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10 Movies To Watch When You Want Something Suspenseful

Suspense is a difficult thing to achieve in film. Alfred Hitchcock said that suspense means letting the audience know more than the characters. However, while Hitchcock’s definition is very well put into words, suspense is much more than that.

To make suspense in films, you have to grab the viewer’s full attention and you have to create interesting situations which feel plausible and whose outcome is hard to guess. But more than all, to get a viewer to feel the suspense, you have to make him care about the characters he watches on screen.

In other words, you can’t feel anxious about something or someone you don’t care about. This is why many of the so-called suspense films fail. They have the best of ideas but directors forget that, first of all, you have to let the audience be invested with the characters.

If you do that and you have a good idea – be it a detective trying to find out who the murderer is, a woman trying to evade her abductors or a man finding out a dark secret – your film might not turn out a masterpiece, but at least it should keep the viewer interested.

But enough with the ramble, as this list contains 10 titles which are not only thoroughly suspenseful films but also great films in all respects. And before asking us where are the classics such as “The Silence of The Lambs”, “Se7en” or “Misery”, we’ll say that we’ve tried to select films which are (a little) less talked about when it comes to this kind of list. Of course, these are not obscure films no one’s heard about, but you still might have missed some of them.

Please let us know in the comments what other suspenseful movies do you recommend watching.

 

1. All Is Lost (2013)

All is Lost

“All Is Lost” is a one-man survival film which stars Robert Redford as an unnamed sailor who finds himself fighting for his life after his boat hits a stray shipping container and starts to flood. Redford’s character has to save the boat from sinking and to escape the dangers of the tempestuous Indian Ocean before all is lost.

If you are not afraid of deep waters, trust us, this movie will make you feel like the ocean is the scariest thing out there. For its entire 105 minutes length, “All is Lost” keeps you on the edge of your seat and gives a masterclass in suspense and acting. Robert Redford, who was pushing 77 at the time this film was made, gives one of the best performances of his career and he is even more praiseworthy considering that his character has virtually no lines to say during the entire film.

 

2. The Ghost Writer (2010)

Roman Polanski’s best work after “The Pianist” (2002), “The Ghost Writer” is based on Robert Harris’ popular novel “The Ghost” and stars Ewan McGregor as a ghost writer who gets hired to finish the autobiography of former British prime minister Adam Lang (played by Pierce Brosnan and based on real-life former British PM Tony Blair) after the initial ghost writer is mysteriously found dead in what seems like a drowning accident.

Soon after McGregor’s character starts working on the book, he starts discovering some dark secrets about Lang, who is suspected of having had links with the CIA and allowing the torturing of some prisoners suspected of terrorism.

“The Ghost Writer” is a suspenseful and intelligent political thriller that makes up for a top-notch adaptation of its original source material and (once again) showcases Polanski’s outstanding talent as a film director.

 

3. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Sidney Lumet’s final film before his death in 2011 didn’t receive as much recognition as his more famous works such as “12 Angry Men” or “Dog Day Afternoon,” but it is nonetheless nothing short of a masterpiece.

“Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead” film follows Andy and Hank Hanson (played by Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman), two brothers who decide to do some crazy things in pursuance of getting money.

The siblings decide to rob their own parents’ jewelry store and in order to do so they hire an experienced thief to help them with their scheme. However, things don’t go according to plan when their mother accidentally gets shot. From there on, everything in the brothers’ lives falls apart.

This film amazes, not only through the award-worthy performances from its talented cast but also through the unconventional, utterly captivating nonlinear storytelling. It feels like a puzzle, always taking you back and forth in time, and in the end constructing a perfect observation on the downfall of a family.

Thrilling, dramatic and funny at the same time, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” is one of the most suspenseful films of this century.

 

4. Hounds of Love (2017)

Set in 1980’s Australia, “Hounds of Love” tells the harrowing story of a teenage girl from Perth who is kidnapped and terrorized by a sick couple. The film pretty much follows the kidnapping movie formula, but it’s the execution and the terrific performances that take it to another level.

