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Symbols, Signs and Iconography in a Psychological Thriller

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Jodie-Leigh Barnham

on 25 October 2013

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Transcript of Symbols, Signs and Iconography in a Psychological Thriller

Symbols, Signs and Iconography in a Psychological Thriller
Why is iconography important?
It is important as a lot of iconography has to do with the mise-en-scene. The physical attributions in a scene of a film in general give a lot of obvious indications to the audience and helps construct the plot line and elevates the feelings that were meant to make the audience feel a certain way when watching a psychological thriller film.
Examples of Iconography related to a Psychological
The Way out
What are those things?
These are basically anything that conventionally and symbolically represents the genre.
These can be things such as objects, locations of certain images. To be iconic the certain 'thing' must be easily recognisable and associative with the genre.

Shadows give psychological thrillers the 'on edge' tense feeling by using something with such anonymity. It is commonly associated with thriller as they generally build up the fear in the audience. In many cases in thriller films the protagonist is actually unaware of said oncomer as a shadow seems to be something that passes by unoticed. The character may be about to encounter a situation that is quite dangerous that they aren't aware of but you are, which is the use of dramatic irony.

A confined space is definitely a icon in the genre of thriller. Thriller films make the audience nervous and a way to do this is to play on the audiences fears. 3% of the population are claustrophobic, so to use this as a way to terrorise the audience is particularly effective.

Another iconic thing that is commonly included in thriller films is running water. Running water can represent the draining of life and can keep the audience on edge as to use something as ordinary as running water and to put it into an environment where it is made sinister, it breaks the boundary of comfort for the audience.
Psycho - 1960
Buried - 2010
Phone Booth - 2002
Nosferatu - 1922
The Sixth Sense - 1999

Street lamps are an effective part of
mise-en-scene and are effectively used in thriller films particularly in relation to the protagonist. This is because the light directly on the character, acting almost as a spotlight, and the surrounding being mainly the darkness. This can be iconic as the surrounding dark can represent the struggles of the protagonist. Furthermore, the fact that there is plainly a spotlight on the protagonist could show isolation which is particularly effective the audience as it could engage them too, making them also feel alone as there isn't much else more to focus on on screen to act as a safety barrier.
Dark Skies - 2013
Having the blockade of freedom for a character creates the sense of imprisonment and entrapment, not just for the character but for the audience also.
The audience becomes so engaged with the character in regards to sympathy that they start to empathise with the character and then begin to feel what they feel.
Feeling as though you are going through the same experience as the character as an audience member, especially in a psychological thriller is particularly effective as the tense atmosphere created goes hand-in-hand with the genre by playing on the fear of being isolated.
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