high-speed train from Seoul to Busan. This film has fantastic action and a great cast of characters that audiences can’t help but root for. As someone who wasn’t initially very fond of zombie narratives, watching Train to Busan definitely changed my mind. 

Perfect Blue (1997) - dir. Satoshi Kon

Satoshi Kon’s 1997 film Perfect Blue is one of the best thrillers I have ever seen. Perfect Blue is a Japanese animated film that follows former J-pop idol Mima Kirigoe as she decides to pursue an acting career. As she begins working on a new television series, Mima begins to realize that she is being stalked, and slowly loses her grip on reality where she begins to confuse setlife with her real life.

As seen in many other works within Kon’s roster, such as Paprika (2006) and Millennium Actress (2001), Perfect Blue blends reality with fantasy in a mind bending experience for both characters and viewers. 

Raw (2016) dir. Julia Ducournau

Arguably more of a horror than a thriller, Raw is a French, coming-of-age story about life-long, devoted vegetarian Justine who begins her first semester at veterinary school. After Justine is forced to eat raw rabbit kidneys in a hazing prank, she soon begins to develop a craving for raw meat and even human flesh. Fun fact: two audience members at the Toronto Film Festival fainted after Raw was screened for the first time! 

Thelma (2017) - dir. Joachim Trier

Thelma is a Norwegian film directed by Joachim Trier which follows the titular Thelma, a lonely, religious girl who begins to experience epileptic seizures while at university. She falls in love with another student Anja, and realizes that her feelings for the other girl trigger psychokinetic powers. Not only is this film is an excellent thriller, but its supernatural, psychological, and romantic elements make it absolutely unforgettable-honestly, how much better does it get than that? 



Image Credits:


Border https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5501104/mediaindex/?ref_=tt_mi_sm 

Train to Busan https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5700672/mediaindex/?ref_=tt_mi_sm

Perfect Blue https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0156887/mediaindex/?ref_=tt_mi_sm

Raw: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4954522/mediaindex/?ref_=tt_mi_sm

Thelma: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6304046/mediaindex/?ref_=tt_mi_sm

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Karlie (she/her) is a 3rd year Media Production student with an affinity for horror movies, creative writing, manga, and spaghetti-not necessarily in that order. In her free time, Karlie likes to make art, listen to music, read, explore new corners of Toronto, and hang out with her spoiled tuxedo cat named Jasmine. Karlie is excited for her second year as a blog writer for SpiritLive!