"Thrillers have become quite popular in contemporary cinema. As the name implies, a thriller is a movie with the intention of thrilling the audience, with surprising moments and unexpected revelations, while making use of key scenes to send shivers down the spine of its viewer! The main plot of crime-thrillers is usually about the investigation of an on-going case, where the the identity, or identities of the criminals are kept a mystery until the very end of the movie, when big revelations happen."
Introductions aside, I will expand on the crime thriller section of that article to list my favorite crime thrillers and those I highly regard as the best of the genre. This top 10 is divided into two parts. This is the first part, where I'm going to focus on movies that deal with serial killer cases! I remember these as being my favorite types of Saturday night-sessions back in the days when life was easy. Who doesn't like a good old serial killer case for some chilling moments?
No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men is the odd one of this selection. It's a game of cat and mouse in a western setting, where the villain could be considered the main character, as he is the one doing the chasing. The intensity of this film is palpable, and the bad guy here strikes you as if he was the very personification of evil, having no guilt or remorse, no shred of humanism, being just an unstoppable bloodthirsty force in motion that only obeys to chance.
The part of the serial killer, Anton Chigurh, is played masterfully by Javier Bardem, who impersonates the character to its very core. Chigurh is a contracted killer, who relentlessly disposes of any hindrances, or anyone who has the bad luck of being in his way. But the main story here is about the hunter who stumbles upon 2 million dollars, ownerless money after a drug deal had gone wrong. The man decides to keep the money, little knowing where he was getting himself into. This is where Chigurh comes in, as his job is to recover that money for his employee. However, the path of violence and mayhem that follows, will have everyone involved questioning about how far can they go and endure, or what is their purpose in such a perverted world.
No Country for Old Men is one gruesome, gritty, violent and gory film, even for the standards of the most violent of crime thrillers. Fans of serial killer movies or hardcore thrillers will enjoy it, because if there is a film that can thrill even the most hardened movie buff, it's this astounding cinematic experience.
My Score: 8/10
Continuing with exaggeratedly violent movies, we have Saw, the movie that became a phenomenon for its intricate and brilliant plot, generating a series of movies to cash-in on the sudden popularity. However, the novelty ended with the first one, which is really the only movie that is worth mentioning, as the following premises started to sacrifice intelligent twists for more blood and gratuitous violence. Hardcore fans do appreciate the sequels, though.
Saw didn't bring anything new to the genre, it's all about the main characters at the mercy of a psychopath who likes to play games with his victims. However, it was the execution that set it apart from other movies trying to have the same impact. The way the movie progresses, slowly unveiling connections and giving hints, grabs attention and engages the viewer. What initially seems as two unfortunate guys abducted to be part of the game, and the cops that investigate the case from outside, will reveal a much darker plot behind deceivable appearances.
Saw is probably the most perverted and gruesome movie of this list. The situations where some the characters will find themselves into fall into some of the grossest scenes you will ever come across. There are people who love this kind of stuff, often called torture-porn. However, Saw works for its combination of gruesomeness and sudden twists, giving the audience feelings of despair and hopelessness for the characters, like few movies can do. If you can look past the hardcore side of Saw, you're in for a thrilling ride from the start, that will end with a sick finale!
My Score: 8/10
The Silence of the Lambs
The Silence of the Lambs, the hit that become a favorite among enthusiasts of the thriller genre, introducing and immortalizing the character of Hannibal Lecter! This movie achieved the incredible feat of winning all five main Oscar categories, including best movie, best script, best director, best actor and best actress! However, the Academy doesn't decide what's good or not, the viewers do! And many of them have highlighted The Silence of the Lambs as one of the greatest serial killer and thriller movies of all time.
Clarice Starling is a young FBI agent who is in charge of investigating an elusive serial killer who skins his victims. In order to understand his next steps, she will seek the advice of another serial killer, the incarcerated Hannibal Lecter. In addition to giving advice, Dr. Lecter will ensure that ming games with his new female conversational companion follow, and that there is something to take from this partnership, for himself.
The psychological aspect of Silence of the Lambs is absolutely phenomenal! The dialogue between agent Starling and Dr. Lecter provide some of the most fantastic movie scenes you will ever see. The intensity of their conversations is incredible, you can't help but watch in awe how these two great minds try to manipulate each other for their own gain. It's some terrific acting right there, and the mere presence of Hannibal Lecter is chilling to the bone! Highly regarded, very well-executed, brilliantly performed, chilling and creepy atmosphere, The Silence of the Lambs can be used as the painting of what makes a truly great crime thriller.
My Score: 9/10
No thriller movie list could be completed without M, a highly influential film, often regarded as the first psychological thriller. M was controversial for the time for embodying various delicate themes such as child murder and pity for a "monster". The film makes use of sound, various tones of gray, lightening techniques and careful editing to create a truly dark and creepy mood, where suspense never lets go, and reaches almost unbearable levels at the movie climax.
The premise of the movie is very simple, the police is on the tail of a child murderer that is haunting the town, while the criminal organizations affected by the crackdown decide to join in on the man-hunt. The part of the serial killer is played to perfection by the incredibly talented Peter Lorre, whose mannerisms, facial expressions and body language all contribute to the image of a truly creepy character and unique serial killer. Although the murders aren't really shown (times were different), the subtle hints are enough for you to picture the macabre image.
However simple the premise may sound, it's the complexity of the circumstances that make M so daring and thought-provoking for its time. The movie draws a parallel between the compulsive urge to kill of this miserable and sick man, and the organized crime that kills without hesitation or remorse to defend interests. It's fascinating witnessing the process that leads to a shocking and brilliant ending that is bound to stick with you. M is practically unique in this regard, whereas thrillers nowadays present one-dimensional characters and rely mainly on the violence and twists to reach the audience.
My Score: 9/10
The most popular serial killer movie and with good reason! I can swear this movie gave me nightmares when I watched it on television years ago. Being a very young person, I wasn't supposed to be seeing such things to begin with! In any case, despite being a somewhat genre-specific film, Seven is one of those movies that can reach every kind of audience and entertain almost anyone. For the most part, people like suspense and mystery, and when you throw in a great narrative, powerful performances and a plot surrounding the seven sins, you can't help but be drawn to it!
Seven tells of the investigation of a series of crimes committed by a serial killer that murders people in a very peculiar way- he is inspired by the seven sins. The cops responsible for this case, played formidably by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, slowly start to get too involved and psychologically affected by the overwhelming nature of the crime scenes. They are dealing with nothing less than a genius that staged these crimes to perfection, and that will stop at nothing to finish his grand masterpiece. The crime scenes are so inventive and gruesome that you can only watch in awe as the investigation goes on and the serial killer revealed.
Seven is executed and paced to perfection. You are at the mercy at the killer, because you are so curious to know how he orchestrated the next scenario. However, every crime scene feels even more insane and macabre than the last one, that you end up feeling guilty. Even if it is not the most gory or oscar-worthy film of this selection, Seven is a psychological crime thriller that may leave an impact on you like no other thriller, mystery or suspense can. And if the nature of this movie doesn't get you, the groundbreaking finale will.
My score: 9/10
This finishes the first part of my top 10 crime thrillers! The second part will focus on the more action-oriented thrillers that deal with the never-ending fight between the police force and the organized crime, while actually having my actual number one! So please do continue reading at Best Cinema - Top 10 Crime Thrillers (5-1)!