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Suspense and Tension!

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The Dark is a paranormal romance set in the 1920 during the height of the Spiritualism craze. Playwright Ken Duncan sort to produce a piece of work that relied heavily on tension and suspense.

Suspense and tension are often seen in the horror genre, yet the range of different ways tension and suspense can be used are limitless. We have put together a list of 8 scenes in which tension and suspense are used to keep the audience on the edge of their seat.


  1. Jurassic Park – Raptors in the kitchen

The raptors in the kitchen is possibly one of the most iconic tense scene in a non-horror film. The 2 children hiding in the kitchen and the deafening silence as the audience realize that the dinosaurs are intelligent enough to have learnt how to open doors.

  1. Misery – Annie returns home

Misery has its gory moments and is not a film for the squeamish; arguably the scene with the most tension is not one that feature gore or the breaking of knee caps. Rather when Annie comes home those precious seconds in which Paul must crawl back into his room and relock the door with a hair pin the audience are chewing their nails!

  1. Se7en – what’s in the box?

Most crime drama tend to have their share of tension mainly around the identity of the killer. Se7en heightens this tension through the killer turning himself in covered in blood. Tension increases as we and the main character’s attempt to figure out why a serial killer would turn himself in when he still has 2 of the 7 deadly sins left to kill for. “What’s in the box” will go down as one of the most iconic suspenseful filled scene in film history.


  1. Silence of the lambs – Lights Out

An armed FBI agent chasing a deranged serial killer. Then tension is pretty high during this ironic film but the suspense mounts when the lights go out. Clarice is left in the dark attempting to navigate while Bill stalks her wearing night vision glasses. The whole scene is made tenser because we watch from his point of view as he brings his hand close to her face and she is completely unaware of his presence.

  1. 127 Hours – Aron cutting off his arm

Another film that builds suspense steadily throughout. As soon as Aron is trapped the tension starts to build and does not let up until he has freed himself.The amputation scene uses a sound score that has us flinching away as Aron saws through the muscle and nerves in his arm.


  1. Jaws – Shark Attack

It says a lot about the direction, cinematography and sound score of this film that audience are on the edges of their seats before we even see the shark! Jaws is the film that proves how effective music can be, and how our fear of the unknown can leave us tense messes.

  1. The Walking Dead – season 6 finale

Tension can be used in many different ways in films and television shows. The Walking Dead shows us how effective long term tension can be in their sixth season. We have an assumed death by one of the main character only to find out 3 episodes later that he actually survived. Then the season 6 finale had one of the main character die but the audience was not told which character until the season 7 premiere. To add to the suspense, the producers made sure that every character filmed a death scene so even the actors did not know if their character had survived.


  1. We need to talk about Kevin

In general, this films uses tension extremely well. The general atmosphere builds tension and suspense is heightening through stunning performances by the actors. This film is tense in a way that leaves you troubles for days afterwards because usually we have a good character and a bad, but in this film mother and son are both trouble and sadistic. Nature vs, Nuture and evil children. What more could you want?

If you are interested in seeing another way suspense and tension is used, come along to The Dark play reading and be ready to be on the edge of your seat.

The Dark

Saturday 29 October, 2pm


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