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how thriller films create suspense

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Chelsea Hartley

on 29 December 2014

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Transcript of how thriller films create suspense

how thriller films create suspense
analyzing three opening sequences...
i will be analyzing the editing, camera
work, mise-en-scene and sound of the
opening sequences.

Mise en scene:
We first see the use of low key lighting when the first character is displayed to the audience in what it appears to be an ally way or a hallway. This use of low key lighting encourages the audience to feel as if this character employes danger to the film and also leaves a sense of 'mystery' as it leaves this characters identity hidden. The director then displays the use of weaponry (a gun) in the scenario which alerts the viewers as this weaponry promotes danger and is also life threatening, and as a result of the audience an aware of whom the character it promotes fear of what the upcoming events could initially be. The audience then see a switch from low key lightening to high key, when the characters identity is revealed to be BOND, but for the viewers whom do not know who this character is, it suggests this character is good as he is no longer hidden and his face is lit up in a gold lightening, (connotations of a heroic feature as gold is very precious). The character Bond is formally dressed in a grey suit with a silver watch which suggests wealth and the character being very successful in what he does, however the viewers are left wondering 'what it actually is this man does?' and 'what is he doing?'.
As the opening continues and the next scene is introduced, we see this character go into a room where 2 dead bodies are laying on the floor. This again alerts the viewers and promotes danger to this character whom is Bond. These dead bodies leave the audience asking why they were killed? who killed them? which intrigues the audience as the suspense is building up and questions are left unanswered. Bond notices that a hard drive of a laptop has been removed and leaves a dying agent being in order to catch the person who did it. This tells the audience that this is a significant belonging to Bond and leaves them again asking why? and who has taken it?
we then go onto see a chase happen with bond and a fellow agent and the person whom has the hard drive. with this chase we see danger, as Innocent civilians are brought into a harmful situation as the two vehicles swerve through a busy market; this is a key convention o the thriller genre.
We later see Bond jump on a moving train which invokes the audience to be 'hanging off the edge of their seats' as this is situation has escalated very quickly into a life or death situation. During this train chase, cars are flung off the train into the path where Bonds fellow agent is driving, the sand which is on the floor is used so the audience is unable to see what is happening and this leaves them wondering if she has
crashed or has lost the train; this again is a key convention of the thriller genre, as the audience is
left asking questions.
Towards the end of the opening the director has used CGI editing throughout. the audience see a enlarged CGI image of a hand pulling down agent Bond; this employs that agent Bond has been defeated. This invokes and uncomfortable atmosphere for the viewers watching as they question how he can be dead? We see Bond falling into a black hole in the seabed; this creates suspense as it leaves the audience questioning what this means. The whole scene of CGI at the end of the opening resembles Bond's life flashing before his eyes. This suggests that he actually is dead and leaves the audience again on the edge of their sets hoping he is alive.
We see a dissolve which resembles time passing. this dissolve occurs in the CGI scene, and invokes the audience to believe that Bond has been sinking to the bottom of the ocean for a long period of time.
the audience also see lots of use of the colour red; this invokes the audience to believe that Bond is dead as red has the connotations of blood. Also, as Bond was shot; it also resembles the blood lose he experienced.
as the images under the sea occur they begin to tells story of the life of bond and the audience then begin to understand that maybe he has been an agent for a long time and has been through allot. The consistent imagery of the bullet wound caused by the man whom stole the hard drive distributes information that this situation is not over and that they will catch the man who did this, as it is an unresolved problem.
The CGI image of the chinese new year dragon breathing fire represent danger lurking around this situation and also resembles the braveness and how fierce Bond was during the fight.
The first shot we see is a long shot soft focus on a anonymous figure; this leaves the audience question 'who is he?' Why is he there? Where is he? What is he doing there? What is he going to do?
A close up of Bond is used in high key lighting to define this figure eyes and nose - this makes the audience question the rest of this characters image and also reveals only half the information to the audience to keep them guessing.
