I love to scare myself. It’s a sick, masochistic thing to do I know, but clearly I’m not alone. Why else would we watch horror films, go on roller-coasters, or read urban legends in a graveyard in the middle of the night?
When I was younger and not overly obsessed with movies, I loved horror. I loved the cheap thrills that came with watching a horror film, I watched them for the shock factor, the jump scares, the messed up story lines. Since I have developed my deeper obsession with movies, I’ve learnt a lot about film and cinema along the way. It’s hard for me to watch a film now without thinking about plot holes or character stereotypes or camera shots. That type of obsession with detail can ruin a film, and it’s definitely ruined horror for me. I can predict when the jump scares are going to happen and on top of that I can see through the plot holes and guess the ending of the film nearly every time.
I can’t even watch it for the shock factor anymore because I can’t get past bad acting or bad story lines. Yet another thing is ruined by my obsessiveness…however, if anything my taste has just became more refined!
The thriller genre is my favorite, (especially psychological thrillers!), and over the years I’ve found that thrillers have proved to be more terrifying and tense than any horror film I’ve ever watched before. Now if I want to be scared, I look up a thriller, not a horror film.
So, on the subject of scaring myself half to death, here are my top 10 favorite thrillers that prove that genuinely thrilling movies are also practically masterpieces in cinema.
10. ORPHAN- Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, starring Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaardand Isabelle Fuhrman.
Okay okay, technically this is classed as a ‘psychological horror thriller,’ but it still counts. I watched this film a couple of years ago when I was in the beginning of my Leonardo DiCaprio obsession and he was a producer on the film…so naturally I had to watch it.
Anyway, this film is really cool and has great performances by all actors. If you haven’t seen it I wont ruin it for you, but the twist is pretty interesting and unique and to my knowledge, I don’t know of any other film with the same twist. I thought the character of Esther was brilliant and crazy and by the end I just wanted to kill that crazy bitch myself.
9. LEON THE PROFESSIONAL- Directed by Luc Besson, Starring Natalie Portman, Jean Reno and Gary Oldman.
Gary Oldman’s character in this film for me is one of the biggest reasons why this film is so tense. He’s even recognized as one of cinemas greatest villains, so that’s gotta count for something. A mad character with no mercy for anyone, even a young little girl, the strange movements he makes after taking his pill (including a gruesome sounding neck snap) at points made me look away from the screen.
A character with a truly terrifying presence like this one is hard to come by. And for someone who usually falls in love with psychopathic characters (yeah…that’s one for the therapist), it’s safe to say this is one psycho I would not want to meet.
8. SIDE EFFECTS- Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Starring Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta Jones and Channing Tatum.
Okay…maybe this film didn’t exactly scare me, but it did have me on the edge of my seat digging my nails into the chair. The plot for this film is genius, unique, and unexpected. Drawing on elements from Hitchcock, this film is a seriously good thriller, but almost with a modern day twist, focusing around drugs, therapy and mental illness…or lack of.
(Plus Jude Law is really handsome…just thought you should know.)
Yeah of course I was going to mention this film. It’s like my crack and I try and relate it to every post I can. I’m sorry, but it’s really fricking good.
So why do I think it’s a great thriller specifically? Well because like all great thrillers, the atmosphere and tension builds throughout the film until almost breaking point before the end. And because this film is also set against a ballet background, the music also adds to the thriller aspect and the tense tone throughout the film. I’ve mentioned before how great the musical score is to this film, and it really does add to the tension. For me, the key to a great thriller is really being able to get inside the characters head, and that’s exactly what this film does with Nina.
By the end it’s got you questioning everything you saw.
I’ve watched this film so many times and I’m not even sure why. Oh wait, yes I am, because it’s absolutely amazing.
I haven’t watched the original 1962 film, and it’s probably great and all, but Martin Scorsese’s version is just too good for me to want to watch anything else. Robert De Niro’s portrayal of Max Cady is one so terrifying even I cannot fall in love with him. The fact that Cady is always one step in front of the family, one step behind the law, he’s untouchable and he’s untraceable….and that’s really what makes this film so terrifying. The idea that the police may not even be able to help you is a scary thought on it’s own. And coupled with Scorsese’s great directing and style (clearly he was inspired by Hitchock, the master of thriller, for this film) this film is seriously a masterpiece in thriller.
It’s tense up until the very last moment, and then you can finally breathe.
Now obviously this film is not just a clear cut thriller. It’s also got elements of mystery and neo-noir, but I still wanted to include it because ever since I watched it a few weeks ago I can’t stop thinking of it.
If you’ve not seen Memento yet, the film itself is presented as two diffrent sequences that play simultaneously to each other. A series of scenes shot in black in white that play in the right order, and the colour scenes that play in a nonlinear narrative structure. It’s pretty damn cool, and mostly, it’s really clever.
I could talk about that for ages, but this post is about thrillers. So why do I think it’s thrilling? Well as in Black Swan, you’re really put into the head of the character, which in this case, has short term memory loss. Coupled with the fact that we watch the film in a strange order, it’s almost disorientating but not enough to become too confusing you don’t want to watch it. It’s thrilling because you don’t know what has already happened and what has not. It keeps you guessing, and with just the right amount of guessing, comes tension.
Now it would be obviously a complete oversight on my part not to mention a Hitchcock film in a list about thrillers, especially seeing I’ve mentioned him twice already.
I came across Rear Window on TV a couple of months ago, and was drawn in almost immediately. The voyeuristic tone to the whole film once again puts us in the position of the main character, and like him who is wheelchair bound in his house, we feel completely helpless to the murder mystery that is unfolding in front of us.
It’s influence has been monumental, as all Hitchcock films tend to be, and definitely a classic in how to do a thriller.
I was dying to see this film when I saw the trailers around the time it was coming out. Martin Scorsese does it again with this film, it was tense from the very beginning when the two detectives are being driven into the grounds of the mental hospital. Like with Black Swan, I mentioned in another post about how powerful the musical score is for this film. Building tension until you can almost stand it no longer.
I’ve watched this film so many times because it is just so damn good. I don’t wish to spoil anything for anyone who may not have seen it yet so all I will say is this film is seriously gonna surprise you. The dark, grimy, almost dirty feel to the whole movie just adds to the thriller aspect of the film and coupled with some great characters and great character interactions between Brad Pitt and Morgan Freemans character, I seriously recommend you to watch this film. Then get back to me and we can talk about it together.
Oh and on the subject of David Fincher films, anyone else really excited to see Gone Girl?!
Sure, I saved the most obvious thriller for last. But it’s also the best, hands down. Yeah I said it, it’s the best. It’s almost untouchable.
It took me strangely a long time to get around to watching this film. No idea why, but oh when I watched it, I was not ready for how good it was. And not just good, but really fricking tense and well…intense as well.
Anthony Hopkins portrayal of Hannibal Lecter is seriously one of the best performances I’ve ever seen and one of the best characters ever to be in a film I think. He manages to be so damn interesting and alluring, at the same time as being so terrifying and genuinely extraordinary.
A character like no other.
One of the last scenes, with the night vision glasses, had me actually on the edge of my seat. Not figuratively either, I mean literally. I was sweating and shaking, my blood sugar was low and I was gripping onto a pillow for dear life. I’ve never had a reaction like it before.
And I don’t think I ever will again.
So that was my t0p 10 most thrilling thrillers! I could have talked for a lot more about each of them, I could of included a lot more as well but I figured it’s probably best I kept myself to a minimum.
Tell me your favorite thrillers below or on twitter and other ways you try and scare yourself! I’m off to read some ghost stories…
PS- Thanks so much for 102 followers! xo