So, being the masochist that I am, I decided I wanted to take a bit of a look at the relationship between horror films and their soundtrack. I made a mistake in doing this and it is never happening again, but here are the results of my (very brief) foray into short horror films.
Round 1: Thing needs to get the fuck out of the apartment
First up I watched (or rather, listened to) ‘The Thing In The Apartment’.
The first scare (during Lindsey’s retelling of events) is built up to quite effectively by her brief recount of events, lapsing into silence as we wait for the scare. She provided enough information for me to have some idea of where she was- in bed, watching something. Sam’s trip through the house I found less effective because the use of silence- aside from light switches and footsteps- was not enough to build a picture of the scene on its own. I imagine it would be more frightening to hear absolute silence when I’m not distracted by trying to orient myself.
I was right, the soundtrack is much more effective in combination with its visual counterpart. Shadows and darkness give scary monsters plenty of places to hide and mean that I’m constantly trying to anticipate which shadow it’s going to come out of. Also, turning a phone around and seeing A MISSHAPEN HUMANOID MONSTER IN YOUR BEDROOM is a lot scarier than silence followed by screaming.
Round 2: Smiling Man
This is my experience of 2AM: The Smiling Man, which I made the mistake of watching at night. Needless to say, walking home at night last night was a terrifying experience.
I feel that Smiling Man does a much better job of developing the soundtrack as frightening in its own right. It uses music to build suspense, then loud jarring contrast to emphasis the jump scare. Plus, the Smiling Man’s distinctly not normal gait is just super creepy.
Elsaesser, T & Hagener, M 2010, Film Theory: an introduction through the senses, Routledge, New York.
The Thing In The Apartment:
2AM: The Smiling Man: