In this segment, you’ll get to find out about common features and conventions which directors tend to use in thriller films. I will be providing you guys with an overview of the variety of thrillers which are around.
Typical thriller movies Now, a good thriller would present the idea of justice and injustice or in other words the contrast between good and evil fighting against one another, (let’s face it every thriller has a goody and a baddy) with the element of suspense being presented overall. In most thrillers, the identity of the rival is known by the audience and the hero must interfere in their plans. Like the thriller film Taken for example, we know who kidnapped Kim and we knew that Bryna Mills, the father of Kim must stop their plans before it’s too late and the suspense is built up throughout. A good thriller would also have a rising sense of threat and risk and there is an obvious sense of pursuit even though they occasionally begin with a sense of equilibrium and show the overall falling apart of events. Let’s refer back to Taken… again (I told you it’s one of my all time favourite thriller films) The audience are made to feel as though the Bryan Mill’s time is over after couple of scenes where he manages to fight his way out and get closer to finding his daughter. As soon as the audience are made to think he is so close to getting his daughter back Mills is surrounded and it is almost impossible for him to escape after the men are told to ‘finish him’. This creates a sense of degeneration of events but of course that was not the end and the story ends in a clear sense of pursuit.
Come to think of it, the typical themes that we are presented with in thriller films are mainly based around scenarios that occupy a lot of what society thinks about and is concerned about. Stuff like kidnapping, isolation, murderers… all that scary stuff. Usually the audience are told the story from the hero’s perspective and usually the victims of the crime will be presented as the ‘baddie’. (the murderer will the enemy of the film which the audience are made to disgust).
Let’s not forget the location of a typical thriller movie-
They tend to be in prisons, forest, garage, house orphanage, Rural area and dark alleys (http://pixgood.com/quantitative-data-graphs.html)
The most common location is evidently a house. Well yeah, it’s usually a quiet house were all the monarchy takes place!
A small yet significant aspect of a good thriller film is the idea of innocence being presented in contrast to an essentially corrupt world. Take ‘Scream’ for example, the audience are presented with the idea that almost everyone is evil and hardly anyone can be trusted as even the most trusted people turn out evil. The innocence of the victim Sidney was a key element in building a sense thrill to the film as us as the audience are made to feel empathetic towards her as it seems like it’s her against the world!
Another key element of a good thriller is the mystery that MUST be solved (who’s the murderer behind the mask?) That sense of suspense has the audience sat at the edge of their seats and waiting for the shock of their life and for the mystery to unravel at last.
What really makes a thriller is the curiousness that the characters are faced with leading them into a risky, clashed situation that they are not ready to resolve. It happens in every thriller, it’s what makes up thrilling atmosphere… what can’t be done is allowing the audience to predict exactly what might happen next. Make us suffer whilst watching the film, that’s what we really want!
So hopefully, that’s summed up what you should expect in what would be titled as a ‘good’ thriller film if you haven’t watched one already. Exciting right? No? well once you experience the feelings of thrill, curiosity and excitement all at once whilst suffering at the same time, you will understand all the hype about these conventions!
Okay, I’m gonna present a couple thriller films that you might recognize. I’m gonna try and mix it up a bit by showing you the variety of different types of thrillers that are around… just continue reading!
Spider Man! Who doesn’t love spider man? If you haven’t heard of this world re-known action thriller than you most likely live under a rock :P.
The film’s main feature:
A race against time ‘And it’s just a matter of time before I face those with more power than I can overcome’
Pursuit to save the world ‘I have a responsibility to protect the world from what I know they are capable of’
Obvious villains ‘Soon everyone in this city will know how it feels to live in a world without power, without mercy, without spider man.’
Fighting scenes (guns, chase, weapons) ‘before I face those with more power than I can overcome’
Contrast between good and bad ‘the more people I will try to save, the more enemies I will face’
Evidently, it ticks all the boxes for what a good thriller should consist of! The thriller speaks in itself and does justice for the whole genre of action thrillers as a whole.
Another genre which people are likely to be quite unfamiliar with or quite frankly tend to forget it crime thrillers! Okay, after all that excitement of Spider Man you’ve probably thrilled but trust me crime thrillers, believe it or not can have just that effect!
It usually includes:
All about committing crimes!
Might include robbers, guns, shootouts, kidnappings, all that exciting stuff ( only to watch in films that is 😐 )
All the actions tend to be emphasized
Take ‘Déjàvu’ for example… it has to be my favourite crime thriller and I promise you, it is quiet thrilling indeed and would leave you sat at the very edge of your seat!
Okay I know I’ve been over the difference between thrillers and horror. Some horrors fall into the thriller genre as they have similar intentions or thrilling the audience whilst horrifying them at the same time. Examples of these would be Dead Silence, Child’s Play, Saw and House of Wax. But let’s look into Dead Silence only cause it’s one of my personal favorites! Here’s the poster of the movie below-
Spine chilling? I know. For those who have watches it might compare the theme and effect in which it has upon the audience similar to that of ‘The Saw’ well yeah, you wouldn’t be wrong in doing so as they are both directed by the same person. Just thought I’d put out a fun fact 😛
Okay so in this type of thrillers the typically expressed features are as followed:
Dominance of the villain
Element of fear
Factors building suspense
Mental, physical or emotional distress
Throughout the movie ‘Dead Silence’, there are evident elements of dominance of the villain and defo a sense of fear which is created throughout.
The suspense of ‘what’s under the white sheet’ has power to eat the audience alive! And by combining both genres into one, it adds to the thrill whilst horrifying it’s audience! It’s breathtaking in the best way possible, I know.
