Removal (main project)

Preliminary Exercise

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

  • Our media product is formed heavily around the horror genre, employing many horror and thriller conventions such as use of suspense and implied violence.
  • We use many conventional horror camera techniques in our piece, such as over-the-shoulder shots, fast cuts, zooms and use of handheld camera to create effect. 

  • The narrative follows a classic horror pattern of a psychopathic serial killer hiding in the house of a vulnerable young woman. After a series of mysterious, suspense-building events, she goes down to the basement to investigate and is then murdered in the climax of the sequence.

  • Classic horror themes – psychosis, voyeurism, fear etc. Present in such seminal works as 'Psycho' (Hitchcock, 1960)

  •  In order to create the impression of a woman moving into a new home, we used iconography to signify moving in, eg. Boxes littered around, bare, unfinished-looking walls and ceiling and empty plug sockets on the walls. 

  • The sequence begins with the female character carrying a box into the house and laying it down amongst other boxes to show she has spent the day moving in. 
  • Also, during her time in the kitchen, she plugs in a new kettle and switches it on: a very likely thing to do when moving into a new house. 

  • In terms of costume, the characters wear specific clothes to show contrast between victim and predator. Their characters are binary opposites. 
  • We based our killer loosely around the character of The Joker from 'The Dark Knight' (Christopher Nolan, 2008), using the ideas of a large, tatty coat and long greasy hair. We also referenced the classic horror villain of Freddy Kruger for the idea of fingerless gloves. Here is a mood-board showing inspiration for our villain.

  • We also used face make-up to emphasise his paleness and shadowed his eyes to make him appear menacing and evil. This dirty and unhealthy image serves to repulse the audience and helps the narrative as it suggests he has been down in the dingy basement for a long time.

  • In contrast, the young female is dressed in casual, soft clothes with arms bared. Bare skin and thin clothes emphasise her vulnerability and her long hair acts as a further signifier of her femininity and defencelessness. 

  • This technique of contrast between villain and victim is present in 'Nightmare on Elm Street' (Craven, 1984), where the sharp claw of the villain is juxtaposed with the soft skin of the sleeping woman.

  • We challenge standard horror conventions by giving the killer a disability.

  • He is very visibly on crutches during the sequence and this serves to create more enigmas surrounding the scene. Why is he on crutches? Is his disability a reason for his needless violence against young women? These questions heighten the tension of the sequence and also give the scene a weird twist that challenges and wrong-foots the audience and keeps them on their toes. In ‘Misery’ (Rob Reiner, 1990) the man’s disability makes him into a helpless victim and this is the general convention for the theme of disability.

  •  We challenge this by making him superior to the able-bodied woman. (kills her) One case of a disabled villain is in Casino Royale, in which the villain is asthmatic.

  • We have used the disability of the villain as a twist in the story and as a result have a created a more intelligent, methodical killer as opposed to one that is physically dominant.
  • We further contrasted the worlds of the victim and the killer using lighting. A lot of daylight fills the house upstairs and this creates an open, safe atmosphere that is not claustrophobic.

  • This is juxtaposed with the basement, which is extremely dark except for the flickering light of a single candle. 

  • The basement is cramped as it is, but the lighting makes it appear even smaller, darker and scarier. This immediately gives the killer negative connotations and the victim positive ones. The juxtaposition is very pronounced in one shot where the camera goes through the floor of the bright upstairs down into the dark basement, with each character in their own habitat to link them to each place. As the basement is directly below the hall, this signifies heaven and hell and further emphasises the contrast between the characters and their worlds.
  • Our piece has a distinct indie, low budget style. This makes it more gritty and realistic, as it seems more like a true event being seen by a normal person as opposed to a glossy high-budget Hollywood production. This heightens the sense of terror, and is reminiscent of several other films in the same style, eg. Paranormal Activity (Peli, 2009)