I will be analysing a variety of trailers based on the genre, Horror, where I will look at the different conventions. This will help me decide what type of music, camera angles and shots to include in our trailer and what will make it effective.
One of the films I decided to analyse was Paranormal Activity,which is an independent horror film written and directed by Oren Peli. It was premiered at the Screamfest Film Festival in the U.S. on October 2007, and was shown at the Slamdance Film Festival on January 2008. It received a limited release in several U.S cities on 9th October 2009 which later lead to a nationwide release on 16th October 2009. It has had major success across the nation, and has been rated one of the scariest films of the year.
The movie is based on a young, middle class couple who are haunted by a supernatural presence in their suburban home. It is presented in a cinema Verite style – similar to a documentary, where throughout the film the camera is hand held. The opening shot is of the couple’s house, what looks like a modern, normal house. The camera is held at a slight tilt, where you’re seeing what they’re seeing, as if real, however the camera tilt suggests something is wrong.
A medium shot is shown of the woman Katie, sitting down, where the camera seems to be at a low angle looking down on her, making her look vulnerable. The man, Micha’s voice is heard speaking over the trailer in the film. He seems experienced of what he’s doing, as if he has done this before and quite confident because of him mocking his girlfriend. He comes across as though he doesn’t believe her and as if it’s all imaginated. A shot of his reflection in the mirror is shown with him holding the camera, giving the illusion we are only going to see what’s happening through them filming it with a camera. Throughout the film the framed shots are not perfectly captured, instead it is generally shaky due to a tripod not being used.
When he says “My girlfriend thinks something is in the house.” It automatically makes the audience think that something is in their house.
A close-up shot of the blinds holds an important element to the film, when the characters look through them. It’s as if they are looking for/at something. A shadow is reflected on the white blinds, which creates suspense; if it is the man’s shadow or somebody else’s. This is a typical key convention of a horror film.
Quick fade up and down of shots are captured, where Micha is heard saying “Doors locked, alarms on.” and then a long shot of him putting white powder (for footprints) on the wooden floor, where camera slowly zooms out. This indicates they are trying to capture a trespasser in their home. Shadowing in this part is a key convention of a horror film, creating a tense feeling.
There is then a cut where the mise-en-scene of the couple’s bedroom, where the video recorder is placed on some sort of chest of drawers in front of the bed from a long point of view, with the bedroom door left open. The time on the bottom right hand corner, suggests realism where the camera will be recording all the going’s on in the bedroom to the upstairs landing. The video shot is set in a black and white theme/night mode suggesting it is now night time, setting a gloomy mood. Some sort of light is seen glaring on the wooden wall post of the bed which could be the street lights shining in on the room or the light from the video camera.
Quite a few fades up and down take place throughout the scene, instead of various cuts. It begins to get faster, while the sound becomes louder, which creates a lot of drama throughout the trailer. Before the couple both wake up in bed, a sound similar to someone breathing lightly is heard, as if it is passing the camera, indicating this is what awakes them, where Katie is heard asking “Did you hear that?”.
A straight cut to the light being turned on takes place, where the camera is hand held focusing on the floor from low angle showing the white footprints, panning across them. Katie’s voice sounds shocked and scared when she says “oh my god”. A long shot of her crouched down on the bed with her expressing her feelings of the situation - her hand over her mouth and shocked. Micha is filming by this point.
A cut to the title card with it presenting large font “One of the scariest movies of all time – Bloody Disgusting.” This is very effective and stands out to the audience, due to the white text contrasting with the black background. Sforzando sound is used in this part too, with the sound of shattering glass. Voice over of a man saying “you cannot run from this! It will follow you.” The way which the screen jumps to different cuts, is as if its electricity, where it becomes faster, while the editing and music is quicker and louder. The characters voices soon begin to sound hysterical, where Katie is heard saying “What’s happening to me?” (she thinks she’s going mad).
A quick flash of a close-up of someone grim appears towards the end of the trailer, indicating to the audience that some sort of monster is torturing the couple, causing their marriage and life to start to break apart because of the stress they are being put under.
