Explain how the director creates tension in the opening of the film “Scream” Essay Example
Explain how the director creates tension in the opening of the film “Scream” Essay Example

Explain how the director creates tension in the opening of the film “Scream” Essay Example

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  • Pages: 7 (1680 words)
  • Published: August 10, 2017
  • Type: Case Study
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It is the responsibility of film directors to captivate the audience through the motion picture. Achieving this objective requires creating a sense of tension and curiosity within the viewers regarding the events and their motives. The movie "Scream" has successfully achieved this effect as the audience feels intrigued and anxious for both themselves and the characters. The title opening of the movie emphasizes its name, "Scream," while producing screaming and stabbing sounds which, in turn, develop a sense of unease among the viewers regarding future events in the film.

The audience is given a feeling of uneasiness or anticipation, but this is contrasted by the opening shot which features a telephone. This object may become a focal point for the beginning of the story, and its shape could even be interpreted as resembling a spider ready to strike, with the ringing phone


serving as its moment to attack.

The director has employed a specific technique to unsettle the audience. Typically, telephones are associated with conversations between friends or family members, those whom you enjoy speaking with. However, the main female character is introduced with a close-up shot of her holding a telephone, which is still and reminiscent of a photograph or tableau. This creates a peaceful mood intended to captivate the audience's attention. The director's aim is to allure the audience by portraying the "all American girl," a cute, blonde, and attractive female character commonly seen in horror films.

Within her domestic surroundings, the female character emanates relaxation, promoting a feeling of comfort and safety within the audience. However, the opening scene soon takes a turn, causing the viewer to become uneasy. Through the use of stereotypical

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portrayals, the director creates a false sense of security for the audience while also introducing contradictory emotions of both safety and insecurity in order to enhance the feeling of instability. As the film's opening progresses, the audience becomes increasingly familiar with the female character.

In the opening scenes, the male character is only heard speaking directly to the female character through the telephone. He has a smooth and relaxed tone, using colloquial language like "So, do you have a boyfriend?" which creates an impression of a normal conversation and an attempt to seduce her. To maintain a calm atmosphere, the female character responds similarly with lines like "Ok, take it easy" and "See ya later". This informal language creates a false sense of security for the audience.

Whilst engaging in conversation with the male character, the female character roams around the house - a behavior typically exhibited when conversing with a close friend, significant other, or flirting. The director employs a panning camera technique without any cuts as the female character moves about, eliciting tension from viewers as the camera represents the eye of an onlooker (the murderer) tracking her every motion. This serves as the first indication to audience members that what initially appears to be a calm and domestic scene is potentially about to unravel. Meanwhile, in addition to her perambulations and conversation, the female character prepares popcorn in the kitchen, with the stove subsequently catching fire shown through a quick cut shot.

The audience becomes uneasy as they anticipate what may suddenly appear. Fire is typically associated with peril or risk, and its use by the director may be a signal to viewers that danger

is approaching and they must remain alert. Symbolism is significant here, as the audience perceives the impending threat through the atmosphere and mounting tension. Through symbolism, the director can subtly reveal the plot of the movie.

Following that, the two characters engage in a discussion about the horror movies they have watched and their preferred ones. Despite the serene atmosphere, their language is highly expressive, employing terms such as "Nightmare," "Halloween," "Mask," "Knife," and "Scary." These words connote regular elements of horror, leaving viewers to ponder why they are brought up in the current context of apparent normalcy.

The director uses strong and menacing words like "Nightmare" which have double meanings, such as "mask" being used to hide the identity or horror. While the female and male characters chat, the female character rests on the kitchen counter in front of large knives, with a close up on her head and shoulders.

As she plays with the knives, the woman takes one from its holder and examines it. The director may be using this to hint at a connection between her and the murderer on the phone, who is considering using a similar weapon. The close-up of the woman intensifies the possibility of something terrible occurring. In the subsequent scene, she enters the living room, still talking on the phone, with low-key lighting. The shot shows a long view of the room, including a bookcase, lamps, paintings, and a red carpet in the background.

