Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Stepfather (2009): Suspenseful Moments

 The Stepfather (2009) is a modern example of a film with suspenseful moments even frightful ones. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the plot used a many examples of dramatic irony (where the audience know more than 1 or more characters in the film,) to create suspense. Personally, I do not scare easily but this film has achieved it. All due to the suspenseful moments it creates continuously until the end.

First example is the opening scene, where the camera pans to the left across sharp items such as; a razor, scissors, tweezers, electric shaver. The way they are laid out is a cause for concern because its set out like they are going to be used at the time. However, the character David does use all the utensils and the audience are drawn into the idea that he only uses sharp objects for their proper purpose.  Therefore, by panning over those objects, it creates a suspenseful moment where we as the audience do not know what they are used for.


Another example of suspense is created when David (left) meets his step-son Michael (right). The camera cuts in to show David's hand and a elongated slow non-diegetic sound plays in the background which is repeated through out the film as David's motif. The silence around them creates serious tension. This tension almost implies a false plateau because the audience know that he has murdered his previous family, he could easily have killed him there but he doesn't, he genuinely wants to shake his hand. Although his face says otherwise, which makes Michael more suspicious. 

Further on in the film the neighbour is cautious about David. To make her suspicions heighten he drives pass twice with a very shifty expression on his face foreshadowing he will do something to her. The bell rings at the door, at this point the viewers know that its suspicious and hope for her not to open her door. No one was outside, at this point people will be at the edge of their seats because the camera is at an low angle in a point of view of something. Dramatic irony is created because the audience know there is something behind her.The camera is focused on the women, when she turns round you think that someone is in the house. Suddenly a black cat jumps out from the side. However this is a false plateau because she opens her basement door and on the other side of the door you see David in the mirror. Therefore by the use of dramatic irony and false plateau through camera position and angle, you can create suspense. 

Another Suspenseful moment is towards the end where Michael is trying to break into the basement. Outside the basement the weather was a storm, which is ironic because earlier David had said to Michael that "the storm is coming" which had foreshadowed something bad will happen and that there is actually a storm. In the basement there were close ups of tools in the basement like the crowbar. However there is a cutaway to David in bed indicating he is still away. This is dramatic irony because Michael isn't aware that he is awake. This the audience frustrated because we have the information for him to get the phone he is looking for and that David is coming.  There are a series of cutaways back and fourth between David and Michael which gives suspense and the question whether Michael will get out in time. Therefore by the use editing, you can create suspenseful moments.


Influences for own film



  • The use of sharp object shown, not necessarily on anyone.
  • Point of view shots and camera angles.
  • Limited light. 

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