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.







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.

Black Swan


For this blog, I chose the film, Black Swan, Directed by Darren Aronofsky. This film stars, Natalie Portman.

Because Natalie Portman received so much hype and acclaim over this film, I was a tad apprehensive. I am not the biggest Portman fan myself, so I felt as though some of the reviews of the film seemed hyperbolic. But after watching the film, I feel very differently.

I was able to suspend disbelief almost instantly. The level of acting in this film is amazing. Portman does an outstanding job translating this character on the screen. I found myself confused and emotionally distressed quite early on in the film (in a good way), and this was carried with me throughout. Portman’s portrayal of a young dancer on the cusp of her big break was scarily honest, and emotionally jarring in a way that many actor never achieve in their careers.

I’m not sure if my low expectation informed my utter amazement with the film, but I was indeed, utterly amazed with Portman’s performance. Her celebrity certainly did not harm my viewing of the film at all.

Fight Club


For this blog, I chose the cult classic, Fight Club. I think this movie is a perfect intersection of Classicism and Formalism. Director, David Fincher uses traditional psychological thriller methods such as quick cuts from scene to scene, loud diagetic sound, but he also employs techniques that are very different from the classic structure. Fight Club, from very beginning is a psychological thriller in a way I’ve never seen one done before. There are subliminal messages throughout, even spliced images within scenes to make the viewer feel as though the are going crazy while watching. There are even moments of stark realism, especially during the fight scenes. Each fight is filmed as though you are watching a documentary of an underground fight club.

The director does a good job of spanning these three fields (realism, classicism, and formalism), and this causes the movie to excellently perform in the genre, though it is so nontraditionally filmed. Each choice takes the view on a psychological journey along with the main characters of the film. The lighting choices, the splicing of scenes, the realism during fights, and the absurdity of some scenes allow this movie to capture an audience in a way that would typically be distracting.


Assassin–One Sentence Poem


Someone must die, it’s inescapable,

If you had the chance to play god would you,

Could you,

Should you,

Let’s play a game—


Scanning the room,

Spotting the target,



The mirrored imaged repulses you

Scarred, maimed,

If it’s worth it,



Suddenly rage fills you,

Your blood has been replaced with pure malice;



The blade raises in your hand…


the world is blank


When your eyes reopen,

Blood has been spilled;

It pours, it flows,

You watch the beauty of the crimson river as it exits your body,


wondering was it worth it?

The Usual Suspects–Blog 3


the_usual_suspects011024Enter all protagonists into what looks to be a basement of a jail. It is dark, the bars of holding cells are reflected on the floor. One character seems to have a club foot and you can hear it sliding along the linoleum floor. The characters enter a line-up room, first in shadow, then a bright light is turned on quickly. You hear a buzz of an intercom and someone begins to speak. You are apse to see how small the line-up room is, it seems more like a box. You can hear the sound of lights buzzing, and the hum of the intercom.

Based on the scenery, you can tell this is supposed to be a serious scene. The silence and heavy presence of diagetic sound, keeps the viewer on edge, you are waiting for something to happen, and paying very close attention. The bright light, and confined space of the room also helps to do this.

Kevin Spacey does a beautiful job throughout the movie, and this is the first scene I think you begin to see it. He keeps the scene interesting. Most of the diagetic sound is coming from his body movements alone. He also creates interesting shadow because of how he chooses to position his body.