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Genre and Sub-genresGenre is a French word meaning ‘type’ or ‘kind’. It is the classification of any media text into a category ortype. Genres tend to have typical codes and conventions, these have been developed over the years.A Thriller is a genre that uses suspense, tension and excitement as the main elements. They are mostlycharacterised by an atmosphere of menace, violence, crime and murder by showing society as dark, corruptand dangerous. Thrillers significantly show literary devices such as plot twists and cliffhangers. They alsoshow moods such as a high level of anticipation and adrenaline.There are many Sub-Genres in this main genre such as:•Conspiracy Thriller – In which the hero/heroine confronts a large, powerful group of enemies whose trueextent only he/she recognises. Examples of films that come under this sub-genre would be Awake (2007)and Edge of Darkness (2010).•Crime Thriller – this sub-genre is a hybrid type of both crime films and thrillers that offers a suspensefulaccount of a successful or failed crime or crimes. Central topics of these films include serial killers/murders,robberies, chases etc. Examples of films that come under this sub-genre would be Firewall (2006) andReservoir Dogs (1992).•Disaster Thriller – In which the main conflict is due to some sort of natural or artificial disaster such asfloods and hurricanes. Examples of films that come under this sub-genre would be 2012 (2009) andThe Day After Tomorrow (2004).•Supernatural Thriller – where a character has a type of supernatural power. Supernatural Thrillers typicallyhave protagonists battling an evil paranormal force or are placed in a situation controlled by a force notfrom this world beyond their ability. Examples of films that come under this sub-genre would beSigns (2002) and Unbreakable (2000).
History of Thriller FilmsThe earliest thriller to known is the Lumiere Brothers Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1895) it features this all-American boy performing a daredevil stunt on the side of a skyscraper. Other films like The Cat and the Canary (1927) and Murders in the Zoo (1933) also followed. During the war, thrillers werevery popular it pressed into service to guard people against complacency (feeling of satisfaction/pleasure)films like Next of Kin (1942) contributed to this. The most significant thrillers of the next decade or so werecombined with suspense with a social inner sense of what is right or wrong. Films such asThe Blue Lamp (1950) and Sapphire (1959) focused on particular aspects of this. The most controversialthriller of the 1940’s to 60’s was Peeping Tom (1960). During the 1960’s the antics of James Bondovershadowed most British attempts to bring back thriller in the 60’s. Soon films like Repulsion (1965)brought it back. In the coming years, some of the most interesting thrillers gave more suspense with slightpolitical elements. Films like Juggernaut (1974) and The Long Good Friday (1979). Audiences went to thecinema not to simply see but to also feel something which they would not ordinarily experience in real life.When Alfred Hitchcock released his first thriller film The Lodger (1926) said that he intended to give thepublic good healthy mental shake-ups.
Alfred HitchcockSir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born on the 13th of August 1899 in Leytonstone, London. He died on the 29thof April 1980, aged 80. H Alfred Hitchcock helped shape the modern-day thriller genre, it began with his earlysilent film The Lodger (1926). This was then followed by his next thriller Blackmail (1929). He started toappear in his feature films starting with his third film The Lodger (1926). After 1940 he appeared in everysingle one of his films except The Wrong Man (1956). He was also considered the acknowledged auteurmaster of the thriller genre, he was known to manipulate his audience’s fears and desires. His first Britishsuspense thriller film was The Man Who Knew Too Much (1933). One of his most famous films isPsycho (1960) , as well as the most discussed film Vertigo (1958). Many directors are majorly influenced by hisfilms.
Thriller Films TodayThriller films are still popular with audiences of many ages. There have been many new filmssuch Inception (2010), Memento (2000), The Departed (2006), and Sin City (2005). Therehave been a few remakes of Thriller films such as Insomnia (2002) this film was based on EricSkjoldbjærg’s Norwegian psychological drama, Insomnia (1997). Another example of a recentremake of a Thriller film would be The Departed (2006) this film was based on Andrew Lau andAlan Mak’s Hong Kong crime-thriller Infernal Affairs (2002).
Thriller Films keep the audience on the ‘edge’ of their seats. There are many thingsthat typically happen in Thriller Films they include Ordinary objects, places andpeople. All these elements become dangerous and thrilling because they are filmedand used to create fear and suspense. Typical characters are criminals, stalkers andassassins. Other examples would be an Innocent Victim (often on the run) andPsychotic individuals. The characters tend to find themselves in confined or open ruralspaces.