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15 Thrillers that Cause More Tension as The Movie Progresses – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

15 Thrillers that Cause More Tension as The Movie Progresses



The film industry is no stranger to thrillers that possess an uncanny ability to craft tension throughout the entire duration of the movie. These films progressively evoke a growing sense of unease and apprehension in the viewer as each scene unfolds. Some of the most unforgettable and iconic thrillers in cinematic history have achieved this extraordinary level of storytelling, leaving their audiences utterly engrossed with bated breath. The 15 movies featured below stand out as prime examples, with their filmmakers displaying exceptional prowess in cultivating an atmosphere rich in suspense which never wavers but only intensifies as the narrative advances towards its ultimate climax.

Se7en (1995) is an intensely captivating and foreboding crime thriller, masterfully written and directed by the talented David Fincher. Viewers are drawn into the dark world of two dedicated police officers as they tirelessly work to unravel the mysteries surrounding a series of heinous murders committed by a deeply disturbed and twisted serial killer. Each gruesome death in Se7en is marked by an equally horrifying rationale for the killing, creating an ever-growing sense of dread that weighs heavily on the story as more unfortunate victims are discovered. The film not only masterfully expands upon traditional thriller tropes, but also delves into the psychological depths of human depravity, ultimately leaving viewers with a profoundly uneasy sensation that lingers long after the credits roll.

Memento (2000) is an incredibly enthralling thriller, masterfully written and directed by the exceptionally talented Christopher Nolan. An ingenious narrative technique is employed whereby the events of the complex plot unravel in reverse chronological order. This captivating storytelling method has been specifically chosen to accurately mirror and simulate the perplexing mental state of the tormented protagonist, whose inner turmoil is sparked by a debilitating case of anterograde amnesia. As the captivated audience members eagerly attempt to decipher the intricately tangled storyline and mentally reconstruct the chain of events alongside the struggling main character, they too become immersed in the chaotic and disorienting structure of the ever-twisting narrative.

Oldboy (2003) is a chilling and deeply moving vengeance thriller directed by Park Chan-wook. The protagonist leads us into a story that centers around a character who finds himself held captive for an undetermined period, which is approximately 15 years. Unexpectedly released from confinement, he sets out on a journey to exact revenge on the individuals responsible for his imprisonment, all while delving into the murky events that transpired among these shadowy figures. As the narrative of Oldboy progresses, the film plunges deeper into despair, revealing shocking information through increasingly terrifying and brutal discoveries that leave audiences in a state of shock.

Zodiac (2007) is directed by David Fincher and focuses on the true-to-life events of the infamous Zodiac murders that terrorized San Francisco throughout the 1970s, leaving a trail of fear and anxiety in their wake. Zodiac continues his relentless behavior of horrifying homicides while simultaneously taunting law enforcement officials with mysterious and unsettling messages. As the movie progresses, it masterfully crafts a deepening sense of dread – it becomes ever more evident that Zodiac has alluded being caught, and the prospects for conclusively solving the investigation grow ever more dire. Once the final credits have faded from view, the haunting feeling of unresolved events will persist in the audience’s consciousness, as this profound, unrelenting ambiguity lingers on long after leaving the cinematic experience.

Prisoners (2013) delves deep into some of the darkest aspects of human nature, exploring our innate propensity for making mistakes, as well as examining the complex and often morally ambiguous methods individuals employ when faced with challenging situations in order to protect and serve the best interests of those dearest to them. As more details surrounding the enigmatic case gradually come to light, audience members are thrust into a state of near-unspeakable tension and anxiety, feeling every twist and turn as if they were living through these harrowing events themselves.

Gone Girl (2014) is based on the best-selling psychological thriller novel written by the talented Gillian Flynn. The gripping story revolves around the enigmatic vanishing of Amy Dunne, while her husband finds himself entangled as the primary suspect in the ensuing investigation. Expertly maintaining a pervasive sense of tension throughout the entire film, the audience is left perpetually on edge, anxiously anticipating what startling event will unfold next. Astutely navigating every twist and turn, the filmmaker skillfully keeps viewers guessing as they attempt to decipher the intricate web of occurrences.

