Thursday, 13 January 2011

How Is Suspense Created in 'The Stepfather'



'The Stepfather' displays many of the conventions of a thriller movie.
From the very start we are presented with a disturbing scene, where our main character (and also the killer) is shown changing his identity, going about his business happily whilst his family lie dead on the floor.
This is the stepfather cutting off his beard, after dying his hair and opting for contact lenses rather than glasses. The music around this scene makes things seem a lot more sinister, and our sinister thoughts are confirmed when we see his family on the floor...

So, when he meets his new family, there is already an element of thrill as we (the audience) know something the other characters are oblivious to.
One thing that stood out to me in 'The Stepfather' was the music often created an atmosphere in which you would expect something thrilling to happen, and then it doesn't. Only for what you expected to see to return a few shots later. This, is called a 'false plateau' and is common in thrillers and especially common in horrors.

Other obvious conventions of a thriller which were shown in this movie, were moments that make you 'jump'. The stepfather used his quite frequently while the eldest son and his girlfriend became suspicious of the stepfather's lack of credentials and began searching for clues around him.

The stepfather had a very annoying habit of standing right behind doors.

I am unsure whether i would draw much influence from 'The Stepfather' in my thriller coursework, however it is a good example of what a 'thriller' is, as it doesn't sway to far in to either the horror side or the action side of things.

The last sene, as expected is the most thrilling, complete with fast dramatic music, and the excellent mise en scene of a thunderstorm outside.
video

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