The Stepfather is an example of how clever film makers create suspenseful, horrific cinematography through combining realism with horror. David Harris is a man who travels around America looking for vulnerable single mothers in need of love, David's character appears to be polite, sensible, caring and kind. However as the film unfolds we witness that David is more of a brutal maniac who gets a thrill out of murdering people.
Suspense in The Stepfather is created through quick edits, different camera shots and angles and through dramatic film score music.
HERE ARE A COUPLE OF EXAMPLES OF HOW SUSPENSE IS CREATED!!!
Clip One;Stepfather & Son
Clip One;Stepfather & Son
The elements from this clip that make it suspenseful is the use of Mise en scene. David takes Michael into the basement to have a talk, basements are places that we normally associate with places that murderers hide, kill, torture and hide their victims the art directors and stage directors obviously thought about the location of this particular scene very carefully. Before this shot we were introduced to David's character we know about the people he has killed and what he is actually capable of so as the viewer we become scared of what he will do to Michael but also anxious. The lighting in the basement is dark, however there's a spotlight placed over two characters.
In the beginning of this clip there is a medium close up of Michael looking around the basement with uncertainty and in the distance we can see David opening up a cupboard (which by the way had a padlock on it, you can't get more suspicious then that) David's figure is blurred and the camera mainly focus's on Michaels facial expressions. As a viewer you feel scared once again, What is David going to take out of the cupboard? and What will he do to Michael?, the suspense is built through the mystery of David's action and the simplicity of the scene, it seems too simple and too innocent, there has to be something terrible on it's way!
When David and Michael are having a conversation there is an over the shoulder shot used to enable the audience to see both characters point of view's and their facial expressions. The fact that we are seeing both perspectives gives us a feeling of uncertainty. There's also a use of the 180 degree rule so we know where they're standing (David; left & Michael;right, it is filmed on the right hand side).
The shot where they are drinking is suspenseful. It reminds me of something that would be in 'Scar face', (the whiskey bottle, the male environment) because it contains similar narrative conventions. There's a quick edit to a close up shot of David pouring whiskey into a glass because this is the only thing we can see it makes us anxious. The scene then follows onto both characters drinking however Michael pauses and then drinks, the delay of time keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Clip Two;Searching The Basement
Michael goes into the basement to investigate what is inside of David's cupboards. During this scene there are a variety of sound lips which are mainly non digetic. For example : The sound of thunder, rain and lighting outside. The sound of the fast paced violins, tomb drums, loud orchestral cymbals and fast guitar string noises.
The speed of the music effects the feelings and emotions that the audience develops whilst watching this clip, they feel extremely anxious, nervous and scared. The basement itself is dark, the only thing that Michael has is a small flash light so our vision is limited. There is a tracking shot of the family's home which moves to the window when a light is turned on , we know that it is David so we immediately begin to panic (Suspense). Mise en scene makes this clip suspenseful. The time which this clip is set in arouses our feelings of fear , the thunder, the rain and lightening also do this because these are all narrative conventions that we associate with horror movies.