A thriller is a book, film or play depicting crime, or espionage in an atmosphere of excitement and suspense. Thriller films are usually based around the life of the protagonist and the events that the protagonist must overcome. Typical conventions that thrillers contain are:
- quick cuts
- music that builds the tension
- lighting and use of shadowing that creates suspense
- P.O.V shots that make it more personal towards the protagonist.
- a plot based around the protagonist
- typical setting of an urban city
In thriller films such as Martin Campbell’s, ‘Casino Royale’ the use of flashbacks in the opening scene create a sense of chaos as the shots quickly cut back and forward. This creates suspense as the audience isn’t fully aware of everything that takes place in the scene.
Casino Royale Our Thriller
The use of P.O.V shots can be used to create a personal perspective of the protagonist and this is shown in Quentin Tarantino’s, ‘Reservoir Dogs’. The use of P.O.V shots helps the audience to see through the protagonist’s eyes showing vulnerability but more importantly it can be used to show authority. From this low angle shot we can infer that the character looking up has less authority as this camera shot creates a sense of vulnerability. It shows authority from the three males in suits from the way they look down onto this character and also their appearance showing power.
I feel many aspects of our opening have been inspired from other director’s pieces, such as Christopher Nolan’s ‘Memento’ and Richard Kelly’s ‘Donnie Darko. These two films that I studied and analysed have given me different ideas on what conventions to use in my opening and on what shots will be the most effective to create effects of suspense and tension to make my thriller opening as spine chilling as possible.
The opening of our thriller begins with the institution that we felt would be suitable to advertise our film “Warner Bros”. We then use a mid shot through a black and white effect of the protagonist answering a phone call. The non diegetic music is tense and has a consistent low beat. The protagonist then begins to open a safe and we use a shot from inside the safe to capture a close up still image with the name of the character. Then protagonist then removes an object from the safe and places it into his bag through another mid shot. We then see various quick cut still images of the protagonist putting on his coat and leaving his house with his case. We then have a panning shot of the alley the protagonist is walking through. A P.O.V shot is taken through the eyes of the protagonist where he sees two middle aged business men pointing and looking at him. The music slowly starts to become more upbeat and we here the diegetic sound of the heart rate of the protagonist increase too create tension and to build it to a climax. We then have a close up still image of one of the business men followed by his characters name and then a chase scene begins. The music then becomes more upbeat to create a sense of chaos. We then have numerous panning shots of the business man chasing the protagonist. We then have a high angle CCTV shot of the two characters running down another alley. The protagonist gets to the end of the alley and we see the second business man and have still image of him followed by the characters name. The protagonist is trapped and then the two business men take the case off him, the protagonist then flees and through a P.O.V shot the business men open the case to find it’s empty. The title of the film “Identity” is then typed on screen with a negative camera effect and a futuristic sound effect.
We used these conventions to create effects of suspense, tension and also to add a futuristic aspect to our opening. The use of flashbacks helped us to create suspense along with ending our thriller on a cliff-hanger. The flashback was a file of the protagonist which was cut quickly to build to the tension. The tension was built using the soundtrack that built the tension to climaxes when the point of action was at its highest. The futuristic effect was created by the lighting on various shots and also the negative effect on the title added to this. We chose to use these conventions
This link is to the soundtrack of our thriller which shows how it was used to create tension at certain points.