Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Stepfather: How suspense is created


On example of how suspense is created in the stepfather is in the opening scene through the use of the opening credits. Opening credits appear in a plain black font and one letter slowly sweeps on and off the screen. This creates suspense because the colours black connotes mourning, as well as many other things, and the connotation of mourning foreshadows the multiple deaths throughout the movie, creating suspense as we anticipate these deaths. Also the way the single letter slowly sweeps on and off the screen creates suspense because a slow pace generates suspense.     

Another example of suspense is also in the opening through the use of diegetic and non- diegetic music. The non-diegetic music creates suspense with its deep thumping, low tone strings, and slow pace. The diegetic music, ‘Silent Night’ playing on the stereo, is also slow paced and has religious connotations. This is ironic because the Silent Night has religious connotations of Christ - something is good, which is a contrast to the immediate response were getting from the man’s character – something bad. So for him to be playing Silent Night is ironic because he’s not good at all. This irony is reinforced through the use of a motif for the man. The motif is a dramatic and tension filled sound used whenever we suspect something bad is going to happen in the presence of this man. This represents the man as bad, and creates tension because again we are anticipating for something bad to happen.

Again in the opening scene suspense was created when the audience is shown a slow pan of sharp objects. This creates suspense because the high organisation of the sharp objects suggests that he has planned out carefully something bad to do with them. However that turns out not to be the case, he just uses those objects to shave. However towards the end of the movie we again see the same sharp objects carefully organised and set out again, that hints that something bad is about the happen, creating suspense. When the man starts using the sharp objects to shave, he accidentally cuts himself, drawing blood, but shows no emotion of pain. This creates suspense because the blood foreshadows the blood that will be lost in the movie. His failure to show pain creates an even bigger suspense as the audience gain knowledge of his dark personality, showing that seeing blood and feeling pain is something he used to and is know comfortable with. 

Outside of the opening scene suspense is still created. For example the film contains use of false plateau. A false plateau is when the audience is mislead into believing something bad is about to happen, and just when they believe everything is okay, something bad happens and take the audience by surprise. An example of this being used in ‘The Stepfather’ is in the scene when the old lady neighbour gets killed. When the door bell rings and the old lady is hesitant to open the door the audience become filled with suspense, then she opens the door to find no one there and we all start to relax. But then a point of view shot is used to show that the man had come in through the back door and is right behind her, and then starts to kill her.

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