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10 Movies Like Prisoners To Watch if You Enjoy Gripping Thrillers

10 Movies like Prisoners

The highly rated film Prisoners by director Denis Villeneuve is a brilliantly crafted suspense thriller that brings out the moral perplexities, religious symbolism, and complex characters in a terrifying Kafkaesque world. It is an intensely engrossing film and if you are in search of movies like Prisoners, we have made the following list of recommendations just for you.

Denis Villeneuve directed this suspense thriller crime story in a very carefully paced manner. Hugh Jackman plays Keller Dover, a carpenter who lives in Pennsylvania. His daughter and her friend are abducted when they go out to play in their neighbourhood. The police investigation is led by Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal). Never having failed before, Loki is certain that he will find the answers but soon later he realises that the case might be a lot harder than he anticipated.

Prisoners is an intense film. The main characters are forced to make unimaginable choices to find the missing kids. The movie’s themes of revenge, as well as physical and mental imprisonment, create a shocking aura through its unflinching violence.

List of Movies Like Prisoners

  1. Zodiac
  2. Mystic River
  3. Gone Baby Gone
  4. Nocturnal Animals
  5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoos
  6. Along Came a Spider 
  7. Man on Fire
  8. Changeling
  9. The Silence of the Lambs
  10. Taken

Also Read: Movies like Donnie Darko

1. Zodiac (2007)

Based on a true story, Zodiac is Thriller/Mystery film directed by the genius David Fincher. Set in the late 60s and 70s, the movie explores four men who obsessively investigate the crimes of a serial killer called the Zodiac. In the story, an attack of two takes place in California, shortly after the incident The San Francisco Bay Area Newspaper ‘ The San Francisco Chronicle ‘ receives an encrypted message where the criminal refers to himself as the Zodiac and threatens to kill a dozen people unless his coded message is published. 

Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist at The San Francisco Chronicle deciphers some information, the crime reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downery Jr) works with Graysmith on the information. The Zodiac sends a taunting creepy mail to the Chronicle of a cab driver’s remains. A set of police inspectors are assigned to the case while the psychotic and intelligent Zodiac claims one victim after another. The movie Zodiac is a great depiction of one of the most infamous unsolved murder cases in history. Fincher’s directorial style is brilliant. If you are looking for movies like Prisoners starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the man searching for answers, you should definitely watch Zodiac

2. Mystic River (2003)

The movie Mystic River was adapted from the 2001 novel by Dennis Lehane of the same title. Directed by the Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood, Mystic River is an American neo-noir film that follows the story of an ex-convict Jimmy Marcus (played by Sean Penn) when his daughter (played by Emmy Rossum) is murdered. Jimmy’s two childhood friends Dave (Tim Robbins) and Sean (Kevin Bacon) become connected to the murder when Dave returns home the same night covered in blood and Sean who is a homicide detective is assigned to work on the investigation.


Jimmy suspects Dave as the culprit but is not convinced by the actions taken by the authorities for the investigation, so he decides to take matters into his own hands. The ominous tone of Mystic River is consistent throughout and put together in a dark stylish manner. If you want to watch movies like Prisoners, Mystic River is a great pick. 

3. Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Gone Baby Gone is the directorial debut film of Ben Affleck. The movie was released in 2007 and is based on the 1998 novel of the same name, also written by Dennis Lehane. This movie was well-received by the critics and Amy Ryan was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Helene McCready. A young private detective Patrick Kenzie is hired to search for the 4-year-old missing daughter of Helene McCready. Patrik soon discovers that Helen and her boyfriend Ray are drug addicts and mules for a drug lord named Cheese.

Discovering some shocking news, Patrik and his partner and girlfriend Angie join the police detectives Remy Bressant and Nick Poole to find Amanda, suspecting Cheese to be the man behind the crime. The movie has been highly appreciated for its thought-provoking, slow but gripping story. Gone Baby Gone does not provide all the answers but is a sophisticated film regardless. If you want to watch movies similar to Prisoners, you will enjoy watching Gone Baby Gone’s focus on the raw and uncensored representation of drugs and the underworld. 

4. Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Nocturnal Animals is a thriller/drama movie directed by Tom Ford and released in 2016. 