Nightcrawler (2014) sees Jake Gyllenhaal deliver a haunting and deeply unsettling portrayal of Louis Bloom, a driven and frightful nightcrawler who dedicates himself to capturing footage of gruesome murders and hair-raising accidents, with the intent of selling them to local news channels for the sole purpose of publicizing these horrifying events. As his methods gradually become increasingly unethical and his fixation on acquiring the most shocking footage amplifies, the viewer is drawn into a suspenseful narrative that dissects Bloom’s steady descent into darkness.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) is an unrelenting and captivating psychological thriller, the story revolves around the female protagonist who finds herself trapped in an underground bunker with two seemingly enigmatic men. Each individual is convinced that a disastrous event has transpired outside their shelter, forcing them into a tense and precarious existence. As the audience…

The most remarkable thrillers in the film industry are those that possess an uncanny ability to craft tension throughout the entire duration of the movie, progressively evoking a growing sense of unease and apprehension in the viewer as each scene unfolds. Some of the most unforgettable and iconic thrillers in cinematic history have achieved this extraordinary level of storytelling, leaving their audiences utterly engrossed with bated breath.

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The 15 movies featured below stand out as prime examples, with their filmmakers displaying exceptional prowess in cultivating an atmosphere rich in suspense which never wavers but only intensifies as the narrative advances towards its ultimate climax.

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Se7en (1995)

Se7en Final Scene 1200 x 630
New Line Cinema

In the intensely captivating and foreboding crime thriller, masterfully written and directed by the talented David Fincher, viewers are drawn into the dark world of two dedicated police officers as they tirelessly work to unravel the mysteries surrounding a series of heinous murders committed by a deeply disturbed and twisted serial killer. This vile murderer derives his sinister motivations from the infamous seven cardinal sins, which serve as a chilling backdrop for his cruel acts.

Each gruesome death in Se7en is marked by an equally horrifying rationale for the killing, creating an ever-growing sense of dread that weighs heavily on the story as more unfortunate victims are discovered. The tension builds throughout the film and culminates in a deeply unsettling and unforgettable ending that leaves audiences reeling, unable to shake the feeling of unease elicited by such a shocking and disturbing conclusion. The film not only masterfully expands upon traditional thriller tropes, but also delves into the psychological depths of human depravity, ultimately leaving viewers with a profoundly uneasy sensation that lingers long after the credits roll.

Related: The 10 Grittiest, Hard-Nosed Detectives in Crime Thrillers

Memento (2000)

Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby in Memento
Newmarket

In the incredibly enthralling thriller Memento, masterfully written and directed by the exceptionally talented Christopher Nolan, an ingenious narrative technique is employed whereby the events of the complex plot unravel in reverse chronological order. This captivating storytelling method has been specifically chosen to accurately mirror and simulate the perplexing mental state of the tormented protagonist, whose inner turmoil is sparked by a debilitating case of anterograde amnesia.

As the captivated audience members eagerly attempt to decipher the intricately tangled storyline and mentally reconstruct the chain of events alongside the struggling main character, they too become immersed in the chaotic and disorienting structure of the ever-twisting narrative. This palpable sense of confusion and unease gradually intensifies among viewers, reaching peak levels as the story hurtles towards its gripping climax. It is then that everything is ultimately revealed in an unforeseen, jaw-dropping finale that is so strikingly surprising, it propels the already high suspense into a completely uncharted territory of sheer exhilaration.

Oldboy (2003)

Choi Min-sik in Oldboy 2003 hammer hallway
Show East

The protagonist of Park Chan-wook’s chilling and deeply moving vengeance thriller leads us into a story that centers around a character who finds himself held captive for an undetermined period, which is approximately 15 years. Unexpectedly released from confinement, he sets out on a journey to exact revenge on the individuals responsible for his imprisonment, all while delving into the murky events that transpired among these shadowy figures.

As the narrative of Oldboy progresses, the film plunges deeper into despair, revealing shocking information through increasingly terrifying and brutal discoveries that leave audiences in a state of shock. In time, the movie reaches an utterly hopeless point where the bleakness of the situation becomes overwhelming. Its return to theaters is something to definitely be excited about.

