Thriller Genre

What is a Thriller?

The genre of ‘Thriller’ is defined by the moods it evokes, giving the audience feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. They usually consist of a battle between a protagonist and an antagonist. The story shows a sequence of bad events building tension and suspense for the climax. The protagonists aim is to restore peace and justice whereas the antagonists seeks to destroy it.


Conventions of a Thriller

  • low-key lighting
  • quick cuts
  • shadows
  • tense music
  • changes in the angles of shots
  • diegetic sound of breathing
  • black and white shots
  • montage of shots
  • protagonist in mercy of antagonist



Protagonist- Often a brave male, who is a bit of an outside and isolated, yet very moral with an aim to restore peace. A good example is Batman in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.

Antagonist- will usually have a hidden identity which is slowly uncovered to the audience as the film progresses. The antagonist is often after revenge from  a past event. An example of an antagonist in a thriller film is the psycho killer in the film ‘Se7en’.


Themes of Thriller 

The story line will be designed so that the audience feel as though the events can happen to them, which makes them feel scared. A film that does this very well is the film ‘Taken’ starring Liam Neeson. Just the thought of their child getting taken is haunting to a parent, so watching a film that shows this in such explicit content is harrowing for any parent as seeing this and drawing connotations to news stories makes it feel like it could happen to their child.



Cinematography of Thriller

  • A lot of close-ups and extreme close ups of the protagonist are common in thrillers to show the emotion of the protagonist. It can also be used on props to show the narrative.
  • The shots of the antagonist will be cut quickly to hide their identity. For example, it will be a shot of the back of them, a low-key shot or the silhouette or shadow of the antagonist.



Editing of Thriller

  • Directors include a lot of jump cuts in thriller films as there will be things happening that the audience is unaware of but is essential for the film to make sense.
  • Cross cutting is a key concept in editing for thriller as it is used to build suspense.
  • Continues editing is used to help the audience understand the film better.


Sound in Thriller

  • As with any film, music is essential to give the mood of the characters and hint at a significant parts of films.
  • In thriller it adds tension and suspense.
  • It will often start at slow paves and then build up to make the shots more dramatic.


Mise-En-Sence in Thriller

  • the location is usually in an urban area
  • lighting is often low-key
  • the protagonist will usually be in everyday clothes whereas the antagonist will generally be in dark clothes
  • composition
  • make up and hairstyles
  • filmstoke- can be black and white, however usually fine grain or grainy


Examples of Thriller

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