Adapted from the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright, the movie follows Susan Morrow, a wealthy art gallery owner who is married to a lately neglectful handsome and rich man Hutton Morrow. Susan lives a fairly unexciting life, when her husband is away, she receives a manuscript from her former husband Tony Hastings (Jake ) her entire world turns upside down. 

Susan is extremely thrilled by the manuscript, the story in the manuscript is about a man, his wife and his daughter on a trip which turns into a cynical nightmare. Tom Ford’s intentional idea of casting Jake in the double role works brilliantly. Susan is forced to look back on her past and confront the dark truths about her life. Tom Ford’s dual narrative of the main story and the manuscript creates a shocking effect. Amy and Jake’s enigmatic performances are worth all the praise. If you want to watch movies like Prisoners, Nocturnal Animals is one of the best movies you can watch. 

5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoos (2011)

Directed by David Fincher, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is another adaptation on this list, based on the novel by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. Mikael Blomkvist, played by Daniell Craig, is a reporter hired by a wealthy Swedish industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to solve the murder of Vanger’s niece Harriet. Mikeal encounters an unusual tech-savvy investigator, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) who does not easily trust others. 

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a masterful suspense film by Fincher, it is absolutely stunning from beginning to end, including the opening credits which are a feast to watch. The movie is slow at times, but the acting by the talented Rooney and Daniel makes it worth watching. If you want to watch movies like Prisoners that bring out the elements of extreme violence against women, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the right choice for you. 

6. Along Came a Spider 

Along Came a Spider is a psychological suspense thriller movie adapted from James Patterson’s first novel of the highly acclaimed Alex Cross series. Along Came a Spider movie is however the second movie made from the series, Kiss the Girls (1997) came before. 

Morgan Freeman reprises his role as Alex Cross, a police detective and psychologist in Washington D.C. Alex is almost through with the day-to-day investigations of murder cases just when he is appointed a case where a teacher kidnaps two students. 

The Kidnapper, Gary Soneji (Micheal Wincott) buries the two students alive his actions lead to a similar turmoil to the ones seen in Prisoners. If you are looking for movies similar to Prisoners then you may want to watch Along Came a Spider and the other movies from the same world, Kiss the Girls (1997) and Alex Cross (2012).

Also Read: Movies like Prometheus

7. Man on Fire (2004)

Man on Fire is one of the most underappreciated movies on the list. Directed by Tony Scott, this action thriller movie’s main character John Creasy is played by Denzel Washington. John Creasy is an ex-CIA operative who is appointed to bodyguard 9-year-old Lupita (Dakota Fanning), daughter of a wealthy businessman Samuel Ramos. 

In the premise, we learn that Mexico City sees a high wave of kidnappings of children of wealthy families. Creasy gets attached to Lupita but when a crazy gunman manages to kidnap Lupita, Creasy does everything in his power to save her. The tone of Man on Fire is emotionally intense and the performances by Denzel Washington and Christopher Walken are worthy of high praise. If you want to watch movies that bring out a similar strength of resilience you saw in similar movies like Prisoners then you must watch Man on Fire.

8. Changeling (2008)

Changeling is a 2008 mystery/drama movie by Clint Eastwood. Set in 1982 Los Angeles, we see Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins, a single mother to a young boy Walter. One day, when Christine comes home after work, she discovers that Walter has disappeared. After five months of endless prayers, she finally hears from the LAPD that her boy has been found. 

The boy however she receives is not her son Walter. The authorities call her delusional and refuse to cooperate. She is able to find a clergyman who helps her and realises the opportunity to expose the corruption in LAPD and the government. Christine’s situation is extremely heartbreaking and her strength and resilience to hope that she will one day find her boy is truly inspiring. If you want to watch films similar to Prisoners with a parent’s unconditional endeavour to find their child, you need to watch Changeling. 

9. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Based on Thomas Harriss’ novel, the 1991 movie The Silence of the Lambs is regarded as an absolute cult classic. Directed by Jonathan Demme, this Hannibal Lecter series story follows Clarice Sterling, who is training to become an FBI. When a serial killer known as ‘Buffalo Bill’ kills a young woman and removes her skin, Jack Crawford, agent in charge of the behavioural science unit arranges for her to meet imprisoned Hannibal Lecter, a former psychiatrist turned cannibal serial killer.

