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Thrillers: here are some tricks used to scare you

Behind the fear that a good suspense film generates, there are several cinematographic techniques that play with the pulsations of the viewer.

Still from the movie 'Us'.

We tell you what are some of the tricks used in thrillers. / Photo: youtube.com/Universal Pictures

LatinamericanPost| Juan Manuel Bacallado

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Leer en español: Películas de suspenso: Estos son algunos trucos usados para asustarte

It is not enough to put ghosts or terrifying beings that move things alone, every good thriller must play with the imagination of the viewers, keeping them very attentive to what is happening and afraid of what may happen, that is what suspense is about, working with the spectator's imagination, making them feel uncomfortable and surprising them when they are tense. However, achieving that requires various cinematographic techniques, some of these are:

Sound effects

In any movie regardless of genre, the sound effects and music used are essential, for this reason there are even Oscar awards dedicated to "Best sound editing", "Best soundtrack" among others, but in the case of suspense, the sound is used differently. For example, infrasound is a common technique, this consists of a sound with an intensity lower than that audible by humans (20Hz), but that does generate physical reactions, so the viewer feels uncomfortable not knowing what is happening and the tension increases, according to DarkTv.

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This is not all, the suspense cinema also usually adds exaggerated sounds to every detail, be it the creak of the wood, the wind, the television with static, among other sounds that, no matter how simple they are, have an exaggerated tone. The higher they are the more tension they generate, according to Studio Binder. Sound hits also cause suspense, such as yelling or hitting objects in moments of silence.

Angles and perspectives

Camera movements and shot positions are also essential when increasing tension. For example in the subjective planes, when the camera is placed in the “eyes” of a character or object. Therefore, viewers see what the character is looking at, causing every detail of the environment to be observed expecting something out of the ordinary or the appearance of some ghost, murderer or monster, which accompanied by the appropriate sounds generate a lot of fear, according to Hobby Consolas.

A technique that surely everyone has noticed is the "empty space". This consists of a shot in which a main character or object is focused, but there is a free space in the frame, whether it is a door, a window or anything else where nothing is apparently happening, generating an imbalance in the shot in which the viewer unconsciously waits for something to happen. This can be complemented with lighting techniques where the environment is dark but in that empty space there is some light that comes and goes. In addition, it is important that at some point something happens with that empty space, which means a "reward" for the viewer, according to Studio Binder review.

Colors and environments

DarkTv explains how sudden color changes are important in suspense cinema, other genres work with the same color palette, while suspense seeks to generate a feeling of discomfort through color changes as well as unnatural tones. For example, some directors use shades of green in their horror films, this color is unusual in real-life settings, causing unconscious nervousness in the viewer who perceives that something is wrong.

The same goes for the design of the spaces, many scary movies include in the designs of sets strange objects and combinations, things that no one had seen before, whether it is an unusual color for a wall, a rather rare design on a carpet, among other peculiar objects. Disorder also works, having things located where they usually shouldn't be. This technique is evident for example in the room where the "ghost" slept in life.

Also read: You can't see, speak and hear: three films that test your senses

Change the pattern

For those who have already seen several horror movies, they know some typical scenes such as someone closing a mirror, the murderer standing in the middle of the forest watching, as well as many other patterns in this genre. This is used by the directors, applying these scenes so that the viewer is in tension waiting for the moment of the appearance of a ghost in front of the mirror. However, nothing happens or appears, causing more nervousness, because the viewer knows that something is going to happen, but now he does not know when or in what way.

 

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