Defining The Thriller Genre in Movies and TV

The genre Thriller movie and TV show definition is characterized by the moods it elicits. Thrillers are about the feeling of thrills! They are movies and TV shows that keep you wondering what will happen next. They give viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation, and anxiety.

Thrillers also usually have a main character who is slowly isolated from the people they once trusted and relied on. The betrayal might thrust the protagonist into a new worldview. They have to work alone to prove their innocence or take down the people trying to kill them.

Some of the common themes of thrillers are crimes like ransoms, captivities, heists, revenge, kidnappings, "whodunit," and dirty investigators. 

Other characters may include criminals, stalkers, assassins, private investigators, victims, psychotic individuals, sociopaths, secret agents, terrorists, cops, cons, and more.

Oh, and don't forget about spies. We love spy thrillers.

Thematically, we are looking at things like terrorism, political conspiracy, pursuit, murder, and serial killings.

The "Hitchcockian" style includes the use of camera movement to mimic a person's gaze, thereby turning viewers into voyeurs, and framing shots to maximize anxiety and fear. Film critic Robin Wood wrote that the meaning of a Hitchcock film "is there in the method, in the progression from shot to shot. A Hitchcock film is an organism, with the whole implied in every detail and every detail related to the whole."

These details defined the Hitchcock move. He returned several times to cinematic tropes such as the audience as voyeur, suspense, the wrong man or woman, and the "MacGuffin," and twist endings that provided shock and awe.