What is a thriller?The thriller genre has many elements to it such as tension, excitement and suspense. Itplays a lot with the viewers moods by giving them a high level of anticipation, ultraheightened expectation, uncertainty, surprise, anxiety and/or terror. The thriller films areusually fast paced rousing and have a lot of adrenaline rushes because of the plots in thegenre. Literary devices such as red herrings, plot twists and cliff-hangers are usedextensively. A thriller is a villain driven plot where the antagonist creates a lot of obstacles inorder to take down the protagonist.A thriller provides the sudden rush of emotions, excitement, sense of suspense andexhilaration that drive the narrative, sometimes subtly with peaks and lulls, sometimes at aconstant, breakneck pace thrills. In this genre, the objective is to deliver a story withsustained tension, surprise, and a constant sense of impending doom. It keeps the audiencecliff-hanging at the "edge of their seats" as the plot builds towards a climax. Thrillers tend tobe fast-moving, psychological and threatening, mysterious and at times involve larger-scalevillainy such as espionage, terrorism and conspiracy.Thrillers may be defined by the primary mood that they elicit: fearful excitement. In short, if it"thrills", it is a thriller. As the introduction to a major anthology explains:“...Thrillers provide such a rich literary feast. There are all kinds. The legal thriller, spythriller, action-adventure thriller, medical thriller, police thriller, romantic thriller, historicalthriller, political thriller, religious thriller, high-tech thriller, military thriller. The list goes on andon, with new variations constantly being invented. In fact, this openness to expansion is one ofthe genres most enduring characteristics. But what gives the variety of thrillers a commonground is the intensity of emotions they create, particularly those of apprehension andexhilaration, of excitement and breathlessness, all designed to generate that all-important thrill.By definition, if a thriller doesnt thrill, its not doing its job.”—James Patterson, June2006, "Introduction," Thriller
Codes and Conventions of a ThrillerThere are 4 main codes and conventions which are used in order to make a good thriller film. This includes camerashots/movements, editing, sound and mise-en-scene. They are used to not only make the thriller films better, but to allow the audienceto feel all kind of emotions while watching them.Camera shots/movement; thriller films are obviously made to thrill the audience. Using different camera angles to show a scene orcharacter allow the audience to understand the body language and emotions the scene is trying to portray. There are many differentshots but the most effective one is probably the facial close up shot. An example of this is a close up shot of the Batman in a scene fromthe dark night where he is on the ground when fighting Bane. Even thought batman’s wears a mask due to the close up we can tell bythe squinting of his eyes that hes in pain. This shows the audience what his facial expressions would be if he didn’t have the mask butalso it makes the audience feel like they can feel his pain and like they are there with him. This makes the audience go through manyemotions and make the atmosphere tense. Another camera shot which makes the atmosphere tense is the panning shot. For example inthe film ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ the main character Jason Bourne wakes up after a bad dream breathing heavily makes the audiencefeel nervous and they don’t know whats happening, but also it allows them to feel the emotions of the character. Another shot is thetracking shot. In the movie the Goodfellas the camera tracks the kitchen of the Copacanbana in a fast paced motion. This makes theaudience feel as they are in that room as it makes their hearts beat faster, so not only does it play with the audiences feeling but it canalso make them feel the emotions in the atmosphere in the kitchen.Editing; one example of editing is quick cuts. Quick cuts make the film fast paced which creates a tense atmosphere. For example thisoccurs in the film Psycho, when the lady is being stabbed in the shower there are a lot of quick cuts. Not only can this show differentangles of her being stabbed from different of views of her body but it can make the audience feel like they are there watching it. Anotherexample of editing is fade to black. This is when there is a scene and suddenly the screen turns black. An example of this is in the filmThree Monkeys. There is a shot where a man is standing on top of a rickety building whilst hes looking out on a dark horizon and alsothere theres a thunder storm, a train is then entered into the scene appearing to enter the side of the building which then the screenfades. This is a very effecting convention to a thriller film as it brings out the most it could from the audience, it makes themtense, nervous and makes the question whats going to happen next but not only that it makes them suspicious as well.Sound; The sounds in a thriller plays a lot with in the film. There are two types of sounds, diegetic and non-diegetic. Diegetic sound issound whose source is visible on the screen or whose source is implied to be present by the action of the film and non-diegetic is soundwhose source is neither visible on the screen nor has been implied to be present in the action. The sounds depend on the theme of ascene as different themes create different feelings and emotions. In the film Psycho there is a scene where a lady is getting stabbed inthe shower. During that scene we can hear non-diegetic sounds such as high pitched screeches. As it’s a horror thriller, the sounds gowith the theme. This creates a tense and scary atmosphere, both in the film and for the audience.Mise-en-Scene; mise-en-scene adds the thrill to the thriller genre. It has a lot of elements which are essential to make a good thriller film.It plays a big effect on the audience as well because of the effects of the elements it contains. For example the lightings, if the brightnessof the light is low then it will create a dark and gloomy atmosphere furthermore create suspense for the audience, the lighting of thesetting in a film plays a massive role within the thriller genre. Props are a key element as well. There are a lot of weapons used in thrillerfilms to add all kinds of effects. In the film Train Spotting (1996) there are many props such as drugs, needles and cigarettes. The propsare usually used to show the characters lifestyle and personality to give the audience an understanding of the characters. Also thesetting of the film gives it the thriller title. If the set design/location has a dark atmosphere then it will match the thriller setting more that abright location would, as dark settings create a tense, suspicious and mysterious atmosphere.