Psychological Thriller
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Psychological Thriller

Psychological thriller is a thriller narrative which emphasizes the unstable or delusional psychological states of its characters. 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. Not to be confused with the overlapping psychological horror genre, which involves more terror than psychosomatic themes

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

  • Plot twist - Films such as Psycho and The Skeleton Key have advertised the fact that they contain plot twists and asked audiences to refrain from revealing spoilers. Psychological thrillers with poorly received plot twists, such as The Village, have suffered in the box office.[9]
  • Unreliable narrator - Andrew Taylor identifies the unreliable narrator as a common literary device used in psychological thrillers and traces it back to Edgar Allan Poe's influence on the genre. Criminal insanity may be explored as a theme.[10]
  • MacGuffin - Alfred Hitchcock pioneered the concept of the MacGuffin, a goal or item that helps to move the plot. The MacGuffin is frequently only vaguely defined, and it can be used to increase suspense.[11]

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."[12] Common elements may include stock characters, such as a hardboiled detective and serial killer, involved in a cat and mouse game.[13]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.[14] Water, especially floods, is frequently used to represent the unconscious mind, such as in What Lies Beneath and In Dreams.[15] 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.[16] 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".[17]

Examples

Screenwriters and directors

  • Brad Anderson - Ethan Anderton of firstshowing.net describes Anderson's psychological thrillers as "unique" and covering the theme of memory loss.[18]

Video games

Film

Television

Literature

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. ^ a b c d 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 .
  6. ^ Whitney, Erin (2012-11-15). "Gretchen Mol Returns to the Stage in 'The Good Mother'". Backstage. Retrieved . element of a psychological thriller because ... suspenseful feeling of who did what, who's being honest ... about perception...
  7. ^ a b 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 .
  9. ^ a b Breznican, Anthony (2005-08-11). "This Shocking Twist Is ... Secret". USA Today. Retrieved .
  10. ^ a b Taylor, Andrew (2009-01-16). "The DNA of detection". BBC. Retrieved .
  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 .
  12. ^ Holden, Stephen (2011-04-14). "Romance or Film Noir? Both, and a Thriller". The New York Times. Retrieved .
  13. ^ Wright, Chris (2011-07-31). "Your Psychological Thriller". Boston Globe. Retrieved .
  14. ^ Summerscale, Kate (2008-04-04). "The Prince of Sleuths". The Guardian. Retrieved .
  15. ^ Indick, William (2004). Movies and the Mind. McFarland & Company. p. 70. ISBN 9780786480920.
  16. ^ Hutchings, Peter (2009). The A to Z of Horror Cinema. Scarecrow Press. pp. 141-143. ISBN 9780810870505.
  17. ^ Flint, Peter B. (1980-04-30). "Alfred Hitchcock Dies; A Master of Suspense". The New York Times. Retrieved .
  18. ^ Anderton, Ethan (2010-05-14). "Brad Anderson Helming an Amnesiac Serial Killer Film 'Jack". FirstShowing.net. Retrieved .
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Vilkomerson, Sara (2010-12-10). "Darren Aronofsky: The Swan King". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved .
  21. ^ Morgan, Jason (2008-04-08). "Aronofsky Thrilled by Psychology". Cinema Blend. Retrieved .
  22. ^ French, Philip (2013-03-02). "Stoker - review". Retrieved .
  23. ^ French, Philip (2012-02-11). "A Dangerous Method - review". The Guardian. Retrieved .
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ "Shoot to Thrill; the Stunning Psychological Thrillers That Made David Fincher One of Hollywood's Hottest Directors". The Mail on Sunday. 2007-05-06. Retrieved .
  26. ^ Crowther, Bosley (1941-11-21). "Suspicion a Hitchcock Thriller at Radio City". The New York Times. Retrieved .
  27. ^ de Semlyen, Phil (2010-08-27). "Satoshi Kon Dies At 46". Empire. Retrieved .
  28. ^ Jensen, Jeff (2006-12-01). "David Lynch wants to get in your bloodstream". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved .
  29. ^ Breznican, Anthony (2010-07-16). "With 'Inception,' Chris Nolan's head games continue". USA Today. Retrieved .
  30. ^ Johnston, Sheila (1995-04-13). "Great Minds Share a Cesspool". The Independent. Retrieved .
  31. ^ Lawrence Eng. "In the Eyes of Hideaki Anno, Writer and Director of Evangelion". CJas.org. Retrieved 2013.
  32. ^ Lammers, Dirk (2010-06-01). "'Alan Wake' combines psychological thriller with shooter". North Jersey Media Group. Associated Press. Retrieved .
  33. ^ John, Tracey (2009-12-29). "Choose Your Own Adventure in Psychological Thriller 'Heavy Rain'". Time. Retrieved .
  34. ^ "Netflix Thriller 'You' Is Part Gone Girl, Part American Psycho And It's Back For A Second Season". GQ. January 14, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  35. ^ McNamara, Mary (2007-07-24). "This lawyer earns her fee". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved .
  36. ^ Barney, Chuck (2008-02-15). "There will be blood on CBS via 'Dexter'". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved .
  37. ^ "Fox takes chances with Fringe, Dollhouse". 2008-07-14. Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved .
  38. ^ "Exile, BBC One, final episode, preview". Daily Telegraph. 2011-05-03. Retrieved .
  39. ^ Ng, Philiana (2013-01-21). "'The Following': Natalie Zea Previews Fox's Psychological Thriller From Kevin Williamson". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved .
  40. ^ "Jeff Korbelik: 'Hannibal' a taut psychological thriller | Television and radio". journalstar.com. Retrieved .
  41. ^ Levin, Gary (2011-09-29). "At heart of 'Homeland' is a psychological thriller". USA Today. Retrieved .
  42. ^ Boone, John (2015-11-20). "Everything You Need to Know Before Binge-Watching Marvel and Netflix's 'Jessica Jones'". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved .
  43. ^ de la Fuente, Anna Marie (2011-08-31). "DirecTV Latin America nabs 'Mad Dogs'". Retrieved . Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  44. ^ Eyerly, Alan (2015-05-29). "TV Preview Wealth disparity, hackers and cyber threats in 'Mr. Robot'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved .
  45. ^ "Madoka Magica: Beginnings May Be Better Than the Series". Kotaku. October 9, 2012. Retrieved 2017.
  46. ^ Feroze, Towheed (2012-07-28). "The night of eternal stars is yours . ." The Daily Star. Retrieved .
  47. ^ Unsworth, Cathi (2011-07-13). "Blue Monday by Nicci French - review". The Guardian. Retrieved .
  48. ^ "Patricia Highsmith; U.S. Mystery Novelist". Los Angeles Times. Reuters. 1995-02-05. Retrieved .
  49. ^ Korbren, Gerri (1992-01-26). "Private Eyes". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved .
  50. ^ Levesque, John (2002-01-24). "Stephen King's miniseries makes about as much sense as our traffic". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved .
  51. ^ Cogdill, Oline H. (1997-03-23). "Homeless, Home to Die". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved .

External links


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