Wednesday, 5 January 2011

How is suspense created in 'The Stepfather'?

Scenes leading up to suspensal moments in "The Stepfather"
 From bodies stiffly laying on the floor, recurring screeches playing in the background to a black cat scowling in the corner all contribute to the suspenseful moments created in the "The Stepfather."  There are countless scenes of David lurking in the shadow,  secretly observing his next victim.
But how is it that we are constantly hooked on each scene, next after next? A mixture of false-plateau and bomb theory keeps the viewer in surprisal, as things don't actually turn out how we'd thought it would be.

David and Michael uttering
a toast

 For example, False- plateau is used when David softly whispered to Michael "Meet me in the Basement",  this makes the audience (including myself) uneasy as we know of the murderer's [David] past events with other families. My reasons given is that, why of all places would you want to have talks in a basement? It's a weird place to have talks as a basement to me connotates a concealed, dark, and secretive area. Also, the low non-diegetic music played in the background, enhances my idea of a bad ending. But my thoughts of a bloody killing unquestionably turns out to be a relaxing conversation between the two, even with alcohol. However, after my false judgement about David,  he doesn't put his killer hands down, as he later returns to murder his neighbour (Mrs. Cutters) after she suspects him of being a serial killer.

False-Plateau is also used in the scene involving Mrs. Cutters and David. Susan jokes with David after being told that he had a file on 'America's most wanted.' She finds it funny but he doesn't.  He purposely scares the neighbour by greeting her one morning which sets our minds that he may be in contact with her later on. The doorbell rings, the neighbour opens the door but no one is there, strange? The black cat scowling in the corner is prophetic as it gives a sense of evilness or death. After being put in a calm state, David appears, and murders her.

the stepfather
David waiting to prey on his next
In this film, David is literally the 'bomb.' Whenever he appears I get the impression of danger. Meanwhile, Jay returns to the house to say  farewell to his children, he also apologises to David ,following their feud but questions him about a swimming team David 'was in.' Before this scene, we witnessed David sharpening some pencils and neatly laying them out. This foreshadows the next scene as we think he may use a tool to attack his next victim. As David "disappears" into the kitchen and Jay walks up the corridor looking for him, the dramatic irony created builds up tension as we know David is going to attack him , and does.

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