Zodiac (2007)

Robert Downey Jr. and Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac (2007)
Phoenix Pictures

Acclaimed director David Fincher has made a triumphant return to the genre of gritty crime thrillers, this time tackling the true-to-life events of the infamous Zodiac murders that terrorized San Francisco throughout the 1970s, leaving a trail of fear and anxiety in their wake. Zodiac focuses on a local cartoonist who becomes increasingly obsessed with unraveling the enigma of the merciless killer, as Zodiac continues his relentless behavior of horrifying homicides while simultaneously taunting law enforcement officials with mysterious and unsettling messages.

As the movie progresses, it masterfully crafts a deepening sense of dread – it becomes ever more evident that Zodiac has alluded being caught, and the prospects for conclusively solving the investigation grow ever more dire. Once the final credits have faded from view, the haunting feeling of unresolved events will persist in the audience’s consciousness, as this profound, unrelenting ambiguity lingers on long after leaving the cinematic experience. It is now hailed as one of David Fincher’s best works, while being underrated.

Prisoners (2013)

Prisoners
Warner Bros. Pictures

When two young girls tragically disappear on the festive occasion of Thanksgiving, the heartbroken parents of both children are left with no choice but to take matters into their own hands and embark on a desperate search for the person responsible for abducting their precious daughters. Hugh Jackman delivers an unforgettable and intensely emotional performance as a distraught father who, in his frantic efforts to locate his missing child, finds himself crossing moral boundaries during his interrogation of a potential suspect, ultimately sparking a heated debate on ethics and the limits one should adhere to under such dire circumstances.

Prisoners delves deep into some of the darkest aspects of human nature, exploring our innate propensity for making mistakes, as well as examining the complex and often morally ambiguous methods individuals employ when faced with challenging situations in order to protect and serve the best interests of those dearest to them. In fact, it’s highly regarded as one of the best debut films by an international director. As more details surrounding the enigmatic case gradually come to light, audience members are thrust into a state of near-unspeakable tension and anxiety, feeling every twist and turn as if they were living through these harrowing events themselves.

Related: Here Are 7 Movies With Open Endings That You Have to See

Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl
20th Century Studios

Another one of the brilliant adaptations by David Fincher, Gone Girl is based on the best-selling psychological thriller novel written by the talented Gillian Flynn. The gripping story revolves around the enigmatic vanishing of Amy Dunne, while her husband finds himself entangled as the primary suspect in the ensuing investigation. Expertly maintaining a pervasive sense of tension throughout the entire film, the audience is left perpetually on edge, anxiously anticipating what startling event will unfold next.

Astutely navigating every twist and turn, the filmmaker skillfully keeps viewers guessing as they attempt to decipher the intricate web of occurrences. Just when it seems as though the audience has grasped a semblance of understanding, another astonishing revelation emerges, catching them completely off guard. Owing to its chilling conclusion, this cinematic masterpiece has rightfully earned its reputation as one of the most exceptional thrillers in modern cinema.

Nightcrawler (2014)

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler
Open Road Films

Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a haunting and deeply unsettling portrayal of Louis Bloom, a driven and frightful nightcrawler who dedicates himself to capturing footage of gruesome murders and hair-raising accidents, with the intent of selling them to local news channels for the sole purpose of publicizing these horrifying events. In Nightcrawler, the first responder ends up being the camera man. This chilling performance can be witnessed in the nail-biting film Nightcrawler. As the story unfolds, the movie delves even further into an intensely warped character analysis that meticulously examines the profound depths of ambition and utter moral depravity exhibited by Bloom.

As his methods gradually become increasingly unethical and his fixation on acquiring the most shocking footage amplifies, the viewer is drawn into a suspenseful narrative that dissects Bloom’s steady descent into darkness. This downward spiral is fueled by his insatiable hunger for success and recognition, which, in turn, slowly begins to consume him from within.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

10 Cloverfield Lane
Paramount Pictures

In this unrelenting and captivating psychological thriller, the story revolves around the female protagonist who finds herself trapped in an underground bunker with two seemingly enigmatic men. Each individual is convinced that a disastrous event has transpired outside their shelter, forcing them into a tense and precarious existence. As the audience experiences the tale through the woman’s perspective, one can’t help but question whether those keeping her confined are telling the truth about the alleged catastrophe or if there lies a more sinister motive behind their actions.