The 180 degree pan reveals the whole of this characters identity and then begins to track this characters steps; bringing the audience with him on a journey and making the audience feel as if they are in this uncomfortable situation.
The director uses a high angle shot on agent Bond when he is walking down stairs, after finding out he lost the hard drive. This presents agent Bond as defeated and weak which creates suspense as it shows he has lost something with great meaning but doesn't know to who.
The director the uses a long shot of the two vehicles in a chase scene; this presents the speed the cars are driving at. This causes suspense to be built as great danger comes with driving recklessly and the audience are again unaware of whats going to happen. The director also uses tracking within the chase scene which again brings the audience on a journey with the characters, causing an uncomfortable/tense atmosphere to evoke on them.
The use of a close up focusing on the left side of characters 'M' face; allows the audience to see her facial expressions which resemble defeat/guilt. This causes the audience to question who is she? And why is she so superior? The audience begin to believe that agent M is so superior as she is the person who is giving orders and demands to know what is happening. The audience are unable to know whether this women is in power as her position is not revealed.
The non-diegetic soundtrack is very loud, upbeat at the start; this presents the anonymous figure as good but still leaves the audience questioning who is he?
The soundtrack is then quickly changed to being aery; this presents the situation as dangerous leading the audience scared of what is about to provoke James Bond.
The use of diegetic dialogue between Bond and a women communicating through and ear piece; tells the audience that Bond is working for somebody and the audience begin to question who?
A powerful base beat soundtrack is used when Bond is walking around, this causes the audience to jump.
The amplified sound of the bullet being shot; makes the audience jump. It also emphasises the power of the bullet as everything thing else is silent and it is the only thing heard. After this the sound of the wind of Bond falling is then too amplified; emphasising the impact of the fall and the height. This makes the audience feel uncertainty of if he will survive. The silence after this leads the audience to feel uncomfortable and again uncertain if he will survive leaving them on a cliff hanger.
The sound track 'SKYFALL' is used when Bond hits the water; this makes the audience's mood drop, as it is as if the world will begin to fall now he is presented to be dead. this builds up suspense as this song also tells a story relating to Bond and makes them feel as if they got to know him as a character and now they hope he is not dead.
The use of diegetic dialogue at the very start of the opening extract is used to build suspense. The audience first see a character in mid sentence; performing a speech. This invokes the audience to feel suspense as they are unaware of the topic the characters are speaking about and want to know 'what' it is they are speaking off.
A non-v soundtrack is used over a conversation between the CIA officer and another man; the soundtrack consists of a beat that gradually gets louder and speeds up as the conversation goes on. As a result of this the audience feel as if this soundtrack is leading up to something dangerous/bad as the louder the base escalates the more alert the audience become. Another use of a non-v soundtrack is used to highlight the acts of someone to another changes. This is used when the CIA agents plan is purposely destroyed. The use of this makes the audience feel as if the atmosphere within the situtation is uncomfortable and as a result, builds suspense, as they want to know what goes on after wards.
The use of amplified diegetic noises is used to make the viewers 'jump' as the loud noises alerts their bodies. for example; when the bullet are being fired into the airplane. The use of this makes the audience feel as if they are in the situation and makes them feel uncomfortable, and extremly nervous for the characters.
The use of diegetic dialogue creates suspense; as characters are able to hide the facts. When a character repeats the sentence 'truth about Harvey Dent' it leads audience members to believe that he is hiding something or protecting someone from something. This makes the viewers want to know more about what supposedly is the truth and makes them question why the truth can not be told.
The diegetic dialogue of a character used to present the characters accent builds up
suspense. When a character gets caught in an act of crime her accent changes and she
reveals her true identity. This, however, allows the audience to wonder, whom she is,
what is she doing and why does she have more then one identity.
Shot-reverse-shot is used to build up suspense. When Bruce Wayne catches the women stealing a necklace. This builds up suspense as the audience want to know what the meaning of the facial expressions being pulled actually are, and if they presumed correctly. It also builds up suspense, as the audience can feel the tension between the two through the use of shot-reverse-shot and seeing the characters facial expression towards each other.

