Film & TV

Five Films For… Keeping you on Tenterhooks

Becca Eustis looks at five films to keep you reaching for the pillow.

The art of suspense is more subtle and perhaps more challenging than simply making a film scary. Rather than simply making you jump out of your seat with shock tactics, a suspenseful film must keep you on the edge of it throughout. Here are five of the best:

Psycho (1960)
Picking just one film for suspense from Hitchcock, the master, is nearly impossible, but if one is to be singled out it should be Psycho. The shrieking violins from the shower sequence are virtually synonymous with tension and fear and few films have more shocking twists.

The Shining (1980)
Adapted from Stephen King’s story of one man and his family going to live alone in a hotel in the middle of nowhere and that man’s slow descent into madness. Anyone who looks into Jack Nicholson’s eyes and doesn’t feel tense from the start needs to be less trusting of psychopaths.

Shutter Island (2010)
This is a film that, even with your eyes shut, will keep you on the edge of your seat, as the score is so terrifyingly foreboding. Leonardo DiCaprio’s US Marshal is sent to an isolated island psychiatric hospital to investigate the disappearance of a patient, but also to ask questions about his own past. The twist will leave you reeling.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
For anyone that feels uneasy around babies, this film will confirm all of your worst fears. Rosemary’s pregnancy is surrounded by a cloud of paranoia and mistrust as she struggles against her husband and nutty old neighbours to hold onto her sanity and the future of her baby. And you thought morning sickness was bad…

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
Last year’s anti-Bond, this slow burn spy film centres around the hunt for a mole in the British Intelligence service. The climate of suspicion and double-guessing creeps over the entire film and the viewer, and, for many, continues long after the film has finished.

Becca Eustis

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