Friday, 4 February 2011

Analysing 3 scenes from 'The Stepfather' in detail


When watching 'The Stepfather' in class, we had to analyse the suspenseful scenes; what   happened in the scene and what made it suspenseful. Although this movie uses a lot of typical plots (generic), I found it quite frightening but interesting at the same time as there were many times were I the viewer knows that something is going to happen whereas the characters don't.

Example 1: 
Knowing that his neighbour Mrs. Cutter is suspicious about him, David the killer wants rid of her in order not to be exposed. On his way to town, David drives past Mrs. Cutter's house twice giving her a sinister look. Although this may not necessarily mean that he is after her, it is the music that gives the impression that she is in danger, this is called a motif. Later in the day, Mrs. Cutter is alone at home with her cats when she hears a knock at the door, we the audience knows that it is David whereas she doesn't; this creates suspense keeping the viewers drawn. She immediately goes to open the door, but with no one in sight she steps outside to see who was looking for her. The use of a point of view shot from inside the house lets the audience know that David is in the house peering at Mrs. Cutter; this creates suspense as viewers are now expecting something to happen. Believing that nobody is there, Mrs. Cutter steps back into her home; this is when the nail-biting music starts to build up. The audience prepare themselves for something horrific to happen. As the music reaches its cadence, one of her black cats suddenly jumps out of nowhere making the audience jump but feeling relieved that it is not David; this is called a false plateau. As Mrs. Cutter goes to grab her cat, David is then uncovered. This was the most suspenseful part of the scene as I was terrified what would happen to Mrs. Cutter but at the same time still wanting to watch.

Example 2:
Jay, the father of Susan's kids, drops by at their house to say goodbye to his kids. Jay is greeted by David who lets him in. Out of curiosity, Jay questions David about is life at college, realising that his history makes no sense, Jay begins to get suspicious. At this point David is  nowhere to be scene. When Jay confronts him about the lie, there is total silence; this creates suspense as the audience knows that something is wrong or something is going to happen. Jay, still speaking, walks towards the kitchen. As he reaches the end of the hallway, David suddenly appears from behind using a glass vase to knock him out. Although the use of music can create suspense, not using any music can also create suspense as it gives out an impression that something is wrong.

Example 3:
Jackie, Susan's sister, becomes very suspicious after David refused to fill out the forms numerous times. Jackie prepares to leave as she is supposed to be visiting a friend but ironically there is a major storm indicating that something is wrong. As Jackie loads her luggage into the boot of her car, there is a point of view shot of David from behind the branches peering at her; this creates suspense because now that David has arrived Jackie is in danger. At this point, the audience is eager for Jackie to leave as quick as possible in order to get away but instead she goes to retrieve the umbrella from the swimming pool which collapsed due to the stormy weather. Jackie attempts to retrieve it several times but fails. The audience begin to prepare for the worst as the stormy weather indicates that something is going to happen. When Jackie finally succeeds, David suddenly appears from behind her grabbing her hair forcing it into the pool until she drowns.

In all of these examples, suspense is mainly created when the audience prepare for the worst as they are sure something horrendous will happen; they know this from the use of music, editing or just from generic scenes (e.g. the storm).

Tips for our Thriller:
  • Use point of view shots
  • Use sound to represent danger
  • Use motif for characters

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