What does a Psychological Thriller look like?

What does a Psychological Thriller look like? This genre is so broad that a PT doesn’t immediately look like anything. Take this opening scene from ‘Donnie Darko‘, for instance. Aesthetically, it bears more resemblance to a dark teen movie like ‘Heathers’ or possibly ‘Pump up the Volume’  than another PT such as ‘The Sixth Sense’. It has all the hallmarks of a high school drama: lone outcast isolated in mundane, sleepy suburban setting. However, it goes beyond these initial expectations and develops into a psychologically evolved (veering on sci-f) drama.  The Psychological Thriller is a genre that is able to take any scenario and draw the mystery and danger from it.



Sonnet Jane Eyre


Jane Eyre:

Trembling and fainting from infant panic,

Solitary Jane is confined to a red room.

She is branded a thieving liar and barbaric

At a school that deals in miserly gloom –

Helen waits patiently there for a benign

Un-evidenced God to stop her weak breath.

Serendipity pushes a man down in time

For her to be brought to a house reeking of death

And creaking with rumour and a bastard child.

Rochester calls her into his room for fire-lit

Discussion of her and him while red hell burns wild –

The hysterical ghost tears the white dress in a fit.

But, much later, she hears his voice bidding for kind

Jane return to a black house and a man now blind.


This poem is based on the novel by Jane Eyre and also the 2011 film by Cary Fukunaga. I think it is probably necessary to watch the film or know the book to understand the poem.


Earth (Ghazal)


Tug out the henge stones like loose teeth from wet earth

And hear a low moan of dread from the spent earth.


Baked, bare souls kick up rising dust. Dark eyes are

Used to the sun’s grim ache and finding coins in red earth.


Fat cherubs coo down from a cathedral sky

Framed by stars like milk splashed on jet earth.


The one thousand arms of a lover hold flowers

Dripping putrid oil on eyes, mouth and dead earth.


An old woman gurgles a “thank you” or “yes”

As she is lowered into sacred earth.


Impress ‘Cecily’ into dry sand with a shoot

Plucked from a remote garden of unfettered earth.


dry earth


In this poem I wanted to convey a sense of the gothic found in many Psychological Thrillers. I was also interested in the way that ‘clues’ work within the genre to enable the audience to come to their own conclusion and form their own understanding. The different stanzas can be seen to hopefully  act as these ‘clues’ – often the director/writer only gives the audience only glimpses of a greater whole.

One Sentence Poem

Brighton Rock


Hail Mary he thinks on the seedy pier

As seagulls screech over old chips –

Rose, the little slut, serves tea

A cross hangs precipitously over her chest


Hail Mary as the Boy kicks old Spicer in his brittle shins

Busting a gaslight open on his way down –

Courting on salt-grass, bent towards a cliff

Shows proper feeling, like


Hail Mary burns down in Vitrol-hiss

On a bus rattling through Kemp Town –

It’s a fine day for the races and

Being cut to the bone


Hail Mary she belongs to him like a chair or a room

“I’ll never ever leave you, Pinkie” –

So he shows her how to pull the cold metal weight

And leaves it on her lap


Hail Mary when the record hits a scratch

And regurgitates an appalling hymn

Like a drone or a chant beating back

To a grainy snap taken on a sunny afternoon.

Brighton Rock Pic

West Pier





Death was his story,

Destruction was mine.

We had the same climax, and ending.

We had the same time.

Our plots unlike.

Our lives intertwined.


Had minds, not bodies intertwined,

Maybe there’d be a different ending to this story.

Maybe his fate could be unlike,

The fate of mine,

But father time,

chose a different ending.


But was there ever room for a happy ending?

Linked fate, entwined

with sin, needs only time

for stories

like mine

to begin. Unliked,



me, he, ended

his life though ending mine,

like I said, our lives intertwined,

I wish I could go back and tell my ego who’s story

I was really telling, in time.


I wishe I took a moment to confess my sins, in time.

but just like

him, thus my story

comes to an end

sin intertwined,

because he knew once he stole what was mine,


the hate would drive me out of my mind.

If only I could turn back time,

and intertwine

with a place, a face, very unlike

this, dry bitter, ugly, decapitated end

to this story.


when someone tells you their story,

listen until the bitter end,

and never be too vain to think it is unlike


your own. You see, any hero, could end up like mine

with the misunderstanding of story and time

your story, your life, yourself and killer could be forever intertwined.

