I have always been a fan of mind-bending, thought-provoking films, specifically the psychological-thriller since it’s a genre that has a lot of avenues and is becoming increasingly popular, seen all over streaming sites like Netflix over the recent years. As I am planning to produce a short film based on this type of film, I want to look into some of the beginning of psychological-thrillers, plus why it’s such a stand-out genre.

My individual short documentary will be around three minutes, with a voice-over and matching archive footage explaining the characteristics, development and ideals of the genre. Elements that will be included are public domain clips relevant to what’s being said, like examples of lighting or setting; images of movies and people; and my own footage, recreating techniques found in these films. All resources used will be referenced at the end of the documentary with credit annotations when certain clips or movies are used throughout my video. This project will be very research and editing-heavy so, to keep the end result interesting, I am going to utilise editing techniques like split-screen and simple animation, while having the overall aim of keeping informative.


The slideshow below is a collection of my research on the rise of the psychological-thriller, where I have looked into what exactly it is, the genre’s conventions, any links to archive footage I plan to use and a glance into the New French Extremity of the 1990s and 2000s. 
Additionally, as this topic is very relevant to my Final Major Project, I have made notes while researching at the end of the slideshow to link to it and reference when I begin pre-production for my FMP.


From my research slides, I wrote a 436 word script (excluding side notes) that would come to around three minutes when spoken, detailing what a psycho-thriller actually is, giving a few examples that a lot of people may know (i.e. Gone Girl, Silence of the Lambs and YOU ). As the New French Extremity is a significant part of my research and was something new to me, I wanted to make sure I had enough time to talk about the subject to a decent point where it could be understood yet not taking up the majority of the overall documentary.  I used the omnidirectional microphone attachment on an H5 Zoom recorder to capture the dialogue that I will later base the archive footage I collect on.


Why are a lot of us so drawn to films that have some sort of mental struggle? Specifically the thrillers.
We all have our obstacles, maybe we just need to watch it from a different… more exaggerated perspective.

Psychological thrillers are becoming increasingly popular right now, especially as we’re more aware of mental illness and what people might be going through, but of course it wasn’t always like this. That goes for the genre’s popularity too.

  But what do we class as a psychological thriller?

Classified as a subculture of thriller, it’s a genre that uses suspension, dark themes and plot-driven stories to keep the audience on edge and always questioning. – some that could ring some bells are:
YOU (2018), adapted from Caroline Kepnes’ book collection;
Silence of the Lambs (1991), directed by Jonathan Demme;
Gone Girl (2014), directed by David Fincher & written by Gillian Flynn.
Usually, a psychological film deals with more inner issues and uses that to create or build on the story. A character could be made to battle their mind, ‘find themself’, or come to senses with a traumatic experience and we’re just being led through their journey… especially the disturbing parts (I’m looking at you, extreme, gore-obsessed writers).   (Show relative examples of movies/writers).

‘Rope’ was Hitchcock’s first coloured thriller, made in 1948, and was part of the beginning of coloured psycho-thrillers in the 1950s. Although the subgenre only became popular in the 90s. Which came just before the utterly confusing ‘New French Extremity’ …movement? No one is really sure what it classifies as still.

(And so) It’s a continuing argument whether the New French Extremity was a movement or simply a subgenre of horror with a name coined in 2004 by film critic, James Quandt. What made films within this era distinctive was their unapologetic ultra-violent scenes and ideas, letting the camera linger on, what many would consider, disturbing situations and strayed away from hiding sexual aspects, usually meant to shock the audience… which did work.

These films are unlike Hollywood horrors, particularly reflecting the style of European cinema during the 1990s and early 2000s. They appear to take on an arthouse style, some looking more like an indie production, almost resembling the camera movement of found-footage films.

Some say that Quandt just used this concept of the New French Extremity to loosely connect a group of European contemporary filmmakers, who would probably not agree that they were a part of this ‘movement’.

Do you think the New French Extremity was a movement, or a concept too eagerly taken on? Maybe it’s both, but we can probably agree psycho-thrillers are still exhilarating to watch and sometimes relate to.

Archive Footage:
To ensure I have the right amount of clips to fit each line or topic said in the script, I have copied the script into a shot list to fill each segment of text with a relevant clip, image or other media I will display at the same time.

Final Video

Link to documentary: