Psychological thriller

Last updated

Psychological thriller is a genre combining the thriller and psychological fiction genres. It is commonly used to describe literature or films that deal with psychological narratives in a thriller or thrilling setting.

Contents

In terms of context and convention, it is a subgenre of the broader ranging thriller narrative structure, [1] with similarities to Gothic and detective fiction in the sense of sometimes having a "dissolving sense of reality". It is often told through the viewpoint of psychologically stressed characters, revealing their distorted mental perceptions and focusing on the complex and often tortured relationships between obsessive and pathological characters. [2] Psychological thrillers often incorporate elements of mystery, drama, action, and paranoia. The genre is closely related to and sometimes overlaps with the psychological horror genre, the latter generally involving more horror and terror elements and themes and more disturbing or frightening scenarios.

Definition

Peter Hutchings states varied films have been labeled psychological thrillers, but it usually refers to "narratives with domesticated settings in which action is suppressed and where thrills are provided instead via investigations of the psychologies of the principal characters." [3] A distinguishing characteristic of a psychological thriller is it emphasizes the mental states of its characters: their perceptions, thoughts, distortions, and general struggle to grasp reality. [4]

According to director John Madden, psychological thrillers focus on story, character development, choice, and moral conflict; fear and anxiety drive the psychological tension in unpredictable ways. Madden stated their lack of spectacle and strong emphasis on character led to their decline in Hollywood popularity. [5] Psychological thrillers are suspenseful by exploiting uncertainty over characters' motives, honesty, and how they see the world. [6] Films can also cause discomfort in audiences by privileging them with information they wish to share with the characters; guilty characters may suffer similar distress by virtue of their knowledge. [4]

However, James N. Frey defines psychological thrillers as a style, rather than a subgenre; Frey states good thrillers focus on the psychology of their antagonists and build suspense slowly through ambiguity. [7] Creators and/or film distributors or publishers who seek to distance themselves from the negative connotations of horror often categorize their work as a psychological thriller. [8] The same situation can occur when critics label a work to be a psychological thriller in order to elevate its perceived literary value. [7]

Literary devices and techniques

Themes

Many psychological thrillers have emerged over the past years, all in various media (film, literature, radio, etc.). Despite these very different forms of representation, general trends have appeared throughout the narratives. Some of these consistent themes include: [4]

In psychological thrillers, characters often have to battle an inner struggle. Amnesia is a common plot device used to explore these questions. Character may be threatened with death, be forced to deal with the deaths of others, or fake their own deaths. [4] Psychological thrillers can be complex, and reviewers may recommend a second or third viewing to "decipher its secrets." [13] Common elements may include stock characters, such as a hardboiled detective and serial killer, involved in a cat and mouse game. [14] Sensation novels, examples of early psychological thrillers, were considered to be socially irresponsible due to their themes of sex and violence. These novels, among others, were inspired by the exploits of real-life detective Jack Whicher. [15] Water, especially floods, is frequently used to represent the unconscious mind, such as in What Lies Beneath and In Dreams . [16] Psychological thrillers may not always be concerned with plausibility. Peter Hutchings defines the giallo, an Italian subgenre of psychological thrillers, as violent murder mysteries that focus on style and spectacle over rationality. [17] According to Peter B. Flint of The New York Times , detractors of Alfred Hitchcock accused him of "relying on slick tricks, illogical story lines and wild coincidences". [18]

Examples

Screenwriters and directors

Video games

Film

Television

Literature

Anime and manga

Related Research Articles

<i>Psycho</i> (1960 film) 1960 film by Alfred Hitchcock

Psycho is a 1960 American psychological horror thriller film produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The screenplay, written by Joseph Stefano, was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film stars Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin and Martin Balsam. The plot centers on an encounter between on-the-run embezzler Marion Crane (Leigh) and shy motel proprietor Norman Bates (Perkins) and its aftermath, in which a private investigator (Balsam), Marion's lover Sam Loomis (Gavin), and her sister Lila (Miles) investigate the cause of her disappearance.

Action film Film genre

Action film is a film genre in which the protagonist or protagonists are thrust into a series of events that typically include violence, extended fighting, physical feats, rescues and frantic chases. Action films tend to feature a mostly resourceful hero struggling against incredible odds, which include life-threatening situations, a dangerous villain, or a pursuit which usually concludes in victory for the hero. Advancements in computer-generated imagery (CGI) have made it cheaper and easier to create action sequences and other visual effects that required the efforts of professional stunt crews in the past. However, reactions to action films containing significant amounts of CGI have been mixed, as films that use computer animations to create unrealistic, highly unbelievable events are often met with criticism. While action has long been a recurring component in films, the "action film" genre began to develop in the 1970s along with the increase of stunts and special effects. Common tropes of the genre include explosions, car chases, fistfights and shootouts.

