There are few filmmakers from history quite as influential as Alfred Hitchcock. After all, his name inspired the term “Hitchcockian” and he’s often credited with inventing the thriller genre. Perhaps the only thing sadder than the fact that he never won an Oscar is that we’ll never get to see his unique take on modern society.
But that doesn’t stop modern filmmakers from paying tribute to him by emulating his style and making films today that are clearly inspired by his work. So here is our list of 10 modern films that best capture the style and spirit of the late and great Alfred Hitchcock. Also, we’re counting “modern” as anything released since 2000 (sorry Misery and Silence of the Lambs, but you’re both classics rather than modern).
A Quiet Place
Demonstrating that there’s much more to him that deadpan comedy, John Krasinski intrigued and terrified audiences with his directorial debut, A Quiet Place. Many horror films rely on jump scares, or loud noises and sound effects to try and elicit a reaction.
This film achieves all this in complete silence. A silence that becomes to uncomfortable that audiences were kept in constant suspense and tension throughout. Many packed theaters were so quiet that you could have heard a pin drop in them. Hitchcock certainly would have been proud!
Much like Hitchcock’s Rope, Buried is told in real time, and in one confined area. Only the latter is confined to a coffin rather than a dining room, and features only one actor we see on screen. One would think that an entire film set in one coffin with one actor might get boring, but it never does!
We can’t help but feel incredibly claustrophobic and tense as we worry for the fate of Ryan Reynolds’ character. After all, he’s just an innocent man caught up in something much larger that he wanted no part in, another famous staple of Hitchcock’s!
This one was so inspired by Hitchcock it was sued for it! Universal was hit with a lawsuit form the rights-holder of the story “It Had to be Murder”, on which Rear Window was originally based. Disturbia has a very similar plot, but updates it into a modern setting and has a more teenage feel to it with Shia LeBeouf playing the main character.
Because of this change, it dealt with a distrust of elders theme, common among youth fiction, which just added a new interesting layer. However, the changes were enough to get the lawsuit dropped. But we still know that it’s essentially a modern remake of Rear Window!
Don’t BreatheIf any of these films were meant to be seen in a theater, this one definitely is. Many described Don’t Breathe as more than just a film, but rather an experience. The audience felt like they were right there in the house, experiencing everything the characters were. It was certainly more violent and overt than most of what Hitchcock did, but given modern film trends, it felt like a natural update.
Combining the theme of an innocent person caught up in something, along with a very strange setting where you can’t trust anyone or anything, Get Out broke barriers as it became the first horror/thriller film in almost 20 years to get nominated for Best Picture! The film properly emulates Hitchcock’s constant level of suspense and paranoia, as everything is not quite what it seems for our protagonist.
This may seem like an odd choice, but hear us out! Hitchcock famously argued that the difference between shock and suspense has everything to do with anticipation. His famous example dealt with two people talking about baseball, but with a bomb under the table. If the audience doesn’t know about it, they’re just shocked when it goes off. But if the audience does know, they’re kept in suspense as the dreadfully await for it to go off.
Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds captures this perfectly in two key scenes. The opening of the film shows us SS Colonel Hans Landa visiting a French farm suspected of hiding Jews. Halfway through their conversation, the camera pans down underneath the floorboards, and we see the terrified Jewish family hiding down there. From then on, the scene becomes incredibly tense, as Landa slowly reveals that he also suspects that’s exactly where they’re hiding.
The second scene deals with Landa discovering an autograph from Bridget von Hammersmark at the scene of the tavern shootout, thus cluing him in that she was involved. So when she shows up with the Basterds, undercover at the film premiere, we know that he knows it’s all a ruse. And all we can do is anxiously await to see what he will do to them.
To call this film modern might seem like a stretch, given that phone booths feel quite antiquated today. But it’s an excellent example of a tense, isolated thriller dealing with a somewhat innocent man (Colin Farrell) caught up in the scheme of a psychopathic sniper; one who’s out to teach him a lesson. It uses its phone booth setting quite well as we feel claustrophobic and want nothing more than for our main character to get out of this alive.
While the Saw series is synonymous with the “torture porn” movement of the 2000’s, the original film in the franchise really was more of a whodunit murder mystery. Director James Wan admitted that Hitchcock was a huge inspiration for him, and that he wanted the emphasis to be on the mystery and suspense angle, rather than graphic violence (something the sequels would fully embrace). The original Saw leaves us trying to figure out who this “Jigsaw” killer is, and which of our main characters might be behind it all.
If ever there was a modern film that perfectly encapsulated the old school mystery with a twist ending, it’s Shutter Island. The entire time, we know that something isn’t quite right here, even if we’re not sure of it. Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo give brilliant performances that feel like they came from the very vintage setting the film takes place in.
Given that setting, this is one that Hitchcock himself could have very easily directed in his heyday. It’s shocking finale also begs quite the philosophical question that Hitchcock would have been fascinated with, “Is it better to live as a monster, or to die as a good man?”
In many ways, Signs feels like a spiritual remake of The Birds. Both films deal with a minimally explained, but overwhelmingly foreboding force that seeks to cause destruction. M. Night Shyamalan himself has admitted that not just this film, but his entire career was very much inspired by the late Hitchcock.
The entire final sequence at the farmhouse is very reminiscent of the ending to The Birds, both of which take place in a single house. Shyamalan successfully emulated Hitchcock in the way he built an incredible amount of suspense as we focused on the family in the house, and could hear but not see the aliens outside, trying to break in.
These are just our picks, but to be honest, there are so many other films out there inspired by the great master of suspense! What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!