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Coventions of a Psychological Thriller

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Agnia Christina Salinas Brooun

on 22 February 2013

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Transcript of Coventions of a Psychological Thriller

PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS right and wrong, to which the character must decide who he/she should give into. MISE-EN-SCENE Setting MISE-EN-SCENE ANTAGONIST Conventions DEFINITION OF Psychological thriller is one of the nine main sub-genres of a thriller. This sub-genre mainly focuses on the erratic emotions/states or characters towards events that may have happened in the past or the present day during a character's life in a film. These bad/good experiences would be mainly combined with the themes of mystery and obscurity, which commonly crosses with elements of drama or horror. Introducing the key conventions through... The setting, in a psychological thriller, (e.g. their house) is commonly used to portray and outline a character's life, through where they live, the things they own and what their lifestyle (hobbies and interests) is like before they meet a series of unfortunate events, which will haunt them psychologically. This would show the great change of the character's emotional state to the audience, by having their house being commonly turned into a mess or the change of objects in their "place of comfort" of what they would never own. For instance, a person who is very objective to violence, later owning a gun. The location, in where all the nasty events begin to take a step forward or where the "event" of a character's first bad experience originated from, is commonly introduced in dark, serene places. For example, a lake or a dark house or in a forest where children used to play. Since setting outlines and foreshadows events which might happen in the future, it is mainly used to build an atmosphere of darkness which would haunt the character internally, giving the audience a taste of how badly the character is wounded, and how far deep the pain will go. Setting could be also used to show how well or badly the character is progressing to overcome their fear throughout the film. Cities are commonly used to show the character's emotional state of being 'claustrophobic' or feeling the sense of 'no escape' (trapped) or confusion. This adds to the disorientation of the character's feelings accepting their past when the audience sees that they clearly haven't. A character's feelings can also be supported by the use of pathetic fallacy in the weather, rather than in their facial expressions and body language. Since a psychological thriller is not only supposed to manipulate the character's mind but the audience's as well, these tactics concerning setting have deep meaning and hidden messages which amplifies and twists plots to confuse the audience and, in effect, keeps them on the edge of their seat. Setting should be treated and cautioned in order to not deliver the wrong messages to the audience. Setting - check. Now... Costume Now what would be the point to bore you with another slide with so much information as the previous one? I'll just get down to business. Costume is just another way of introducing a person through aesthetics, mirroring their personalities in a materialistic way. A girl who would love punk music and a kick-ass attitude would, of course, be dressed in black clothing, silver studs dotted around a black leather jacket and a messily styled, red dyed hair with loosely-tied high-top Dr. Martin boots, stereotypically speaking. Stereotypes are, however, rarely explored in psychological thrillers since the directors would want to draw audiences into a character who would stand out from "normal" people. This would make the character unreadable and interesting, as having a character have their own personal image would mark them as distinctive and special. character to the audience in the same way costume does, representing them easily as either the antagonist or the protagonist. Objects commonly explored are pendants, rings, tattoos, belts, metal-tipped shoes, etc. Setting and costume - check, check. Now... MISE-EN-SCENE Lighting Low-key lighting is largely explored in psychological thrillers. This effectively brings tension and enhances terror from both the audience and the characters present in a scene.
Low-key lighting often connotes "darkness", "evil", and "unease", which is good to play around with when introducing a scene filled with suspense. This makes the scene more dramatic and intriguing. Props is also used to distinguish one character from another; an object a character would completely love or an object that holds so many memories of a past which haunts them and created the person they are now, that a character would always carry. This also builds their Main characters, in whom the director chooses to focus and play a large role in a movie, only depend on their mental strength and not physical, in order to overcome the antagonists who stand in their way of facing and knowing the difference between reality and fantasy. These conflicts would be encountered by mental violence or a struggle of knowing between A Psychological Thriller An example is shown in the image above. Half of his face and body is hidden by the dark. This suggests that the dark is slowly consuming him, without him consciously noticing. His facial features are sharply defined and shaded, bringing out his facial features and his emotions. Since the darkness is mostly covering the bottom of his body and half of his face, this may show that the darkness is still trying to get to the character and he, psychologically, has not been completely devoured. Lighting tells a short story in a scene without words. Playing with the balance of "light" and "dark" - like ying and yang - in psychological thrillers are explored a lot on how a character fights against darkness or allows darkness to engulf them. Lighting participates largely in these roles, giving the scenes of these occurrences meaning and depth, making the audience interact with the character from the relationship they have created in the previous scenes of the movie. MISE-EN-SCENE Editing In a scene, shots are quickly changed between each other to build tension. This editing is commonly used in an action or thriller scene. Too much of the same type of editing for unnecessary reasons would break the flow of the movie and would result to being "funny" to watch, rather than having the audience feel fear. Since psychological thrillers are thriller packed, various editing techniques are used to avoid repetitive, unrealistic effects. V Protagonist s ANTAGONIST Protagonist Stereotypically, the antagonist is generally male. Males are often portrayed as strong and dominating, which makes them most suitable for the role.
