Anything Goes : What's your fear? by Andy Davie

Andy Davie

What's your fear?

Hi All, I originally posted this on my wall by mistake, so I'm trying again on here... here goes. What scares the (insert suitable word of choice) out of you when watching a movie? Shadows? A persons actions or behaviour? Monsters? Sounds? Sudden shocks? Creepy dolls or animals? What? What's your particular pet scare that makes your blood run cold, sweat form on your brow and your sleep time to be filled with nightmares? As I near the end of a current work in progress, it occurred to me that it would be interesting to have an idea of what actually does scare the (expletive) out of folk. So if you're willing to share, please do let me know. Cheers Andy

D Marcus

Some of the things you mention make me jump. What scares me while watching a movie is a sustained sense of danger.

Lina Jones

Really scary demonic movies because they are like so real. If I watch any it has to be early in the day I cannot watch them late at night before I go to sleep because I will have nightmares.

Andy Davie

Hi Lina and D Marcus, thank you for your responses. Interesting stuff. That's a couple of boxes ticked with what I was thinking in the current piece I'm working on. In that it's got elements from both your posts in it, so I'm a happy chappy so far. I'm afraid I can't be more specific due to an NDA being in force, but your answers have helped me see that I'm on the right track. Cheers Andy

Meir Sabbah

For me, it's real every day phobias that I can relate to my living fears. When I see an alien or a monster, my subconcious tells me that it's fake and I get no impact. When I see a close-up spider bolting to my face with hairy legs and devilish eyes...I freak out (with the right music of course).

Andy Davie

That makes sense re everyday phobias Mike. I think you're on to something re music and atmosphere being key too. I think we can envisage pretty well anything as scary if presented correctly with the right sound fx and music, trouble is as screenwriters its not wise to tell your director/producer what to do re music etc in the screenplay - would be great if we could, but hey ho. Have used a spider in the past, so won't likely use it again, but I reckon I've covered at least one phobia in the current piece, probably the most common phobia, especially in children :-) Talking of which, I'd best get back to it. Thanks for the responses...

James Holzrichter

Oddly enough, most things in movies don't scare me much anymore. With one exception and I am not sure why. The movie, "Devil's Advocate," actually had me deeply scared during the scene where the wife was out shopping with all the other wives and the face on one of the wives suddenly changed to some kind of demonic thing. For some reason that really got me.

Paula Labaredas

Music! Sounds. Silence then.....

Shane M Wheeler

Atmosphere. The few films that scare me (though I get more jaded all the time) have atmosphere build up that gets into my head- sometimes it's music, sometimes it's identification with and endangering a character, sometimes it's an idea that's messed up enough to keep me thinking about it. Some of the better found footages cheat at this by feeling very real and having that 'haunted house' feel to them, where something scary is just waiting to happen at any momen, but I think many of John Carpenter's films really hit this note well. Prince of Darkness isn't always scary, but some of the ideas in that film are terrifying. Also, the Mist and 1408. Jump scares are okay, but I don't think they really scare people in the right way. It's just a jolt of adrenaline followed by relief, but a foreboding atmosphere of dread and doom? That's what really wins me over.

Andy Davie

James. I know exactly which moment you're referring to :-) Like you I've become very jaded, which is in part why I posed the question. I'm finding that rather than think something is scary, I'm all too often amused, sometimes to the point of laughter, which doesn't go down to well when everyone else watching a movie is practically screaming... thus I'm hoping to figure out what would genuinely put the wind up people... The answers so far are great and giving me a great sense of what works. Paula and Shane: Atmopsphere and sound I think play as the most important role, equally as potent as the visual action or dialogue in a given scene. Shane: Identifying with the character and their plight also works for me and I agree that building a sense of foreboding and dread definitely draws the audience in and hopefully they're satisfied when the horror actually occurs... The responses from everyone have been great. Thank you all so much :-)

Eoin O'Sullivan

Suspense always trumps surprise. Suspense is when you know something bad is going to happen, you just don't know when it's going to happen. The longer you can draw that out, the better. Slasher/gore horror loses it's appeal very quickly. I can't remember the last time I watched a horror and thought it was good. The Ring is about the only one that springs to mind in the last couple of years. There were very little scenes with the girl, Samara, in them and when she finally did appear, crawling out of that TV, all the suspense that lead to that moment had a huge impact. No gore, no blood, pure psychology. That's where horror makes it mark.

Anthony James

Keanu Reeves or Don Cheadle attempting a British accent is pretty horrific and enough to make me wince. If you really want to scare people, though, just start with 'Nicolas Cage in...' That should do the trick. Failing that, you can find fear in anything - clowns, dolls, spiders, shadows etc. as long as your characters behave believably.

