In a psychological thriller, usually a movie or a book, the emphasis is not on
the plot but rather on the psychology of its characters. Like thrillers, the
danger to the protagonist is emphasized, but in the particular genre of
psychological thrillers, suspense stems less from a physical threat but rather
from a mental one. The protagonist perseveres against the antagonist often
because of his or her mental qualities
HISTORY OF THE GENRE
1926: ‘The Lodger’ was one of the first British psychological thriller movies, which was made by Alfred Hitchcock, ‘The Lodger’ was a black
and white silent movie with a rating of age 12, this suggests to the lack of technology this early, the film probably wasn’t as realistic so didn’t
make it as scary.
1932: ‘The most dangerous game’ was produced by Irving Pichel which was about one main character who was a psychopath who escapes
and slaughters people, these aspects are conventional to a psychological thriller film but as this film was made ages ago, the technology
wouldn’t have been as advanced and would make it less realistic which could suggest why the rating is only 12.
1940: ‘Rebecca’ was a famous psychological thriller made produced by Alfred Hitchcock, and it was a black and white movie. The music
within this movie was conventional to the genre as it builds suspense and tension. This was the first psychological film that used effective
1941: ‘Suspicion’ this film was produced by Alfred Hitchcock and was the first romantic psychological thriller.
1954: ‘Rear Window’ was a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock about a man who stalks his neighbours and later murders them.
1958: ‘Vertigo’ directed by Alfred Hitchcock
1960: ‘Psycho’ is a 1960 American psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
1971: ‘Play Misty for me’ Play Misty for Me is a 1971 American psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood
1980: ‘The shining’ is a 1980 psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick
1987: ‘Fatal Attraction’ is a 1987 American psychological thriller film directed by Adrian Lyne
1995: ‘Seven’ is a 1995 American neo noir psychological thriller film written by Andrew Kevin Walker, directed by David Fincher, and
distributed by New Line Cinema
1997: ‘The game’ is about Wealthy financier Nicholas Van Orton gets a strange birthday present from wayward brother Conrad: a live-action
game that consumes his life and plays mind games with him.
2001: ‘Mulholland Drive’ displays After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesic, she and a perky Hollywood-
hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.
2004: ‘The Machinist’ is about a an industrial worker who hasn't slept in a year begins to doubt his own sanity.
2010: ‘Black Swan’ is about a ballet dancer wins the lead in "Swan Lake" and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan - Princess
Odette - but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like Odile, the Black Swan
The World War ll influenced the making of many psychological thriller films, during
the 1950’s these films was made as the witnesses and survivors of the war
reflected what happened then into their films. One example that I could use of this
would be ‘The man who cheated him-self’. This film was produced by Felix E. Feist
and this is about a veteran homicide detective who gets involved with murdering
and slaughtering people.
The cold war, often dated from 1947 to 1991, was a sustained state of political and
military tension between powers in the western bloc dominated and with the
eastern bloc dominated by the Soviet Union. This effected many Authors to be
inspired to write about graphic and horrible events, and made many authors to be
inspired to write many psychological thrillers, thriller and horror books which was
made into films just like the films. An example of one writer who was influenced by
the cold war within his writing is John Le Carre.
INFLUENTIAL MEDIA TEXTS
Straw Dogs (1971) directed by Sam Pekinpah
The machinist (2004) Directed by Brad Anderson
Irreversible (2002) directed by Gasper Noe
Memento (2000) directed by Christopher Nolan
Black swan (2010) directed by Darren Horonsky
Martyrs (2008) directed by Pascal Laugier
Open your eyes (1997) directed by Alejandro Amenabar
The shining (1980) directed by Stanley Kubrick
I stand alone (1980) directed by Gasper Noe
Props: Weapons such as knifes and guns.
Makeup: Light and pale makeup to look ill
Blood, Scars, scratches and bruises
Lighting: Low key lighting: for the thriller side of things
high key lighting with psychological parts which signify thinking and being alone.
Location: Normal setting for equilibrium, in the disequilibrium more isolated settings and then which could lead to a mental home for the resolution or even prison.
Costume: The characters would be mainly have normal casual clothing, but during the disequilibrium the main character might start to wear more tatty clothing, with rips
and more dirty like they don’t care about their clothing, also the clothing would be dark and of blacks, browns and grey colours. If the resolution is that the character goes
to a mental home then the charter could be wearing white clothing.
Fast paced Editing: This is used within a trailer to allow many clips to be shown but at the same time to not give to much of the clip to ruin the plot but just
enough to interest the target audience.
Shot reverse/shot: This is used to show the transition between two characters mostly when they are having a conversation.
Fade to black: This is used to create darkness and mystery to the trailer, signifying death, darkness, and curiosity to think what is lurking in the darkness.
Eyeline Match: This is used to show what the character is looking at, mostly within a psychological thriller it could be either a person or weapon. The
transition within an eyeline match normally allows a build up of tension created due to the fact you first see a character staring at something but gradually
are able to see what they are looking at.
Ellipsis of time: This could be used within a psychological thriller trailer because normally throughout there is a narrative that moves forward in time, but
parts could be taken out to shorten the time but so the audience can still understand what is happening in the plot.
Voice over: In this the thoughts and feelings of the main character are presented through a voice which allows the audience to
understand what the character is thinking when he/she is maybe still and looking at something in the distance.
Non-Diegetic: These sounds are normally added into the editing as sound effects, these are noises that the character cant hear
themselves but the audience can, this allows the plot to not be disturbed by the added music.
Diegetic Music: This sound is basically what the characters can here so this would enable the conversations to be made and the
plot to make sense. Added sound effects could be added which are diegetic for example in a psychological thriller maybe slow
knocks on the door, which another character could hear and change their emotion.
Close-up: To show the identity of the main character and to also allow the audience to know what emotion the character has
easily which helps them to understand.
Mid Shot: The audience would be able to see the mask combination with the costume so you can closely see the upper
actions of the body.
Long shot: To show the character from head to toe, which allows you to visualise the costume fully, and also the actions the
character is making.
Two shot: This is normally used to present two characters fighting, but there could also be a two shot to show one character
creeping up behind another character to scare them.
Establishing Shot: This is usually used to show the location and setting. This allows the audience to see where the main
character is and what there intentions are.
From the results that I got from the
questionnaire to my target audience I
found out the following:
Gender: Male- 43%
Class: Working Class
Reasons to why they are the target audience:
The reason my target audience is above the age of 18 is
because all psychological thrillers have a 18 and above age
restriction because they can be scary and not appealing for a
The reasons why there is the majority percentage of female
viewers in the target audience for psychological thrillers is
because females tend to be attracted to interesting story lines
that have conflicts of the mind, this is because they involve
more emotional struggles rather than physical.
What my target audience enjoy doing in their spare
• Going out with friends
• Listening to music
• Watching Films
About 1 minute
and a half long
to 2 minutes in
It shows the
Conventions of a psychological thriller Conventions of a trailer