Psychological Thrillers


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Psychological Thrillers

  1. 1. Themes • Psychological thrillers frequently focus on a characters mind by regularly having a first person narrative, allowing the audience further insight to the mind of their antagonist. • The idea of what is real and what is not is commonly used in psychological thrillers such as Shutter Island and Black Swan. This compels the audience to pay attention and interests them as it forces them into thinking so that when they decipher the story they feel a sense of achievement. However, in some films, many viewers are left confused rather than gratified, such as Inception.
  2. 2. Themes • • •  Mind – The mind is explored mainly via the first person narrative, revealing inner conflict and the characters emotional state. Identity – Characters often doubt who they are or what purpose they are serving, and so set out to discover themselves Perception – Often a characters perception of the world is revealed to be different to that of others with a more sound state of mind Death – Characters often have a fear and or fascination with death and the dead
  3. 3.  Elements Used Psycological Thrillers - Mystery - Drama - Reality - Perception - Mind - Identity - Death Conventions of a Psycological Thriller - Time disorientation (flashbacks, premontions, dreams etc) - Music (Mixture of diegetic and non-diegetic sounds, there may even be no music at times) - Fast-paced edits - Frequent changes of the camera angle
  4. 4. Quick cuts, montage editing and alteration of shot sizes and camera angles, as well as effective use of incidental music all add to making an amazing thriller. • Mirrors and stairs are a convention of thriller movies, lighting and especially the use of shadow can have an immense impact. Through the use of non linear narrative, the audience are sometimes made to feel sorry for the protagonist as they’re shown part of a characters past through the use of flashbacks. Psychological thrillers use this as it plays with the target audiences mind and makes them think about the action taking place. •
  5. 5. Codes and Conventions • Low key lighting is often used in psychological thrillers to create a dark, tense atmosphere. Shutter Island Black Swan Se7en
  6. 6. • They are mostly set in modern urban locations, with lots of people around. This is an effective technique because it makes the audience wonder where the story/danger is going to come from. The Machinist Side Effects • The score used in psychological thrillers is usually low pitched and ominous with a few high key notes here and there usually without any clear rhythm, structure or melody. Atmospheric sounds and sound effects are used to create an eerie sound and build tension. • Camera movement and editing is often fast pace, this is done to build tension and panic amongst the audience to reflect what is happening on screen.
  7. 7. • Enigma is used frequently in thrillers in order to capture the audience’s attention. A question or dilemma that the target audience can relate to is introduced and then played around with and resolved or left unresolved. To catch the audience’s attention and entice them, directors may use sub genres to suit the intended target audiences taste. For example, horror thriller, psychological thriller, comedy thriller and etc. Thrillers regularly coincide with mystery stories, but are differentiated by the structure of their plots. Thrillers take place on a much grander scale - the crimes that must be prevented are serial or mass murder (such as ‘Se7en’), terrorism (such as ‘Unthinkable’), assassination, or the overthrow of governments. Jeopardy and violent confrontations are conventional plot elements. A thriller climaxes when the hero finally defeats the antagonist, saving others lives and his own.
  8. 8.     Mirrors – are used to portray the use of reflection of a characters inner self, as well as representing ‘the dark side’ of some characters. Shutter Island           Shadows & low key lighting – are used as a convention of a thriller film they are both used to add tension in a scene, and to represent the inner darkness within the characters. Quick cuts, obtrusive & montage editing – are all frequently used in psychological thrillers to highlight the feelings of suspense and tension, mainly used during important scenes e.g the opening sequence of ‘Se7en’ (1995) Flashbacks – is a typical convention of a thriller because it can show what has happened previously, to give the audience an insight into the characters past, e.g the film ‘Memento’ (2000) Tension music – used to set the mood and create suspense or shock the audience for example the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s film ‘Psycho’ (1960)
  9. 9. Typical Characters •  • • • • •  Convicts, criminals, stalkers e.g. ‘one hour photo’ (2002), Assassins e.g. ‘JFK’ (1991), Innocent victims, prison inmates, menaced women e.g. ‘Sleeping With The Enemy’ (1991), Characters with dark past e.g. ‘Silence Of The Lambs’ (1991), Psychotic individuals e.g. ‘The Shining’ (1980), Terrorists, police,FBI, people involved in twisted relationships e.g. ‘The Fear’ (1996)
  10. 10. • The colours used in psychological thrillers are predominantly red, black and white. They have connotations of danger, violence, blood, evil and mystery. Low-key lighting is often used on the main subjects to create enigma and mystery. The background is often dark to emphasise this. It also helps to create an unsettling atmosphere and further build tension.