Flashback is used to tell an anecdote of the character 'Harvey' within the opening. It reveals little pieces of information of a story which is not to be told yet. This creates suspense as the audience know more then other characters within the scene; also the use of flashbacks makes them feel as if they have been trusted with information about the past but are not fully aware of what they know, it leads the audience to wanting to continue watching so all can be revealed.

Fast-paced editing is used throughout the clip, it is used to take the viewers from bit of action/drama which is taken place to another which also has occurred. It builds up suspense by feeding the audience with a countless amount of hectic information and invokes them to feel uncomfortable and wanting for the information to be resolved.

The use of an eye line match shot is used to create suspense. This is used in Bruce Wayne's perspective. This editing technique, encourages the reader to feel tense, as they are not able to see behind the character so what lurks behind them is unknown. This triggers an emotional change in the viewers as they feel like they are a character within the situation of the
In the first car we see in the opening extract, three male character with sacks over their heads and guns being held to them. This connotes danger to the audience and creates and an uncertainty of which characters are good and which ones are bad. The covered faces also hide their identity so the audience are unaware of which characters these people are; and they begin to wonder who they are.

The men in masks are dressed in a dark colour (black), these outfits create suspense as black has the connotations of evil and scary, this allows fear to be struck into the viewers causing them to suspect the people whom they may subconsciously fear to be the bad characters in the plot of the film.

A person in a body bag is brought on to the plane the characters are on. This is so blood can be transferred from the doctor to person in the body bag. This behavior of the character builds up suspense as it creates an uneasy atmosphere for the viewers as puts them into an uncomfortable position. As the plane is about to crash the audience want to know what they are doing as they are risking their lives to transfer blood.

A shadow figure appears at the top of a building, this hidden identity presents a mystery to our viewers. This creates suspense as the viewers want to know what they are doing and who it is.

camera work

The use of a low angle long shot introduces the characters in the frame to the audience and gives them a high status, as the audience are looking up at them. This is used to introduce the CIA agent and the 3 soldiers in the background. This creates suspense as the audience want to know who these characters are, as they are seen to have authority in the eyes of the viewers before they even know their character identities.

The use of an ariel shot of a plan about to crash; creates suspense. This shot makes the audience feel nervous as they witness the height of the airplane, and measure the potential fall that the plan may encounter. This hooks the viewer and makes them cautious of the danger. This keeps the audience on the age of their seats.

The use of a low angle close up is used to introduce Bane one of the main characters (man in the mask) in the story. The use of the shot promotes this character as a strong individual who is superior in contrast to others in the scene. This suggests to the viewers that he is the one about to cause danger and is the one who is going to escape. This makes the viewers be suspicious of this character.

The use of an extreme long shot of a plane being hung and controlled by another plane creates suspense for the audience. It again makes the viewer measure the
extreme dangers of this behavior and leave them on the edge of the seat
wanting to know what happens next.
Has Fallen

mise en scene
The audience see communication via an earpiece take place, within the home of the president. This promotes an uneasy reception from the audience as the person whom is communicating through the ear piece is a hidden identity and therefore builds suspense.

The snow storm the audience witness within the extract is used to create suspense. The danger which follows icy roads and heavy snow down pours; is life threatening, this invokes the audience to feel suspense as the president (someone with great power/authority) is being driven over a bridge, in such appalling weather conditions. The audience begin to feel scared for the president and his family as the weather gets worse, and the risks become greater.

The bridge used within this extract is used to create suspense as the distance in a drop of the edge is huge and life threatening. The car hanging of the edge of the bridge promotes extreme danger to the audience, as it looks like there is no escape, and if they drop they will die. Also, the car hanging off the edge represents a 50/50 chance of survival making the audience scared as the President and his wife are in the car.

The use of make up within the extract promotes death and creates suspense. The make up on the the wife of the presidents' face displays her to be bleeding from the car crash. This makes the audience question if she will survive, and makes the audience question the power of the crash.
The use of flashbacks present Mike to be tormented by what happened on the bridge. This creates suspense as the audience want to know what happens within the story to Mike and what he plans to do with himself and the situation. Also, the use of flashbacks reminds the audience of
what happened and brings them back to the uncomfortable atmosphere they were in.
The point of view shot from the president to his friend suggests a close friendship between the two. This builds up suspense for the viewers as at the beginning the audience do not know whom these characters are, therefore question who they are, where they're from, how do they know each other, where are they and what they are doing? This leads audience member to feel anxious about these characters as they do not know what they are capable of and do not know if they are the antagonist or protagonist. This also leaves the audience wondering what are they training to fight for? For fun or for evil?

Another point of view shot is used to make the audience 'jump'. This is when the driver is looking out the window, when something crashes into his car. This shot makes the audience 'jump' and therefore triggers fear into the audience, as they feel as if they are in the car when this happens due to this shot.

The use of a canted camera angle emphasises the chaotic drama which ties in with the car crash. It invokes the audience to feel uneasy and to feel suspense as the angle mirrors the frantic stability of the car when it crashes.

A high angle long shot of the cars going over the bridge foreshadows the danger of driving of the bridge. It also allows the audience to establish the setting of the scene and the mise en scene within the shot.

