Tuesday, 18 January 2011

What Lies Beneath - How Suspense is Created

One of the techniques that automatically create suspense in the opening of 'What Lies Beneath' is the use of sound.  There is an eerie type of music running throughout the whole scene and this straightaway leaves the viewer wondering what is about to occur.  Adding to that, there seems to be some sort of smoke floating in the background or it may be water, either way this fits well with the eerie sound (non-digetic) as it is quite anticipating.  Another technique used to create suspense is the use of binary opposition with the writing.  When the credits first appear, the font used is a very dominant and bold white and this stands out against the very dark background.  In addition, when the actual title of the movie appears, it is faded on very slowly and this is really effective because it's almost as if the title itself is laying beneath the smoke/water.  This again contributes to creating suspense as it's leaving the viewers with curiousity. When the scene actually begins, a woman is being shown sitting up in a bath tub. This starts with a close up of her and then zooms out quickly to a wide shot.  The closeup shows the woman in a different light with darkness surrounding her and a very pale grey face.  The fast change from the close up to the wide shot creates suspense as it's unclear if the woman that was shown at the end of the title scene, is the same person as the woman in the bathtub.  On top of this, the sound also contributes as the fast pace and the sound being put together will again make the viewer wonder what's going on or what's about to go on.  As the scene goes on, we see the woman in the tub fully as a wide shot / long shot is being used.  The camera slowly zooms in and all the viewers can hear is the woman panting and gasping for breath (maybe even sighing of relief).   The digetic sound we hear of her gasping for breath builds up some suspense as the audience are unaware of what happened, and would like to know more.  Towards the ending of the clip, a hairdryer is introduced into the scene.  The first sight of the hairdryer automatically creates suspense because she's in a bathroom where water is around.  When the woman starts to use the hairdryer, first it stops working and then when she tries to fiddle with the circuits to fix the problem, a spark/shock occurs, but the hairdryer turns back on.  The shock she experienced could be seen as a 'warning' or a hint to the audience that something bad is about to happen. During this, there's also a lack of sound because we hear nothing but the hairdryer, and we see the woman trying to dry her mirror, almost in a little world of her own.  Although she has no idea of what's about to happen, the audience do.  These are other ways of how suspense is created.

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