WHAT IS A THRILLER?
The genre thriller is used to make the audience feel thrilled and excited. The idea is to keep the audience alert and at the edge of their seat. The protagonist in these types of films is set against a problem, for example, an escape, a mission, or a mystery. No matter what sub-genre a Thriller film falls into, it will emphasise the danger that the character faces [http://thescriptlab.com/screenplay/genre/thriller]. Thrillers are based on fast pacing, frequent action and usually heroes who must defeat the villains. They are used to create suspense and tension and cliffhangers can commonly be used. Thrillers differ greatly compared to the genre horror as horror is based on scaring and horrifying the audience, more than thrilling them. The main foundation of horror is to use the audiences most terrifying fears to create the horror and they tend to use a lot more gore and sometimes supernatural to create the fear, whereas thriller doesn’t tend to use as much.
WHAT ARE THE TYPICAL CONVENTIONS / FEATURES?
Most thrillers tend to show good and evil fighting each other, which tends to create the suspense. Throughout a thriller they tend to have a growing sense of threat or danger and be likely to show a search or hunt to find the enemy [http://www.slideshare.net/Cissnei/conventions-of-thriller-films-and-tables-of-analysis]. The idea is usually to show the thriller from the main character/hero’s point of view but have some short clips of the villain’s point of view so the audience can see how the villain acts when they are not around the hero or a clip from the past so that the audience can understand why have become evil or what their plan of action is. One way to boost the audiences thrills is to make the thriller as realistic as possible so that it is more believable and becomes more interesting. Another thing thriller producers tend to do is make that both, the villain and the hero, have enough strengths to make the storyline be extended with the fight or grudge because the movie will be over before it has begun.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GENRE AND ONE OF THE BIGGEST THRILLER PRODUCERS AND DIRECTORS:
Thriller mainly started in the 1920’s when sound had first been introduced to films. Sir Alfred Hitchcock was one of the main film producers and directors who mainly focused on thriller when creating his films. ‘The Lodger’ (1927) is his first thriller film to be played with sound and is a crime-based thriller. The film is about a serial killer murdering blonde women in London. A mysterious man arrives at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Bunting looking for a room to rent. The Bunting’s daughter is a blonde model and is seeing one of the detectives assigned to the case. The detective becomes jealous of the lodger and begins to suspect he may be the serial killer [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017075/]. Similarly, ‘I Confess‘ (1953) is another thriller created by Alfred Hitchcock and is also based on a crime thriller. It is about a man called Otto Kellar and his wife Alma who work as a caretaker and a housekeeper at a Catholic church in Quebec. Whilst robbing a house where he sometimes works as a gardener, Otto is caught and kills the owner. Racked with guilt he heads back to the church where Father Michael Logan is working late. Otto confesses his crime, but when the police begin to suspect Father Logan he cannot reveal what he has been told in the confession [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045897/]. From this you can tell that quite a lot of Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers were crime based maybe because they were easier types of thrillers to write and maybe because audiences preferred them more to other subgenres of thriller.
EXAMPLES OF THRILLER FILMS:
EdenLake (2008): Plot: A couple decide to escape for a romantic weekend away at a remote lake enclosed by woodlands and is seemingly deserted. The couple’s peace is disturbed when a gang of intolerable kids who steal and vandalise their campsite. When the boyfriend, Steve, decides to confront them, the gang decide to violently attack him leaving the girlfriend, Jenny, subject to a brutal game of cat-and-mouse as she desperately tries to find her way out of the woods.
Rear Window (1954):
Professional photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries breaks his leg while getting an action shot at an auto race. Confined to his New York apartment, he spends his time looking out of the rear window observing the neighbors. He begins to suspect that a man across the courtyard may have murdered his wife. Jeff enlists the help of his high society fashion-consultant girlfriend Lisa Freemont and his visiting nurse Stella to investigate.
Unscrupulous boxing promoters, violent bookmakers, a Russian gangster, incompetent amateur robbers, and supposedly Jewish jewellers fight to track down a priceless stolen diamond.
Hollow Man (2000):
The Hollow Man features Kevin Bacon in the title role as Sebastian Caine, a scientist who discovers a formula for invisibility. After an experiment makes him slowly disappear, Cane begins to go insane, and soon threatens the lives of his fellow researchers.
There are many different sub-genres of a thriller film, examples include, crime, psychological, disaster, mystery and sci-fi thrillers.
This type of sub-genre refers to a crime that has or will take place and includes a hero (usually an investigator or highly trained police officer) who is after the villain. There are many topics this genre is usually based on; for example, the villain is usually after something against the law and the hero has to try to stop them from getting it. The villain could be responsible for murder, robberies or even kidnapping, in order to get what they want. The hero then has to try and stop the situation from escalating and make it worse, by searching for them and bringing them to justice. Additionally, in most crime thrillers, the hero tends to win the battle and in some, can involve a lot of action.
