Thriller movies are hard to define. While other genres like science fiction, horror films and romance movies are fairly easy to quantify, there are no hard or fast rules with regards to what constitutes a thriller. Suspense and a sense of tension, be it narratively or between characters, is key, and there are generally some recurrent themes such as murder, political intruige, espionge, conspiracy, criminal activity or psychological manipulation (and sometimes they include all of the above).
Of course, Alfred Hitchcock is the master of the thriller, perfecting the genre with a string of classics that, to this day, remain unmatched. Nevertheless, there have been some brilliant additions to the genre. Filmmaker David Fincher has an excellent grip on the genre, films like Seven, Zodiac and Gone Girl all imbued with an almost tangible sense of uneasiness. From Taxi Driver to Shutter Island, Martin Scorsese also knows his way around a thriller, and there have been numerous James Bond movies that have left pulses racing. Indeed, every decade gets the thrillers it deserves, from post-World War II film noir and Nixon-era conspiracies to the tawdry (but loveable) ’80s erotic thrillers. All that makes choosing the 100 best thrillers of all time a difficult task. But after much interrogation under a naked light bulb, we did it.