As time goes by, the close quarters of the bunker give rise to an oppressive sense of paranoia, exacerbated by the ambiguous nature of events occurring beyond its walls. This stifling atmosphere steadily escalates as trust among those inside dwindles and uncertainty grows stronger. Eventually, this progression leads to a striking and unexpected climax that leaves viewers shocked and questioning everything they thought they knew about the unsettling situation. Throughout 10 Cloverfield Lane‘s expanded narrative, the original intended meaning remains intact while providing an enriched experience for both the reader and viewer alike.

Green Room (2015)

green-room
A24

The central storyline of Green Room revolves around a punk rock band who find themselves in a precarious situation when they inadvertently witness the club owner and a group of menacing skinheads engaged in a heinous act of murder. Consequently, they become ensnared within the confines of an isolated music venue with no immediate means of escape.

As the narrative unfolds, it reveals an intense, pulse-pounding game of cat and mouse between our protagonists and their pursuers. The gang’s persistent pursuit sends waves of panic through the band members, causing tension to escalate rapidly as they confront life-threatening situations involving their ruthless adversaries. This emotionally charged atmosphere is heightened by the visceral portrayals of violence and the unsettling presence of truly terrifying villains.

Throughout the harrowing ordeal that serves as the cornerstone of this nerve-wracking survival story, the sense of dread and peril continues to intensify, building toward a nail-biting crescendo that leaves both on-screen characters and viewers alike questioning whether the protagonists will ultimately emerge from their nightmare unscathed. Overall, Green Room delivers an experience that is profoundly unsettling due to its realistic displays of violence and relentless suspense, which ensure it remains etched in the memory long after the credits have rolled.

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Hammer in Nocturnal Animals
Focus Features

The captivating and suspenseful book, masterfully crafted by the talented Tom Ford, tells the gripping tale of a woman who unexpectedly finds that her former spouse has sent her a copy of a chilling and intensely violent novel. As she reads, she begins to perceive this disturbing literary work as a veiled threat against her own safety and well-being. Further heightening the tension, both the engrossing storyline within the book itself and the increasingly alarming events occurring in the woman’s personal life seems to escalate in tandem as she delves deeper into the pages of this ominous novel.

Consequently, she is impelled to delve inward, reflecting on her own past experiences and reevaluating the decisions that have led her to this precarious point in her life. Complementing the intricate narrative layers, Nocturnal Animals showcases an enthralling visual style that effectively heightens the audience’s sense of unease and discomfort – a powerful emotional impact that resonates long after the credits have finished rolling and leaves viewers pondering their own choices and personal histories.

Get Out (2017)

A scene from Get Out
Blumhouse Productions

Get Out, an exceptional and groundbreaking film, marks the impressive directorial debut of Jordan Peele. The gripping narrative revolves around the experiences of a young black man who embarks on a journey to visit the family residence of his white girlfriend, only to find himself confronted with a range of deeply unsettling truths. Demonstrating a masterful blending of horror and humor, this spine-tingling social thriller skillfully constructs an atmosphere of escalating tension and anxiety.

With captivating character conflicts and shocking revelations gradually unfolding throughout the story, the audience is led towards a jaw-dropping finale that leaves them in complete astonishment, as the unsettling truths become undeniably clear. It is often called a breakout film from Jordan Peele as his directorial debut.

A Quiet Place (2018)

Lee asks his children to stay quiet
Paramount Pictures

The events of the post-apocalyptic thriller, A Quiet Place, directed by the talented John Krasinski, unfold in a desolate future where humanity faces persecution by fierce predatory creatures. These animals, although completely blind, possess extraordinary hearing capabilities that they use to hunt down their prey. The gripping plot centers on a resilient family forced to adapt and survive in this treacherous world by conducting their day-to-day activities in absolute silence to evade detection by these ferocious adversaries.

As the family navigates this dangerous terrain, attempting to preserve some semblance of normalcy in their lives, the tension intensifies with every minute noise that could potentially seal their fate.

A vital element that contributes significantly to the movie’s success is its ingenious use of sound design—drawing the audience into an immersive experience that heightens the pervasive sense of unease throughout the entire film. This creative approach serves to amplify the suspense while remaining true to the story’s core theme of survival against all odds in a world where silence is paramount.