In fiction, a MacGuffin is an object, device, or event that is necessary to the plot and the motivation of the characters, but insignificant, unimportant, or irrelevant in itself. The term was originated by Angus MacPhail for film, adopted by Alfred Hitchcock, and later extended to a similar device in other fiction.

Crime fiction Genre of fiction focusing on crime

Crime fiction, detective story, murder mystery, mystery novel, and police novel are terms used to describe narratives that centre on criminal acts and especially on the investigation, either by an amateur or a professional detective, of a serious crime, generally a murder. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction and other genres such as historical fiction or science fiction, but the boundaries are indistinct. Crime fiction has multiple subgenres, including detective fiction, courtroom drama, hard-boiled fiction, and legal thrillers. Most crime drama focuses on crime investigation and does not feature the courtroom. Suspense and mystery are key elements that are nearly ubiquitous to the genre.

<i>Les Diaboliques</i> (film) 1955 film by Henri-Georges Clouzot

Les Diaboliques is a 1955 French psychological horror thriller film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, starring Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse and Charles Vanel. It is based on the novel She Who Was No More by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac.

A plot device or plot mechanism is any technique in a narrative used to move the plot forward. A clichéd plot device may annoy the reader and a contrived or arbitrary device may confuse the reader, causing a loss of the suspension of disbelief. However, a well-crafted plot device, or one that emerges naturally from the setting or characters of the story, may be entirely accepted, or may even be unnoticed by the audience.

Thriller (genre) Genre of literature, film, and television programming

Thriller is a genre of fiction, having numerous, often overlapping subgenres. Thrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Successful examples of thrillers are the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

Psychological horror is a subgenre of horror and psychological fiction with a particular focus on mental, emotional, and psychological states to frighten, disturb, or unsettle its audience. The subgenre frequently overlaps with the related subgenre of psychological thriller, and often uses mystery elements and characters with unstable, unreliable, or disturbed psychological states to enhance the suspense, drama, action, and paranoia of the setting and plot and to provide an overall unpleasant, unsettling, or distressing atmosphere.

A plot twist is a literary technique that introduces a radical change in the direction or expected outcome of the plot in a work of fiction. When it happens near the end of a story, it is known as a twist or surprise ending. It may change the audience's perception of the preceding events, or introduce a new conflict that places it in a different context. A plot twist may be foreshadowed, to prepare the audience to accept it. There are a variety of methods used to execute a plot twist, such as withholding information from the audience or misleading it with ambiguous or false information.

In literature, psychological fiction is a narrative genre that emphasizes interior characterization and motivation to explore the spiritual, emotional, and mental lives of the characters. The mode of narration examines the reasons for the behaviors of the character, which propel the plot and explain the story. Psychological realism is achieved with deep explorations and explanations of the mental states of the character's inner person, usually through narrative modes such as stream of consciousness and flash back.

<i>Psycho II</i> (film) 1983 film by Richard Franklin

Psycho II is a 1983 American slasher film directed by Richard Franklin, written by Tom Holland, and starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Robert Loggia, and Meg Tilly. It is the first sequel to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho and the second film in the Psycho franchise. Set 22 years after the first film, it follows Norman Bates after he is released from the mental institution and returns to the house and Bates Motel to continue a normal life. However, his troubled past continues to haunt him as someone begins to murder the people around him. The film is unrelated to the 1982 novel Psycho II by Robert Bloch, which he wrote as a sequel to his original 1959 novel Psycho.

Richard Franklin (director)

Richard Franklin was an Australian film director.

Alfred Hitchcock filmography Alfred Hitchcock filmography

Alfred Hitchcock (1899–1980) was an English director and filmmaker. Popularly known as the "Master of Suspense" for his use of innovative film techniques in thrillers, Hitchcock started his career in the British film industry as a title designer and art director for a number of silent films during the early 1920s. His directorial debut was the 1925 release The Pleasure Garden. Hitchcock followed this with The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, his first commercial and critical success. It featured many of the thematic elements his films would be known for such as an innocent man on the run. It also featured the first of his famous cameo appearances. Two years later he directed Blackmail (1929) which was his first sound film. In 1935 Hitchcock directed The 39 Steps. Three years later he directed The Lady Vanishes, starring Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave.

