Forms and Conventions of a Thriller Film<br />By Patrick Metry<br />A thriller is a movie genre which follows specific dev...
Forms and conventions of a thriller
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Forms and conventions of a thriller


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Forms and conventions of a thriller

  1. 1. Forms and Conventions of a Thriller Film<br />By Patrick Metry<br />A thriller is a movie genre which follows specific devices in order to build a certain effect on the audience. These days, many thriller genre films have a mix set of conventions; however, they still share a set of the same characteristics of the general thriller genre.<br />In a thriller genre film, often, the story will centre around a crime. Many popular thriller films, for example, revolve around a serial killer on the loose. The films try to convey a lot of action in order to “thrill” the audience. This will often involve ordinary situations where surprising things take place.<br />A thriller normally consumes of several different storylines which is why there are so many characters and so many answers. When storylines are combined this is what makes a thriller and somewhat confuses you and makes you pay attention so you can clearly follow the plot. <br />For example, ‘Pulp Fiction’ directed by Quentin Tarantino has many storylines happening all at once. There is Vincent Vega played by John Travolta who is looking after his boss’s wife, and ends up being almost in a coma due to the reaction of the drugs she took. Whilst that is happening there are two other storylines going on so this is a good example of a thriller.<br />Other forms of thrillers are flashbacks, they seem to be popular with directors and are used and made very effective. Normally they occur at the start or end of films, but sometimes they can run through the whole film, which can sometimes be too much.<br />Another form is a documentary style where a video is used by the characters, for example the film ‘Cloverfield’ is a documentary film showing a person filming the horrific happenings in the surrounding area and the audience sees this all through the video being taken. This is what makes it part of the thriller genre, and shows how effective this style of filming can be.<br />Often, the protagonist will have a usable weakness that the antagonist will take advantage of. This may lead the protagonist to be pushed into dangerous situations in order to build up suspense and action in the movie. This is shown in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” where, in one particular scene in the movie, the protagonist, Det. John Ferguson is chasing after his lover up a bell tower, despite being a sufferer of acrophobia. Due to his fear, he is unable to continue after her, and sees his lover plunge from the top of the tower to her death when he becomes paralysed by a surge of vertigo – this is sometimes also a characteristic of the thriller-genre, where the movie is named after a difficulty of the protagonist.<br />Throughout the movie, the antagonist will drive the protagonist deeper and deeper into a difficult, often threatening plot, leaving the protagonist feeling hopeless. This will continue until the climax of the film when the protagonist finds a solution or a method to defeat the antagonist.<br />Themes of identity often play a big role in the thriller genre. They are very common plot devices and include plots revolving around amnesia and a mistaken identity. This theme plays a major role in the thriller film “Identity”, which deals with a serial killer who has been given a death sentence, and a lawyer who attempts to have this overturned by introducing new evidence that the killer suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, or in other words, has multiple personalities.<br />Thrillers will often introduce an enigma (or series of enigmas) in the beginning of the movie, and then complicate them throughout the story until the climax. Enigmas are essentially mysteries of the plot – this can range from the audience not knowing the true identity of a killer, such as in “Psycho” to the audience finding out the identity of the murderer immediately, but then the characters in the story have to find out who they are, such as in “Dirty Harry.” This plot device is known as dramatic irony and is also used in thriller-genre films to build suspense, as the audience knows more than the characters in the story, and then is able to be fearful for them.<br />So in conclusion these points are the general primary factors in a thriller-genre film.<br />The conventions of a thriller normally contain a mix of ordinary and unexpected plot twists, which include irony, endings and intelligent storylines. There is usually some action and drama in thrillers to add more impact to the film.<br />