By incorporating objects that depict a typical love story or domestic scene, the setting appears idyllic. However, the pitch-black, windy atmosphere outside complete with gusts that sway the bushes and trees suggest something ominous might follow.

The stark contrast prompts viewers to ponder which surrounding will dominate the narrative. The director's technique of skillfully blending genres builds anticipation and intrigue.

Following a lengthy shot, the director abruptly shifts to a close-up of the female protagonist's face, which undergoes a rapid transformation from a cheerful and smiling countenance to a shocked and horrified expression in response to the male character's exclamation, "I want to know who I am looking at!" Concurrently, the director introduces a new composition that corresponds with the critical turn in the horror narrative. Performed by violins, the music has a melancholic, soothing, and poignant melody.

The audience is kept on edge by the use of clich�d music and carefully timed off-screen sounds. The music creates tension while the off-screen sounds create confusion, making the viewers wonder why the music is serene when the character is not. This leads to the female character panicking and the camera shots becoming short and quick, possibly mirroring her heartbeat or the approaching killer's footsteps. She frantically locks all the doors, and a close-up shot of her hand emphasises this action.

Following the close up of her hand, a long shot presents the patio exterior that displays blue lighting which signifies isolation, coldness or evil. The surrounding plants are dark and shadowy, which might indicate someone hiding or ghostly beings.

The atmosphere is tense as the inside is brightly lit with high-key lighting while the outside is dimly lit with low-key lighting. The male character, who the audience suspects to be the murderer, repeatedly calls the woman causing her to become more fearful. Meanwhile, the director uses quick-paced cuts and follows the girl around

the house, creating an intense sense of suspense. Booming noises continue to get louder in the background, possibly representing approaching footsteps. The powerful and intimidating music adds to the tension as the male character shouts down the telephone, threatening to harm the woman if she disconnects the call. This contrast greatly from how he was speaking to her at the start of the film and calling her a fish creates a strong impact on the viewers.

The murderer's actions towards the woman are possibly indicated by their cutting method. Throughout this section of the film, the lighting remains low, and the woman frantically runs through the house. Numerous shots of windows and doors depict to the audience that escape is improbable due to the killer's constant surveillance of all potential exits. The audience shares in the character's apprehension and nervousness. The female character screams into the phone, asking, "What do you want from me?" This shift in tone from peaceful and composed to agitated, disturbing, and threatening contributes to the film's atmosphere.

Through the front door, the female protagonist appears, weeping uncontrollably. Director's masterful treatment of lighting highlights one side of her face while leaving the other shrouded in darkness and mystery, underscoring the eternal fight between good and evil. The convergence of two worlds is laid bare before our very eyes. The male counterpart gradually reveals more evidence of his ability to perceive her- for instance, addressing her as "blondie," a detail he could not have known without sight.

The female character's terror intensifies when the male character mentions her hair color, causing her to cry even more. Close-up shots of her face

show the extreme emotions she is experiencing. Additionally, the woman becomes even more frightened when the male character disregards her warning about her large football-playing boyfriend and continues to scare her by saying, "Is his name..."

The female character's face shows shock as she says "Steve?" amidst the horror. Despite the terror, some elements may be humorous for the audience. The boyfriend's name, Steve, is a stereotypical name for an American football player and the ideal boyfriend. It's quite ironic that the horror film uses this name, creating a playful and satirical approach by the director. Originally intended to be a spoof comedy of typical scary movies, "Scream" incorporates a hint of this comedic approach for its horror version. The female character finds her boyfriend tied up on the garden patio while the murderer on the phone invites them to play a little game.

The director of "Scream" intentionally creates unease among viewers by altering the murderer's tone from menacing to condescending. The female character hesitantly joins in the killer's game, marking the end of the opening scene. The effective use of diverse camera techniques such as close-ups, long shots, and rapid cuts also contributes to the success of this sequence.

The various techniques used in "Scream" work together to generate tension and immerse the audience in the horrific events. Character speech is employed by the director to heighten suspense, allowing viewers to anticipate what comes next based on how a character speaks. As a result, I personally felt on edge while watching the film, eagerly anticipating each new development. Ultimately, through effective execution of these tactics, the director successfully creates an atmosphere of unease for the


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