After critically acclaimed films such as “The Babadook,” “Snowtown” and the “The Loved Ones,” it seems that Australian filmmakers have a knack for producing great small-scale thrillers/horrors, and “Hounds of Love” doesn’t disappoint, either.

While it has its flaws, mainly some unrealistic decisions the main character makes throughout the film, and the exaggerated lack of interest from the police, as an overall experience “Hounds of Love” remains a very gripping thriller that benefits from a riveting lead performance, great cinematography, and enough suspense to deserve comparisons to the likes of “Misery”. If you are into small-scale, single location thrillers, you definitely shouldn’t miss this one.

 

5. Prisoners (2013)

prisoners movie

In Denis Villeneuve’s “Prisoners”, Hugh Jackman plays Keller Dover, a man whose daughter is abducted while playing in the neighborhood on Thanksgiving day. When the police led by Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) fails to come with answers, Jackman’s character takes the matter into his own hands and, desperate to find his missing daughter makes some frantic decisions.

“Prisoners” is a gritty, brutal thriller which perfectly mixes suspense with drama and benefits of two superb performances from Jackman and Gyllenhaal. It is the kind of film which will take a toll on you – not an easy watch at all – but definitely a rewarding experience.

10 Movies To Watch When You Need Entertainment

The World’s End (2013)

There are times when you just want to spend a couple of hours watching a good entertaining movie. Sometimes, you need to take a pause from more complex art house pictures. At the same time, you don’t want to completely switch off your brain; you want intelligent and funny entertainment. These are 10 movies that could help you have a good time, without completely abandon yourself to silliness and stupidity.

 

1. The Party (1968)

“The Party” is a must see movie. No doubt about it. We follow the story of Hrundi V. Bakshi (Peter Sellers), an Indian actor who is fired from a Hollywood movie; due to a mistake, he’s invited to the party of the director who has fired him.

At the party, Hrundi makes the acquaintance of a young French actress named Michele Monet (Claudine Longet). Over the course of the night, the party will go out of control, causing many troubles and funny situations.

The movie is flamboyant and over-the-top; it’s a crescendo of nonsensical and exhilarating gags that will make you laugh from the first minute to the last. Moreover, Sellers delivers one of the best and most hilarious performances of his career. Everything is out of control; there’s so much going on on the screen that you don’t know where to look.

This directorial choice by Blake Edwards is coherent with the bombastic style of the party. If you think that flamboyant, over-the-top, and bombastic are gratuitous adjectives for this movie, wait until the finale – there’s a big surprise waiting for you. “The Party” matches the era it was made: colorful, free, and crazy. A burst of happiness and joy.

 

2. National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

Animal House

National Lampoon’s “Animal House” is the ultimate college fraternity movie and maybe the best in this genre. Faber College, 1962: Delta Tau Chi is a rebel and ramshackle fraternity, composed of mediocre students and party animal personalities; their main goals are fighting and destroying every moral and disciplinary code in the college. Their rivals are the students from the prestigious Omega Theta Pi, who are upper-class and snobby.

The outcast fraternity will have to fight against them and the authoritarian principal. Disguised as a comedy movie, “Animal House” is a weapon of mass destruction against American society’s false respectability and moralism, represented by the boringly perfect students from Omega Theta Pi.

The Delta Tau Chi members are the cure against the stiffness and roughness of the college; with their extreme, uncontrollable behavior, they subvert normal life in college. They party hard and drink hard; nobody could stop them, and even when things go wrong, they don’t give up their fighting for hilarious obscenity.

The picture is full of unforgettable scenes and characters; the most memorable is John “Bluto” Blutarsky (John Belushi) – the craziest of the Delta Tau Chi fraternity – who epitomizes all the anti-authoritarian and free attitude of his group. 

“Animal House” is a national treasure; if you are tired of your parents, your teachers, your local priest, or the local police force telling you what it’s best for you and what you should do, watch this movie and feel better. Epically funny and corrosive, a must-see movie for every outcast.

 

3. Police Story (1985)

Police Story

Chan Ka-Kui (Jackie Chan) is a member of the Hong Kong police force. He’s part of a major task force whose mission is to find and arrest Chu Tao (Chor Yuen), a big crime lord. He’ll have to fight against everybody – including his police department – to bring to justice Chu Tao and save his relationship with his girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung).

