Tense Movie Momentsby pere-25366 | created - 29 Aug 2016 | updated - 01 Apr 2017 | Public
Alfred Hitchcock once explained perfectly the difference between surprise and suspense. When a bomb under a table goes off, that's surprise. When we know the bomb is under the table but not when it will go off, that is suspense.
For these moments in film, we found ourselves in a state of sheer tense and anticipation, as we relentlessly bit our nails nervous of what may ensue. The culmination of the event was overshadowed by its uneasy build up to it. There are quite a few, so this list has been narrowed down mostly by having some of our users here at IMDb pick their favorites.
Which of these memorably tense moments in a film had you holding your breath the most?
After voting, you may discuss the poll here.
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1. Jaws (1975)
PG | 124 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller
When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community, it's up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.
Votes: 508,948 | Gross: $260.00M
Shark attack out on the beach - suggested by pere-25366
2. No Country for Old Men (2007)
R | 122 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande.
Votes: 764,682 | Gross: $74.28M
The coin flip - suggested by pere-25366
3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
R | 118 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A young F.B.I. cadet (Jodie Foster) must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer (Sir Anthony Hopkins) to help catch another serial killer (Ted Levine), a madman who skins his victims.
Votes: 1,129,152 | Gross: $130.74M
Night vision with Bill - suggested by pere-25366
4. Goodfellas (1990)
R | 146 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
The story of Henry Hill and his life in the mob, covering his relationship with his wife Karen Hill and his mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito in the Italian-American crime syndicate.
Votes: 902,679 | Gross: $46.84M
Funny how? - suggested by pere-25366
5. The Hurt Locker (2008)
R | 131 min | Drama, Thriller, War
During the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates due to his maverick way of handling his work.
Votes: 391,550 | Gross: $17.02M
"There's too many locks" - suggested by pere-25366
6. Jurassic Park (1993)
PG-13 | 127 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.
Votes: 780,812 | Gross: $402.45M
Stuck with some reptile friends in the kitchen - suggested by pere-25366
7. Diabolique (1955)
Not Rated | 117 min | Crime, Drama, Horror
The wife and mistress of a loathed school principal hatch a plan to murder him while having the perfect alibi. They carry out the plan...but then his body disappears.
Christina's heart attack - suggested by ElMaruecan82
8. Army of Shadows (1969)
Not Rated | 145 min | Drama, War
An account of underground resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied France.
Votes: 17,890 | Gross: $0.74M
How to deal with a traitor (strangulation) - suggested by ElMaruecan82
9. Speed (1994)
R | 116 min | Action, Adventure, Crime
A young police officer must prevent a bomb exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph.
Votes: 301,945 | Gross: $121.25M
High speed bus in traffic - suggested by pere-25366
10. Se7en (1995)
R | 127 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.
Votes: 1,282,565 | Gross: $100.13M
"What's in the box?" suggested by pere-25366
11. Argo (2012)
R | 120 min | Biography, Drama, Thriller
Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1979.
Votes: 533,608 | Gross: $136.03M
The airport escape - suggested by pere-25366
12. Carrie (1976)
R | 98 min | Horror
Carrie White, a shy, friendless teenage girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom.
Votes: 151,269 | Gross: $33.80M
The prom prank - suggested by pere-25366
13. Alien (1979)
R | 117 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.
Votes: 711,422 | Gross: $78.90M
Ripley's stowaway (and final alien encounter) - suggested by pere-25366
14. Casino Royale (2006)
PG-13 | 144 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
Armed with a license to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007, and must defeat a private banker to terrorists in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, Montenegro, but things are not what they seem.
Votes: 538,488 | Gross: $167.45M
Moment when Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who was kidnapped, is tied up and lying on the road as Bond is barreling towards her in his Aston Martin - suggested by expectmiracles
15. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Approved | 128 min | Action, Adventure, Western
Seven gunfighters are hired by Mexican peasants to liberate their village from oppressive bandits.
Votes: 80,666 | Gross: $4.91M
When Adams (Yul Brynner) and Tanner (Steve McQueen) drive the hearse coach up the main road of town to the cemetery where hostile townspeople are waiting for them - suggested by expectmiracles
16. Rear Window (1954)
PG | 112 min | Mystery, Thriller
A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.
Votes: 397,384 | Gross: $36.76M
Lisa inspecting the apartment of Thorwald while Jeff is on the lookout for his arrival - suggested by pere-25366
17. Misery (1990)
R | 107 min | Drama, Thriller
After a famous author is rescued from a car crash by a fan of his novels, he comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse.
