In “13th Floor” Luis Mendes combines four horror film ingredients to evoke a sense of dread.
Mendes, a prize-winning mobile moviemaker, demonstrates that techniques found in feature-length horror movies work equally well in short form storytelling. Here are the ingredients that make “13th Floor” scary:
1. Ordinary location: A familiar place lowers the audience’s guard, making the horror more powerful. Think of the motel in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” or the suburban home in Oren Peli’s “Paranormal Activity.” The everyday “found” location is a plus when it comes to low-budget moviemaking.
2. Distorted time: Mendes uses the elevator’s floor indicator to stretch out the ride unnaturally. This is the kind of time alternation found in many nightmares.
3. Amplified sound: Music and natural noises play an enormously important role in all movies, and especially in horror. The thunderous clang of the elevator door shutting tells us immediately that things are not normal.
4. Character reaction: Terror is catchy, and–as Mendes demonstrates–it can be conveyed powerfully through facial expression and body language.
If you’d like to check to see if these ingredients are found in classic horror movies, check Rotten Tomatoes “Best Horror Movies” list here.
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