“I am a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach.” – Alfred Hitchcock.
A pioneer in cinematic history who mastered voyeurism, suspense and thrillers, Alfred Hitchcock has paved the way with his trailblazing cinematography and action that reflects his penchant for direction, ingenuity and brilliance. From incorporating jarring music that heightened anxiety to instilling fear in the minds of people who want to shower via the infamous shower scene in Psycho, Hitchcock is a true cinematic genius.
Masterfully manipulating the camera angles to make the scene seem tense and ominous, the auteur relied very little on dialogue, using all the cinematographic tools at his disposal. Hitchcock is celebrated for his unsettling narratives, unique ideas and the ability to manifest psychological and physical on-screen horror via his ingenious camera movements, including crane shots, POV shots, dolly zoom etc.
Every Hitchcock film has a distinct voice of its own, and his thrillers, which have now become an entire genre in their own right, are known for celebrating tension and suspense over surprise elements and revelations. Usually proleptic, the claustrophobia results from the audience being aware of the killer while those on-screen are blissfully unaware of the dangers lurking around them. Various filmmakers have been heavily influenced by Hitchcock and constantly acknowledged the auteur’s vision for inspiring theirs.
Take a look at some of the Hitchcockian thrillers on Netflix that pay homage to the auteur:
5 Hitchcockian thrillers on Netflix that pay homage to Alfred Hitchcock
5. A Woman in the Window (Joe Wright, 2021)
Adapted from Dan Mallory’s eponymous novel, the film stars Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore and others in prominent roles. The film revolves around an agoraphobic young woman who allegedly witnesses her neighbour’s murder from the window and becomes fixated on proving it, thus descending into a murky rabbit hole.
Meant to be a tribute to Hitchcock’s works, especially Rear Window, the film incorporates the theme of voyeurism, adding a dollop of suspense to the mix. While it is not meant to be a direct Rear Window remake, the film incorporates the same elements of thrill, suspense and voyeurism while indulging the protagonist in a dangerous, mind-bending rendezvous of lies and deceit.
4. Windfall (Charlie McDowell, 2022)
Starring Jason Segel, Lily Collins and Jesse Plemons, Windfall is McDowell’s admitted homage to Hitchcock, where he attempts to present a “modern-day take on a classic noir”. McDowell attempts to dominate the camera angle with still, close shots and ominous music. The camera angles delve deep into the character’s psyche yet keep them at a certain distance. The director also uses tense dialogues laced with dark humour and sarcasm, paying further homage to the auteur.
This classic tale of home invasion quickly turns into couples’ therapy when an affluent young couple finds themselves facing various truths regarding their marriage in a plush, unnamed location while being supposedly held hostage by a jilted and unemployed haggard-looking man.
3. Don’t Breathe (Fede Alvarez, 2016)
Since Hitchcock’s thrillers rely heavily on the element of suspense, the pervading horror in the film makes it equally unnerving. The film revolves around a group of young delinquents who plan to rob a blind man’s house in pursuit of a better future. However, the easy, unsuspecting target and his sinister subtext soon make their escape difficult, and the predator becomes the prey.
The disturbing premise is laced with torture and screams and receives a boost from Stephen Lang’s eerie performance. Alvarez uses the dramatic tension to his advantage by adding various twists amidst the looming suspense. Alvarez even cited Psycho as an example while talking about how he wanted to incorporate “something scary in the realm of the real, not the supernatural.”
2. A Perfect Murder (Andrew Davis, 1998)
A remake of Hitchcock’s acclaimed 1954 film Dial M for Murder, the film stars Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow in essential roles. Much like the original story, albeit with specific changes, the film takes place proleptically where the audience members already know who the actual criminal is. The film unravels the suspense and the subsequent cat-and-mouse chase the authorities embark on to catch the culprit and how the latter evades the same.
The film chronicles an elaborate plan devised by a wealthy Wall Street employee who discovers his wife’s affair and decides to kill her by manipulating her lover to do so. However, a mishap disrupts his plan and leads to the assailant’s death, shelving his idea of committing a perfect murder to inherit his wife’s trust fund.
1. Panic Room (David Fincher, 2002)
Starring Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Jared Leto, Forest Whitaker and others, the thriller is not as gritty as David Fincher’s other thrillers but is a direct homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s works. Fincher himself has described the film as “Rear Window meets Straw Dogs”. Fincher makes the film even more claustrophobic and terrifying by manipulating the camera movement and incorporating heightened dramatic tension and titular panic.
The film sees a divorced woman named Meg and her diabetic daughter Sarah move into a New York home. As they tour around the place, they find a panic room where they seek shelter when the burglars break into their house, thus leading to the start of a nightmarish and insane case of being held captive in one’s house.