So my video remix project consisted of turning Drive (Refn 2011) into a horror movie. Originally, it was a hybrid romance/thriller movie. Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan are apartment neighbors and are dragged into some mafia related violence. Of course, Ryan Gosling comes in to save the day, but in my remix Gosling is the villain. I think I’ve successfully transformed him into a mask-wearing, car-smashing, death-dealing killer. He bears a striking resemblance to Michael Myer’s actually. Normally, this genre of horror/thriller is something I’m desensitized to, but having to construct the “horror” genre from pieces of raw footage makes me pay special attention to what those conventions actually do. The effect of rhythm, quickness, color, contrast, and affinity all have significant impact on how the trailer feels and looks.
What I noticed first and foremost is the pattern most horror trailers follow. They often start slow,
with introductory shots and other assorted set-up shots. They continue to build in quickness and intensity until the end where a montage of fast-paced, gory, and suggestive moments waits to lure you into the emotion of the story. A recent fad is the use of black space in between these ending shots, and I have to say that this is probably the most important element in horror trailers. I might even say it’s the most important factor in the horror genre. Klosterman describes this phenomenon, and it is closely related to the concept of closure from Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. Klosterman talks about the benefits of having commercials during sporting events. He says “It’s during those moments when nothing is happening that the drama of a game becomes most palpable; this is why static sports like baseball and golf generally feel more gut-wrenching than fluid sports like soccer and hockey.(Klosterman pg2)” I posit to you that the same concept applies to horror. First you see a flash of someone being dragged along the ground, then it goes black, and a shot of a buzzing chainsaw follows. A connection is made as the screen goes black before the chainsaw falls. You wonder what happened. This formula, repeated in quick succession, is the formula for achieving that hair-raising sensation you get when you see an especially scary trailer.
So I applied this technique of action-to-black as the backbone of my trailer, and then I connected that to McCloud’s idea of the “closure” to make it more interesting. This idea is essentially saying that people have overactive imaginations and can’t help imagine what happens in between point A and B. He says it’s “phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole” (McCloud, pg. 63). What I did though is to create a sequence that disconnected certain shots, but connected them in the broader context. What I wanted out of my audience emotionally is confusion. Essentially, I wanted to show a series of violent or dark scenes to create the impression that the movie is full of them. In reality, the movie has very few scenes that are truly sinister, but could be construed that way; such is the objective of the project. Where a typical horror film will have plenty of violence and scary moments, I had to show those sparse moments briefly in order to create that horror genre impression.
This presented a considerable challenge. In order to turn Gosling against his lovely, distressed damsel, I had to connect distressed pictures of him with the doe eyes she puts on in most of the scenes. Truthfully, it all came down to what I could do with Ryan Gosling. Thanks to his mask, I was definitely able to convey the serial killer vibe. Masks always carry an element of creepiness and subterfuge. It’s because the mask concept has evolved in our culture to mean you have something to hide. Sobchak refers to that phenomenon when he says “Over a period of use of many films, these visual elements become encrusted with shared meaning.(Sobchak pg4)” Having that crutch was much needed. Otherwise, my footage would be a series of Ryan Gosling temper tantrums. What I had originally planned was to turn Blazing Saddles into a sci-fi film. I decided against it after considerable tampering with the film. I went through it as much as three times looking for suitable film and got nothing. I came to the conclusion that a western always looks like a western, no matter how much weird stuff you try to weave together.
My advice to up and coming Media Interp. students is to carefully consider what movie you’re doing. Plan it out ahead of time, and your life will be much easier. Much of my time was wasted doing a movie that I didn’t wind up doing. Had I pre-planned, I could have been done a few days early. Also, don’t do a movie that you adore. You take so much time analyzing all the angles of your movie that it becomes a chore to watch it again. Much of the movie watching experience is soaked up by repetition. I really like Drive, but I think it’s safe to say I’ve watched enough to warrant a long break.
Dick, Bernard F. Anatomy of Film. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978. Print.
Klosterman, Chuck. Space, Time and DVR Mechanics. Grantland. June 8, 2011. Web
Sobchack, Thomas. “Genre Film: A Classical Experience.” Literature Film Quarterly 3.3 (1975): 196. Academic Search Complete.