12 Incredible Slow Burn Movie Scenes With Killer Pay Offs

Don't forget to breathe.

road to perdition tom hanks
20th Century Fox

The slow burn scene is practically a staple of cinema. They can come at any point, in practically any kind of film, but it's how they end which makes them special. There are, of course, countless scenes that utilise the slow burn method, only to squander it on a lazy or clichéd ending. These scenes tend to avoid obvious cues or signals like overbearing music, high-octane action or obviously aggressive dialogue. Instead, slow burns come from the subtleties in any given scene, ratcheting up tension through visual cues, tonal shifts and engaging settings, often delivering a different flavour of anxiety than the one that we might have been expecting.

Creating suspense is one thing, but knowing what to do with it is something else entirely. What makes these types of scenes so exciting is the knowledge that something, at some point, is about to go horribly wrong - not knowing exactly how disastrous things are going to get is part of the joy. Some filmmakers opt for this kind of pacing because it makes the scene stand out as hugely significant, placing greater dramatic emphasis on the importance of the events depicted within it.

Whether their aim is to haunt, engage, satisfy or sadden the viewer, directors have employed this form of suspense to brilliant effect, and often the most vital component is a dazzling pay off...


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