Thriller Film Openings

Now onto film openings.  In this post I will be looking at and analysing actual thriller openings. I picked the ones that caught my eye for various reasons! Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure you’ll find them amazing too. I’ll even analyse them for you too so I can express why I find the opening so amazing.

Okay, so let’s start off with why film opening’s are actually important… so why are they important well I’m glad you asked. Film openings are important as the opening of the film basically establishes a tone in order to draw in the audience’s attention and in order to make the audience fall into the same mood as the film that they are about to watch! A good thriller would mean a big budget right? Well not necessarily;  film openings do not have to always have to be big budget explosive opening in order to grab the audience’s attention and you know that saying, sometimes ‘less is more’. Sometimes directors might get over excited and come up with an over the top opening with would cause risk upending the structure of the film with a sense of ‘where do we go from here?’ 

Usually  the most successful film openings grabs the audience’s attention by conveying a well established sense of intrigue that will have the audience dying to know more about the story and the character that will be occupying their time and attention for the next hour and a half. If the opening is particularly innovative, some dramatic foreshadowing will allow the opening to hint the problems that will be occurring during/throughout the story.

The film opening which was ranked #1.

What would I expect to see?

For me, a good thriller film opening must have an element of mystery yet be able to send chills down my spine at the same time. I would expect to see abnormal events taking place or people being put in abnormal situations. Yes, I get pleasure out of that!

I won’t keep you waiting in anticipation any longer, be ready for this mind-blowing thriller opening and one of my personal favourites, it’s called SE7EN.  

What really caught my eye from this opening is how simple yet effective it is. You know that saying? ‘Less is more’. If the director added a ‘scary’ face, I honestly do not think it would be as effective. The music too, the music definitely sets the tone of the whole opening by increasing the speed as the pace of the transitions increase from shot to shot. I also found it very different to any other thriller opening. It’s just plain weird, probably another reason that the audience are drawn in. You want to know what the hell is going on! Another thing that I love about this opening is that the audience are drawn in and want to watch it even though it does not give away the story line and have not made it into what is my pet hate, making an opening which has a massive story line itself. I mean where are they planning to go next?! Anyways, I found that the editing of the opening to be phenomenal. The transition of scenes fit in very well as one scene faded into another whilst the ‘shaky’ camera work that was used made it more eye catching to the audience.

Okay, so we’ve now looked at a thriller opening which has less obvious conventions yet has the power to immerse the audience instantly into the film. Now let’s look at an opening that includes what some may say is a more obvious methods of conventions through using all that stereo-typically titled scary stuff ‘blood and bruises’. Not to give too much of it away, here is the opening itself..

Enticing or what? I mean it grabs your attention by starting off with a very graphic imagery without any warning or starting point so they had no idea what to expect. I didn’t expect that anyway! And that’s probably one of the reasons why it’s so rightfully successful. The opening does not use or required any additional music or sound affects to emphasize and bring the ‘thrill’ and ‘suspense’ factor to the opening and we can only hear the weak breathing and painful sobs of a vulnerable female. This sound is very much enough to convey the suspense in which the opening brings without any dramatic music having to create the atmosphere. The shot is filmed so close-up that we can see all the bruises and the sweat that’s falling down her face and makes the audience very uneasy and nervous to even gaze at her. The opening being filmed in black and white creates more atmospheres and furthermore sets a mysterious mood as to where she is or how she got there. A vital role was played by the camera, sound and mise en scene in terms of grasping the audienes attention in the first graphic second that we as the audience are taken back by it instantly as we are put in a dilemma as to whether we should look away as it is too graphic and scary but then again we’d miss parts of this amazing opening if we did.


Detailed research on thrillers

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 (


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 2

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-

dead silense

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

Thought-provoking suspense

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.*

Foundation Production: Audience Research

The BBFC is the UK’s official film and cinematographic regulator. They provide age ratings such as U (A U film should be suitable for viewers aged four years and over.), PG (PG stands for Parental Guidance. This means a film is suitable for general viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children.), 12A (Means that the film contains material that is not generally suitable for children aged under 12. No one younger than 12 may see a 12A film in a cinema unless escorted by an adult) 15 (No-one under 15 is allowed to see a 15 film at the cinema or buy/rent a ‘15 rated video.)


Demographics are the physical characteristics of a population such as age, sex, marital status, family size, education, geographic location and occupation.

(Media audiences are defined through demographic factors and researchers use them to profile target audiences.)


Psychographics determine market segmentation based on consumer psychological profiles. The two general areas include how the consumer views himself or herself in relation to the rest of the world and income characteristics. Psychographics look at audience attitudes beliefs and aspirations and produce profiles to describe different segments of the market.

