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Evolution of the Thriller Genre

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Haley Peterson

on 23 January 2014

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Transcript of Evolution of the Thriller Genre

Evolution of the Thriller Genre
The First Thrillers
Thrillers became available to the public during the 1920s, because technology advanced enough to add the trademark music and quick shots to the film. Before then, technology and lazy editing made it difficult to do that.

One of the first thrillers,
Safety Last
(1923), was actually a comedy, but showed the aspects of a thriller, having a scene where the main character had to climb a high tower. There were several moments where he stumbled, keeping the audience on edge.
Alfred Hitchcock
Considered the master of suspense, Hitchcock contributed to the genre and changed its landscape. He directed over 50 movies, each one a thriller and unique, and a lot of them are still watched and enjoyed today. He made advancements in technology, pioneering shots exaggerating anxiety and fear, as well as shot from the point of view of the characters.
He pioneered the use of a MacGuffin, a plot device used as a goal for characters, often used in thriller films.
Psycho
(1960)
70s and 80s
The thriller genre became more violent in this time period, with audiences expecting more due to the gang violence prevalent in the 60s. After
Psycho
, Alfred Hitchcock took his films to another level with his thriller
Frenzy
(1972), which was rated R for an explicit strangling scene. The movie
Jaws
was released in 1975, a gory and violent thriller based off of real shark attacks in 1916.
The gang violence inspired the movie adaptation of the novel
The Godfather
, a violent film, which made filmmakers decide to include more violence in other genres, including thriller.
Dead Calm
(1989)
This movie brought a new insight to the genre, dealing with the elements of possession. The main character must escape from the villain of the movie, a mass-murderer, who already has her in his grasp after murdering her husband.
This brought the idea of a thriller where the characters don't have to evade, but have to escape from their almost-guaranteed death.
90s and the Present
Thrillers of the 90s and some of the present put focus on mental disorders, obsession, and violence, as well as the idea of an agent pursuing the villain. A notable example of this is Silence of the Lambs (1991), in which an FBI agent has to talk to a cannibalistic psychologist to help track down a serial killer who has been killing and skinning women.
From Then to Now
Thrillers have evolved from some suspense in a film (watching to see if someone will fall) to violent, gory films with many themes of horror films. The difference is the huge plot twist that is a hallmark of thrillers - from
Psycho
to
Silence of the Lambs
, to
Shutter Island
to
The Butterfly Effect
.
The technology to add suspenseful music and shots emphasizing anxiety and fear have expanded upon the genre, as well as the contributions of many, many movies by Alfred Hitchcock and directors like him.
Alfred Hitchcock's
Psycho
brought a change to the thriller genre, being the first psychoanalytical thriller. It features a young woman leaving Phoenix and traveling to California and checking into the Bates Motel.
She is murdered by a man with two personalities: His own, and that of his long-dead mother.
The film has scenes in which Norman Bates is psychoanalyzed at the end of the movie, explaining the rest of the story, which is filled with twists and turns.
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