Hereditary (2018)

hereditary
A24

Hereditary, a spine-chilling horror movie, marks the impressive debut of Ari Aster as a feature-length film director. The film’s intensity gradually builds as it delves into the lives of a family grappling with an immense loss and facing a malevolent supernatural inheritance that threatens their very existence. As the family members try to cope with their situation, the undercurrent of tension continues to mount, reaching unbearable heights and culminating in an unforeseen and absolutely horrifying climax.

The unsettling combination of sinister imagery and a relentless, ominous atmosphere ensures that Hereditary remains an unforgettable cinematic experience that will undoubtedly leave you unnerved and deeply disturbed.

Searching (2018)

Searching movie with John Cho
Sony Pictures Releasing

This groundbreaking thriller has gained widespread acclaim for its captivating and innovative method of storytelling, which unfolds entirely through various computer screens. The plot of Searching follows a distraught father who embarks on a relentless and desperate quest to delve deep into his missing daughter’s digital footprint in an attempt to track her down. This highly unique format generates an intense atmosphere filled with suspense, urgency, and unease as the father uncovers increasingly alarming details that surround the perplexing disappearance of his daughter.

Throughout the course of this gripping film, numerous unexpected twists and turns keep the audience entranced, perpetually spellbound by the unfolding narrative. The fascinating mixture of emotions experienced by viewers as they teeter dangerously on the edge of their seats leaves them eager for each new revelation. The story culminates in a spine-chilling and unforeseen conclusion that stays with audiences long after the credits roll. This expanded version of the paragraph maintains the original meaning while broadening its descriptions to enhance understanding and engagement with the content.

Related: Here Are 10 Screenwriting Tips From 30 Must-See Movies

Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems - Adam Sandler
A24 

This captivating and engrossing criminal thriller, masterfully directed by the renowned Safdie Brothers, delves deep into the life of a jeweler and gambling addict residing in the bustling New York City. In a desperate bid to maintain his financial stability, the central protagonist constantly juggles a tumultuous high-stakes balancing act between multiple businesses, intricate family dynamics, and fierce adversaries. The New Yorker refers to it as a “Mesmerizing Chaos.”

Delivering an astounding career-defining performance, Adam Sandler impeccably portrays the chaotic energy of the frenetic main character. As we follow his increasingly perilous line of bets and life choices, we witness an environment overflowing with tension and unease emanating from every decision he makes. Sandler’s extraordinary performance not only solidifies his prowess as an actor, but also serves as a notable milestone in his long-standing career.

Relentlessly charged with intensity, the movie maintains a rapid-fire pace that barely leaves any room for viewers to catch their breath. Furthermore, Uncut Gems is permeated by an underlying sense of unruly anarchy which, when combined with the nerve-jangling storyline, creates a cinematic spectacle that induces both fascination and trepidation in equal measure. In summary, this heart-pounding thriller is an emotionally charged ride that explores human fragility while pushing its characters to their limits.

Ultimately, exceptional thrillers are characterized by their extraordinary ability to transport audiences on a harrowing journey into the abyss of fear and suspense. From the very beginning to the conclusion of the narrative, these unparalleled films skillfully amplify tension and unease, ensuring that viewers remain captivated by the unnerving events unfolding before them. The noteworthy films that exemplify this mastery over the genre – such as those mentioned above – undoubtedly demonstrate a high level of proficiency in establishing an escalating disquietude that gradually builds up to culminate in a shattering and unforgettable climax.

Upon witnessing the final moments of these nerve-wracking tales, viewers often find themselves reeling from their unsettling experiences, breathlessly attempting to process the intensity of their emotions. Simultaneously, they find it impossible to tear themselves away from the vivid depictions of darkness and peril that relentlessly grip their imagination and keep their hearts pounding frantically in anticipation. The indelible impact of such profoundly disconcerting thrillers lingers long after the final credits have rolled, and the screen has gone dark, leaving a lasting impression that haunts its audience for days, weeks, or even years afterward.

As they grapple with this lingering sense of unease, viewers cannot help but reflect upon the unique power these extraordinary films possess – the ability to immerse them so completely into intricate webs of conflict and fear, while also leaving them emotionally shattered yet desperately craving more. It is this paradoxical combination of terror and fascination that ultimately defines an exceptional thriller and sets it apart from others within its genre, solidifying its place in cinematic history as a memorable masterpiece that unapologetically pushes boundaries and challenges our understanding of fear itself.

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