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Greatest Thrillers of All Time

  • Rear Window

    Rear Window

    In this classic Alfred Hitchcock film, a man recuperating in a hospital finds himself witness to what may possibly be a brutal murder.

    Jeff (played by James Stewart) is a photographer who gets in an accident while on the job. This lands him bedridden in a hospital thanks to his broken leg. Despite being stuck in a room, Jeff observes that his window gives him a clear view of the apartments in the area, and a unique perspective on his ‘neighbors’. One, night, Jeff is woken up by the sound of a woman screaming and he observes one of the neighbors acting very suspiciously. Now it is up to him to find a way to get to the bottom of what may have happened.

    Rear Window plays out like a “did he or did he not” kind of film, and it does so in a very straight yet still appreciable manner. Despite being an old film, the pauses and lulls in the delivery feel appropriately well paced. There is a deliberate sense of delay in how things unravel, allowing the audience to fully absorb each scene completely. This film is thrilling, not because you wonder if the villain really is the villain however, but because the protagonists are so easy to relate to that you end up worrying about their respective fates.

  • The Usual Suspects

    The Usual Suspects

    The film opens by planting the seeds of a massive twist that does not reveal itself until the final scene, and in that sense, the Usual Suspects is one of the most well-written and well-directed movies ever made. In fact, the movie is worth watching twice: after knowing the final twist, second watching of the entire film will give you a completely new experience as each line of dialogue and every action seems to have an entirely different meaning and implication than originally thought.

    In this movie, the protagonists are introduced to each other in a police line-up. One of the five convinces the others that they should attempt a job that will not only net them some cash, but also allow them to get back at the police. However, it appears that the heist is not what they thought and they are all quickly entangled in something bigger than random theft, they have gotten the attention of a very powerful and very dangerous criminal mastermind and must find a way out.

  • The Silence of the Lambs

    The Silence of the Lambs

    Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins star in this amazingly well written movie about serial killers and the agents of law that are tasked with hunting them down. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is one of best movies of all time, showcasing amazing acting, screenplay, cinematography, and many other outstanding elements brought together for its audiences.

    Silence of the Lambs follows the story of FBI agent Clarice Starling as she is tasked with the assignment of acquiring the help and cooperation of Doctor Hannibal Lecter, a serial killing cannibal who is currently being held prisoner by the government. As it turns out, the daughter of a US Senator has been taken by a serial killer called Buffalo Bill, and that Hannibal may have the necessary insight to create a proper profile of the criminal.

    What follows is an interesting cat and mouse chase with Hannibal and Starling often trading positions. On one hand. Hannibal deftly maneuvers his way through compromises and incentives gained from the FBI as he aims to get out of imprisonment. Meanwhile, Starling must gain Hannibal’s respect in order to have his cooperation but she must not allow herself to be easily manipulated by him –for he is an extremely dangerous and intelligent killer who must not be given a chance to escape.

  • North by Northwest

    North by Northwest

    Starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason and many other classic Hollywood starts, this film is all about spies, mistaken identities, and the heroism of the most unlikely people. Grant plays the role of Thornhill, an advertising executive with the misfortune of being mistakenly identified as George Kaplan, who is apparently, a spy. This turns Thornhill into an accidental protagonist who must deal with the danger of being targeted by another spy.

    For an old film the twists and turns that this story takes is pretty fun and, at some points, a little hilarious. Cary Grant’s facial expressions are easy to relate to –he is definitely a man out of his own element, but still manages to be an impressive lead character. While it may not seem likely that an old 1950’s film would be able to deliver a good spy story, this one manages to do just fine.

  • Heat

    Heat

    Heat brings together Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Val Kilmer in this intense Michael Mann film. The movie opens with a group of criminals quickly falling apart after one of them ends up shooting a guard during a robbery. This quickly escalates and the crew find themselves targeted by both the police and the local crimelord. The movie alternates its narrative perspective between the leader of the robbers, McCauley (De Niro), and the police lieutenant chasing after them, Hanna (Pacino). It is a thrilling movie to watch as viewers are torn between rooting for McCauley and his men or Lt. Hanna and the police.

Wrap Up: The Lull Before the Storm

Anticipation is a powerful storytelling tool, and it can make events seem even bigger and more exciting than everything else before it. When used properly in a movie, it is just delightful. Of course, there are movies that do not quite get it right –often resolving tension with unsatisfying actions and resolutions. And this is why movies that are able to provide a truly clever, yet still acceptable climax are so memorable.