How to Terrify an Audience
Fear is an emotion that's wrapped within the uncanny valley. The internet is a network that connects us with that fear. A great example of this is a video of “tic tac man”
The Slenderman is the most iconic horror villain of all time. His work has left a disturbing impact on the world, including a group of two high school students stabbing their friend almost to death. When asked why they did the kids responded that they wanted to please the Slenderman.
Article that talks more about the stabbing
- Slender Man case: girl who attacked classmate gets 25-year hospital sentence | US news | The Guardia
Anissa Weier, 16, who said she was mentally ill when she and a friend attacked a fellow 12-year-old, is to be institutionalized until she is 37
One of the ways they make this character so scary is by introducing him before he’s revealed. The protagonists of our film are hanging out in their room talking about porn, that’s normal. When they get onto the topic of Slenderman, they find a video to summon him.
There is a sense of mystery and doubt in the characters, some brush it off as “Russian malware virus type shi*#.”
The video first explains that they need to close their eyes and not speak in order to hear bells. This is immediately followed by one of them speaking. It’s a typical movie trope for characters to make idiotic mistakes so they can eventually get killed.
To express how this movie expresses fear I want to talk about one scene in particular. After they get infected with the Russian virus, the girls head into the woods to try to please the Slenderman, how exactly will they please an all-powerful entity that has their friend?
By bringing him random trash that they think are valuable. Why would Slenderman be interested in random pottery and pictures of you? These girls have an IQ smaller than their shoe size.
They decide to wait for the Slenderman to receive his “gift” by putting on blindfolds. Bells start banging as a reference to the video they saw earlier. Does the Slenderman just bang on bells in his free time?
It is no coincidence that in horror films we have protagonists who have low competences, which explains why one of the girls takes off her blindfold. What makes a scene scary is who has the power, we see this when Chloe first sees the Slenderman. She is laying down on the ground, defenseless, while the Slenderman stands tall as a giant.
We can all relate to a moment when we were home alone during the night, it’s super quiet and all you need to do is go downstairs to turn off the lights and turn back. When you turn them off you immediately hear a *BANG* which causes your adrenaline to kick into overdrive and you sprint upstairs as if your life depended on it.
That fear of darkness and the unknown is perfected in both of these situations. For starters, you can’t see anything for most of the scene which truly makes a movie spooky, the atmosphere and setting of being placed in a dark secluded woods. Secondly, the villain does a movie trope where he is able to kill one of the main characters but decides not to so that he can “have more fun with them.”
This last scene really turns this movie great, we have the main character, Hallie, going to this dude's house. Things escalated quickly and they begin making out, and suddenly, out of nowhere, we see the boyfriend have a spasm.
A big component of many horror films is when the villain is able to infiltrate settings where we feel most comfortable. A house is the most relatable to any viewer.
The Slenderman seems to be more of a figment of the girls’ mental illness rather than an actual entity. For no one to notice or to be affected by the villain other than the girls, demonstrates how it may be an example of mental illness There are scenes of the females’ self-inflicting harm on themselves; this whole story can be an allegory for a person's plunge into depression.
The dark dimension of which the Slenderman comes from represents the internal darkness that people turn to when they are depressed.
This underlying message is what terrifies the audience, this isn’t something that is fake. Depression is real.
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© 2019 Steven A Hall