Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Analysing 3 scenes in detail - 'The Stepfather'

When watching 'The Stepfather' in class, to be quite honest a lot of the scenes had me scared but I've narrowed it down to the three I think contained the most suspense.

The opening scene really caught my eye, especially as we had watched this scene before watching the full movie in a previous lesson.  After only five minutes into the film, I remember saying to myself that I would like to see the full movie.  The scene shows the man shaving off his beard and basically changing his identity.  We see a glance of sharp shiny objects and this really stands out in contrast to everything else as the viewers are left curious about what he plans to do with these objects - he goes on to just shave, but towards the ending of the film, similar objects are shown which are used as weapons against the family.  The stepfather then accidentally cuts himself when shaving his beard, but something seems weird about it.  He shows no sign of emotion or pain, which could be seen as normal as he may just have a high tolerance of pain.  I believe he's experienced this type of pain before which is why he handles it in the calm and relaxed way he does.  This creates suspense as it introduces his 'vindictive' side.  The sight of blood also creates suspense because it symbolises the use of blood that will be used later on in the film.
Another bit of the opening scene that had a high level of suspense was when what the stepfather has done to his previous family is revealed.  We see him making toast, and then going to rinse a mug in one side of the sink, but as the camera rolls over we see sharp tools and blood on the other side of the sink.  The use of binary opposition automatically creates suspense as he is just acting as if things are normal.  The use of non-digetic music in the background also creates suspense because 'Silent Night' is supposed to be a Christmas carol, a peaceful song, and the fact that's it associated with him may symbolise how he always gets his way in the end (bad overtaking good - binary opposition).  Another thing that creates suspense in this scene is when we see one of the family members he has murdered - the little boy.  Similar to the music, the stepfather seems to be very calm with the outcome of his previous plan.  After packing his bags and leaving the house full of a dead family, when he gets in his car he removes the small patch over his shaving cut and flicks it away.  When the car starts to drive away, a dramatic sound was used and a close up of the tyre was used too.  This also created suspense.

Another scene where suspense is created is when the stepfather Michael kills the old lady.  Suspense was first created when he drove past her house twice: the first time he greeted her, the second time he gave her a very sinister look which allowed the viewers to see he wants to hurt her.  When we're taken to the scene of her death, somebody rings her doorbell at first and a false plateau is used.  The old lady opens the door reluctantly and believes nobody is there, but we can see that he is inside the house and is looking at her from a point of view shot.  The audience are now expecting something to happen.  After she's closed the door and taken a few steps, one of her pitch black cats jump out and it's eyes are a very bright yellow as well as the very white teeth.  The use of binary opposition creates suspense here.  After she tries to go after her cat, she walks straight into the stepfather's trap, and this was a very high level of suspense as she was totally unaware of this.  I was literally at the edge of my seat from the moment the cat jumped out, because it was clear that he was going to murder, we just weren't sure how he was going to do it.

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