The experience of Clarice’s meeting with Hannibal is psychologically terrifying to watch. Exceptional performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster rightfully earned them an Academy Award for Best acting in their roles. The Silence of the Lambs is one of the greatest movies you can watch if you’re in search of thriller movies like Prisoners.

10. Taken (2008)

Also titled 96 Hours and The Hostage, Taken is an action-thriller French English-language film directed by Pierre Morel. Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills is at the centre of the story, Bryan Mills is a former government operative of the Green Beret (a special operative force). Bryan attempts to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) who lives with his ex-wife Lenore and her wealthy stepfather, Stuart. 

Bryan being a high intelligence operative is often concerned for Kim’s safety, but his worst nightmare comes true when Kim and her friend are abducted by a sex trafficking mob. Bryan realises from his experience that in the given situation, she must be found within 96 hours or he might lose her forever. If you want to watch movies similar to Prisoners, Bryan’s actions and internal pain to rescue his daughter will highlight the perfect elements you’re looking for. You can also check out the sequel Taken 2 if you like.

Also Read: Movies like Coherence

Honourable Mentions 

Here are a few movies like Prisoners that didn’t make the recommendation list but you can check them out if you want:

  1. The Silence
  2. Se7en
  3. The Game
  4. Wind River
  5. Gone Girl

When Lost aired over a decade ago, its successful narrative created a pop culture impact and changed the landscape of television. If you are a fan and want to watch shows like Lost then you can have a look at this list we made just for you.


The hugely successful television series Lost aired in 2004. The premise, as we know, deals with a group of people surviving a commercial passenger plane crash on a remote island. The show masterfully explores supernatural and sci-fi elements on this mysterious south Pacific island.

The use of cliffhangers at the end of each episode of Lost kept the viewers on the edge of their seats, desperately craving for the next episode to come. Even though it's a large ensemble cast, most of the characters receive a justifiable personal arch. Lost was inspired by the movie Castaway and became one of the most expensive pilots to be shot at the time! Lost continues to be appreciated for its originality in storytelling and dynamic character arcs. 

List of TV Shows Like Lost

  1. The Leftovers
  2. Manifest
  3. Lost Room
  4. Twin Peaks
  5. The Prisoners
  6. Battlestar Galactica
  7. The New People
  8. Flight 29 Down
  9. Fringe
  10. Alcatraz
  11. Under the Dome
  12. Dark

1. The Leftovers (2014)

IMDB ratings: 8.3/10

Cast: Carrie Coon, Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman and Margaret Qualley

Creator: Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta

The director of Lost, Damon Lindel also created a supernatural drama series called The Leftovers. The show begins 3 years after an unexplainable global event called ‘Sudden Departure’  where almost 2 per cent of the population, nearly 140 million people, disappear. The Leftovers isn't about WHY people are gone, it's about how the ones who remain dealt with their loss, people often try to comfort themselves with dreams, angels, gods, or even death.

The Leftovers will leave you with so many questions but beyond words, you have to feel it and savour its unanswered questions to find peace. The Leftovers is an incredible television series that starts incredibly well but loses its way by the series's end. I have to say though, Carrie Coon has brilliant moments in the end. The Leftovers is so weird, fragmented and nonsensical at times that it reminds me of Lost. If you are looking for shows like Lost, I recommend that you give The Leftovers a try.

2. Manifest  (2018) 

IMDB ratings: 7.1/10

Cast: Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas and J.R. Ramirez 

Creator: Jeff Rake

The Manifest is a supernatural drama show about a bunch of people who discover that they lost 5 years of their lives when they landed in New York after their aeroplane faced severe turbulence. All the people on the plane were presumed to be dead. Now, these people have to find a way to adjust themselves to a new life around their loved ones. Mild spoiler! They learn their loved ones and the rest of society is not as they left it.

