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The series created by José Ignacio Valenzuela and written by David Leche Ruiz “Who killed Sara?” It is a resounding success on Netflix, not only in Latin America, but worldwide. The second season promised to finally reveal who or who were to blame for the death of Sara (Ximena Lamadrid). With a confirmed third season, the fiction is projected to surpass even other monsters of the streaming service such as “The paper house.”

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This drama and suspense series, with soap opera installments, has managed to captivate Netflix audiences who tend to consume suspense and thrillers. We spoke with psychology and film specialists to figure out why the Latin American public enjoys this type of fiction so much.

Who Killed Sara?  is available on Netflix.  (Photo: Netflix)
Who Killed Sara? is available on Netflix. (Photo: Netflix)

Thriller or suspense?

The film critic and teacher at the University of Sciences and Arts of Latin America (UCAL) Raúl Ortiz Mory explains that there are no films or series that have only one genre. “Always at some point in the film or series he will jump to one genre or another with the aim of breaking a narrative axis or putting dramatic tension on it.”He comments.

Ortiz Mory argues that suspense, thriller and terror have the same base, and they are going to be classified according to intensity and intentionality. “If we talk about a scale. First comes the suspense, then the thriller and finally the terror. In that order of manipulation of feelings and sensations”, he says.

According to the university professor, the Peruvian consumer has a predisposition for some specific genres such as horror, suspense and comedy. Also, sign that it is because “we like to discover the unknown” Y “Look for solutions”. “There is no passive viewer when watching a suspense or thriller fiction, we seek to be detectives “, he comments.

"La soga" (1948) is one of the films that the film critic Raúl Ortiz Mory recommends watching to understand pure suspense.
“La soga” (1948) is one of the films that the film critic Raúl Ortiz Mory recommends watching to understand pure suspense.

Ortiz Mory explains that the films can be determined if they are suspense or thriller depending on how much is the percentage of each genre, but that there is almost no pure one. “The suspense generates enigmas, even a certain anxiety about what is going to happen, while the Thriller seeks to shake scare without falling into the ground.r”, añade.

Genres that invite you to play

The scriptwriter of the Peruvian film “The Gospel of the Flesh” Úrsula Vilca García explains that “suspense is the game that invites you to reveal the truth”. “It is full of challenges, clues, riddles that keep the audience hooked, willing to follow the game to the end“, Add.

For his part, the doctor in psychology Diego Castrillón adds that one of the qualities that the suspense genre has is that it allows us to act as researchers in the comfort of our homes, we do not run any risk like the protagonists we see on screens.

People love to watch suspense movies from their living room, we love to be observers, we love to see the lives of others, snoop, and more if we do it from the safety of our home, a controlled security, a place where we know that nothing is going to happen to us “, indicates.

Alfred Hitchcock at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival. Hitchcock was one of the fathers of suspense and thriller.
Alfred Hitchcock at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival. Hitchcock was one of the fathers of suspense and thriller.

Psychological explanation

Castrillón affirms that the predisposition to this type of fiction is due to the fact that “human beings have alarm and response systems before threatening moments “.

The brain sends an alarm to the body and the adrenal glands are activated. Adrenaline travels through the body, cortisol rises, it becomes Norepinephrine or Noradrenaline and that makes us feel a sense of alarm that causes other neurotransmitters to fire such as catecholamines, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin; and that creates a sense of alarm and pleasure”, he says.

The doctor of psychology indicates that watching a movie or suspense series creates a “need to understand the story and want to know what its end will be or where it will end”.

When watching series or suspense movies "neurotransmitters such as catecholamines, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin are triggered; and that creates a sensation of alarm and pleasure", affirms the doctor of psychology Diego Castillón.  (Image: Flaticon)
When watching series or suspense movies “neurotransmitters such as catecholamines, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin are triggered; and that creates a sensation of alarm and pleasure”, affirms the doctor of psychology Diego Castillón. (Image: Flaticon)

We need to close the circle, we always have the need to know how it will end. The part where you discover what will happen only lasts a few minutes but it is enough. It also happens that some fictions have open ends and as long as human beings understand that something needs to be closed, there we are“, Add.

The scriptwriter along the same lines indicates that thrilles are “a mental game “. “It keeps you constantly alert, it is pure adrenaline. You activate your nervous system because situations of tension and fear predominate. Explore the darkest side of the human being. The more vulnerable you are, the more it will affect you because one is afraid not only of the unknown but of the known. Shoot everywhere “he adds.

The Peruvian affirms that the public is very condescending with the protagonists of this genre because what they want is to know the truth on which the story is based. “ANDIt is full of characters who are constantly wrong, they are human, made of meat and eggs, and the public is willing to forgive them with only one condition: solving the riddle. And the more difficult it is to solve, the more interested the public is in following the clues.“, Add.

A good script

For a good series or film to be able to generate all the stimuli mentioned above, the script is very important. The script is the basis of the story and the origin of everything. For the Peruvian scriptwriter, the key for the audience to get hooked on fiction is that “the situations that happen are new, and that the protagonist is someone difficult to decipher, and intelligent when making decisions”.

That it is a great challenge for the audience to put themselves in the shoes of the character and that the character ends up doing what is least expected, in other words that it surprises”He comments.

“Conflicts are also important. These can be external or internal, but they should always be situations that serve to fight your existential anguish. “Audiences are eager to see the character’s transformation arc, and this happens when events really affect them.“, Add.

Film critic Raul Ortiz Mory agrees and adds that “the screenwriter is the hidden star”. “The dichotomy between the director and the screenwriter is essential for fiction to work”.

There is no suspense without a good casting

Úrsula Vilca García affirms that “simply the suspense would not reach the public without a good casting because they would not believe anything they see on the screena”.

The public makes an agreement in their mind with the authors of the film: I will get into your fiction, if the story is good and the performances are impeccable. Otherwise it disconnects and leaves, never to return. That is why it is so difficult to find the ideal actor or actress. Casting managers are in charge of looking for the actors, and when it comes to suspense films, sometimes they prefer faces, looks, features that keep a certain mystery with the desire to unleash it in the film”, Concludes Vilca García.

The data

Úrsula Vilca García has launched a course to learn to write scripts, including suspense. The course starts on June 26. For more information write to: [email protected]

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