Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Conventions of the Thriller Genre

As part of  our allocated roles, one of my tasks was to research into the conventions of the thriller genre. A Thriller is a type of film genre that consists of many sub-genres such as crime-thriller, mystery thriller and action thriller. The genre itself uses a wide array of devices in order to build and create certain effects upon the audience, such as creating/heightening tension and suspense as a way of building up exhilaration. The Thriller genre has a lot in common with the Horror genre, with it's two main sub-genres being horror-thrillers and psychological thrillers. A conventional thriller usually takes place within an eerie, isolated location. However, today many thrillers challenge this by incorporating a more modern approach. There are several characteristics which help to define a thriller. Below are the findings that I found through my research:

- They usually involve binary opposites as represented through the protagonist and antagonist. The antagonist sometimes breaks the conventions of thriller by trying to outmanoeuvre the protagonist.

- Complex narratives are also used where misleading clues and pieces of evidence are given. This is a prime example of how suspense is built up for the audience.

- They typically involve sudden plot twists as a way of keeping the audience engaged.

- They also keep the audience in suspense as they are unsure as to what is going to happen next.

- There is often a lot of action which is often chaotic and fast paced.

- A dark, isolated location is often used to create the impression that the protagonist is alone and vulnerable and thus will suffer horrific encounters in order to break free.

- Some are also supernatural where they focus on mystical antagonists.

- Others can be scientific or medial where they force the protagonist to adhere to biological agents or mysterious scientific happenings.

- Some are simply straight mysteries with clever, horrific, or intriguing antagonists, while others be focused on the inner workings of the legal system, environmental threats, technology, or natural disasters.

- One long-established thriller genre is the spy thriller, featuring an often heroic and dashing spy who must confront whichever enemy happens to be popular at the moment.

- The majority of thrillers often incorporate a psychological aspect, where it forces the audience to examine the actions/motives of characters in order to distinguish their back story as a way of  figuring out the plot.


Editing is also a significant component of the thriller genre because editing things such as the sound has a profound effect for the audience. If there is dramatic music playing with a particular scene, it adds to the tension and suspense.

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