Thursday, 20 January 2011

The opening of a thriller

Law Abiding Citizen. The Opening.

The first three minutes are the opening. Although I was definately tempted to watch more. This is a crime/action thriller. You don't really get that in the opening, unless you count the two burglars. In these three minutes you wouldn't think that this was a thriller of any sort. But it is. Hence why it's on here.
It begins with an instrumental track, something you wouldn't really expect from a thriller. It has a calming effect on the audience and is only the start of a set up. Insert the names of the production and distribution companies. But no-one really bothers to look at those. Really they don't. Insert a soundtrack. Non diegetic of course. It's a song. Called...i don't know. But it's one of those songs. That gives you the feeling that everything is alright. You see a little girl making a necklace for her mum. But in the beckground you hear some sort of drilling sound. When I first heard it, I immediately thought 'what's that noise?' But then the scene changes and we see where the noise is coming from. Cut to the main character having a conversation with his daughter and then knocking noise appearing in the background. All of a sudden, it's 'what was that??' and another voice from a character not in the scene appears. The knocking again. And again. 'Isn't someone a little impatient?' But the audience's interest suddenly increases when he is about to open the door because everyone's curious to know who it is. You would obviously expect some action, and yet when he opens the door, you still jump. How the heck...? I thought you knew something was going to jump out? The bass drone and the amplified sounds of the bat hitting the main character mixed together shock you and you sit there and wait for your heart rate to return back to normal. You watch with huge eyes as the two 'burglars' beat the crap out of the main character and tie him up. The wife walks in and your immediately shouting in your head 'Nooooo....what are you doing?!!'  The same thing happens to her. And one of the 'burglars' stab both of them. Horror is etched on your face. But you think, at the same time, 'its okay. The girl is safe. As long as she doesn't come out...' But of course. She doesn't listen to you. Why on earth would she do that? She gets taken away, and we're left with two dying characters. Great.

The opening is probably one of the most important ways to keep the audience on edge. It sets the bar. And if executed properly, can make the viewers rave about the movie for months. And probably buy it on DVD. Which is good.
What I have learnt from this is that suspense is the key. You have to give away just the right amount of action to keep the audiences' curiosity peaked. Use close ups to make them focus on one thing and forget about the rest. Add in subtle music. Amplify sound to scare them. In this particular opening, it starts off quite slow and relaxed before having a sort f turning point that completely opposes the start. You need to build the suspense/ tension slowly, make it seem like something is going to happen but it doesn't. Not until the third time when the audience are thinking, 'Is anything going to happen?' And then BAM. Mini heart attack.

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