Hitchcockian films are those made by various filmmakers, with the styles and themes similar to those of Alfred Hitchcock.

Alfred Hitchcock's films show an interesting tendency towards recurring themes and plot devices throughout his life as a director.

<i>Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho</i> Book by Stephen Rebello

Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho is a 1990 non-fiction book by Stephen Rebello. It details the creation of director Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller Psycho. The 2012 American biographical drama film directed by Sacha Gervasi, based on this non-fiction book is titled Hitchcock. The film was released on November 23, 2012.

Thriller film Film genre

Thriller film, also known as suspense film or suspense thriller, is a broad film genre that evokes excitement and suspense in the audience. The suspense element found in most films' plots is particularly exploited by the filmmaker in this genre. Tension is created by delaying what the audience sees as inevitable, and is built through situations that are menacing or where escape seems impossible.

Body horror Subgenre of horror that showcases graphic or psychologically disturbing violations of the human body

Body horror or biological horror is a subgenre of horror that intentionally showcases grotesque or psychologically disturbing violations of the human body. These violations may manifest through aberrant sex, mutations, mutilation, zombification, gratuitous violence, disease, or unnatural movements of the body. Body horror was a description originally applied to an emerging subgenre of North American horror films, but has roots in early Gothic literature and has expanded to include other media.

Art horror is a sub-genre of both horror films and art-films. It explores and experiments with the artistic uses of horror.

