Behind the scenes: suspenseful aspects of horror films

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This story was originally published in the first edition of The Lion’s Tale (October 28, 2019).

Scary movies have become a growing genre in the movie industry and have become more popular over the years. But  they have different aspects than romantic comedies, dramas, and comedies.

According to junior Tyler Wampole, suspense and horror are crucial elements in a scary movie, as well as the atmosphere.

“Suspense is definitely an important element,” said Wampole. “October is definitely the time to film a scary movie because of the spooky atmosphere.”

People want to be scared and scary movies cater to that audience, whether it be a stereotypical scary movie, a psychological thriller, or slasher film.

“A lot of makeup, a lot of fake blood, and lighting is crucial to a scary movie. Lots of light bulbs are needed to make sure that the lighting is just right,” Wampole said. “Music is important for a scary movie or rather [the] lack thereof. It’s used to build the suspense and draw people in. [It makes] the audience more wary of the atmosphere around them.”

According to TV production teacher Kevin Patterson, the audio for a scary movie with jump scares is crucial.

“The scene will get really quiet and silent and then someone will jump out and the music will get really high pitched and correspond to the scene. The music tries to get you to react, it’s not something physically jumping on screen that’s going to get you to jump in your seat, it’s the sound that gets you to jump in your seat,” said Patterson, “It’ll get completely quiet and then all of a sudden something jumps out on screen that’s not necessarily scary, it’s just the way that the audio is used. Sometimes I’ll watch something scary and I’ll know that something is about to happen and it’ll still make me jump because of the music suddenly gets really high pitched and causes you to jump.”

According to Wampole, the sets matter in the development of a horror film and they should be dark and dreary, which symbolizes what’s next to come.

“The lighting is very shadowy but it really depends on the movie. But night time scenes are obviously a give in, it’s not scary if it’s in the daytime, at least as scary,” Patterson said. “If a movie makes something scary in broad daylight, that’s sometimes more impressive. The typical thing is that it always seems scarier at night and even if it’s not at night but in an abandoned house where everything is shadowy, or if it’s storming, it gives an eerie feeling ”

According to Patterson, he seems movies based on the development of the lot and if they are well written, not focusing on a certain genre, compared to teenagers who are driven by the desire to be scared.

“In earlier films like The Sixth Sense and Signs, I remember signs was a really big movie when I was younger, everyone was talking about it in theaters and it’s probably considered a more suspenseful movie rather than a scary movie,” Patterson said. “But it had a great story and was really well organized and directed for the most part. But teenagers, seem to just like the idea of being scared and just look for something cool, unique or interesting, even if the story is           meh but maybe had a certain element that interested them   specifically.”