Looking at the vast amounts of thriller films made, they all seem to open with three basic structures, a narrative opening, discrete title sequence and titles over a blank screen. Below I will be looking at each in a bit more detail:
A Narrative Opening:
A narrative opening is when the story of the film is taking place, with the title sequence running with it at the same time but over the images, one example of this is the panic room opening.
What we can see from this is the opening credits running over the images from the movie, both working in unison with the music. We don’t get any other information apart from the credit and the fact that the story seems to be based in a city. We also don’t get any foreshadowing or any sense of tone to which we could have guessed how the film would be in terms of atmosphere.
A Discrete Title Sequence:
A discrete title sequence is when title sequences are separately edited sequences; they stand alone from the film opening. They are edited and stylised in post production.
This is the opening from the film ‘Enemy of the State,’ and right from the off we can see heavy editing in terms of how many cuts there are, these cuts are synchronised well with the heavy and fast music. As the audience we can get a very good idea that the tone of this film and its atmosphere will be one of action and thrill. The credits are there ever present over the editing opening.
Title over a Blank Screen:
These are openings that have the title appear in a blank screen, that then are followed by a narrative opening. An example of this type of opening is from the film Donnie Darko.
Here title here is the last thing we see, it is separate from what we have just seen, and is given the most time to be viewed by the audience. The title itself with the slightly weird font and also the weird situation in which we have found the main character suggest this feel will be weird and complex.
There is also another type of opening to thriller films, which can be called ‘Stylised Editing’. The stylised editing is when the opening has many effects and is visually complex meaning that the director and editor have taken a long time in post production.