Suspense films, thrillers, movies that propel you to the edge of your seat wondering what happens next—these movies have been around since the silent era, and they continue to draw audiences to the cinema today. We like the adrenaline rush we experience when a character is placed in a precarious situation, and we revel in relief when our hero is vindicated and the plot is wrapped up neatly at the end.
Then again, sometimes a thriller leaves us speechless and opened-mouthed, astonished that images on a screen can play upon our emotions like a puppeteer manipulating a marionette on a string.
We recently looked at seven thrillers from the 1970s that are worth checking out for the first or second time. On this outing we delve into the slow evolution in the thriller genre during the 1980s. The gritty, neo-realism of the 70s gave way to more polished and stylized films later in the following decade, films such as Jagged Edge and Sea of Love.
Thrillers began turning more heavily on plot than character in the 1980s, which is not a bad thing. Characters in the 80s were driven to make decisions based on the incredible circumstances they found themselves in as opposed a character’s actions dictating the outcome of the story.
More and more, thrillers during this period relied on the moral ambiguity of its characters, and in hindsight this ambiguity reflected the cultural morass that was the 1980s.
This article was first posted on July 25, 2013