I found that the show’s premise was very intriguing and the actors give a very convincing performance. The narrative details of the show, however, in my opinion, are a bit sloppy and inconsistent. The writers surely have room for improvement but their concept is incredibly thrilling. Every episode of Manifest keeps you on your toes. Manifest has completed 3 seasons up until now and continues to be on air. Manifest is a pretty good choice if you want to watch TV shows like Lost.

3. Lost Room (2006)

IMDB ratings: 8.1/10

Cast: Peter Krause, Julianna Margulies and Peter Jacobson

Creator: Christopher Leone, Laura Harkcom

This lesser-known show The Lost Room is an American Sci-fi television miniseries which only had 3 episodes of 90 mins each and no follow-up seasons. The show was based on a very unique idea where the room in question (known as the ‘Lost Room’) and the objects in the said room had supernatural powers. This strange room is set in a 1960s motel along the iconic U.S. Route 66.

One day the protagonist (Peter Krause) Joe Miller’s daughter disappears inside the room. Joe, with the help of objects present in the room, tries to find his daughter Anna (Elle Fanning). The story of Lost Room was intensely engaging. I found the direction and the actor’s performances to be absolutely brilliant. It baffles me that the creators did not return to make another short season within the same concept. If you have been searching for TV series like Lost then I can assure you that Lost Room will be worth a watch.

4. Twins Peaks (1990) 

IMDB ratings: 8.8/10

Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Mädchen Amick, Sherilyn Fenn and David Lynch

Creator: David Lynch

David Lynch, the well-known director of weird and captivating films such as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet created an iconic show called Twin Peaks. It is a hauntingly eccentric show about the investigation of the mysterious murder of a small-town homecoming queen named Laura Palmer. Believe me, as odd as the show may seem at first, you will grow to love it, after all, it is considered to be one of the best mystery shows ever created.

With the mysteries, the supernatural elements and the list of bizarre characters, Twin Peaks has it all. In my opinion, the cinematography of the show was truly ahead of its time. Kyle’s Dale Cooper was especially entertaining. Twin Peaks’ experimental formula of the satirical soap opera is extremely unsettling yet rewarding to watch, I must warn you, it’s not for the faint-hearted!  If you are in search of TV shows like Lost then Twin Peaks won’t disappoint you.

The Prisoners (1967)

IMDB ratings: 8.5/10

Cast: Patrick McGoohan, Angelo Muscat and Geroge Markstien

Creator: Patrick McGoohan

The Prisoner centres around an unnamed British agent (Patrick McGoohan) who tries to flee his country after abruptly quitting his high-ranking government job. He is abducted and held captive in a strange ‘sea-side’ village that is isolated from the rest of the world. This village is a highly secure and monitored place filled with weird technology. There are only 17 episodes to this late 60s show but it manages to bring up such surreal surprises, it's sure to leave a great impact on the viewer.

The Prisoner’s unique concept influenced many popular shows including Lost. The creators of Lost even cited the show. I was very impressed by how ahead of its time The Prisoners proves to be. If you want to watch more shows similar to Lost the Prisoners should definitely be on your list.

6. Battlestar Galactica (2004)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Katee Sackhoff, Edward James Olmos and Tricia Helfer 

Creator: Glen A. Larson

The 2004 Battlestar Galactica is a reboot of the original 1978 miniseries of the same name. Do not be mistaken by the title, the show is not related to Star Trek.  Battlestar Galactica is set in the 7th millennium AD and follows Cylons, the robot enemy of humanity that resurfaces to destroy the 12 colonies of Mankind. Only a few survive and are able to escape on ships led by a powerful warship called Battlestar Galactica. Mankind struggles to fight the Cylons and work their own political agendas and disputes while finding their long-lost 13th colony Earth.

The show is a dark, intense and gritty socio-political commentary with EPIC cinematic value. The script is especially clever and as a huge fan of sci-fi shows, this show ticks the boxes in all the right categories. When the show was released, it blew the viewers and critics away. As far as an obsessive and gripping story goes, Battlestar Galactica is one of the most similar to shows like Lost. 

7. The New People (1969)

IMDB ratings: 7.3/10

Cast: David Moses, Zooey hall and Tiffany Boiling

Creator: Larry Gordon Aaron Spelling

The New People is an American Tv series that aired only for 1 season and is focused on a couple of college students who survive a plane crash. The incident takes place while they were returning from a trip to Southeast Asia, their plane crashes on an island in the south of the Pacific ocean. 