(For example, aspirers and traditionalists.)

What demographic groups commonly watch thrillers?

Psychological Thrillers

The target audience for psychological thrillers are mostly 18+ as they tend to involve a lot of violence and psychological issues which would be disturbing for younger viewers, this could cause nightmares and cause them to be traumatized for a long period of time. There are also research that indicate that females are more attracted to psychological thrillers as they enjoy the story behind the event that take place in the movie. It has also been shown that females like the intellectual element to psychological challenging behaviour that features in psychological thrillers

Action Thrillers

This normally attracts a more mature audience as most contain strong language and violent scenes. Age rating is usually a 15 so people above the age of 15 watch the movie. This thriller genre usually tends to be dominated by the male gender to enjoy high intense action but also attracts some women as most actors are male so if the female is attracted to the male actor that could be an influential factor.

Political Thriller

Political thrillers tend to attract the older target audience of both genders as it has more political interest which stereotypically interest the older generation rather than the younger generation. But it is usually more swung towards the male as it has elements of action in which stereotypically appeals to males more than females. 15+ is the usual age rating but also 18+ as you have to be above 18 in order to vote politically and be involved in publics which also has a factor.

Identify the target audience for your film

Thrillers Posters

In this part of my blog, I’ll be looking at film posters and analysing them. This could inspire the theme for our thriller opening indicating what would catch the attention of thriller audiences. Film posters play a vital role in advertising and are used widely to hint at the genre and mainly to convey emotion and grab the audiences attention. ‘Unanimated pictures aren’t scary!’ Well, sometimes it does it’s job better than the real thing! Take a look at this poster and you might get a better idea

final destination

This is one of my favourite thriller poster which catches the attention of the audience without a shadow of doubt. Firstly, when I first looked at this poster I immediately looked at the contrast in the faces between the female face in the top half of the face and a skull’s mouth in the second half. The face was pale white which contrasted to the background of the poster which is a fade of black and blues. Black usually signifies evil and darkness. The colour blue signifies sorrow and sadness. The combination of the two makes the audience feel as though there is a sense of sadness and depression caused by evil and darkness. This is simply done through the colours of the poster. The pale white face indicates illness and poor well-being. If the audience sum up the contrasting coloured imagery, they are made to understand the horrific implications of what the poster is portraying.

Although the thriller posters are aimed to catch the audiences attention in a horrifying way, by making the poster too graphic it causes problems as audience may not enjoy the thrill of the poster but rather feel uncomfortable and uneasy due to the poster. Take for example the other Final Destination poster, oh it was graphic and caught the attention of the audience alright… but was not a success.

final destination banned

This poster was banned according to ‘The Guardian’

‘Complaints from parents that the violent image had made their children cry’

We understand that a thriller poster must catch the attention of the audience in an effective way by assuring it’s what the audience perceive to be scary and what the audience are drawn in by rather than something which they perceive to be too graphic and scary.

Another poster which in fact drew me in the most was ‘The Devil Inside’  Take a look at the poster below-


The reason this picture drew me in the most is due to the innocence that a nun brings and the eyes are devilish and pale. The contrast between innocence and evil draws in the audiences attention. Furthermore the flash of red at the corner of the poster also caught my attention as red indicates blood and danger. The subheading of

‘No soul is safe’

Sends chills down my spin as the poster is indicating not even the holiest of people such as nuns are safe so others have no chance of ‘escaping from the devil’. The close up shot of the woman makes the audience feel uncomfortable as it is very close and the glare of the eyes makes the audience feel uneasy. The heading of ‘based on real events’ makes it even more scarier as the audience are being made aware that these events do take actually take place and are not just non-fictional.

A similar thriller poster which also has a similar affect is ‘The Eye’. The poster is below-


This caught my eye  due to the pale imagery of Jessica Alba. The colours in this image

Alfred Hitcock- Suspense

Suspense through objects

In Psycho, the audience are shown several staircases as part of the path up to Bates mansion, as the site of Detective Arbogast’s murder and as the entrance to the fruit cellar.

To be honest, if I was watching a thriller opening and was told to analyse which one was scarier between one with  a ‘scary’ ghost speaking and another of a mysterious object with the camera shot getting closer and the music gradually increasing in pace and volume.. Believe it or not I would probably find the object much scarier as the suspense of what that object signifies would have me sat at the very edge of my seat! I think this is the type of effect Hitchcock aimed to achieve and did so very well.




“The primary elements of a shot/reverse shot sequence are derived from the three camera set up. The shots you should have for a basic shot/reverse shot are: a two shot of the two characters usually in wide or medium shot, an over the shoulder shot on character A, and an over the shoulder shot on character B.