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Conventions of a Thriller
By Charlotte Cottenham
Titles
•
Over image
This is where a title for a film and credits appear on
the image behind for example in the American
Psycho opening credits.

• Over colour
In films such as in Drag Me To
Hell, and Memento, the title of
the film and credits appear on
a plain background.
Production and distribution
• I have found from my research that The Cell is
distributed by New Line Cinema. I also found that
American Psycho was distributed by Lions Gate Films.
As I mentioned in my research in to institutions, most
of the films are distributed from big companies like
this otherwise they could not afford to create the
film alone.
Locations
• American psycho – This film is set in the city in America. The opening
scene in the antagonists house shows him as being well off and portrays
him as being a clean, neat and organised person that you wouldn't’t
suspect of any crime.
• Se7en – This film is also set in America like American Psycho is. They are
both distributed by American institutions too, therefore by making the
location America means that they can relate it to the people there would
would be most likely to see it as it’s by an American Institution. Similarly,
this film is also set in the city, it starts with a man in his house, and then it
jumps to another house where you see a murder taking place. As these
two scenes are close together it shows that this person must be related
somehow to the crimes, or will be in the future.
• The Rings - This is set in a house of two teenage girls. The first shot you
see is of a house, this house conveys the idea of a thriller. It then shows
you two girls in a bedroom watching tv. The TV is a code as it signifies
something happening later in the film.
Mise-en-scene
•
•

•

Mise-en-scene has been used throughout the film that I have analysed. Mise-enscene includes:
Costumes – The costumes of the antagonists in psychological thrillers usually
revolves around wearing smart or casual dress. Many villians in films wear this as it
portrays them as being normal and fitting in when they don’t. Villians in these
films are usually white, or may have an accent to make them sound as if they are
from the mafia. American Pyscho is a good example of this, as throughout the start
of the whole opening scene it tells the audience about how he puts on his
appearance to portray himself as a normal person.
Props/colour: In The Ring the first thing you see is outside, which is dark along
with the tree which are stripped of all leaves. This is a usual convention of a thriller
film as it establishes the setting as being dark and scary. We also used this in our
film as you see in the trees lining the alleyway which look lifeless, something you
would usually see in a thriller to make it look scary and cold. In contrast, the
characters in The Ring are wearing white, portraying them as innocent, the tables,
lamps and bedding also being white. The character in American Pyscho however
also has a white house which is differing from the usual conventions of a
psychological thriller as he is the protagonist. The character in this opening scene
has white sofas along with white walls and a whole white bathroom.
Sound
• In American Pyscho and Memento, they both
start by using sinister music (Non-diegetic
sound) to immediately set the atmosphere for
the audience. However, The Ring only
includes diegetic sound at the very beginning.
They do this as there isn’t yet a
protagonist/someone to fear involved yet.
When the villian gets introduced, non-diegetic
music starts to build the tension.

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Conventions of a thriller

  • 1. Conventions of a Thriller By Charlotte Cottenham
  • 2. Titles • Over image This is where a title for a film and credits appear on the image behind for example in the American Psycho opening credits. • Over colour In films such as in Drag Me To Hell, and Memento, the title of the film and credits appear on a plain background.
  • 3. Production and distribution • I have found from my research that The Cell is distributed by New Line Cinema. I also found that American Psycho was distributed by Lions Gate Films. As I mentioned in my research in to institutions, most of the films are distributed from big companies like this otherwise they could not afford to create the film alone.
  • 4. Locations • American psycho – This film is set in the city in America. The opening scene in the antagonists house shows him as being well off and portrays him as being a clean, neat and organised person that you wouldn't’t suspect of any crime. • Se7en – This film is also set in America like American Psycho is. They are both distributed by American institutions too, therefore by making the location America means that they can relate it to the people there would would be most likely to see it as it’s by an American Institution. Similarly, this film is also set in the city, it starts with a man in his house, and then it jumps to another house where you see a murder taking place. As these two scenes are close together it shows that this person must be related somehow to the crimes, or will be in the future. • The Rings - This is set in a house of two teenage girls. The first shot you see is of a house, this house conveys the idea of a thriller. It then shows you two girls in a bedroom watching tv. The TV is a code as it signifies something happening later in the film.
  • 5. Mise-en-scene • • • Mise-en-scene has been used throughout the film that I have analysed. Mise-enscene includes: Costumes – The costumes of the antagonists in psychological thrillers usually revolves around wearing smart or casual dress. Many villians in films wear this as it portrays them as being normal and fitting in when they don’t. Villians in these films are usually white, or may have an accent to make them sound as if they are from the mafia. American Pyscho is a good example of this, as throughout the start of the whole opening scene it tells the audience about how he puts on his appearance to portray himself as a normal person. Props/colour: In The Ring the first thing you see is outside, which is dark along with the tree which are stripped of all leaves. This is a usual convention of a thriller film as it establishes the setting as being dark and scary. We also used this in our film as you see in the trees lining the alleyway which look lifeless, something you would usually see in a thriller to make it look scary and cold. In contrast, the characters in The Ring are wearing white, portraying them as innocent, the tables, lamps and bedding also being white. The character in American Pyscho however also has a white house which is differing from the usual conventions of a psychological thriller as he is the protagonist. The character in this opening scene has white sofas along with white walls and a whole white bathroom.
  • 6. Sound • In American Pyscho and Memento, they both start by using sinister music (Non-diegetic sound) to immediately set the atmosphere for the audience. However, The Ring only includes diegetic sound at the very beginning. They do this as there isn’t yet a protagonist/someone to fear involved yet. When the villian gets introduced, non-diegetic music starts to build the tension.