For me, crime thrillers can be intriguing because sometimes the audience wonders if the hero will survive or if the villain some how escapes and makes the audience speculate how the hero will win or how and what the villain does to try and win the battle and to the extent that they intend on going.
This sub-genre involves ‘A suspenseful movie or book emphasizing the psychology of its characters rather than the plot’ . The idea of a psychological thriller is to test the characters mental and emotional state instead of their physical well being. This type of genre intrigues the audience because it tests them to see what they think the hero or villain is trying to do and to test their own intelligence to see if they can figure it out. Psychological thrillers tend to have lots of twists to keep the audience occupied and engaged in the film in terms of wondering what the characters intend on doing about the situation.
In my opinion, these types of thrillers are great for testing the audience and making them constantly wonder how the situation is going to wok out. Additionally, these types of thrillers tend to make the audience feel engaged in the film, right to the end, as the audience usually tries to guess the plot of the film and what the twists are.
An example of a psychological film I have seen is ‘Red Eye’. This film is about a woman, who works as a highly qualified member of staff of a hotel called Lux Atlantic’. She was kidnapped whilst on a plane flight on her way home from her grandmother’s funeral. The kidnapper wants her to help kill a politician who is supposed to be staying in one of the hotel rooms by switching the room he is supposed to be staying in around. The kidnapper threatens her by showing that if she does not do as he says and changes the room, her father will be killed.
A disaster film is ‘A film in which a disastrous event such as an earthquake, fire, air crash etc is the focus of the action’ . A disaster thriller is usually based on a natural or artificial tragedy and threatens the lives of the human race. It gives the audience ideas as to what could happen if this type of disaster actually happened. Most disaster-type films are associated with the disaster having something to do with human activity that has built up over hundreds of years or something recent that has made it occur. Also most disaster films focus on a particular person or group of people who strive for survival or try to save other people to avoid extinction of the human race.
An example, of a disaster film I have seen is 2012. It is about a man who studies the Earth’s changes and understands that a major catastrophe will occur by a prediction of 2012 due to the Earth’s core heating up. This man then tries to tell the US president that the Earth’s crust is becoming unstable and that the human race could become extinct unless something was done to save at least a portion of the human race. At this point in time, it is supposed to be 2009, so the Government only have three years to prepare for the disaster. They decide to build ‘arks’ that should be able to survive the disaster but decide not to tell anyone else. Meanwhile, a writer (of books related to the Earth) takes his son and daughter on a camping trip only to find that a lake he used to visit as a child had dried up and the Government had quarantined it off. The Government then found the father and the two children take them back to a base where more research was taking place. The man, Jackson, then stumbles across the man who discovered the disaster and told him about the disaster that is set to happen. The disaster begins to happen and Jackson is left to try and save his family from the disaster.
This sub-genre relates to crime thrillers and mainly focuses on an investigator or detective who has the job of investigating a mystery or crime. In these films, the detective has to solve the crime or puzzle by searching for clues. The audience only see the clues when the detective finds them. This is what makes mystery films suspenseful; not knowing and trying to figure out the crime or puzzle.
An example of a mystery thriller film is Escape Plan. It is about a man, Ray Breslin, who is highly qualified in his job as part of structural security. As part his job, Ray has to analyse different prisons and try to escape from them so he can build a prison that is escape proof. He wrote and published a book about how to build an escape proof prison and someone was inspired by his ideas and tried to build a prison using his ideas. Ray then gets kidnapped and put in the prison his inspirer made. His aim is then to escape the prison otherwise he will be stuck there.
Science Fiction – Sci-fi Thrillers:
Sci-fi thrillers are fictional movies and can be based in any world whether it is real or imagined, on Earth or outer space. The plot of the film can be set in any tense, past present or future and they can be very unrealistic. Some sci-fi films involve science or technology may be important in the film, some of which might be discovered or created in reality. 
An example of a science fiction thriller is The Purge. This film is about a law where there is an annual night in which all crime is legal for twelve years. The film is set in the future and a wealthy family help a man by inviting him in their house during the Purge. The man who was let in tries to hide in the house because there is a group of people who want to kill him outside. The family then get a knock on the down from a man asking for their target and assure them that their family won’t get killed if they give him to the people outside. The family attempt to give the target to the people outside but have a change of mind when they realise they don’t have the courage to do it. The target hides and the group of people who want to kill the target break down the door and try to kill the target and the family.
My ideas on thriller films is that they should feel realistic yet still feel gripping and intriguing to get the audiences attention. I feel that if a thriller doesn’t make the audience ask themselves lots of questions, maybe about the plot or the characters, or if the thriller doesn’t have twists within the film, then the film doesn’t seem thrilling and interesting for the audience. Additionally, if the film seems too confusing for the audience, they can ruin the film because they wouldn’t understand what’s going on (just like the Matrix!)