The tracking of the character Mike, takes the audience on a journey with him. It allows the
audience to see what he has made of life now he is no longer the body guard of the president.
It creates suspense as the audience do not know what he is going to do as he wants to
be part of the team again.
The use of slow motion of the presidents child running towards the car which dropped of the edge is used to create sympathy for the child and also to create suspense. It makes the audience question what is going to happen next and what is instore for Mike.

The black out from one scene to another suggests the passing of time. This creates suspense for the audience as they wonder what has happened in the time they have not seen. This makes them feel as if they have missed part of the story and they want to know what happens.

The use of diegetic dialogue is used to create suspense, by leaving the audience wondering. An example of this is "10 minutes", we hear this at the very start of the extract when the characters identities are unknown. This dialogue reveals some information to the audience about an event but they are not aware of what is going to happen. This makes the audience feel scared to what is going to happen and creates a dramatic atmosphere.

The use of the amplified diegetic noise of an object crashing into a car makes the audience jump. This invokes suspense as it makes the audience frightened and leaves them feeling uneasy and very uncomfortable to what has happened.

The use of non diegetic soundtrack is used to build up tension, as it is fast paced. This happens when the cars are driving over the bridge. This makes the audience feel as if something is about to happen and makes the audience feel as if danger is lurking in the presence of the vehicles on the bridge.
The diegetic use of dialogue is used to promote panic to the audience.
The characters are screaming and shouting and this promotes suspense as the audience are not aware of what this chaotic situation will turn out to be.

The diegetic dialogue between characters does not reveal much information to audience and this keeps the audience guessing. It creates suspense as it leaves the audience wondering and they begin to create possible outcomes of what they could be
talking about.
In the opening sequence, we see James Bond go on a
mission to find someone who has a disk belonging to agent M. He is in foreign

country, on the hunt for an agent who has the disk containing confidential files of other secret agents. The audience witness Bond go in to a room and find a room full of dead agents, killed by the person who has the disk. We then see a fellow agent who picks Bond up and takes him to the location where the character with disk is. This becomes a chase scene. Bond drives a motor bike through the markets of this country to hunt this person, whilst being accompanied by his fellow female agent in a car. Bond and the agent with the disk end up on a moving train and begin to fight.
The train get torn apart, and Bond services. The two continue to fight when the female
agent is ordered by agent M, to shot the agent with the disk, although it is not a
'clean' shot. She takes the shot and shoots Bond, causing him to fall of the train
and into the sea. 'AGENT DOWN'.
In the opening sequence we see a man talking about a
character called Harvey who appears to be dead. It then

cuts to a car driving with 3 passengers inside with their head covers. The car goes to the a plane where an FBI
agent is awaiting for the doctor to aboard and he is shocked when he is with 3 passengers with there head covered. The doctor says they are clues to Bane and why he wears the mask so he allows them to come on to get answers. On the plane the FBI agent is integrating these men to talk by threatening to throw them out the plane if they do not talk. He does not this but instead pretends to shoot them to scare the others. After this Bane reveals himself to them scaring all the FBI agents. He breaks free of the handcuffs, and his team in another plane begins to blow the plan to pieces in order to rescue Bane. Bane and his team kill everyone on board apart from the doctor, who they take with them.
But before the leave they put the doctor blood in another character in order for it too look as if he has
died on the plane. Bane tells one of his members of the team to stay on board.
The dark knight rises is directed by: Christopher Nolan in 2013
SKYFALL is directed by:
Sam Mendes in 2012
Within the opening sequence the audience see the president and
his Presidential guard (Mike Banning) boxing in a ring, as friends. This is stopped when
someone working for the president comes in and says '10 minutes'. The audience then see the president and his wife getting ready for a party they HAVE to tend, when there son comes in and asks to ride in the car with Mike, the president says yes. On their way out the whether conditions is terrible and America is being hit with a snow storm. On the way to the party the president gives his wife a Christmas present in the car and they kiss. Suddenly, the car gets hit and crashes into the rail of the bridge and hangs off the edge. The president remains consciousness but he's wife does not. Mike rushes over demanding their son to stay in the car
and saves the president unable to save the wife as the car plummets to the ground below the
From anaylsing these opening sequences I have learnt that creating an atmosphere where the audience feel tense and anxious, can be done through the use of all 4 aspects of filming, (editing, camera work, sound and mise en scene. I have learnt that feeling suspense is a vital part of creating a thriller film and it can be done, in a simple way, so it does not have to be complex.
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