Votes: 163,911 | Gross: $61.28M
The attempted breakout before Annie returns - suggested by pere-25366
18. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
R | 178 min | Western
A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.
Votes: 620,922 | Gross: $6.10M
Meet and greet - suggested by pere-25366
19. Notorious (1946)
Not Rated | 102 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance
A woman is asked to spy on a group of Nazi friends in South America. How far will she have to go to ingratiate herself with them?
Votes: 84,971 | Gross: $10.46M
Delving and Ms. Huberman are sneaking around looking for clues in the basement wine cellar all the while her husband could be coming downstairs - suggested by ur32931141
20. Out of Time (I) (2003)
PG-13 | 105 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A Florida police chief must solve a vicious double homicide before he himself falls under suspicion.
Votes: 52,762 | Gross: $40.91M
An uneasy ladder climb - suggested by pere-25366
21. The Deer Hunter (1978)
R | 183 min | Drama, War
An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.
Votes: 283,642 | Gross: $48.98M
Russian roulette - suggested by pere-25366
22. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
R | 153 min | Adventure, Drama, War
In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner's vengeful plans for the same.
Votes: 1,115,041 | Gross: $120.54M
23. Psycho (1960)
R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A Phoenix secretary embezzles forty thousand dollars from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.
Votes: 535,738 | Gross: $32.00M
24. The Dark Knight (2008)
PG-13 | 152 min | Action, Crime, Drama
When the menace known as The Joker emerges from his mysterious past, he wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham. The Dark Knight must accept one of the greatest psychological and physical tests of his ability to fight injustice.
Votes: 2,058,134 | Gross: $534.86M
25. The Shining (1980)
R | 146 min | Drama, Horror
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future.
Votes: 778,082 | Gross: $44.02M
Jack goes full bananas - suggested by pere-25366
26. Phone Booth (2002)
R | 81 min | Crime, Thriller
Publicist Stuart Shepard finds himself trapped in a phone booth, pinned down by an extortionist's sniper rifle. Unable to leave or get help from the surrounding bystanders, Stuart negotiates with the caller that leads to a jaw-dropping climax.
Votes: 236,394 | Gross: $46.57M
Most scenes between Stu and The Caller - suggested by pere-25366
27. The Ten Commandments (1956)
G | 220 min | Adventure, Drama
The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people.
Votes: 57,498 | Gross: $93.74M
The parting of the Red Sea by Moses so his people can make safe passage across the sea and the subsequent catching up of Rameses to the fleeing crowd of people with his army of chariots - suggested by expectmiracles
28. Buried (2010)
R | 95 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Paul is a U.S. truck driver working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it's a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.
Votes: 139,128 | Gross: $1.03M
The final scene - suggested by pere-25366
29. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
PG-13 | 132 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization's name.
Votes: 427,112 | Gross: $209.40M
Climbing the Burj Khalifa - suggested by pere-25366
30. Rosemary's Baby (1968)
R | 137 min | Drama, Horror
A young couple moves in to an apartment only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.
It's time, Dr. Sapirstein needs to take Rosemary's baby - suggested by expectmiracles
31. Ben-Hur (1959)
G | 212 min | Adventure, Drama, History
When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.
Votes: 201,075 | Gross: $74.70M
A chariot race... with a Greek chariot! - suggested by expectmiracles
32. Tin Cup (1996)
R | 135 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A washed up golf pro working at a driving range tries to qualify for the US Open in order to win the heart of his successful rival's girlfriend.
Votes: 42,941 | Gross: $53.85M
It all comes down to the 18th hole - suggested by expectmiracles
33. Thelma & Louise (1991)
R | 130 min | Adventure, Crime, Drama
Two best friends set out on an adventure, but it soon turns around to a terrifying escape from being hunted by the police, as these two girls escape for the crimes they committed.
Votes: 121,719 | Gross: $45.36M
When trapped by the authorities, Thelma and Louise make the most cliff hanging decision of their lives - suggested by expectmiracles
34. Bullitt (1968)
M/PG | 114 min | Action, Crime, Mystery
An all guts, no glory San Francisco cop becomes determined to find the underworld kingpin that killed the witness in his protection.
Votes: 55,205 | Gross: $42.30M
Lt. Frank Bullitt's pursuit in his Ford Mustang vs. the hitmen in a Dodge Charger flying through the streets of San Francisco - suggested by expectmiracles
35. Hellfighters (1968)
G | 121 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
The story of macho oil well firefighters and their wives.
Capping oil well rig fires while under fire from guerrillas - suggested by expectmiracles