Today we are talking 90s thriller films.
90s thrillers have their ups and downs. Some are without a doubt, incredible, and some are pretty average. They vary from downright messed up, to a little weird and then some are just a little tacky. But they all carry that 90’s charm, that you just don’t find in contemporary film. I always feel like modern day thrillers try a little too hard, and end up being over-produced or poorly scripted.
These are some of my favourites:
Strap yourself in because this is going to be a thrilling ride.
Single White Female (1992)
“A woman advertising for a new roommate finds that something very strange is going on with the tenant who decides to move in.” (IMDb)
This is one of those films that I ended up watching on a rainy day when I was at home sick in bed. It came on day-time TV and kept me completely enthralled for the next hour and 47 minutes. It’s somewhat relatable for most females (and most likely men too, I wouldn’t really know) as at some point in their lives most women can say they’ve experienced someone copying them etc. Fortunately for most women, they do not experience it to this level i.e. gouging out your housemates, boyfriends eye with a stilleto heel, after becoming jealous and obsessed. With so many attacks and death in one film, the hardest part for me to swallow is when the main character’s (Allie) puppy is murdered. I’ll never get over it.
The Good Son (1993)
“A young boy stays with his aunt and uncle and befriends his cousin who’s the same age. But his cousin begins showing increasing signs of violent behaviour.” (IMDb)
This is the first thriller I ever saw. I would have been around the same age as the film’s main character’s when I saw it, so obviously I was terrified that my cousins might suddenly turn out to be insane, jealous little killers. For some reason, this film always stuck with me as I got older. Maybe because of Elijah Wood and Macaulay Culkin’s powerful acting, even at the ages of 12 and 13.
Or maybe it is just because Culkin’s character Henry was batshit crazy.
“Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.” (IMDb)
Se7en (also known as Seven) is a film that really got to me. I have always had an odd fascination with ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ and what each sin represents. I particularly enjoy it because of how gross it was. And because of Brad Pitt, but mainly because it was gross and weird. The whole film is warped and perfectly executed: from the obese guy who is forced to eat so much that his stomach literally explodes (Gluttony), to the model given the option of calling for help but disfiguring herself, or committing suicide (Pride). David Fincher (Director) is a personal favourite of mine, and Se7en just speaks volumes of his work.
“Jerry Lundegaard’s inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen’s bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.” (IMDb)
I’m not sure how or why, but I actually only saw this film for the first time a couple of months ago. After being introduced to it in a Scripts class last semester, I raced home to watch the rest of the film. I then continued on to watch the Netflix TV series based on the film. I had always heard people discussing Fargo or referencing it, but never had a clue what it was about. Now I know that I was missing out. I won’t lie, one of my favourite parts of Fargo are the accents, but the amazing cast, combined with a funny yet exciting plot is what really makes this film so darn-tootin good.
“A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorised by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.” (IMDb)
It wouldn’t be a 90’s thriller list without Scream. Who could forget a young, dim-witted Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) telling a creepy dude on the phone, all about her evening? Not me, that’s for sure. I think part of the appeal of this film for me, is that I saw it’s parody (Scary Movie) before I saw the original. I couldn’t help but think the entire film was hilarious and a joke, when I knew it was semi-trying to be serious and scary. Regardless of my misinterpretation of Scream, I can’t help but love that 90s vibe where you know the ‘damsel-in-distress’ is going to do the dumb thing that gets her killed. To be honest, I kind of live for it.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
“After a nasty accident, four friends begin to drift apart. One year later Julie James gets an anonymous message and then a slicker wearing, hook-wielding killer begins to rip apart her life.” (IMDb)
If the pun in the film tag-line wasnt good enough for you, then the rest of the film might be a let down. It features all of my fave 90s actors, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr which earns it bonus points. I Know What You Did Last Summer is another one of those ‘damsel-in-distress’ 90s thrillers that just makes me so happy. There is the occasional jumpy moment, but at the end of the day, you always know that everyone except the main pretty girl is going to die a hilarously painful death.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
“Laurie Strode, now the dean of a Northern California private school with an assumed name, must battle the Shape one last time and now the life of her own son hangs in the balance.” (IMDb)
It is with great shame that I have to admit, this is the only film in the Halloween franchise that I have seen. The main reason I even bothered to watch it at all was because of its cast. Jamie Lee Curtis (of course), Michelle Williams (oooofff), Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Josh Hartnett (oh boy, oh boy), Joseph Gordon Levitt (yes, please) and LL Cool J (whaaat). However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it is not terrible. It’s one of those thrillers that I consider to be kind of…meh, but it’s hard not to be terrified by Michael Myers and that goddamn weird face.
His face alone is enough to give me nightmares.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
“A boy who communicates with spirits that don’t know they’re dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist.” (IMDb)
I feel like there is just so much I could say about The Sixth Sense. I cant quite recall just how old I was when I first saw it, but I know I was probably younger than I should have been. It was genuinely one of the first films to scare me to the point of nightmares. I remember checking under my bed and in my closet, not for monsters but for dead people. Even now as a 26 year old, I avoid watching it. It instantly takes me back to little Kate, huddled up against the wall in bed and covers over her head (this meant that nothing and no one could get me). This film was genuinely haunting for a child whom was probably far too young to be thinking about the afterlife.
Cruel Intentions (1999)
“Two vicious step-siblings of an elite Manhattan prep school make a wager: to deflower the new headmaster’s daughter before the start of term.” (IMDb)
This blog just would not be complete without Cruel Intentions on at least one of these lists. I almost put it on my favourites, then I almost put it on the women blog, but it felt like it just didn’t have a home until now. This is an odd one for a Thriller, as it can also fall under Drama/Romance. However, there is just something about the way Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character Kathryn Merteuil keeps you on the edge of your seat, and particularly creeped out for the duration of the film. She is an incredible Villian. What I really love about Cruel Intentions is that it is based on Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. It’s all about cruel games, revenge and seduction, which makes it extremely thrilling.
Thrillers are not my all time favourite genre of film, they’re generally reserved for once or twice a year. But, when I do watch them, I always steer towards the 90s. I’m yet to find a modern Thriller that can compare to a mother choosing between her son or her nephew on a cliff edge, a young boy who can see dead people that no one else is remotely aware of, or the old tale of the dude with a hook, slashing people up.
The 90s have got it in the bag.