Sunday, 30 March 2014

Lazy Sunday

Nothing very much doing today so I'm going to spend the morning lazing in bed with coffee and a Chromebook. My intention is to write up some more of a synopsis for a story that I've been trying to piece together for a little while. I have about 8.5k words so far and it's coming together pretty nicely. A tale of supernatural suspense set against a pretty sinister backdrop of witchcraft and an ancient mystery.

I've recently become interested in lower budget films and classic Hammer horror. They capture the essence in many respects of what I'm trying to achieve with my own writing.
I'm a huge fan of Lovecraft and his style of writing in the first person.
I'm also fascinated by what can be achieved in film when the budget is minimal.

I suppose that supernatural stories lend themselves to low budget drama. You don't really have much of a creature / monster to show and much of what you're presenting to the audience is implied. That is, you can use sound and the occasional shifting of things to imply an otherwordly presence. In many respects it is the environment, the location that becomes the monster. A character in its own right.

I recently asked my daughter which she thought would be the most scary - seeing a ghost or hearing a ghost.
She instantly replied that hearing a ghost would be far more scary.
I asked her why.
"Well if you see the ghost you pretty much know straight away what you're up against. You can judge whether it looks deadly, how big it is and probably how fast it is so that you can get away. But when you only hear it you can't judge any of that. It's all just guess work. So you are more likely to worry and when you worry that can be even more scary."

Brilliant!

The films that I find scary are definitely the films that made their impression on me in my youth. I find nothing scary as an adult. Some films have come close to re-planting that indelible mark on my memory in recent years but essentially it was what I saw as a young boy / teenager that remains.

Here's a few examples:
The "It's all for you, Damien" suicide scene in The Omen.
The vision of Danny Glick at the window in Salem's Lot. "Open the window, Mark. Open the window."
The terrible vision of Mina in the catacombs beneath the graveyard in 1979's Dracula.

Of all of these it is the last scene that stayed with me the most. In fact I find it extremely difficult to watch even now at the ripe old age of 43! I first saw the film when I was around 12 or 13 so 30 years haven't done much to dim the memory or the effect.
I've scene a few Dracula films over the years and I think that this one for sure is the most effective.

So in my own writing I want to try and focus on creating a sense of mystery and a sinister sense of foreboding with sound and a few implied actions, but I also want to reveal something that is both simple and at the same time quite shocking. The awful transformation of the beautiful Mina Harker stands up as an example of using strong narrative over elaborate CGI to tell a powerful story.

And with that it's back to the coffee and word processor...


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