References

  1. Dictionary.com, definition, psychological thriller (definition), Accessed November 3, 2013, "...a suspenseful movie or book emphasizing the psychology of its characters rather than the plot; this subgenre of thriller movie or book – Example: In a psychological thriller, the characters are exposed to danger on a mental level rather than a physical one....",
  2. Christopher Pittard, Blackwell Reference, Psychological Thrillers, Accessed November 3, 2013, "...characteristics of the genre as 'a dissolving sense of reality; reticence in moral pronouncements; obsessive, pathological characters; the narrative privileging of complex, tortured relationships' ( Munt 1994)..."
  3. Hutchings, Peter (2009). The A to Z of Horror. Scarecrow Press. p. 253. ISBN   9780810870505.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Packer, Sharon (2007). Movies and the Modern Psyche. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 87–90. ISBN   9780275993597.
  5. Bowie-Sell, Daisy (2012-01-23). "John Madden on Psychological Thrillers". Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  6. Whitney, Erin (2012-11-15). "Gretchen Mol Returns to the Stage in 'The Good Mother'". Backstage . Retrieved 2013-08-21. element of a psychological thriller because ... suspenseful feeling of who did what, who's being honest ... about perception...
  7. 1 2 Frey, James N. (2010). How to Write a Damn Good Thriller. Macmillan Publishers. pp. 15–19. ISBN   9781429913638.
  8. Barton, Steve (2008-05-27). "Six Things that Still Drive Me Psycho". DreadCentral . Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  9. 1 2 Breznican, Anthony (2005-08-11). "This Shocking Twist Is ... Secret". USA Today . Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  10. 1 2 Taylor, Andrew (2009-01-16). "The DNA of detection". BBC . Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  11. Santoski, Teresa (2012-08-13). "The Week in Preview: "I am a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach." – Alfred Hitchcock". The Nashua Telegraph . Retrieved 2013-11-10.
  12. "Red Herring". 2020.
  13. Holden, Stephen (2011-04-14). "Romance or Film Noir? Both, and a Thriller". The New York Times . Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  14. Wright, Chris (2011-07-31). "Your Psychological Thriller". Boston Globe . Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  15. Summerscale, Kate (2008-04-04). "The Prince of Sleuths". The Guardian . Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  16. Indick, William (2004). Movies and the Mind. McFarland & Company. p. 70. ISBN   9780786480920.
  17. Hutchings, Peter (2009). The A to Z of Horror Cinema. Scarecrow Press. pp. 141–143. ISBN   9780810870505.
  18. Flint, Peter B. (1980-04-30). "Alfred Hitchcock Dies; A Master of Suspense". The New York Times . Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  19. Anderton, Ethan (2010-05-14). "Brad Anderson Helming an Amnesiac Serial Killer Film 'Jack". FirstShowing.net. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  20. Hutchings, Peter (2003). "The Argento Effect". In Jancovich, Mark; Reboll, Antionio Lázaro; Stringer, Julian; Willis, Andy (eds.). Defining Cult Movies: the Cultural Politics of Oppositional Taste. Manchester: Manchester University Press. pp. 128–132. ISBN   978-0-7190-6631-3.
  21. Vilkomerson, Sara (2010-12-10). "Darren Aronofsky: The Swan King". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  22. Morgan, Jason (2008-04-08). "Aronofsky Thrilled by Psychology". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  23. French, Philip (2013-03-02). "Stoker – review" . Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  24. French, Philip (2012-02-11). "A Dangerous Method – review". The Guardian . Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  25. Canby, Vincent (2004). "Dressed to Kill". In Nichols, Peter M.; Scott, A.O. (eds.). The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN   9780312326111.
  26. Crowther, Bosley (1941-11-21). "Suspicion a Hitchcock Thriller at Radio City". The New York Times . Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  27. de Semlyen, Phil (2010-08-27). "Satoshi Kon Dies At 46". Empire . Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  28. Jensen, Jeff (2006-12-01). "David Lynch wants to get in your bloodstream". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  29. Breznican, Anthony (2010-07-16). "With 'Inception,' Chris Nolan's head games continue". USA Today . Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  30. Johnston, Sheila (1995-04-13). "Great Minds Share a Cesspool". The Independent . Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  31. "Martin Scorsese". Psychological Thrillers. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  32. "The 25 Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time". Collider. 2021-01-02. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  33. Lammers, Dirk (2010-06-01). "'Alan Wake' combines psychological thriller with shooter". North Jersey Media Group . Associated Press . Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  34. John, Tracey (2009-12-29). "Choose Your Own Adventure in Psychological Thriller 'Heavy Rain'". Time . Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  35. "'Hotline Miami' takes players on an acid trip into a realm of depravity". PopOptiq. 2014-09-03. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  36. Taylor, Jasmin. "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, an attempt at innovation or a total fail?". The Standard. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  37. "The Many Faces of 'Black Swan,' Deconstructed". 2011-02-10.
  38. "The Brave One". 2007-09-30.
  39. "New Haruki Murakami Adaptation 'Burning' Is A Feverish Psychological Thriller". Adelaide Film Festival. 2018-10-09. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  40. "Cape Fear". 1991-11-15.
  41. "Dead Ringers | Synopsis & Analysis". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-08-13.
  42. McNamara, Mary (2007-07-24). "This lawyer earns her fee". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  43. Barney, Chuck (2008-02-15). "There will be blood on CBS via 'Dexter'". San Jose Mercury News . Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  44. "Fox takes chances with Fringe, Dollhouse". 2008-07-14. Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  45. "Exile, BBC One, final episode, preview". Daily Telegraph . 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  46. Ng, Philiana (2013-01-21). "'The Following': Natalie Zea Previews Fox's Psychological Thriller From Kevin Williamson". The Hollywood Reporter . Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  47. "Jeff Korbelik: 'Hannibal' a taut psychological thriller | Television and radio". journalstar.com. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
  48. Levin, Gary (2011-09-29). "At heart of 'Homeland' is a psychological thriller". USA Today . Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  49. Boone, John (2015-11-20). "Everything You Need to Know Before Binge-Watching Marvel and Netflix's 'Jessica Jones'". Entertainment Tonight . Retrieved 2016-02-13.
  50. de la Fuente, Anna Marie (2011-08-31). "DirecTV Latin America nabs 'Mad Dogs'" . Retrieved 2013-11-03.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  51. Eyerly, Alan (2015-05-29). "TV Preview Wealth disparity, hackers and cyber threats in 'Mr. Robot'". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2016-02-13.
  52. "Netflix Thriller 'You' Is Part Gone Girl, Part American Psycho And It's Back For A Second Season". GQ . January 14, 2019. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  53. Feroze, Towheed (2012-07-28). "The night of eternal stars is yours . . ". The Daily Star . Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  54. Unsworth, Cathi (2011-07-13). "Blue Monday by Nicci French – review". The Guardian . Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  55. "Patricia Highsmith; U.S. Mystery Novelist". Los Angeles Times . Reuters. 1995-02-05. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  56. Korbren, Gerri (1992-01-26). "Private Eyes". Baltimore Sun . Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  57. Levesque, John (2002-01-24). "Stephen King's miniseries makes about as much sense as our traffic". Seattle Post-Intelligencer . Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  58. Cogdill, Oline H. (1997-03-23). "Homeless, Home to Die". Sun-Sentinel . Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  59. jeager32 (2014-04-02). "Death Note: Gold Standard for Psychological Thriller Anime". Comp Stomp. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  60. "Madoka Magica: Beginnings May Be Better Than the Series". Kotaku . October 9, 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2017.