Great moments of suspense

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  • Great moments of suspense

    Hey guys,

    I'm trying to get a feel for how really suspenseful scenes look on the page, so I'm looking for some suggestions of scenes (not necessarily whole films) that carry suspense brilliantly.

    These are not action scenes, but moments of build-up. Subtle, tense... That, "Oh ****..." kind of thing films like Jaws perfected. The moments before a possible disaster, even if they're false alarms. It's all about the mood. The guy behind the door stuff. Silent, watchful.

    So, any recommended SCENES (rather than whole films) that I should read. (And probably watch. But read, more importantly.) The best of the best, where possible. They don't have to be thrillers - in fact, better if they're not. But the scene should be thrilling/suspenseful in some way.

    Thanking you in advance.
    Nic
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  • #2
    Re: Great moments of suspense

    I just reread the execution scene from The Green Mile and it stopped time for me. May not be exactly what you mean, but even though I've seen the movie at least a dozen times, I held my breath.

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    • #3
      Re: Great moments of suspense

      The start of Scream is pretty suspenseful as I remember it.

      Also any film where they have to defuse a bomb - hurt locker, Die hard with a vengeance.

      If I think of any more i'll post them up.
      No, you are going to have to turn this opportunity yes!

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      • #4
        Re: Great moments of suspense

        Thanks guys. Some good suggestions there.

        I'm actually keen on dramas that have moments of suspense, rather than films that rest entirely on it. Seeing how they achieve that - balancing it against the overall tone - would be really helpful. So carcar, that's a particularly good suggestion.

        Thanks for such quick replies. (I'm always expecting everyone to be asleep when I post in the evening.)
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        • #5
          Re: Great moments of suspense

          Originally posted by 9Ball View Post
          The start of Scream is pretty suspenseful as I remember it.

          Also any film where they have to defuse a bomb - hurt locker, Die hard with a vengeance.

          If I think of any more i'll post them up.
          Thanks!
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          • #6
            Re: Great moments of suspense

            UPRISING had some good ones, because you've come to expect a certain amount of brutality from the aliens and the protagonist is so willing to get in their faces.

            The scene where he's first brought up to be interviewed by the head alien bad guy was pretty intense, as I remember it.
            QUESTICLES -- It's about balls on a mission.

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            • #7
              Re: Great moments of suspense

              Hey Nic,

              I think the opening of 'Speed' would be worth checking out. I think it does a great job of setting up the protag/antag while generating a bunch of tension and suspense...even if it's action.


              ETA: I think Bill M. wrote an article about this using an example from a scene in North by Northwest...I think.
              The best way out is always through. - Robert Frost

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              • #8
                Re: Great moments of suspense

                Watch Panic Room, Nic. The whole film is one big suspense sequence. Fincher is a master at this type of thing. Plus the basement scene in Spielberg's War of the Worlds is quite suspenseful. Very well executed. Pity the rest of the movie was a bit meh.
                @TerranceMulloy

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                • #9
                  Re: Great moments of suspense

                  Zen, Knaight... great suggestions.

                  I'll also trawl through Bill's website for some suggestions, after I check out North by Northwest. (I haven't seen that film in an age.)

                  Cheers, boys.
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                  • #10
                    Re: Great moments of suspense

                    Originally posted by Terrance Mulloy View Post
                    Watch Panic Room, Nic. The whole film is one big suspense sequence. Fincher is a master at this type of thing. Plus the basement scene in Spielberg's War of the Worlds is quite suspenseful. Very well executed. Pity the rest of the movie was a bit meh.
                    I haven't seen Panic Room, so will check out that.

                    Can't believe I'd forgotten that basement scene in WotW... That was literally the only impactful scene in the whole film.

                    Good call, Terrance. Ta.
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                    • #11
                      Re: Great moments of suspense

                      Originally posted by nic.h View Post
                      I haven't seen Panic Room, so will check out that.

                      Can't believe I'd forgotten that basement scene in WotW... That was literally the only impactful scene in the whole film.
                      Whaaaaaaaaa? (Personally thinking that the scene after Cruise loses the car and the gun and breaks down crying while his kids look at him askance before finally they come together was pretty good, too.)

                      Anyway...

                      The Russian roulette scene in The Deer Hunter. (Little known fact: DeNiro used real bullets. He is a method actor, you know.)

                      When Walt and Jesse try to poison Tuco while Tuco's uncle/father(?) rings the bell on his wheelchair. (That's from season 2 Breaking Bad, a tv show, but it's a helluva suspenseful scene.)

                      Oh, and the scene in Zodiac where the police and SF Detectives confront a prime suspect in the killings. I admit it loses some impact when I watched it again on DVD, but I remember being in the theater and getting goose bumps while watching it the first time I saw it.

                      HH

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                      • #12
                        Re: Great moments of suspense

                        'The Untouchables' stairway scene in the train station. An homage, sure, but amazing tension.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Great moments of suspense

                          I've always loved Hitchcock's definition of the difference between surprise and suspense:





                          I'm sure many members and indeed the OP of this thread will be aware of this already, but thought I'd post up anyway as it's an interesting comparison.

                          This seems to suggest the key to suspense, at least for Hitchcock, is finding something that can harm the protag (bomb, murderer etc.) and let the audience know it exists and not the protag.
                          No, you are going to have to turn this opportunity yes!

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                          • #14
                            Re: Great moments of suspense

                            The escape from the cop car scene in Scream 2

                            The first 20 minutes or so of Jeepers Creepers

                            Being stalked in the dark in Silence of the Lambs

                            The drug deal in Boogie Nights

                            The bedroom scene in The Haunting (original version)
                            "Only nothing is impossible."
                            - Grant Morrison

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                            • #15
                              Re: Great moments of suspense

                              Anything Hitchcock. More recently, I love the scene in the middle of Infernal Affairs when the mole is tailing the other mole. Skip the hack version made by Scorcese and watch the original.

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