The Art of Fear on Film
October 31, 2023
The spookiest night of the year is upon us, and what better way to celebrate Halloween than by diving into the eerie world of horror filmmaking? At our video agency, we understand the power of cinematic techniques, and in this post, we will unravel the mystique behind creating tension and atmosphere used in horror filmmaking. So, grab your popcorn and prepare for a spine-chilling journey through the art of fear.
Shooting at Night
Filming at night is a classic technique in horror movies, where shadows come alive and unknown horrors lurk in the dark. The absence of natural light adds an element of mystery, making the audience’s imagination run wild. To capture this essence, filmmakers often rely on creative lighting setups, skillfully manipulating darkness to create heart-pounding suspense.
Example: The Exorcist
Clever framing is a powerful technique used to heighten tension and fear. Framing techniques like extreme close-ups and Point of View compositions create visual imbalance, unsettling the audience and intensifying the sense of unease. Strategic framing also allows filmmakers to play with anticipation, revealing horrors gradually and maximizing the shock factor.
Example: American Werewolf in London
Check out this clip from American Werewolf in London where you can see through the POV of the werewolf chasing his victim through the subways of London.
Steadicam and Tracking Shots
Steadicam and Tracking Shots guide the audience through the darkest corners of the narrative with grace and precision. The fluidity of Steadicam shots allows for a seamless, gliding movement, while Tracking Shots smoothly follow characters and eerie elements. By embracing these techniques, filmmakers create an immersive experience, enabling the audience to traverse the haunted halls and shadowy landscapes alongside their characters.
Example: The Shining
The SteadiCam shots in The Shining are iconic. In this example, the camera chases Dany riding his tricycle around the Overlook Hotel.
In the art of horror filmmaking, practical effects stand as a testament to the craftsmanship and creativity that bring terrifying visions to life. These tangible, physical effects, from elaborate makeup to meticulously crafted props, add a visceral realism that CGI often fails to capture.
There are many examples of outstanding practical effects in horror movies, especially when it comes to “creature features”.
The use of practical effects in “Gremlins” added to the film’s charm and made the creatures feel more tangible and engaging. The combination of puppetry, animatronics, and other physical effects techniques allowed the filmmakers to create memorable and visually striking scenes that have continued to captivate audiences since the film’s release.
Fog has a magical way of transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. These machines not only add depth to the visuals but also evokes a feeling of isolation, intensifying the audience’s fear as they anticipate what might emerge from the mist.
Example: The Fog
Of course we had to share a clip from John Carpenter’s The Fog when talking about the use of Fog Machines. It’s an extreme example but a fun one!
In the realm of horror filmmaking, music can intensify the spine-chilling atmosphere and heighten the audience’s fear. Whether it’s the ominous tones building suspense or the sudden, jarring crescendos accompanying jump scares, the right musical score possesses the eerie power to immerse viewers in a terrifying world, making it an indispensable element in crafting a truly bone-chilling horror video.
To hear some great examples of music in horror movies, listen to the scores from Halloween, Psycho, Jaws, The Shining, and Suspiria.
Incorporating these cinematic techniques into your videos can elevate them to spine-chilling heights. So, this Halloween, don’t just tell a story—immerse your viewers in a world where the line between reality and nightmare blurs, and the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Happy filming, and may your videos haunt the dreams of many this spooky season!