In the trailer the fast editing and cuts and loud sounds such as drum beats and other rhythms building up throughout, create suspense and a frightening image. Just when you think that all of the scary moments are over, the man is thrown towards the camera, which sets a realism theme, as it’s as though he is being thrown towards you.
The Grudge (2004)
Plot: Karen Davis is an American Nurse moves to Tokyo and encounter a supernatural spirit who is vengeful and often possesses its victims. A series of horrifying and mysterious deaths start to occur, with the spirit passing its curse onto each victim. Karen must now find away to break this spell, before she becomes its next victim.
Release Date: 5th November 2004 (UK)
Genre: Horror Mystery Thriller
• Starts off with quiet slow non -diegetic music which builds up to a faster more upbeat sound where eventually diegetic sounds are heard, such as screams and voices. This creates suspense and drama. It then goes back to slow beats where whispers and wind type sounds can be heard.
• Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar then begins to speak, giving the audience a brief insight what is going on, where the trailer then leads into more tense music, getting faster
• At the beginning of the trailer writing is displayed, and shown throughout showing quick cuts.
• Camera shot at a low angle looking up at the character in the house is shown where it, pans up towards her. She looks worried and curious.
• Medium close-up and close up shots displayed
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, is a continue on horror film of I Know What You Did Last Summer. It involves a young student, whose friend wins a trip to go to the Bahamas, with three people. Thinking it will be a relaxing break and lots of fun; she is instead tormented by the same unknown stalker, who knows her secret concerning her and her old school friends, where they committed a hit ‘n’run.
In the opening scene it shows a brief clip of some sort of tiger logo, (gathering this is some sort of sponsor), where non-diegetic music is being played, which is a quit upbeat, happy tempo. There is then medium close-up shots of the two young friends, where they diegetic sounds include them yelling and screaming with excitement; showing that they are over joyed at some news. The mise-en-scene is set in what looks like they’re apartment, in a brightly lit room – sunlight suggesting happiness.
A close-up shot of the girl’s hand (due to the feminine connotations of rings she’s wearing) stroking a photo of a young girl is shown, indicating they were someone special to them. The over voice of a man saying “after what happened last summer’ is a reference to her no longer being around.
The next shot is the mise-en-scene of the sea and beach, stating that they are now in the Bahamas. Again the mood seems cheerful due to the hot weather. What looks as though a low angle camera shot of the friends at the holiday resort, looking down on them makes them look vulnerable and as if they are being watched. The scenes of them on the night time are then shot, where medium shots appear, cutting to various angles of them sitting down. The girl is seen from a long medium shot up singing along to karaoke and where diegetic music of the song is heard. Everybody seems to be in good spirits where the mise-en-scene is in the bar; until she says “wait I forgot the words”, turning around to look at the screen. Straight away this is an indication that something is about to happen. A non-diegetic sound is added which sounds like a typical sound convention of a thriller, where a close up is shot of the tv screen saying “I still know..” cutting back to the girl through a close up shot, showing her reaction, where she looks shocked. The clip zooms even closer on the tv, where it then cuts back to her turning around as if she’s looking for the culprit who did it or if shes just imagining it.
There is then a cut to a new scene where a shot of the sky with striking lightning is seen, creating suspense and drama. The camera pans from behind the girl, as if someone is standing behind her, watching over her whilst she is opening a letter written to her. The next scene is where there is a straight cut of her opening a wardrobe, with a medium shot of her face, at a low angle; again suggesting vulnerability. A body then drops down, with a supreme close up of her reaction – screaming and the camera then zooming outwards. There is then a cut to her running out to tell her friends “its happening again”. This is where the faster cuts, editing and music begins and the girl becomes hysterical. Sforzando sound can be heard. The way which the screen jumps to different cuts, is as if its electricity or in this case the lightening striking the camera, making the cuts look extremely effective and dramatic. Further cuts to scene to scene take place; where in one of them the camera is at a very low angle, as if located on the ground looking up at a pair of feet opening a door. This is typical key convention of a horror film, where they tend to not reveal the killer’s identity until the end of the film; which capture’s the audience’s attention; where they will be full of curiosity. Another is where he holds some sort of weapon, indicating this is the killer; where he is dressed all in black with his hood up covering his face. The colour black represents anger or sadness, or in this case death.
