The 5 Best Films to Watch to Learn About Horror Filmmaking (Part 1)
These can really get you learning things about horror films.
I am back with another article on horror filmmaking, and I have to say I have spent a while trying to choose the correct films to put on this list. There are certain films that I would say you can learn more from than you initially bargained, and then there are some that I would steer clear from because they offer up some dodgy practices that you can see didn't make the film entirely successful. But this isn't just about success, this is about learning and shaping your craft into something. So what we're going to do is look at some horror films that you can learn the most from in order to craft and create your own masterpiece. Good luck with your next project and take a look at these, in no particular order:
This scene especially, but also the entire film has so much on offer that you can learn from. Just look at how this film uses space, how it uses sound, how it uses colour and how it implements aspects of phobias and fears into the characters themselves. Watching this scene gives you a taste of how aspects of light and dark, time and space are used to create perfect horror atmospheres.
This scene is quite possibly the best one to watch in the whole film because it has such an extreme change in scenery, decor, and atmosphere from the rest of the film. Like in the scene from The Conjuring 2 it gives great depth and feels very much like a claustrophobic atmosphere even though there's a great space. You can explore this by the use of a hallway as opposed to a room.
Quite possibly one of the most iconic scenes in all of horror filmmaking history, the dinner scene from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the epitome of a creepy atmosphere. This is a scene that can scare only by being creepy and the most important thing is to look at how it does it. Especially that soft focus on the skull upon the table that tells us about what's going on; we also need to look at the purposeful lack of lighting and how we can see all down the table instead of just one person; this means that when the camera does focus on one person, we can still imagine where everyone on the table is. It's sort of a macabre Last Supper sort of scene. It's absolute beautiful in the worst way possible as it's been seriously thought through.
This is quite possibly one of the most beautiful penultimate scenes in any horror film ever made. Perfume is a classically beautiful film but, as a horror film it makes its impact by concept. This scene gives the essence of giving up like no other film has and, ultimately a strange atmosphere to it. It's a combination of colour and hue, the light and dark, and obviously, the act of "love" that is performed that gives this scene a sense of closure even when it's not actually the final scene.
The Exorcist is not only an iconic horror film but also gives the viewer great scenes to pick apart. Look at the scene entitled The Power of Christ Compels You for more details on this. There's that blue tint to the scene whilst the light source throws shadows and creates a darker darkness than before and finally, there's the priests dressed in black. We have a child in the middle of the frame, making the danger seem more dangerous because of the vulnerability of the child. It's a perfectly made scene and has a great effect on the rest of the film and how the events unfold afterwards.
As this is "Part 1" I will be making a Part 2 soon. But for now, I suggest you watch the films on this list and look out for the scenes mentioned in the sections; hopefully, you will gain a better insight into the filmmaking process and develop your own method based on what you've watched and seen. Good luck on your next project!