10 Most Intense Movie Openings Ever

These movies got your pulse racing in their opening scene.

Saving Private Ryan Tom Hanks
Paramount Pictures

First impressions are so, so important in movies - a film needs to open with an attention-grabbing scene that lets the audience know what they're in for while also piquing their interest.

Start your film off in a boring or confusing way and viewers will start to tune out or even stop watching altogether.

But beyond compelling and entertaining opening scenes, there are those directors who found a way to push the bounds of intensity past what audiences are typically conditioned to expect.

These 10 movies all kicked off with scenes that slapped the audience around the face and begged them to pay attention, while fittingly preparing them for all the drama and action to follow.

From zombie films to post-apocalyptic action-thrillers, war movies, and even a certain beloved drug drama, these movies delivered the most anxious, urgent, and nerve-rattling openings ever committed to film.

Whether you liked these movies or not, there's little denying the skill that went into crafting these ferocious, gut-wrenching, and often ultra-violent opening scenes.

That so few films deliver something this thrilling right out of the gate is a testament to just how damn difficult it is...

10. Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Saving Private Ryan Tom Hanks

It was so incredibly easy to be skeptical about anyone remaking George A. Romero's 1978 zombie masterpiece Dawn of the Dead, let alone a music video director with no feature films to his name called Zack Snyder.

And yet, Snyder melted away a lot of that bitter sentiment in the first 10 minutes of his 2004 remake, which kicks off with one of the most unforgettable openings to a zombie movie ever.

After beginning with a brief, typical introductory scene which acquaints the audience with suburban nurse Anna (Sarah Polley), Snyder puts the pedal to the metal.

Anna and her husband are woken early in the morning by their young neighbour Vivian (Hannah Lochner), who has become one of the undead and promptly bites a fatal chunk out of Anna's husband.

Anna is then forced to escape from both Vivian and her now-zombified hubby, but finds the situation to be even more dire outside.

Her quiet, suburban estate is now a hellscape of destruction: houses on fire, neighbours getting mauled, and the authorities struggling to contain the situation.

Anna flees in her car, where she witnesses another vehicle crash into a gas station and create an inferno, before an altercation with a fellow survivor causes her to crash her own car, knocking her unconscious. Roll the credits.

Snyder certainly begins as he means to go on, and though his Dawn of the Dead never reaches this level of intensity again, the opening ensures that the audience is tightly gripped - and optimistic, even - from the very first scene.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.