There is a scene shot from her behind, where she tilts her head upside down to dry it with a towel, at a medium shot. A reflective light can be seen in the background, whether it is the light from outside or not it gives the illusion that somebody is there, and through the mirror we are only going to see what she’s going to see. A dark shadow can be seen, which could resemble the killer in the background. Again, the electricity type cut happens which fits in with the diegetic sound of the thunder, while the killer walks past, where the character is unknown of their presence. When she demands “I want off this island” and the receptionist replies “that’s not possible”, it makes the audience tense, as they are probably aware of partly some of the synopsis now. A cut to the killer dressed in their black cloak at a medium shot of him swiping his hook across the screen, towards the camera which is located at a low angle looking up, appears to be the dominant character, (shows who is in control) and presented in a realistic way (as if you are there personally) This then leads to a quick cut of a close up of the girl turning her face around at the same speed as the hook, creating an effective shot.
30 Days of Night
30 Days of Night is a Horror/Thriller which was released on 1st November 2007 (UK), which I a story of an isolated Alaskan town that is plunged into darkness for a month each year when the sun sinks below the horizon. As the last rays of light fade, the town is attacked by a bloodthirsty gang of vampires bent on an uninterrupted orgy of destruction. Only the small town's husband-and-wife Sheriff team stand between the survivors and certain destruction.
Trailer’s tend to start off with an equilibrium which are balanced, and everything seems normal however this isn’t the case in 30 Days of Night trailer; instead it goes straight into the dramatic scenes. It opens with a fade, zooming in on the woman character. You get the feeling that someone is watching her from the side. There is an establishing shot of the kitchen, where pans and food can be seen which shows realism. Everything is quiet and slow, where it creates suspense, as though something is about to happen. There is both natural lighting from outside, that is dark, dull and misty setting a miserable mood, while also interior lighting which is quite bright which could suggest warmth. The woman character looks as though she is thinking about something; with her head faced in a downwards position and her arms placed in the sink. She is wearing light blue which could be a connotation of being a victim. It then cuts to the next scene, where her partner is sitting in the living room, with his chin placed on his hands, giving the impression something is wrong or he his fed up. Similar lighting is used, where the mise-en-scene comes across family orientated due to typical conventions shown such as photos. The male character is wearing darker colours; suggesting he isn’t the victim, here. There is then a quick cut to something smashing through the window and then fast pan showing a medium close-up shot of the man’s reaction.
A close-up of the woman being dragged out of the window is shown, where she is dragged underneath some sort of hut. The lighting is much darker, where it is snowing, creating suspense. Diegetic sound can be heard of the woman screaming, showing her terrified she is. You then receive her point of view of her partner trying to help her and her being dragged underneath the hut, away from him. This then leads to quick fade/blackout.
The film’s production company’s logo, Columbia Pictures is shown, where the trailer begins to give a brief insight of the film, presenting white text on screen. Non-diegetic sound can be heard, which is quite subdued and sounds similar to the sound of wind. It shows various shots; slowly fading in and out of scenes; sometimes showing the establishing shots at a wide angle. In the next scene it shows people outside, with torches, reference to them searching for someone, significant to horror films. A wide range of shots and angles of the man are shown, suggesting he is the central character in this part of the scene. Noises can then start to be heard, where suddenly a flash occurs, where he is attacked. It shows a close-up shot of the culprit who’s to blame for the killing, giving off a chilling feeling.
