If, as Alfred Hitchcock described, suspense is the moment in a movie when the audience knows that a hidden bomb could go off at any second, the moment when the bomb actually goes off is a thrill - at least for the audience. Thrillers don't just dangle suspense in front of the audience; they deliver on the promise of suspense with exciting pay offs. Thrillers are designed to get your pulse pounding.
The definition of a thriller is loose. The thrills can come in the form of intense, fast-paced action, as in a crime or war thriller, or they can be thrilling verbal fireworks in a courtroom drama or steamy romance. In a horror movie or fantasy thriller, the thrills might be delivered by monsters or demons, and in a science fiction thriller, the thrilling element could be aliens.
What's essential in a thriller, though, is tension that builds and then explodes. Elaborate plot development is often a key, especially in thrillers that depend more on dramatic twists than on explosive action. Thrillers tend to be dark, as well, since there's little thrill to be found in breezy romances or feel-good stories; victims in peril and the heroes who must save them are staples of the thriller genre.