One of cinema's largest, all-encompassing genres, this type features films whose main ingredient is suspense, excitement and tension. These include such genres as mystery, detective movies, gangster movies, crime, spy films, science fiction, film noir, occult and haunted house horror movies. An atmosphere of creeping menace and sudden outbursts of violence, crime, and murder characterize these films; the withholding of crucial information from the viewer is also an important device, as are action setpieces such as gunfights and chases. Thrillers often present a vision of the world and society as dark, corrupt and dangerous, but in Hollywood they usually feature upbeat endings in which evil is overcome and the status quo is restored, often with lingering side effects. Many early examples of these films come from gangster dramas and detective films such as Scarface, Public Enemy and The Maltese Falcon. In the ‘40s and ‘50s, film noir controlled the thriller, painting an increasingly pessimistic, sinister view of life. Characters trapped by fate and downbeat endings were common, and moody, gloomy visual atmospheres were the key elements. After World War II, thrillers became increasingly more menacing (with films by directors like Nicolas Ray, Samuel Fuller, Alfred Hitchcock, Don Siegel, and international filmmakers like Jean-Pierre Melville, Henri-Georges Clouzot and Akira Kurosawa), but the gory, explicit violence and overt sexuality that define much of the genre today didn't arrive until after the Hayes Code was abolished in 1969. Since then the genre has been stretched with films by various directors who each continue to twist and expand thrillers into new areas. These include filmmakers like Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas), Brian De Palma (Dressed to Kill, Scarface), David Cronenberg (Videodrome, Dead Zone), Michael Mann (Thief, Heat), Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), David Mamet (House of Games, Homicide), Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Someone to Watch Over Me), Roman Polanski (Chinatown, The Tenant) and Steven Soderbergh (The Underneath, Out of Sight), to name just a handful.
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