By now this show must already be sounding a lot like Lost to you, and it surely is. The remaining group of people discover an unusual truth about the island: there’s an above-ground unused nuclear test site filled with supplies for the survivors. If you want to see more plane survival stories like Lost then The New People should definitely be on your list.

8. Flight 29 Down (2005)

IMDB ratings: 7.2/10

Cast: Allen Alvarado, Halle Hirsh and Corbin Bleu

Creator:  Stan Rowgow D. J. MacHale

The show Flight 29 Down is a drama series about a group of pre-teens/teens who are stranded on a South Pacific island after their plane crashes in a tropical storm while they were flying from an eco-adventure camping trip in Palau. The show is in many ways a younger version of the Adult-centred show Lost but sans the supernatural elements. I’d say that the show draws inspiration from the show The New People.

Flight 29 Down uses the technique of a video diary as a plot device for the viewers to keep up with the story of these children. It was very engaging to watch young intelligent characters finding their way on the island. The first two seasons of the show are quite engaging but I seemed to lose interest in its 3rd and final season. Regardless, Flight 29 Down is a really good series to watch if you want to see TV shows like Lost.

9. Fringe (2008)

IMDB ratings: 8.4/10

Cast: Anna Torv, John Noble and Joshua Jackson

Creator: J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci

Fringe is a popular Sci-fi crime drama television series. It may seem like a standard procedural drama at first, but the show actually explores the parallel universe, alternate versions of people filled with crazy scientific experiments. I personally had a great time watching this show.

Fringe is actually inspired by shows like Lost, The X-files and The Twilight Zone. The 3 main characters of the show work with a special division called Fringe. There are so many brilliant twists and turns in Fringe that in my opinion, the show is at the top of its category. If you are searching for TV series like Lost, I strongly recommend you watch Fringe

10. Alcatraz (2012)

IMDB ratings: 6.9/10

Cast: Sarah Jones, George Garcia and Jonny Coyne 

Creator: Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt

This American fiction show is based on the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary built on Alcatraz island in San Francisco Bay. The prison is now closed but once kept some of the most dangerous criminals of America. The show takes the liberty to make a show around the conspiracies of the place.

In the interesting premise we see that under unknown circumstances, 256 inmates and 46 guards of the prison disappear without a trace. Later the disappeared ones start to appear one by one without ageing a day and resume their criminal activities with no realisation of disappearance. A special government unit is dedicated to finding and putting those criminals back in prison. If you are looking for mystery shows similar to Lost, try watching Alcatraz. 

11. Under the Dome (2013)

IMDB ratings: 6.5/10

Cast: Alexander Koch and Rachelle Lefevre

Creator: Stephen King

Based on a novel written by the sci-fi legend Stephen King, Under the Dome tells the story of the residents of the fictional small town called Chester's Mill, when a huge, transparent and indestructible dome suddenly cuts them off from the rest of the world.

Now the trapped residents try to find a way to discover the truth, origin and purpose of these domes. This journey forces them into situations where they learn more about each other than they ever knew. Under the Dome may not be on the top of this list but it’s quite a decent watch if you’re looking for mystery shows similar to Lost

12. Dark (2017)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Louis Hofmann, Lisa Vicari and Gina Stiebitz

Creator: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese

The German-language Netflix series Dark is an interesting blend of Science fiction and Mystery. Truly a compelling and mind-bending story to watch. At the beginning of Dark, many children suspiciously start disappearing in the German town of Winden. The dark past of generational mysteries of 4 families living in the town namely, Kahnwald, Nielsen, Doppler, and Tiedemann is brought to light.

After the discovery of a wormhole, the lives of the families intertwine more than one can imagine. I believe every element of the show is top-notch, especially Dark’s cinematography, which is a TRUE masterpiece. If you are looking for TV series similar to Lost then the intense and gripping story of Dark is sure to keep you engrossed.

Honourable Mentions

Here are a few TV shows like Lost that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless: 

  1. Carnivale
  2. Yellowjackets
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. Black Mirror
  5. Flashforward
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