Let’s move on to the next type of thriller. Okay, this one you may be familiar with as I come across these somewhat often, Psychological thriller. For this I chose a thriller that you guys have most likely heard of (well everyone was banging on about how amazing it is whilst it was being released). It was awesome! It’s called ‘Inception’
This type of thriller generally has the following features:
Based around mental and emotional states
Feelings of guilt and obsession may be presented
For those who have watches ‘Inception’ will tell you that it is safe to say obsession is a fundamental element in making up this film. The obsession of idea itself from the human mind. ‘A single idea from the human mind can build cities, the idea could transform the world and re-write all the rules…which is why I have to steal it’ Jheeze, take about obsessed! Unlike the rest, this type of thriller is purely based upon emotional and mental states rather than physical damage of fear. And it is most definitely safe to say it based around ‘thought-provoking’ suspense by all means. Okay, it might not sound as exciting but it is certainly worth all the hype made about it! This type of thriller or this film anyway has the power to play with your mind, okay fine, it might be easy to play with my mind but trust me this type (The Shutter Island, The Matrix) of psychological thriller will keep your mind occupied and thinking throughout
If the trailer doesn’t do the film any justice then take my word for it. Simply phenomenal.
Finallyyyyy, let me go over sci-fi thriller. I watched I Am Legend not so long ago. (Well, I was forced to watch it with my brother) anywho… I am not usually intrigued by these types of movie but let me just tell you this film is amazing! Honestly. The concept is just so unusual yet made the most unrealistic scenes seems realistic. In other words it ‘lights up the darkness’ (see what I did there). And trust me sci-fi thrillers aren’t my cup of tea usually.
Typical conventions of these types of thrillers are:
Unnatural environment and surroundings
Not your everyday scenarios
A sense of mystery which is built overtime throughout the movie
I am Legend is the perfect example of a Sci-Fi thriller as it portrays all of these elements throughout. A sense of mystery is built in terms of what the unnatural creators are. Not your everyday scenario for sure I mean how often do you wake up and find (and your dog) are the only ones that are alive whilst everyone is dead leaving you with a mission to defeat unfamiliar creators. But trust me it’s far from a cliché as much as it sounds like one. This Sci-fi film is worth watching!
One of my favourite thrillers film as I’ve probably mentioned and you guys have already gathered is ‘SCREAM’.
Boy, I’ve watched it so many time! And it’s safe to say I could still watch it at the edge of my seat, covering my face as though it’s my first time watching it.
Here’s an plot summary of Scream 1 itself-
After an anonymous killer guts two high school lovers, a mysterious rise in fear and rumors rise in a peaceful Californian town. A killer starts killing high school teenagers, with a young teenage girl, an eccentric and dramatic cop, and a selfish and ambitious reporter trying to investigate the murders. A strange number of events starts to happen around Woodsboro, including an accused killer, a suspicious boyfriend, discovered love and attraction, and, of course, the mysterious killer with a ghost face mask. Suspense, cleverness, and gore.- Written by tatersaladmercer
(I was afraid of rambling on and wanted to avoid boring you with the tedious way I would have chosen to enlighten you with the story line, so I found a accurate story plot which was written by tatersaladmercer)
Now if that hasn’t done the film any justice and your not wanting intrigued enough to watch it then maybe the trailer would do it justice-
‘Everybody’s a suspect’
How often do you hear that? It’s legendary!
As in every film, the mise en scene, camerawork, sound and editing have all proven to play a vital role in terms of providing the audience with the element of thrill feel to the film. Let’s begin with the mise en scene. Mise en scene includes the costumes and make-up, props, and all the other natural and artificial details that characterize the spaces filmed.* Firstly, the scenario the surroundings tend to be quiet, for example when the phone rings. The audience are automatically made to feel empathetic and frightened even before anything has taken place. The setting has the power to control the audience’s mood just like that. Now the costumes, costumes play a big role in creating atmosphere as suspense is built through the ‘killer’ being unrecognised and so the audience are made to feel that anyone could be the killer almost making them feel paranoid as to who it could be especially as they are made to think even the most innocent people could in fact be a prime suspect. Furthermore the famous MASK itself. As soon as the audience see the mask they know someone is about to die. The mask is a vital part of the mise en scene element as the audience are made to become familiar to this piece of prop and automatically become tense as soon as it is in sight. Let’s not forget the famous knife too. It has the exact same effect as the mask does simply cause the audience know it won’t end very well and they are about to witness another rapid yet gruesome scene. Now let’s move onto camerawork. Camerawork considers the angles, movements, position/framing and composition of the scenes which are being shot. In Scream, camera work played a vital role. For example, the close of Sidney’s face whilst she is on the phone to the killer ‘Do you want to die Sidney?’ is what the audience can hear the killer saying. This close up builds tension by showing us her emotions as her eyes are tearing up. We then are presented with an over shoulder view as she puts her phone down and the Killer leaps out behind her out of the closet. This shot is used very wisely as the audience get the shock of their life and want to stop her as it was so unexpected. Another effective shot which was used was the point of view shot as Sidney is laying on the ground and the audience are made to feel as though they are in Sidney’s place really brings the thrill factor! Moving on to the music element of the film, as soon as there is a part of the film were danger is around the corner, literally; the pace of the music increases and plays a massive factor in determining how the audience are made to feel. With the help of the sound effects, it controls the mood of the audience as the sense of panic is created as the intensity of the scene changes. Lastly editing, the scenes change consistently moving from one shot to another or in other words its transition. This is done very effectively as we as the audience are provided with different angles and shot types building to the element of thrill as we are now viewing the scene from different view points. As the scene becomes more and more intense as the Sidney or another suspect is being chased the transition also becomes faster, almost to a point were the audience are terrified as to what is going to happen next but can’t take their eyes away from the scene as they will miss the action due to it taking place so fast with respects paid in terms of maintaining continuity in the editing although a lot of wipe editing is used but due to the speed it all flows very well.