Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Stepfather

The Stepfather is a thriller, about a man who finds families, marries into them and ends up killing everyone. He works on a pattern, he will carry on going to families. 
What signified this was a thriller to me was that it had key parts that you see often in thrillers; for example there was a scene where the bathroom rails ripped of one by one, and when he 'fell' off the roof to then pop back up again. There are also elements in the plot which are typical of thriller for example in the end 'no one knows' where he has gone. 
There were many great scenes in this film which make it suspenseful, but three especially stood out to me. 
The bathroom scene:
The bathroom scene at the start of the film is very suspenseful, as the audience is still unaware that the man is a killer, or anything to do with the plot, the only information the viewer has at this time is that the newspaper has been 'cancelled' and now we see a man with his 'tools' lined up as if by habit. This does seem a little odd to the audience. The suspense continues as we see him seem to change his identity and by dying his hair, shaving his beard off and changing the colour of his eyes. This then means the audience gets a little suspicious of him, as the start to get intrigued. There is also a close up when he has different colour eyes, this is a typical evil look, and therefore is a good shot to initiate that he is going to be bad. 
The neighbour scene: 
The scene where the stepfather goes to murder the neighbour upon hearing that she is suspicious of him after seeing him on 'America's most wanted' is very suspenseful. This is mainly done through the filming and editing. As we are pretty sure (as a viewer) that he is going to kill her, so when the door bells goes we think its him. However there was no one there, but we know that he would be around. The also used the cat well as it was as if we were waiting, and waiting scared for him, but then it was 'just the cat' so we relax a bit, but then all of a sudden the stepfather comes. Creating a more scary atmosphere. I think in this scene it mainly concentrates on the 'jump' factor. Wanting to make the audince jump, with use from quick editing and also the cat from mise en scene. 
The basement scene:
The basement scene is one of the most suspenseful scenes, as we know in the plot that the stepfather  will be coming down and the girl has lost her charger, however it is the editing which makes this scene really suspenseful. As it keeps cross-cutting between the girl in the car finding the charger, the stepfather waking up and coming towards the door, and the boy in the basement, this allows the viewer to see everything that is happening, so we fear for the boy rather than if the director only showed us the stepfather at the end. What also made this scene suspenseful was the mise en scene and lighting as it is at night, so its dark, it is also raining - this is a typical thriller setting which makes the audience know something bad will happen and would also keep them a bit more 'jumpy' in the stormy setting. The music also makes it suspenseful as it is string music, which is quick paced and eerie. With it constantly gets louder, each time he discoverers the clues to who his stepfather really is. 

The Title Sequence
The title sequence in the stepfather is similar to most others, it has the production company and dispatch company first, it has the title, then actors and co-stars, and other sections of production and finishes with the director. However, whilst watching I realised that there were not the same mount of time in gaps, it would stop and start the titles if there was a key part in the film going on. For example it stopped the sequence when the audience had to see that the newspaper was cancelled, also when he was changing identity, but on the parts which we don't really need to pay attention to, like walking down the stairs, it showed the titles again.
The actual film, in this opening was very effective as it showed a man going around daily routine; shaving, making toast and turning on the radio, however it dropped little clues that something wasn't quite normal about this setting, with the changing eye colour and carrying suitcases. But we do not actually see any criminal side to him until towards the end when we see a boy dead on the table, followed by other children and  mum, and bloody tools in a sink. I also think the music plying 'silent night' creates a more eerie atmosphere as in a way it describes his night, he killed everyone so it was silent that night. It is also however a children's carol sung for joy which contrasts the scene.  

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