I utterly adore trashy thrillers and horror movies simultaneously, but is there really such a distinctive divide between the two genres? More twisted sisters than separate families, the themes of suspense, fear, lurking (or shown) death and hidden villains run amok in both. Some thrillers are bloodier than some horrors, and the roots of both genres run deep, with Hitchcock and the Italian giallo directors creating films that exemplified the finest of both thriller and horror.
Do thrillers threaten and horrors show the violence? Not always. Do thrillers have "happy" endings and horrors "unhappy" endings? Not always. Take a look at the following movies considered thrillers and decide for yourself, can we really determine whether a movie is intended to thrill rather than horrify?
1. Jagged Edge (1985)
IMBd says: Crime, Thriller, Mystery
Wiki says: Courtroom thriller
Horror Elements: Graphic depiction of corpses, Ultra-violent and sexually perverse method of execution
2. Seven (1995)
IMDb says: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Wiki says: mystery neo-noir psychological thriller
Horror Elements: Serial killer, creative methods of execution, graphic bloody scenes
3. Oldboy (2003)
IMDb says: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Wiki says: Mystery thriller neo-noir film
Horror Elements: Extreme violence, gore, graphic scenes of torture
It's a curious thing how many people have very different definitions of horror and thriller movies. For example, Stephen King's masterpiece Misery is defined as a psychological thriller. Most major movie websites define The Silence of the Lambs as horror, but won't give the equally bloody and horrifying Seven the same label.
When the American Film Institute compiled its AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills list of the 100 greatest US thrillers, audiences were requested to consider ''the total adrenaline-inducing and heart-pounding impact of a film's artistry and craft," yet The Exorcist, Jaws and Psycho — movies routinely cited as some of the finest horror movies of the 20th Century — were included alongside other more standard "thriller" fare. Maybe there isn't such a difference after all.