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Moonlight meanderer

The Visuals of Fear

Banes at Oct. 20, 2022, midnight
tags: comicart, halloween, thursdayswithbanes

A creepy pov shot works very well if the camera is looking through a window, or trees, or some other barrier. So we the audience seem to be hiding from the characters on screen.


When the director Rob Reiner was going to direct the movie based on Stephen King's "Misery", he wanted to school himself on the vocabulary of thrillers, since he'd never made one.

So he studied Alfred Hitchcock's films. One of his big insights was the importance of closeup shots - cutaways to important objects, as seen in Psycho when the picture cuts to the envelope full of money.

Reiner took this lesson to heart; Misery is full of closeups and cuts to important objects from the first minutes: the cigarette, match, champagne glass and bottle are important to the main character, and become more important in the film's climactic scenes.

There's also the penguin figurine, that the imprisoned main character knocks over and puts back, facing the wrong way - it's one of multiple ticking time bombs that builds suspense in the movie: will his captor discover the moved statue and realize he's been leaving his room and roaming the house?

With little or no exposition, many objects are focused on and give us a whole story of visual world-building and suspense. Misery is one of the best thrillers ever made.

Another staple of some scary stories is the 'killer's pov' shot, that was probably popularized in the first HALLOWEEN movie. The camera moves through the house, and we see a small arm reach out and grab a knife; we then watch, through the camera, at the potential victims that don't notice us.

This is used constantly in the Friday the 13th series, as well as other scary/stalker/slasher movies.

The POV shot, or a version of it, can be used in scary comics as well - of course, the "camera" can't move in comics. You lose that handheld effect - but watching the potential victims from behind trees, or through a window - something the camera can be "hidden behind" in a way - that seems to be a good way to create the right effect. Another way is to have the camera some distance away from the people we're stalking.

But the insert shots and building of Significant Objects in to the story is a technique that can slide right into a well-planned scary comic!

I had more on this but I'll save it for next week!

Bye for now,


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