Horror as a movie genre has grown exponentially in the last two decades or so, in terms of viewership and fan following. While horror loyalists have a number of great classic flicks they can swear by, the genre that was slowly getting contrived, relying only on gimmicks and jump scares rather than creating actual dread on screen, has had a wave of fresh talent to breathe new life into the genre, employing either old school tactics or innovative new technology to scare the bejesus out of their audience. And that’s where the trick to surviving a horror movie lies.
If you know the tricks that horror movies use to scare you, you will also know how to watch them without getting scared. Old school or not, directors of the Horror genre often employ some by-the-book tricks to jolt their audience and deliver scares. Here, we discuss the list of most employed tricks and techniques (we will reserve tricks and treats for later) that horror movies use to scare their audience.
1. Jump Scares
The most commonly employed technique in horror movies nowadays, to the point of being overused in many films. That being said, a number of filmmakers have employed this technique in an innovative manner to effectively deliver a mini heart-attack of sorts to the viewers. Eerie background score, slowly building tension, characters slowly proceeding towards the big reveal behind a door or cabinet, and then BANG! An unsettling image is literally thrown at you when you least expect it, often accompanied by a sudden, unceremoniously loud sound. It’s hard not to get startled even for people with nerves of steel, but jump scares often lack genuine, lasting fright.
2. The ‘You’ve Been Duped’ Jump Scares
Everything here is essentially the same as the previous category, until the final build up with nail biting tension. The audience is prepared to have something scary suddenly show up on screen, but alas, it turns out to be something inconsequential, like the character’s friend/partner, a wisp of wind, or a cat. Incidentally, it is often termed the cat scare, or the actual term for it, Lewton Bus (after Val Lewton, producer of the 1942 film, ‘Cat People’). While the build up to such a scenario is intense, it often releases the tension in a comical way when the audience realise that they’ve indeed been duped.