Thriller is one of the main and biggest category in cinema. It can be divided in sub categories such as: Psychological,action,crime,spy,mystery,political,legal and science fiction. All of this different sub-categories though have similar features.
The thriller genre made its first appearance on tv in the 1920s. One of the first thriller movies ever made was “Safety last!” by Harold Lloyd in 1923, followed by Alfred Hitchcock with “The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog” in 1926.
Thriller movies are always characterised by the tension and the excitement that they create for the audience, most of the time by using certain sounds or music, or very tight camera angles. This creates claustrophobic images or giving to the spectator the idea that the main protagonist is trapped, in danger or can’t escape. The pace of these kind of movies is always very fast with drastic interruptions that often create tension. Very often distorted camera angles are used to give the idea that something creepy is going to happen.
Thriller movie narratives almost always follow the protagonist solving problems that, most of the time, the villain is giving them. Even if the narrative line looks easy to follow, it gets very complicated due to the use of plot twists, cliffhangers and red herrings. During the movie there are often objects onscreen that initially appear irrelevant but become useful to the main character or villain. Thriller movies usually use this build up of tension and excitement to keep the spectators vigilant on what is going on and interested in what could possibly happen next.
Common themes for the thriller genre are revenge, kidnapping or heist. Most of them are somehow connected by several elements such as:
Obsessive characters, especially villains.
Psychology or the use of mind games, still used by villains to try to mentally destroy the main character or other victims.
Plot twists: These are often used by directors to mix up the spectator’s idea of what’s coming next.
The iconography of the thriller genre differs based on the kind of thriller that we are watching. Although, some very common features are the use of shadows, confined spaces and the idea that the character is always in danger. Another essential feature is the use of the light. Manipulating the light in a certain way can make location look unsettling and creepy or, used on a character it gives the audience the idea that there still more to find out about them or can simply describe their inner feelings. Last but not least, running water is big part of the thriller iconography. Most of the time it is associated with the idea of life passing by and death, but can also play the function of the calm before the storm.
Michael’s house – MORNING
Opening scene – Michael is looking at himself in the toilet’s mirror
Camera moving upward from his feet up to his face.
– Chubb legs
– beer belly
– hairy chest
– weak arms
– unshaved beard
– not much left of a haircut
He exhales and walks to the sink to brush his teeth.
MICHAEL talking to himself
– What do we want to do Michael? I mean, now it’s the 34th that you keep repeating this to yourself! YOU NEED TO GET IN SHAPE! And what has changed since the beginning of all of this? Nothing! Except the fact that now, you’re not just out of shape but you’re bald as well. Ah, I still remember the long, blonde and wavy Barbra streisand – like hair that you used to have. now it’s just a faded memory.
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