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November 8, 2015 7:57 AM   Subscribe

I’m looking for suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat movies (horror, mystery, thriller, action) that are reasonably realistic and have a conclusive, unambiguous ending. When watching movies, I’m always willing to suspend some disbelief, but only up to a point. I’m turned off by gaping holes in the plot line, implausible twists, and puzzling endings.

I liked the original Alien (1979), because the movie was scary & suspenseful—and the plot made sense, given some assumptions that you had to accept at the beginning. For similar reasons, I also liked Jagged Edge and Jaws.

Spoiler alert: The paragraph below has some very vague, non-specific spoilerish criticisms of The Babadook, It Follows, the first Paranormal Activity (2007), Mama, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I didn’t like any of the above five movies, because too many facets of the story were left unexplained or just didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Why was the Babadook haunting the mother and son? And who, exactly, was the evil creature that was stalking the teenagers in It Follows? Likewise, what was the back-story for the monsters in Paranormal Activity and Mama? The audience never really finds out the answers. All of these movies had their moments, to be sure, but they ultimately left me confused and unsatisfied. Oh, and I hated the ultra-weird, confusing ending to 2001: A Space Odyssey (and, now that I think about it, what was the deal with the monkeys at the beginning?).

Help me find thrilling movies that have some sort of consistent, internal logic.
posted by akk2014 to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Captain Phillips might be up your alley; after all, it's largely based on real events.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:03 AM on November 8, 2015

The Usual Suspects.
posted by flourpot at 8:04 AM on November 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

Going through my recent LOVEFiLM rentals: Son of a Gun, Black Sea, Cold in July, The Calling, The Drop, maybe Gone Girl, '71, Nightcrawler, Blue Ruin.
posted by alby at 8:28 AM on November 8, 2015

And given your "conclusive, unambiguous" criteria, I'd maybe avoid π and The Machinist from The Deej's list. I don't remember them being like that.
posted by alby at 8:31 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Exorcist, maybe?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:35 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think Outlander and State of Emergency, while not perfect, should fit your criteria, though I would need to spoil them too much to say why. (Caveat - State of Emergency is low budget, and not as fast moving as some movies, which is why the IMDB ratings skew on the low side I think).
posted by gudrun at 8:51 AM on November 8, 2015

Also going to recommend the original Oldboy, great thriller that may undo your issue -- it's a mystery with a very satisfying conclusion.
posted by miasma at 9:00 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Side Effects
posted by puritycontrol at 9:07 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

On the realistic action front, I like Die Hard as one of those movies where anyone getting injured means something in terms of their capacity to function.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:12 AM on November 8, 2015

Das Boot is the most tense movie I've ever seen. Based on a true story!
posted by Brittanie at 9:12 AM on November 8, 2015 [6 favorites]

I personally like Oldboy but it might violate the "implausible twist" criteria.

Some of my favourite horror movies have ambiguity. You probably wouldn't like The Shining for example.

I guess if you like "it's an alien" as sufficient backstory for Alien, you'll like The Thing.

Bound? Not horror, but I find the ending very satisfying.
posted by RobotHero at 9:16 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

The original Straw Dogs is pretty intense, and very real. I've seen it a bunch and am still on the edge of my seat for the last 45 minutes of the film, every time.
posted by ElectricGoat at 9:25 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Usual Suspects
Heat, slow burning Cops v. Robbers with a satisfying conclusive ending.
Children of Men, but you might find it to be a leap too far. Still, the two long tracking shots are super intense.
Gravity is 90 minutes of absolute peril.
posted by thenormshow at 9:39 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Although the suspense isn't action-packed, Hitchcock might be up your alley. With the exception of The Birds and Suspicion, I think they almost all meet your criteria of "realistic" and unambiguous as well as suspenseful.
posted by alligatorpear at 9:40 AM on November 8, 2015 [6 favorites]

Marathon Man
The Game
posted by rhizome at 10:14 AM on November 8, 2015

The Fourth Kind
posted by jillithd at 10:54 AM on November 8, 2015

Dead Calm, featuring a young Nicole Kidman.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:59 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Any of the adapted Le Carrè books.
posted by Oyéah at 11:54 AM on November 8, 2015

The Descent
The Descent 2
posted by invisible ink at 1:42 PM on November 8, 2015

The Ghost Writer (So tight.)
Enemy of the State (Eerily prescient.)
posted by Room 641-A at 3:21 PM on November 8, 2015

Thirding Blue Ruin.
posted by bluecore at 7:41 AM on November 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Sicario - and I'd recommend NOT watching the trailer. Gives way too much away.
posted by cnc at 11:47 AM on November 9, 2015

I caught The Invitation at a film festival earlier this year and loved it. It's super tense, with a conclusive and satisfying ending.
posted by RubyScarlet at 5:04 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Celebration might be worth a mention here.
posted by rhizome at 10:00 AM on November 11, 2015

Argo. Also based on a true story. Even though I knew the outcome, I was still on the edge of my seat.
posted by SisterHavana at 5:23 PM on November 11, 2015

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