The first aspect that really strikes you when watching “Police Story” is the solid conjunction between directing and editing; this precise and synchronized union creates a solid and controlled staging. For instance, just look at the powerful and impressive 17-minute long opening scene; everything is in place and all the details – minor and major – are impeccable. The result is one of the best action scenes of all time. Michael Bay – take notes!

Of course, when you watch a Jackie Chan movie, the focus is on the fighting scenes, and as always, they never disappoint. Funny and energetic, these scenes are perfectly staged and choreographed. Over the years, Chan was able to master action comedy like no one. His trademark style is always highly recognizable; sometimes overlooked and played down, his movies have definitely more to say than the average picture of the same genre.

If you’re looking for a lively action movie – dense with moments of comedy and also impressive fight sequences and stunts – don’t look any further. Jackie Chan’s “Police Story” is coming to entertain you and make you forget about your problems with good laughter.

 

4. Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

“Big Trouble in Little China” is a 1980’s cult classic, and it’s for everybody’s taste. Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is a truck driver who sees himself as a tough guy. He accompanies his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) to the airport to pick up Wang’s girlfriend Miao Yin (Suzee Pai); at the gates, she’s kidnapped by the Lords of Death, a Chinese gang.

During the pursuit, Jack’s truck is stolen by the gang, and the two friends meet David Lo Pan (James Hong), an evil supernatural lord. Jack and Wang will try to rescue Miao Yin. John Carpenter is a genre mastermind; with this movie, he’s able to combine coherently action, horror, comedy, fantasy, and martial arts all together. The picture is an explosion of genres, and unfortunately it was too ahead of its time; even if it scored poorly at the box office, “Big Trouble in Little China,” as time went on, became a cult classic among many loyal fans.

It’s unnecessary to talk about the technical aspects; Carpenter’s style is always spotless and great. Solid camera work, structured editing, multicolor and extravagant cinematography, and, of course, a trademark synth soundtrack by the man himself. However, don’t get fooled by the entertaining story and funny characters – there’s more than meets the eye

. Russell’s character could be seen as a funny and iconoclastic critique of the classic reactionary action movie hero of the ‘80s: he’s physically built like them, but he’s not the man who solves all the problems. He’s not the spotless hero who embodies the false and mythomaniac American values of the Reagan era; he’s a dumb and selfish normal human being who cares about his truck more than Miao’s life.

The mocking criticism is subtle but present.

If you feel nostalgic for the ‘80s but you don’t want to watch the stereotypical action movies of that period, Carpenter’s overlooked precious gem is here to please you.

 

5. Point Break (1991)

point-break-1991

What’s there to say about “Point Break”? First of all, stay away from the 2015 remake, it’s just rubbish. Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) is a FBI agent who teams up with fellow agent Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey) to find and capture a gang of bank robbers called the “Ex-Presidents,” because they wear face masks of the former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan.

After many investigations, they find out the gang is formed by surfers, led by the charismatic Bodhi (Patrick Swayze). Utah will try to infiltrate the gang by starting a relationship with Bodhi’s old flame Tyler (Lori Perry).

“Point Break” is of the best action movies of the 1990s. The directing style of Kathryn Bigelow is flawless; the editing, the sequences, the soundtrack, the cinematography, everything is at its place. The movie rightfully deserves its cult status, as many scenes are impossible to forget: the multiple surfing sequences, the robberies in the banks, the foot chase, and the great final sequence.

At the same time, we can’t forget to mention the social message of the movie, embodied by Swayze’s character; even if he should be considered the “bad guy,” he’s the opposite, as his figure represents freedom and rebelliousness against the ruling society. He rebels against the impositions of a system that tells everybody how they should live their life: work, produce, reproduce, obey, and die.

In fact, Bodhi says clearly that they’re doing it against the system and not for the money. If you’ve never seen this movie, stop everything you’re doing: skip work, pretend to be sick, lock yourself in the house and watch it. Do it immediately!