Step outline–Donnie Darko

Donnie-Darko-donnie-darko-1032758_1024_768Non-Diagetic Sound, Overview of a mountainside, camera pans in.

Slowly pans closer until you can see a dark figure lying on the ground.

Begin diagetic sounds of birds as the figure begins to get off the ground. There is a bike next to him as he sits up.

The camera circles around a young boy, showing from his point of view, him looking at the landscape.

The boy (Donnie Darko) gets up and looks again at the landscape.

A bright light flashes across the landscape of mountains. The title flashes across the screen.

Music begins as you see Donnie riding his bike through the woods, and down a road.

He rides past a Halloween sign, and then enters a suburb.

The road turns to pavement. You see cars, and a suburban family gardening and greeting each other jovially.

He rides up to a house and drops his bike.

Pan to a young woman jumping on a trampoline in a garden.

Her mother reads in a deck chair.

Music cuts out.

Donnie opens the refrigerator, and the whiteboard on the front reads “where is Donnie?”

The Game


The film I chose for this blog is, The Game, Directed by: David Fincher (Director of Fight Club & Se7en). Before watching the film, I read three reviews from, Roger Ebert, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Ebert giving it 3 1/2 stars.

Based on the reviews I read, I’m wasn’t sure how much I was going to like this film. Though the critics had nothing but good things to say, the premise didn’t come across as particularly thrilling, and I wasn’t not sure how invested I will be in the character’s plight. I went ahead and watched this film because the reviews said that it is in Fincher’s style, and I love most of his films.

Wow! After watching the film, I definitely think critics can certainly do more harm that good, especially if the think they are really doing good. While I most likely would not have watched this film based solely on the reviews, I’m glad I went ahead and watched it anyway. It was a slow start, but once the characters were established, and the plot got rolling, it was thrilling from there on out. The ending was something that I would have new expected, though the title sort of gives it away. Michael Douglas and Sean Penn are astounding throughout the entire movie, and they help drive this very fast-paced plot line. I think the film’s sheer originality, great acting, and Fincher style scene based plot movie, helped drive the film home. Moral of the story: I don’t think you should always take a critic’s word for it, especially if they are coming from a very difference perspective. The things that the reviews found interesting and compelling, were very different from what I found interesting and compelling.

Blog Assignment #8- D. Scott

Dwayne Scott

Blog Post #8


I read reviews on rottentomatoes.com before watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Stranger’s on a Train (1951) with my cinematic poetry class. I could not find a bad review about the movie. I particularly included “bad review” in the search and nothing. Reviewers proclaimed that it was another Hitchcockian hit with Farley Granger and Robert Walker playing a combatant yet dynamic duo. It was mentioned that the plot is very typical, but Hitchcock and his actors did a tremendous job creating motifs of the duality of light and dark in the film. After watching the film, I realized that no one expressed how hilarious the film actually is. The acting felt more like a screenplay than a movie, very staccato-like and highly pronounced. I also laughed at the phoniness in the final fighting scene (Bruno’s face mainly), but I do understand that Hitchcock has a sense of humor and possibly intended for it to seem overly dramatized. Hitchcock really hit home when he summoned the elder gentlemen without dentures to stop the carousel, and when the officer turns down the request of stopping the carousel. I may not be the one for old movies, but overall, I got a kick out of this movie and would recommend others watch it as well.

Blog Assignment #7- D. Scott

Dwayne Scott

Blog Assignment #7


Leonardo DiCaprio was phenomenal in the Martin Scorsese film, Shutter Island (2010). Scorsese has included DiCaprio in each of his films since the early 2000’s. Each one of their films earns progressively better ratings. Critics have claimed that DiCaprio’s on-screen emotions lacked trueness, but I completely disagree after watching the Psychological thriller, Shutter Island. Alongside DiCaprio are many other talented actors such as Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, and Max Von Sydow who should be taken into consideration when discussing Leonardo’s performance. Great actors feed off of each other on-set and Leonardo gives much of the credit to these other actors in his interviews. I believe having Leonardo DiCaprio and these other established actors was necessary for producing a movie based on a well-known book such as Shutter Island.