How to Write a Thriller Movie Title


I've been digging into Netflix's thriller archives lately, and I've almost caught myself renting the same movie twice because the names are all so similar.

Which got me thinking, there's a formula to choosing an appropriate title for a thriller movie. Here's my idea:


Choose any single noun but make sure it's vague. These words seem to fall into a few categories...

Architectural. Choose a location that's in the house, a part of the house, an item in the house, or the house itself. But make sure it's only one word.  (You can use "the" if you absolutely must.) Have fun with it! Here are some off the top of my head:
  • The Corner
  • Gutter
  • The Eaves
  • Playroom
  • Hamper
  • Cupboard
  • Icebox
Notice how menacing simple things like a playroom or hamper can be when it's only one chilling word? It makes you think:
  • What happened in the playroom that whispers of secrets and creepy toys that aren't even Tickle-Me Elmo? 
  • Does the stench of death surrounding the hamper include more than just your husband's balled up socks from his IM baseball team?
Now try it with multiple words in the same genre, and you'll find you give away too much. You want to leave something to the imagination. So you can't do things like:
  • Time-Out Chair
  • Lumpy Sofa
  • Streaky Windows
  • Gunky Fridge
  • Attic of Too Many House Centipedes.
Actually, I take that back. Attic of Too Many House Centipedes is friggin' scary. Have you seen those things? They're like two-inch long Amtrak trains on a roundtrip schedule to scare the crap out of you. They keep cornering me in my bathroom.
In fact, now I think about it, I can't believe no one's used house centipedes as the main feature in a major horror flick. Freddy and Jason versus Centipedo. I wouldn't sleep for days. 


Neither would Freddie. (He can dish it out, but he can't take it.)

But I digress. Aside from selecting a one-word, centipede-free architectural element, you also can go with a -tion word. Try words like:
  • Distraction
  • Potion
  • Elevation
  • Intention
  • Dentition
(Come on, dentition can be scary! Would Steve Buscemi be the same after braces? Do you not feel a chill run down your spine when Gary Busey smiles?) 

You can also choose a title that's directional:
  • Fallen
  • Risen
  • The Plummet
  • Reverse
  • Mirror
  • Above
  • Follow
  • After
  • Skid
  • Fishtail
And you seem to be allowed to break the one-word rule as long as you include time and/or a number:
  • Two Minutes to Die
  • Five Days and Three Hours
  • 40 Miles Per Hour
  • Six Feet
  • 27 Toes
(Well, okay, 27 Toes might have to be about a girl in a '30s carnival freak show, but I still think it could work.)

So, tell me, using the system above, what's your new thriller movie title? Just whatever comes to mind, please. :)

6 comments:

Paula said...

I got a great title for a horror movie. "Children". "Porch" Sandbox.

Lots of things come to mind: Mortgage. Tuition. Dinner.

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Jenn!

How about "Damp Corner Where The Cat Peed Last Summer" (please note, no "The")

And, sorry, but I think I've see ALL of those Directional ones.

But yeah, in the face of the centipede, Freddy would scream like a little girl.

Roth x

Jenn Thorson said...

Paula- Terrifying selection, with many a potentially scary outcome!

Indigo- Yeah, I imagine all the directional ones are actual films somewhere. But there's definite possibilities in the centipede flick, I think. :)

Dave White said...

I suggest just taking your boring, pedestrian title and adding "Rob Zombie's" in front of it.

"House of 1000 Corpses" sounds like some boring William Castle movie starring Vincent Price.

"Rob Zombie's 'House of 1000 Corpses'" sounds like it's going to require a change of underpants at least once during the movie.

Try it with me!

Rob Zombie's "Monster Squad"
Rob Zombie's "House on Sorority Row"
Rob Zombie's "The Secret of NIMH"
Rob Zombie's "Howard's End"

Boom Boom Larew said...

After my visit from Unfinished Person/Bryan on my camping trip, I think I'll call mine...

"Axtion"

Boom Boom Larew said...

Now if those centipedes had invaded my tent, I wouldn't be writing this right now because I would have had a heart attack!