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Composition of a Good Scare

Starting off, modern horror films and media rely on the element of surprise to scare the audience. Horror media, especially film, has developed considerably, both as a sphere of culture and an avenue of art in the past few decades. With the improvement of modern technology, filmmaking, and understanding of various practices, talented directors were able to create works of art that are capable of truly terrifying and frightening their audiences. Achieving the sense of fear, terror, panic, or anxiety in the watcher is something difficult to accomplish, and an array of filmmaking techniques have been created for that goal. One of such tactics is the “jump scare”, which, when used accordingly, can be greatly effective in making a scary scene scarier for the viewers. In most cases, however, this approach is overused and tired, following and actively creating horror film clichés that don’t contribute to the art of filmmaking in any capacity. A good horror constructs its scenes from complex and intricate details by slowly building to a particular conclusion, while bad horror only seeks momentary emotions. A good scary movie must rely not on surprise, but the suspense and good audio-visual presentation.

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To elaborate, the process of building suspense to keep the viewer on edge makes a much stronger impact. When a person is watching a horror film, they become slowly engrossed in its atmosphere, familiar with the characters and the settings, as well as acutely aware of the fact that they are watching a horror film. By effectively combining good use of cinematic techniques and storytelling, a director or a creator of a horror film can weave narratives that become real to the audience, even if just for mere moments (What makes a good horror movie? 2015). Building up tension, showing only glimpses of the true fear they are about to experience, and keeping the viewer guessing, are all ways a horror film can leave an impact on its watcher. By effectively combining a variety of these tactics, a much deeper and richer sense of dread can be achieved, one that uses human emotion as a basis and exploits either the human capacity to feel for each other or the basic fears we all possess. The emotions caused by such a creation are much more touching and intimately moving than a simple act of startling a person with a loud noise or a scary image.

In addition, high-quality practical and visual effects, as well as audio work are key to constructing a good scare. Keeping up the right atmosphere of a scene is most crucial for horror, and one of the most prominent ways of doing that is through the use of music, visual composition, and various special effects. The musical component of a horror scene is extremely underappreciated, as it allows the creator to translate emotions onto the screen without using any words, and make people feel certain things to better get into the atmosphere of the movie. Visual composition, similarly, can either make or break a horror scene, as the position of actors, the duration, framing, colors, and other considerations all need to be taken into account for a film to have a proper effect.


What makes a good horror movie? What makes a good horror movie? – The University of Nottingham. (2015). Web.

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