[dropcap size=small]W[/dropcap]e all can agree on one thing: Alfred Hitchcock is the undisputed king of thrillers. Whenever you will pick up any greatest thrillers of all time list, you will find all the topmost ones his creation. So, we at Crizic decided to give you something different. Here are the 9 greatest non-Hitchcockian thrillers ever in modern cinema. And remember that we have tried to include only mainstream and known cinema in this list, so we have put no indie gems in here:
9. Donnie Darko (2001):
Few movies capture the mind as Donnie Darko does with its meditation on existentialism and the meaning of what it means to be alive. All through the eyes of a very normal teenager who is haunted by the most terrifying bunny you’ll ever see.
After an accident in which he almost dies, Donnie (A young Jake Gyllenhal.) begins to question the meaning of living and comes to realize that he now has the power to perceive and manipulate time. With this realization, he is haunted by a nightmarish bunny who seems to know Donnie a little too intimately…
Terrifying in some moments, intensely taut another, Donnie Darko represents a post modern take on the thriller genre with an ending that will surely bend all minds who watch it.
8. Fight Club (1999):
Probably David Fincher’s peak, Fight Club is an existential outlook on the malaise modern society suffers from. With brilliant acting, and incredible script and a lot of soap, Fight Club thrills through and through.
Seen through the eyes of an insomniac whose name is never revealed, modern society’s true face is unravelled as the narrator teams up with Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt in his most memorable role ever.) and proceeds on journey of self-revelation and acceptance, which eventually leads to a soap-catalysed revolution.
Almost Nietzsche-esque in its final moments, Fight Club deserves a spot on this list for its careful editing, a techno-punk soundtrack and a solid twist.
7. I saw the Devil (2010):
When a secret service agent’s wife’s mutilated remains are found scattered on a marshland, he erases the line between good and evil in a hellish pursuit of the murderer.
I saw the Devil has no grand sequence where the protagonist finally catches up to the bad guy. No.
This is a movie made with such sublime confidence, it easily ranks in the top 5 best Asian movies ever made. On the first viewing, it might appear that the movie is a borderline exploration of the gore genre, but I saw the Devil is brilliantly written and directed, the gore serves to underline the organicity of all human life.
The movie, primarily, is a commentary on the nature of humanity and secondarily, is an action-packed thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat even after the credits have rolled and done their part.
With brilliant performances by both leads and a depressive take on the origin of evil, I saw the Devil finds itself placed on this list at number 8 for the sheer poise and balance its direction exudes.
6. Shutter Island (2010):
If the films on this list were rated solely on the basis of the shock value of their finales, Shutter Island would be number one.
Martin Scorcese’s take on the psychologically disturbed, it is replete with ominous forebodings and a brilliant starcast that make this movie pack a serious punch.
Two US marshalls, in an attempt to uncover the mystery behind the escape of a brilliant murderess from a locked room find themselves on the island psychiatric facility of Ashecliffe Hospital, not quite realizing the nature of evil the island harbors.
With final moments that make you feel as if you got mugged in a meadow, Shutter Island is an almost surreal, horrifying take on the depths of mental illness.
5. The Sixth Sense (1999):
While M. Night Shyamalan might have lost his way in recent years, The Sixth Sense can easily be considered as one of the best thrillers ever made. Shyamalan’s tryst with supernatural entities found its ultimate expression in this tale of a psychiatrist and a boy.
Bruce Willis shines as he plays the distraught and haunted (We make excellent puns) psychiatrist who makes it his mission to save a child apparently harrassed by the souls of the dead, in order to redeem himself from the ghosts (Stop it already) of his past. Supporting him with an equally stellar performance is the little boy, who appears to have ESP.
Made with craft and poise, this film’s carefully shot scenes and its “in your face” final twist lands this film the sixth spot on this list.
4. Seven (1995):
David Fincher’s romance with the darker side of human existence found its incredible birth with Seven, a tale of two mismatched cops on the hunt for John Doe, a killer with a biblical fascination.
Seven is true film noir, a film which manages to dodge all cliches it apparently buries itself in(Black cop,white cop|Veteran cop,New Recruit; yeah, we know.) and deliver incredible perfomances from all three leads(Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt|Kevin Spacey) while pulsing with subdued tension throughout.
Kevin Spacey is especially brilliant as John Doe, the revelation of his grand plan forming the moral-shaking, terrifying finale.
Dark, foreboding and nightmarish, Seven expounds upon the philosophy of film-noir, catapulting itself as one of the greatest thrillers of all time.
3. The Silence of the Lambs (1990):
With an unforgettable performance by Sir Anthony Hopkin’s as the calculating, abominable cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs writ its place into the cinema hall of fame, thriller or otherwise. Taut and well paced, The Silence of The Lambs follows the story of Clarice Sterling, a young FBI recruit played phenomenally by Jodie Foster, as she tries to unravel the secret and mystery behind ‘Buffalo Bill’, a serial killer whose victims seem to be young women. Helping her on the way like an ever present shadow is Hannibal Lecter, whose screentime while only being 20 minutes, is easily the most terrifying/impressive character in the movie.
Well paced with an apetite for the dark, Silence of the Lambs finds its place on number 3 on our list.
2. The Usual Suspects (1995):
Bryan Singer’s tale of five criminals and a mysterious, dark overlord is one of the finest works of scriptwriting in all cinema history. With it’s haunting ‘Who is Keyser Soze?’, The Usual Suspects sets the tone for a dark, gritty crime thriller from the word ‘go’.
Five criminals are locked up for a crime they didn’t(apparently) commit. They decide to gang up to teach the authorities a thing or two, not aware of a dark overlord who’s watching them(Or is he?).
With an ending that had many people sit open mouthed for three minutes after the movie ended(Or did it?), any description of The Usual Suspects wouldn’t be complete without these lines (We know you’ve been waiting to hear it.):
‘The greatest trick that the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.’
1. Oldboy (2003):
Relatively unknown as compared to other stellar entries on this list (because it’s Korean), Oldboy deserves this position simply because it is the pinnacle of what a rolling camera and breathtaking screenplay can do to an incredible plot.
Oldboy is fast. Oldboy is impartial. And most of all, Oldboy is thrilling.
Oh-dae-Su is imprisoned for fourteen years by an unknown captor for an unkown reason and then released while being told he must find his captor or pay the price. The movie follows Oh-dae-Su’s journey as he unleashes hell on earth in search for his captor.
While the skill involved in pacing this movie itself trumps every other movie on this list, it is Oldboy’s rapid break-neck action sequences and periods of deafening silence immediately afterwards that make this movie a bleakly-colorful masterpiece.
With an unforgettable ending and an equally unforgettable hallway scene (picture this: Oh-dae-Su has to go through a hallway where 50 man are lined up to kill him. But what the hell? He has a hammer. ), Oldboy is a pure masterpiece.