The antagonist would mostly have the intention to "stalk" the protagonist, toying with their minds and mixing reality and fantasy together, enhancing the themes of struggle and fear. Protagonists would be commonly introduced as vulnerable, naive and innocent. Their past would contribute a lot to the person they are now, and their past would be filled with guilt or remorse, allowing the antagonist to catch them in their vulnerable side.
They would be portrayed as mentally and psychologically unstable. Protagonists mostly have distinguishing marks on a part of their body as a sign of their past "haunting" them. For instance, scars. The antagonist would have a paranormal feature or characteristic, relating to either the living or the dead e.g being a ghost. Other characters would be the antagonist's "pawns" to lure the protagonist into a situation where they might trigger forbidden memories, using many violent/cold methods. E.g. killing off her friends in twisted ways in the same way a close lover would have died in the same specific place. This would be as if the antagonist is pulling at the protagonist's strings to get what they want in disturbing ways. Reality - This theme is often challenged by the antagonist during a film, causing confusion to the protagonist. This allows the antagonist to play with the protagonist psychologically, having the protagonist dance around the palm of their hands. Perception - The ability to hear, see or become aware of something through mundane senses. The storyline would bend these senses, mixing other themes together like reality and their purpose in life. This frequently blinds the main character, to see what is really there, confusing his/her state of mind. Mind - This is a large element of a person that absorbs experiences (memories), feelings, anything from the outside world, making them conscious to see what they see before them. It is their home to think and make conclusions. Directors take this core, and mutate it into worlds beyond imaginable for the character and the audience to see. If this mind was destroyed, the character and audience would be lost and fall into a pit of darkness. This theme is used a lot in psychological thrillers to challenge and question events which happen in the movie. Guilt - This theme usually haunts the main character, building up a bad and traumatising past that might have been forgotten, therefore haunting them, or a past which they remember, but struggle to forget. The effects of this theme would be, as follows: flashbacks, hallucinations, illness', etc. An example of guilt taking part in a large role of a film is INCEPTION. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) has dreams over a wife which he lost to the research of 'Dreams'. His guilt for using her as a subject consumes him and infects his dreams and is always running away rather than facing his mistakes. His mental state would be infected by her and she wouldn't stop coming to see him until he gives in. Identity - A character would repetitively try to figure out who they really are, if they have lost their true selves and tries to regain whatever they left behind, that made them this person today. In THE BOURNE IDENTITY, the movie would focus on the character investigating and tracking down who he really is. This documents the journey to understand who he is, even though very little dialogue is used. "Actions speak more than words". Death - A death of a person would haunt a character, to recognise mistakes they may have made to have caused this death. This would wound the character or deeply or the character would turn out to be entirely cold and does not acknowledge their mistakes. Purpose - This theme would often be questioned throughout a psychological thriller movie. The character questions themselves through events and their personality to understand their purpose in life, and what they can do to fulfill this. And lastly of MISE-EN-SCENE And now... Obsession - This is a constant and repetitive thought or idea that occupies a person's mind in a continuous and non-stop way. Obsession is what commonly destroys a human mind and fixates on one thing only. This leads to driving people crazy and creating a mentally unstable character. An example of this is in BLACK SWAN, when Nina (Natalie Portman) obsesses over a role that she wants to play in ballet, until her role overpowers her, leading to her death. THEMES MORE CONVENTIONS Music The music is dark and eerie, to build tension and fear in certain scenes. A movie would generate its own main music theme, to make it differ from other films and have d all have a unique and distinct touch from the director and into the storyline. A character would also have their own music theme song to define them, allowing the audience to recognise who's music is for who, without them being on screen. A flashback is a time disorientation of a character's past. This gives the audience a chance to understand why the character has chosen to be who they are now. This can also confuse the audience and question who the character really is, which triggers thoughts of interest. An example of this convention, which is used often in psychological thrillers, is Christopher Nolan's MEMENTO. Flashbacks Black & White Black and white is another convention of a psychological thriller. This is because they highly emphasise and define the dark and sharp shadows and the use of low-key lighting to give a eerie and mysterious effect. THE END
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