Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Refreshingly Obvious

Last week, Mr. Sierra and I watched this movie called Devil. Understand that I never watch scary movies because I can't take the tension. I just hate the feeling. Anything slightly scary and I'm gone. I could barely sit through The Sixth Sense! That scene with the little ghost girl puking....I couldn't.

The only reason I consented to watch Devil was that I looked on the info for the film on the TV...you know, the little bit of summation when you press your Info button, and it said "A group of people are trapped in an elevator and the Devil is mysteriously amongst them."
Something bit her when the lights went out. BIT her. Gaah!
We'll have to save the discussion on kick-ass loglines for another day, but this one was particularly good. Or bad, depending. It was good for me in that it told me enough to not be scared. Maybe that's not what the writers wanted, but hey. Did they want me to watch or not? (It is all about me, isn't it?) Anyway, what this logline told me was that there would likely not be any scary things jumping out at you--I simply cannot abide jumping things. That movie Signs with Mel Gibson? Scared me poopless. Can't see aliens lurking! They could suddenly be popping out of your pantry! Gaahh!

So, Devil. One of the five is the devil. (The point of this post is seriously coming.) Thing is, it seems like nowadays you have to be sneaky and subtle to catch an audience off guard, to surprise them, to get beyond the cliches. Doesn't it? You have to find new, inventive ways to sneak up on readers/viewers so they don't see the next killing/creepy event coming. In an elevator, what are you going to do? The movie wasn't particularly good, it lacked a certain something I can't put my finger on (good acting? depth of characters? Subtly or complexity of the devil?), but it did one thing right: it made it really clear when the next scary thing was going to happen--instead of sneaking up on you, it told you. As a result, it was super scary. I will explain.

One by one, the people in the elevator get picked off. We know it's the devil doing it, but we don't know who he is yet (I totally guessed it early on though). The people in the elevator just think there's a psycho killer among them but they don't know who it is, either. Instead of being sneaky and pulling leg hairs off people, the devil makes the elevator lights go out every time he decides to knock off another person. So the elevator shakes, and the screen goes black. Then you know. You know something is happening, but you can't see it. It was brilliant! Giving us a visual cue made us on edge waiting for the next visual cue! Especially because we couldn't see it--yet the darkness was a sure sign of bad things! And for scaredy cats like me, I could leave the room every time the screen went black!

What do you think about this technique? What's the scariest scene or technique for showing the monster getting you that you've seen?

4 comments:

Julie Dao said...

I'm such a scaredy-cat, I pretty much watched the first hour of Walking Dead with my hand in front of my eyes. I HATE jumpy moments. This movie sounds interesting but very creepy... I think elevators are scary enough as it is without bringing Mr. Lucifer into it.

MC Howe said...

I've seen that film in on the guide maybe a dozen times now and I've yet to be convinced to watch it. You may have just convinced me.

I cant say what technique I've used for scary. I must re-read my scary stuff.

Meghan Ward said...

I like the idea of the devil being among a group of people trapped in an elevator, but the lights-go-out-and-someone-dies is about as cliche as you can get. (And yet, I can't think of a better way they could do it. I think if something happened other than people getting murdered, it would be more original). Speaking of scary movies, what was that one with the little girl down the well? The Ring? That was scary!

Cathryn Leigh said...

OMG I might just have to see it just because of that. Didn't Alfred Hitchcock (I totally meesed up spellin ghis name didn't I? *sigh*) perfect techniques like that. In fact in the old days before we had special effects they used techniques like that. I could probably handle those movies better than the horror they make today.

Maybe. I've still got a good imagination that, despite my being over 30, is scared of noises in the dark stormy nights, decides it must run upstairs from the basement and well, the whole you can't get me if I'm under the covers agrement is still in effect with the bed monsters. *grins*

:} Cathryn

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