Recourses used: Imdb.com Google images THRILLER RESEARCH ABIGAIL COX
AN OVERVIEW OF THE THRILLER GENRE Thriller as a genre is very hard to define as it is made up of a broad range of subgenres such as psychological thriller, crime thrillers and mystery thrillers, and other elements. Suspense, tension and excitement are the main elements of Thriller, with traditional thrillers keeping audiences alert and on the edge of their seats. The main backbone of a thriller film is the twists and turns in the plot which keep the audience gripped, we are also kept engaged by resourceful villain's and everyday, brave protagonist. The protagonist in these films is set against a problem – an escape, a mission, or a mystery. “These are types of films known to promote intense excitement, suspense, a high level of anticipation, ultra-heightened expectation, uncertainty, anxiety, and nerve-wracking tension. Thriller and suspense films are virtually synonymous and interchangeable categorizations, with similar characteristics and features.” Filmsite.org
THE HISTORY OF THE THRILLER GENRE One of the earliest thriller movies was Harold Lloyd's comic Safety Last! (1923), with a character performing a daredevil stunt on the side of a skyscraper. However Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) is said to be the main pion- eer in the genre, setting the ground rules for thriller film making. Alfred Hitchcock's first thriller was his third silent film The Lodger (1926), a suspenseful Jack the Ripper story, the mastermind then went on to direct classics such as Dial M For Murder (1954) Psycho (1960) and The Birds (1963) which have all created techniques and elements for the thriller genre that we can recognize in most thriller films today. Safety Last (Harold Lloyd) Shirley MacLaine as Jennifer Rogers in 1955’s The Trouble with Harry Alfred Hitchcock The famous shower scene in Psycho (Hitchcock)
THRILLER AS A HYBRID GENRE When you look at thriller films, in the past or in the present, most are made up of a couple or more than one genres. Some might say that the Thriller genre is itself a Hybrid genre. This refers to a combination of two or more stylistic, themed categories. The difference between sub-genres and hybrid genres however is a sub-genre is a sub-category within a particular genre where as a hybrid genre is kind of a mix of more than one genre. EXAMPLES OF PREVIOUS HYBRID THRILLERS: • Case 39 (2009) Christian Alvart. • Horror • Mystery • Thriller • Taxi Driver (1976) Martin Scorsese • Drama • Thriller • Crime • Cape Fear (1991) Martin Scorsese • Drama • Thriller • Pulp Fiction (1994) Quentin Tarantino • Crime • Thriller • Black Comedy
NARRATIVE THEMES AND CONVENTIONS The typical plot elements of a thriller are usually based around the thriller hero (protagonist) trying to hinder the path of the villain (antagonist). The antagonist presents the hero with multiple obstacles along the way which the protagonist has to overcome before the villains grand plan of death and destruction finalises. In most thrillers the identity of the villain is know by the thriller hero. Main themes in the thriller genre often include terrorism, political, conspiracy, love triangles that lead to murder, etc. • CONVENTIONS OF THE THRILLER GENRE • The thriller genre is made up of a wide range of films, however, it is possible to identify some characteristics that are visible in most thriller films. Below and in the next couple of slides are some key conventions and themes of the thriller genre. • Busy streets- urban environment • Exotic location • Narrative revolves around an enigma • Violence • Reveals workings of institutions (police, • army, government) • Hero and villain share characteristics • Hero is often an outsider, but moral • Hero is a man • Crime as centre • Possession • Demons/ devils • Twists and turns in plot • Flashbacks • Blue, green, dark colours • Attractive female leads
THE USE OF LOW-KEY LIGHTING Insidious (2010, James Wan) The use of low-key lighting is a very popular choice in most horror films as it sets a moody, scary tone to the scene, creating tension and suspense. Se7en (1995, David Fincher) I Am Legend (2007, Francis Lawrence)
THE USE OF MIRRORS. The Amityville Horror (2005, Andrew Douglas) The use of mirrors is also another technique used by directors, as it makes the audience jump and give them a thrill, keeping the film exciting. The Ophan (2009, Jaume Collet-Serra) What Lies Beneath (2000, Robert Zemeckis)
THE USE OF TWISTS IN THE PLOT. Twists in thriller films are one of the key conventions to be successful. A good twist, shocks the audience, making them have to think about the plot and figure things out for themselves. The Village (2004, M. Night Shyamalan) Fight Club (1999, David Fincher) The Others (2001, Alejandro Amenábar)
THE USE OF COLOURS. Phonebooth (2002, Joel Schumacher) Colour is used in horror films to create a tense, moody atmosphere. Traditional colours for the genre include reds, greys and blacks. Shutter Island (2010, Martin Scorsese) The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick)
THE USE OF RESOURCEFUL VILLAINS. SAW (2004, James Wan) Every good thriller, has an intelligent, menacing villain. They are the basis of the film, and the movie relies heavily on them. Se7en (1995, David Fincher) The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan)
TYPICAL CHARACHTERS. VILLIAN HERO • Ordinary or normal people drawn into menacing situations • Brave • Intelligent • Normally a man • Man who is accustomed to danger in his job or lifestyle (police man, spy) • Determined • Outsider • Moral • Family/ wife • Resourceful • Intelligent • Menacing • Powerful • Immoral • Determined • Wounded (mentally/physically) • twisted sense of humour • Mentally unstable • Power hungry Hannibal Bryan Mills in Taken Scream Jed in Enduring Love Detective Mills in Seven Malcolm Crowe in Sixth Sense
MISE-EN-SCENE IN THRILLER FILMS Mise-en-scene refers to almost everything that goes into the composition of the shot, including the composition itself: framing, movement of the camera, characters, lighting, set design and general visual environment, even sound as it helps elaborate the composition. EXAMPLES OF MISE-EN-SCENE IN THRILLER FILMS: Dinner scene in Pans Labyrinth (2006) Scene in The Orphanage (2007) Shower scene in Psycho (1960) In this scene we see a little girl approaching a monster at a dinner table. The settings of this scene, like in the background, tell us that we are in a mystical place. The props on the table hint to the plot and set the theme and genre for the film. The lighting is yellow and slightly green which feels quite magical yet, eerie. In this shot we see a woman and child sitting on a bed. This shot tells the audience what location they are set in, and where they are. We can see lots of children's toys and board games, in cardboard boxes which suggests that the subjects have recently moved in. The lighting and colours create an aged, haunted mood in the scene. In this shot we see the woman in the shower with a silhouette clearly visible behind the white shower curtain. The use of low-key lighting and highlights of light around the dark figure creates a really dramatic shot, that create tension and suspense with the audience knowing what’s going and knowing that the character is unaware.
TARGET AUDIENCE There is not really a main target audience for thriller films as the genre has a lot of sub-genres and other elements. For psychological thrillers, they are normally classified as age 18 because they include a lot of violence and some psychological issues that can be disturbing for many young viewers. British Board of Film Censors boundaries for age 15 certificate The type of person to watch a film depends on what type of thriller it is, for example whether it’s a crime thriller, supernatural thriller, mystery thriller or action thriller. However all thriller films normally target both males and females, and I think the target age for most thrillers are 15-25 years old.