5 best movies like 'Saltburn'

(left to right) Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Matt Damon in The Talented Mr. Ripley
(Image credit: Alamy)

Love it or hate it, it’s undeniable that "Saltburn" has made quite an impression on audiences — and not just because of its iconic closing needle drop of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Murder on the Dancefloor.” 

The divisive film is directed by Emerald Fennell of "Promising Young Woman" and "Killing Eve" fame, and it has two of the biggest rising stars in Hollywood: Barry Keoghan and Jacob Elordi. Keoghan plays Oliver Quick, a mild-mannered university student who is enthralled by the charms of the wealthy and charismatic Felix (Elordi). 

When Felix invites him to visit his palatial country estate, he and Oliver have one memorable summer — just maybe not in the way that Felix was expecting. If you were drawn in by Fennell’s latest class warfare thriller, here are a few other movies like "Saltburn" that might be worth checking out.

'The Talented Mr. Ripley'

Based on a 1955 novel, "The Talented Mr. Ripley" stars Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, an expert forger and mimic who becomes enamored with the effortlessly charming Dickie (Jude Law). Posing as a former college classmate, he insinuates himself into Dickie’s glamorous life. But before long, things start to get a little out of hand (the kind of “out of hand” that ends with a body count.) 

Throughout the entire film, the audience wonders if Ripley wants to be Dickie, make love to him, or utterly destroy him — or possibly a twisted combination of all three. Sound familiar? "Saltburn" draws a significant amount of inspiration from "The Talented Mr. Ripley," and viewers will undoubtedly notice its influence. And if you like Matt Damon’s interpretation of the character, just wait — Netflix is slated to produce their own adaptation starring Andrew Scott in the lead role in 2024.

Watch on Paramount Plus With Showtime

'Teorema' ('Theorem')

There’s a certain seductive quality that Oliver Quick has in "Saltburn," one that gives him the opportunity to win over and manipulate each of the members of Felix’s family. He becomes fast friends with Felix, begins a sexual relationship with his sister and charms both of their parents in different ways. We see a similar dynamic in Italian auteur Pier Paolo Pasolini’s drama "Teorema" ("Theorem"), where a mysterious young drifter played by Terence Stamp carries out affairs with an entire Italian family, including father, mother, daughter, son, and even their maid. 

But whereas Oliver’s relationships have questionable intentions, Stamp’s “Visitor” seems to be acting entirely altruistically, offering each member of the family the emotional support that they need. "Teorema" is both sensual and allegorical, reaching the kind of philosophical depths that a film like "Saltburn" plainly aspires to emulate.

Watch on The Criterion Channel

'Cruel Intentions'

If you enjoyed watching a certain character in "Saltburn" manipulate all of their friends and acquaintances, "Cruel Intentions" will be right up your alley. A modern, edgy adaptation of the scandalous and extremely French 18th century novel "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," the film adaptation stars Ryan Philippe and Sarah Michelle Gellar as a pair of wealthy, destructively bored step-siblings. Kathryn (Gellar) bets Sebastian (Philippe) that he can’t seduce Annette (Reese Witherspoon), the vocally chaste daughter of their new headmaster. Easy enough, he thinks. 

But Sebastian gets more than he bargained for when he finds himself actually catching feelings for the earnest and likable Annette. In "Saltburn," the members of the Catton family seem to regard their acquaintances less as people and more as a collection of stories and eccentric characters. There’s more than a little of that brand of casually devastating behavior in "Cruel Intentions," as both Kathryn and Sebastian remorselessly play with the lives of those around them.

Watch on Prime Video

'Brideshead Revisited'

For hundreds of years, everyday people have been fascinated by the seemingly glamorous lives of the British upper class, with their romantic country estates and opulent spending. Evelyn Waugh's 1945 novel "Brideshead Revisited" captures this sense of awe as it follows university student Charles Ryder, who becomes intertwined with the wealthy Flyte family in the English countryside. As he develops a relationship with both the family’s daughter and son, their dynamics become increasingly complicated and fraught with tension. 

The 1981 miniseries adaptation of Brideshead Revisited — starring a young Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews — was so popular that it briefly sparked a trend for posh period clothing, but the 2008 theatrical version starring Ben Whishaw, Matthew Goode, and Emma Thompson is also a delight, with lush cinematography and strong performances from its main cast.

Rent/buy on Amazon or Apple

'The Riot Club'

You might think that by getting accepted into a prestigious university, everyone would be more or less on the same playing field. But that’s far from the case, especially in class-conscious Britain, as Oliver Quick in "Saltburn" immediately discovers. "The Riot Club" is a glimpse into the dark underbelly of the privileged few at a British university, those whose presence on campus is more a reflection of their family’s standing than any academic achievement. 

It revolves around two freshmen students, Milo (Max Irons) and Alistair (Sam Claflin), who are both from posh backgrounds and, as a result, are recruited by the hedonistic Riot Club at Oxford. While the snobbish Alistair is eager to join its ranks, Milo, seeing glimpses of their depraved behavior, has more reservations about the prospect. The wild, destructive, and occasionally violent ways of the group take the two down a dark path — but do the wealthy and well-connected ever face any real consequences for their actions?

Watch on Tubi

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Audrey Fox is a features editor and film/television critic at Looper, with bylines at RogerEbert.com, The Nerdist, /Film, and IGN, amongst others. She has been blessed by our tomato overlords with their coveted seal of approval. Audrey received her BA in film from Clark University and her MA in International Relations from Harvard University. When she’s not watching movies, she loves historical non-fiction, theater, traveling, and playing the violin (poorly).