Sunday, April 17, 2011

Suspense in Black Christmas

For me, Black Christmas has been one of the most creepy, chilling and horrific movies we've watched this semester and I've come to the conclusion it's because of the suspense Bob Clark creates throughout the film. First of all, despite never focusing on the weather, snow and cold linger in the background to remind us how cold and oppressive the narrative. The joy and cheerfulness of the holiday season and the sacred aspect of Christmas is juxtaposed with the killer's insanity and vulgarity. So from the beginning of the film, you know something's not right and you can almost feel some sort of strange tension in the air.

The film also combines a series of claustrophobic shots, especially when introducing the killer. Clark films him in fragments to add mystery to his character and reveal his fragmented mind. We never see his face completely, but instead we're often trapped in his point of view, which often originates in a closet or a tight space. While the drama unfolds at night, adding an even greater sense of foreboding, Clark uses every angle and inch of space in his shots to conjure suspense and surprise.

This was the first film all semester where I truly felt on the edge of my seat and surprised by what was to come. A movie about a serial killer in a sorority house could have been painfully predictable, but I think Clark's techniques in creating suspense and anxiety among viewers is genius.

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