At the beginning of our Cinematic Movement and Poetry Class, we watched 3 films that would traditionally be considered a part of the Psychological Thriller Genre: Strangers on a Train, House Hunting and Skeleton Key.
For the purpose of this blog, we have decided upon these general rules to define our genre:
You Know it’s a Psychological Thriller if it Has:
First of all, a psychological thriller has to begin with a sense of mystery. The audience has to be left wanting answers for unexplained circumstances. We have to be hooked.
The director has to provide the viewer with a feeling that they are going through a process of realisation. We have to be left baffled by the narrative without becoming bored or fed up.
Engages with audience in non-traditional ways:
A good psychological thriller has to challenge the audience in a more direct and demanding way than other films. A more active participation is required of the audience. The audience is forced to guess and try to work out what the key to the mystery is.
The end of psychological thrillers usually end on a note of uncertainty. Although the endings are usually ‘satisfactory’ the entire mystery is not entirely explained.
Plot Plot Plot:
Psychological Thrillers are plot driven. Audiences engage with characters only as far as they are driving the plot. Once a character is irrelevant to driving the story, they can be easily forgotten (i.e. McGuffins)
There is almost always a twist: a moment when the audience goes “Ohhhhhh”.