The worst movies and TV shows based on best-selling thriller books.

There's nothing that can disappoint an avid thriller novel reader more than watching a TV or movie adaption of a beloved book that just doesn't hit right. 

The casting could be wrong. The pace could be too slow. The ending could have changed. Either way, it really sucks. 

But there are, of course, many excellent book adaptions.

TV series Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects, along with films Gone Girl and A Simple Favour, encapsulated the essence of their books while elevating the narrative to new heights. 

But that's not what you're here for - you're here to read about the book adaptions that didn't fare so well. So without further ado, here are the movies and TV shows that did not hold up the best-selling thriller books that inspired them. 

The Last Thing He Told Me

Jennifer Garner in The Last Things He Told Me. Image: Apple TV+. 


Inspired by the book of the same name by Laura Dave, the Apple TV+ adaption stars Jennifer Garner in the role of Hannah, who wakes up one day to find his husband Owen has disappeared leaving his sixteen-year-old daughter behind. 

The book was a huge success but didn't quite translate beyond the page, with the seven-episode TV adaption extremely slow-paced and lacking originality, despite Garner's heartfelt portrayal of Hannah. 

Nine Perfect Strangers 

 Nicole Kidman in Nine Perfect Strangers. Image: Amazon Prime Video.


Lightning did not strike twice for Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty for this book adaption. The quirky plot follows nine strangers with a variety of dark backstories who meet at a 10-day retreat at the health and wellness resort Tranquillum House - but like all good thrillers, all is not what it seems.

The series wasn't a total bust. There was sizzling chemistry between Melissa McCarthy as novelist Frances and Bobby Cannavale as former footballer Tony. But Nicole Kidman's odd turn (and nondescript accent) as a spiritual cult leader Masha didn't enthuse fans, and overall, the season felt slightly muddled and contrived. 

Dark Places

Charlize Theron in Dark Places. Image: A24. 


Where to begin with this one? This Gillian Flynn adaption came a year after Gone Girl, which means it had the daunting task of matching up to the author's other screen adaption which happened to be a multiple Oscar-nominated film. 

But it had the ingredients of a stellar film. Charlize Theron was at the helm, playing Libby, the only family member left behind after her mother and sisters were murdered. In present day, Libby joins a true crime club who are re-investigating the case, convinced that Libby's convicted brother was actually innocent. 

Sounds interesting, right? Well... yes, the book was gripping but the resulting film was surprisingly dull, plus the plot was convoluted and too hard to follow. 

The Girl on the Train

Emily Blunt in The Girl on the Train. Image: Universal Pictures.


This Paula Hawkins book adaption isn't awful, but it is far from perfect. The story narrows in on Rachel, a divorced, jobless alcoholic who spends her days riding the train and stalking her ex-husband. Then on one fateful day, she thinks she's witnessed a murder during one of her blackouts.

The book was set in London yet the film was placed in suburban New York for no clear reason, given the leading actor, Emily Blunt, herself hails from London. The resulting film was far less gritty and raw than the book, leaning on the drama, with chaotic dream sequences and a cheesy climax. 

The Woman in the Window

Amy Adams in The Woman in the Window. Image: Netflix. 


Based on the best-selling novel by author A. J. Finn, hopes were high for the Netflix movie adaptation. The book and movie follow child psychologist Anna, who lives alone in Manhattan while separated from her husband Edward and daughter Olivia. Anna suffers from agoraphobia so she doesn't leave her house, instead she occupies her days staring from her second-story window, which is how she thinks she spots a murder being committed across the street.

Amy Adams plays the role of Anna opposite Gary Oldman and Julianne Moore. While the Netflix film did find a cult following for its unapologetic camp quality, the book's loyalists found the musical score and over-exaggerated acting from Adams to be mismatched with the serious tone of the book. 

Luckiest Girl Alive

Mila Kunis in Luckiest Girl Alive. Image: Netflix. 


Jessica Knoll’s bestselling 2015 novel got the Netflix treatment for a movie adaption starring Mila Kunis. The narrative tells the complicated story of Ani, a woman who appears to have it all: she's a glamorous magazine editor engaged to a handsome, rich man. But when she is asked to participate in a documentary about a school shooting she survived as a teenager, her world is turned upside down. 

The movie is... fine. It's not a total flop; but there are a lot of details in the book that are completely erased from the movie. At times, the movie mishandles the book's sensitive subject matter of rape and trauma, which leaves the film's overarching message of women's empowerment to feel unearned. 

Feature image: Netflix.

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