Cut to different scenes take place, where they gradually start to speed up, where everything starts to go wrong. We know this when there is a power cut, and then there is a blackout. The text/credits then turn red suggesting danger/evil, while the music becomes faster and a lot more upbeat. The camera movement is shaky as if it’s being hand held . a high angle shot (from a rooftop) of a woman walking through the snow in the street, indicates she is less dominant over the situation that is about to happen and that she has no control over it and is being watched. Again fast paced cuts are shot, flashes, fades up and down and extreme close-ups of the characters to show their reaction, creating emphasis, aswell as the ‘vampires’. This is where it begins to kick in the plot of the storyline, where everything is not balanced anymore; instead everything goes wrong and dramatic. Sforzando sound you can hear, similar to the sound of lighting and shattering glass. Finally in the last part of the trailer there is a close – up shot of a women who looks distressed and terrified, where some sort of figure is seen biting into her neck leading to the sound of her scream, typical convention of the genre horror.
The Uninvited, straight away shows typical conventions of trailers, one being introducing the film production/company and another the voiceover of the girl actor speaking and non-diegetic music being played. An extreme close-up of shot of the back of her head is seen which could suggest she is being watched. When she says “I can’t remember what happened that night” this is an indication something has happened in her past, leading straight into a cut of a candle dropping towards the floor and a close-up reaction shot of a girl turning around, who looks shocked. There is an orange type light that can be seen reflecting off a younger version of her, a symbol of warmth, where the audience soon finds out that that night she was talking about involved a fire. There is a high angle shot of the house on fire showing that it has no control.over the situation. There is then a blackout leading into an open fade of a close-up shot of her face where you can hear a man saying “you lost your mother in the fire”. Low angle shot of feet running through a corridor, an indication of that person trying to escape something bad, where there is then a high angle shoot looking down on the character, suggesting they are not dominant; instead in a vulnerable position. This can also be seen in the next clip where there is a much higher angle shot of a car driving on a road, as if they are being followed. Throughout the trailer there man fades up and down and dissolves of cuts to cuts – a typical convention found in trailers.
Further on in the trailer there is a scene where the camera zooms in on a door panning towards it, giving the character’s point of view walking towards it, giving the audience her point of perspective. Dark lighting is used, however there are blinds at the side covering the windows, where light from outside can be seen reflecting inside. The dark shadowing on the walls create suspense and a sign of anger or jealously, which fits in well with how the young girl is feeling about her dad and his new partner. An extreme close up shot of her eye is shown, where the lighting is shining on it.
In another scene the girl’s father’s partner is heard saying “Im really hoping we can make this work”, however it sends out some sort of signal that what she is saying here couldn’t be further from the truth and that she is up to no good; especially due to the shot of her looking up, at a close up shot and making eye contact with the daughter; coming across mysterious. There are plenty of different types of shots and angles, mainly to add drama and showing the characters reactions. From when the girl wakes up after having a nightmare, the camera zooms out extremely fast where the music starts to change, beginning to become faster and sound a lot more dramatic. It then includes other trailer connotations where they show the credits of the film (from the producers of The Ring and Disturbia) in bold text to stand out to the public and inform them. They are trying to reach out to the correct target audience, for instance there may be a young audience between the age 16-25 who enjoyed those films, therefore this film would be suitable for them to watch. This is a major element that tends to be found in trailer's where they try to address the right audience type.
Again many fades appear in the next part of the trailer, cutting from one scene to another, where each clip begins to get faster fitting in with the pace of the soundtrack. It shows a black and white theme, of a young girl which suggests the trailer is looking back in the past/older days. There is a high angle camera shot looking over the main character kneeling on the ground at a graveside, creating tension. The girl can be heard saying “look at this” where there is quick cuts of shots of newspaper cutting’s displaying the word ‘murder’ in large font, an indication that the characters are searching for information about the young children they think have been killed by their father’s partner. The trailer includes familiar connotations throughout, where by the end of the trailer voiceover’s can be heard, along with dramatic non-diegetic sound (lightning sound effects), quick clips. There is a low shot of the girl looking towards the camera, where the audience receives the floor’s point of view of her, where she is about to look underneath the bed. There is then a black out leading into a close-up shot of an arm coming from underneath bed again leading into another blackout, eventually showing the character’s reaction. At the end of the trailer a glass of milk can be seen where it is dropped and smashes on to the floor turning into a red colour which is thought to be a representation of blood, not giving the plotline away, ending on a cliff hanger ,where the audience are left wondering if the young character has been killed.