The need to know of Crime Thrillers
by Connor, Tom H and Harri
• The main idea of a Thriller is to make sure you create both
feelings of excitement and tension for the audience.
• By having these two feelings as the main elements of a
Thriller it makes the audience intrigued in the storyline.
• This approach also makes it much more easier for the
audience to identify when they are watching this genre of
• However, this genre also splits into many other subgenres
from crime and psychological to paranoia and conspiracy.
• For this presentation we have decided to focus on the Crime
Thriller and speak about the general codes and
Idea of aThriller
• A quick example of a very successfulThriller director would be Alfred
• He was able to break the typical cliché of characters within his work
which gave him his own style and technique.
• His storylines were also rather simple to follow, allowing all types of
audiences to understand, whilst also incorporating the element of
surprise to capture the audience.
• He also managed to use point of view shots effectively which yet again
helped gain the audiences attention.
• Finally, he was able to integrate humour within his work which aided in
the suspense and tension as it caught the audience off guard
• He has been able to produce classics such as Psycho
and Birds as well as amazing soundtracks
Example of a Director
• Low key lighting is essential within all Thriller movies especially in
Crime films as they are used to produce shadows which connote
the inner darkness within characters whilst also adding to the
tension of the scene.
• The shadows can also be accompanied by scenes of black and
white which help to emphasise the impact of the shadows as well
as adding to a rather eerie and sinister look to create tension.
• The general colour scheme within this subgenre is also rather dull
which connotes that there is no happiness but perhaps constant
• As crime thrillers quite often involve police men or someone who
may have some authority the costumes of the characters are
usually smart and quite formal to show their dominance on the
• Common iconography within this genre can include; weapons as
they are commonly associated with danger and violence, and
sometimes fingerprints which may assist the protagonist.
• The main use of sound within this genre is non-diegetic
music which is commonly eerie and mysterious, to
increase the amount of tension within the audience.
• Some diegetic sounds are also used to create tension for
the audience, as well as the characters, such as the sound
of a creaking floorboard which is normally accompanied
by silence to emphasise the tension building.
• Off screen sounds, such as gun shots or explosions, are
also common as they take the audience by surprise whilst
the tension is rising and make the storylines more
• Silence is probably the most crucial use of sound, as this
is what brings the audience in as they are busy focused
on the images on screen, and then surprised when
exaggerated sounds are suddenly used after.
• Tracking shots are important as they allow the audience to
trail the characters through certain scenes and settings which
makes the narrative easier to follow, which is needed for
thrillers as the plots are usually twisted.
• Extreme close ups and close ups are crucial for this genre as it
gives great detail about the characters emotions and feelings
and makes the audience feel more attached to the character
as we are closer to them.
• The point of view shots continue to grab the audiences
attention towards the plot as it makes the scene more realistic
as we feel as though we are there in the scene.
• Establishing shots are also common within crime thrillers as
they are often set in the city, so the shot enables us to figure
out the setting and may also connote the sheer challenge as it
seems like it’s the protagonist vs. the world.
• Low angle or canted shots may show a certain characters
personality as the canted shot of the antagonist may show
their twisted personality whilst the low angle of the
protagonist may show off his weakness at that moment
Examples of CameraTechniques
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• As this subgenre is focused on crime, fast paced editing and straight cuts
are essential in keeping the scenes looking natural and realistic, whilst
keeping the audience intrigued during the more intense ‘thrilling’ parts of
• Parallel editing is also key as it allows the audience to follow two separate
narratives, often the protagonists and antagonists, and this shows that
things are happening at the same time but in different places so they
must eventually come together due to their actions.
• Jump cuts are also common as this helps to get from one location/object
to another, but much more quickly which adds to the tension and thrill
aspect of the scenes.
• Slow motion or flash backs can also be used within the subgenre as it
entices the audience as actions are performed slowly, prolonging the
narrative, or the story returns to previous scenes making the tension and
• Due to the nature of this subgenre following crime, it is
very common to include characters that have previous
knowledge to danger and violence such as police men
or detectives, an example would be Brad Pitts
character in the crime thriller ‘Seven’.
• However there are occasions where ordinary people
are the protagonists as they may be unaccustomed to
danger but are unwillingly forced into this new life for
reasons such as family protection or revenge.
• The antagonists are commonly criminals or escaped
cons who may want to seek revenge, or stalkers and
psychopaths who intend to do harm to others.
• Usually both protagonists and antagonists are
dominantly males, however it is possible to
occasionally get a female star role in this subgenre
• Crime thriller can take place in a wide variety of places,
however there are certain links between some settings,
• Places such as warehouses and abandoned streets are
typical if the antagonist is rather mysterious as it keeps
the tension building for the audience as they do not
• Homely settings, such as the protagonists house, can
also be ideal for this subgenre as it is the place where
the protagonist can feel safe away from the outside
world, yet it may not always be as safe as they believe.
• Wealthy areas, such as banks, as well as police stations
are also targets for the antagonists as the subgenre
focuses on the crime aspect so the idea of taking from
authority is key!!
• Well populated areas, such as Train stations, Parks and
City centres, can all be settings as well for crime as
there can be mass murder by the antagonist in which
the protagonist must stop.
• A theme that is constant throughout all aspects of this
subgenre is the narrative focus around crime, which includes
the idea of ransoms, kidnapping, violence and heists.
• The idea of a time limit adds much more tension for the
audience and increases the ‘thrill’ aspect as the protagonist
must usually race against the clock to solve the crime before
something terrible happens.
• The villainous characters within these films are also rather
mysterious to some extent as this is what helps to enhance the
tension as it creates an enigma for the audience as they want
the antagonist to be revealed. However this does not mean
that the protagonist is fully open about themselves.
• Another theme which is commonly used is the idea of the
protagonist or the antagonist having a flashback which may
reveal previous details of their past and could indicate how the
situation began which is useful in a crime thriller.
• The most generic theme is that nearly all of these films having
a twist in the narrative towards the end which is the most
significant feature of a crime thriller film as it confuses the
audience yet makes them enjoy it more as it gets them more
intrigued into knowing why and how
• The main thing to remember about a thriller opening is to ‘THRILL FROM
• This is the key feature of a thriller film as the audience automatically
realises they are watching a thriller if they are ‘thrilled’ from the start.
• Normally in crime thrillers, it starts of with some form of violence or
danger, which may not be directly associated with the protagonist but
sets the audience up for the rest of the film.
• Certain events can take place before the actual titling which set the mood
for the following film and gives the audience a foreshadow of what the
film may be about, this can be either action packed, or mysterious and
obscure to entice the audience
CommonTechniques of Openings