Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tell, don't show

Watching The Blair Witch Project and The Haunting in the same week has highlighted to me that the two films, though very different in execution, use the same techniques to render the viewer terrified.

In neither film do you ever see anything truly supernatural or horrific. The tension and scares come from hearing the history of Hill House, or the urban myths of Burkittsville as locals recall stories concerning the history of the town.

Even when the forces of evil strike you still see nothing. The presence of evil is demonstrated purely through the terrifying sound effects and reactions of the cast, building on what you have learned from the films characters.

So sometimes it does pay to tell, not show.

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