What is a Thriller?
Psycho was directed
by Alfred Hitchcock
A novel, play or movie with an
exciting plot, typically
involving crime or espionage.
Thrillers cover a very large
variety of genres.
These are some of the many
different types of thrillers;
crime, psychological, action,
sociology, political and
Thriller is a broad genre of literature, film, and
television programming that uses suspense, tension
and excitement as the main elements. Thrillers
heavily stimulate the viewer's moods giving them a
high level of anticipation, ultra-heightened
expectation, uncertainty, surprise, anxiety and/or
terror. Thriller films tend to be adrenaline-rushing,
gritty, rousing and fast-paced.
BLACK, RED AND GREEN
Some examples of thrillers are…
The sixth sense is
directed by M.
Psycho directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Psycho was a very successful thriller
directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is now
considered one of Hitchcock's best
films and praised as a work of
cinematic art by international film
critics and film scholars. Ranked
among the greatest films of all time, it
set a new level of acceptability for
violence, deviant behaviour and
sexuality in American films. After
Hitchcock's death in 1980, Universal
Studios began producing follow-ups:
three sequels, a remake, a television
movie spin-off and a TV series.
In 1992, the film was selected for
preservation by the US Library of
Congress at the National Film Registry.
Psycho Movie Trailer
Alfred talking about Pyscho
• The Birds is a 1963 suspense/horror film also
directed by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on
the 1952 story "The Birds" by Daphne du Maurier.
It depicts Bodega Bay, California, which is,
suddenly and for unexplained reasons, the
subject of a series of widespread and violent bird
attacks over the course of a few days.
• Scene from the birds
Some main themes dealt with in
There are different sub-sections to the thriller genre,
some of which are…
– Psychological Thriller: This type of thriller, is based more
on the characters. Psychological Thrillers must include
someone who is crazy or mentally disturbed.
– Mystery Thriller: This type of thriller focuses on the solving
of a mystery, but in a fast-paced, intense environment.
– Science Fiction Thriller: A thriller including the genre of
– Spy Thriller: This thriller focuses on spies and espionage.
– Military Thriller. This type of thriller is based on wars,
whether real or fictional
Key Characters found in Thrillers
Stalkers e.g. ‘One Hour Photo’ directed by Mark Romanek
Assassins e.g. JFK directed by Oliver Stone
Innocent Victims (often on the run) e.g. ‘Hear no evil, see no evil’ directed
by Arthur Hiller
Prison inmates e.g. ‘The Green Mile’ directed by Frank Darabont
Psychotic individuals e.g. ‘The Shining’ directed by Stanley Kubrick
Menaced Women e.g ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’ directed by Joseph Ruben
Characters with dark pasts e.g. ‘Silence of the Lambs’ directed by Jonathan
Codes and Conventions of Thrillers
Mirrors are reflections of ones soul and inner self, they represent the darkness within some
characters e.g. ‘Mirrors’ directed by Alexandre Aja
Shadows are closely related with low key lighting, they like mirrors are used to represent the
inner darkness in beings and also add the tense and eerie atmosphere
Low key lighting
Obstructive editing and quick shots are used frequently in thrillers to accentuate the feelings
of suspense and tension. They are often used during an important or particularly ‘thrilling’
scene sometimes creating a disorientation of time and space by using montage editing
Flash backs contribute to a sense of time and space disorientation which can be used to
confuse and intrigue the audience. It can also be used to give the audience an insight into the
characters past and make it more interesting for them to try and solve the mystery. E.g.
‘Momento’ by Christopher Nolan
Use of photographs
Black and white accentuates the use of shadows, also appears quite eerie and dark e.g.
Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock
Disorientation of time and space
ALFRED HITCHCOCK CASE STUDY
At 14, Hitchcock lost his father and left St. Ignatius' College in Stamford Hill to study at the School
for Engineering and Navigation. After graduating, he became a draftsman and advertising designer
with a cable company. About that time, Hitchcock became intrigued by photography and started
working in film in London. In 1920, he obtained a full-time job at Islington Studios, designing the
titles for silent movies.
In 1926, Hitchcock made his debut in the thriller genre. The resulting film, 'The Lodger: A Story of
the London Fog' was a major commercial and critical success. Following the success of The Lodger,
Hitchcock began his first efforts to promote himself in the media, and hired a publicist to cement
his growing reputation as one of the British film industry's rising stars.
In 1926, he married his assistant director Alma Reville. Alma was Hitchcock's closest collaborator,
and wrote some of his screenplays, working with him on every one of his films. In 1929, he began
work on his tenth film, 'Blackmail'. While the film was in production, the studio decided to make it
one of Britain's first sound pictures. In 1933, Hitchcock was working for Michael Balcon at
Gaumont-British Picture Corporation. His first film for the company, The Man Who Knew Too Much
(1934), was a success and his second, The 39 Steps (1935), is often considered one of the best films
from his early period.
By the end of the 1930s, Hitchcock was at the top of his game artistically, and in a position to name
his own terms when David O. Selznick managed to entice the Hitchcocks to Hollywood. Hitchcock's
gallows humour and the suspense that became his trademark continued in his American work. It
was here that he continued to make many films, including what is arguably three of his best,
'Psycho', 'The Birds', and 'North by Northwest'. His final film was in 1976, entitled 'Family Plot'.
Near the end of his life, Hitchcock worked on the script for a project spy thriller, The Short Night,
which was never filmed. The script was published in book form after Hitchcock's death. Hitchcock
was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in the
1980 New Year's Honours. He died just four months later from renal failure, on April 29 1980, aged
80, before he had the opportunity to be formally invested by the Queen. Despite the brief period
between his knighthood and death, he was nevertheless entitled to be known as Sir Alfred
Hitchcock and to use the postnominal letters "KBE", because he remained a British subject when he
adopted American citizenship in 1956.