Andy Davie

Hi Eoin, I tend to agree... That slow steady build up leaving wondering what's going to happen or even knowing what's going to happen but wondering when and to whom tends to win my vote. I also agree that slashers tend to wear thin after a short while... Psychology is probably exactly what gets the audience nibbling their nails and running for the loo when the pay off hits the screen, it's just finding the balance that works for everyone that I'm concerned about at the moment. Anthony: Haha! Yeah, you're on the money there, enough to make you squirm with discomfort :-) Ah clowns... Mr. King's 'IT' sends shivers... I'm thinking that the script alone can convey a lot if I get it right, but the rest will depend very much on the director, cast and crew to get the ambience and so on dead right. The trouble I'm having is in the writing of certain pieces of action, on screen they should be scary as hell, but in my head as I visualise them, they make me laugh... not good... so I'm editing like a loon to lose whatever it is that's amusing me... :-)

Andrea Thompson

I'm like Eoin. Suspense does it for me. Hitchcock was the master of suspense.

Luna Munroe

the music

Janet Scott

Combination... be it music, creepy overtones... Expression on the actors face... White Noise did it for me...

David O'Brien

Its not the fright that counts, its the way you handle the suspense that builds to the fright. Fear comes in a rhythm of three: things look bad, they get worse, they're as bad as they can get and then the strike comes. But that is what makes fear predictable. Watch almost anything by Hitchcock, especially his late movies from the fifties and sixties. Some of it is corny and has become cliche but he's still the master of building to the shock. Then take in Kubrick's work on The Shining and see how to shatter the expectation of the three rule. The death of suspense has moved horror into shock and revulsion, its lost its punch and become a pointless gore-fest without any building fear. Scare the shit out of em and they'll love you for itLauren.

Evan Marlowe

A giggling clown holding a gun.

Janet Scott

A Victorian DOLL with an Axe.....

Jillian Esteves

Ok for me, it is the non existence of music at the key moment. For example in the original Halloween, whenever Michael Myers is on the scene they have a sharp music tone or something equal to let you know he showed up whether the character knows it or not. When I see movies where they let you find the "slasher" or whatever scare tactic yourself it's better because you might be caught of guard for the split second instead of knowing it's there. That's my personal opinion, but I am mostly terrified by anything involving torture. I can't handle it. Haha.

Andy Davie

Andrea, Lauren, David, Evan, Janet and Jillian.... Thank you for your comments: I think you're all right.... Suspense, music and build up all play their part in scaring the beetlejuice out us... not having a musical build up also works for the sudden startling of the beetljuice out of you, but I think (and forgive me if I'm wrong) but I think the key is to draw the audience in so that they know something horrible is going to happen, they think they know what to look for or listen for as clues and then just when they think its safe to relax and not worry cos it's clearly not gonna BAM! it happens right then and there. My idea for the current movie is to sort of immerse the audience into a situation visually and auraly... Basically the story I've just finsihed involves someone being possessed... I can't give too much away (nda etc) but it involves lots of stuff going on around said possession. I think there's plenty to scare the beetlejuice out of everyone... uh oh... that's the third time! Oh shhh... sorry I jest. The whole gorefest thing doesn't really do it for me, Hitchcockian suspense, planting things in the audience's mind and letting them do the work does the trick for me, so they're looking for what they 'know' will happen. As for Victorian Dolls, Gun toting clowns and so on... here's an image recipe to conjour with... baby in a cot with a loaded and cocked revolver... leave to simmer for say 2 pages, have the babysitter climb the stairs to baby's room... enter the room, babysitter screams off screen, boom! Enter the room, baby is now holding the gun, looking startled... babysitter dead against wall... back on baby, giggling as he/she cocks the gun lays down and waits for his/her next victim :-) Now while I see that there's all the horror elements in there, I can also see comedy of course, but if delivered right (i.e. music and so on) I reckon that would be a pretty scary thing, having a gun toting toddler who actually knows exactly what he/she is doing...:-) Anyway... thank you everyone for your comments and thoughts. Fascinating :-)

Aimee Theresa

I'm totally freaked out by creepy dolls, or clowns, and creepy kids.

Andy Davie

Hey Aimee, I can totally understand those things creeping you out... never liked dolls or clowns... kids have to be pretty creepy to be scary though :-) Here's a little anecdote talking about fear. As a kid I went to the studios with my dad where he was working and a film or tv show was being made. The film or show was (and still is) called Dr. Who. As a kid when the show came on tv, we literally hid behind the couch! My particular fear was the Daleks (sort of alien robots that wanted to exterminate everything none Dalek) so I'm at the studio, being a typical 7 year old I'm nosing about when I see a Dalek on the lot in two pieces! I freaked out. My dad calmed me down and all was well when he explained it was a fake... he goes back to the cutting room, I start nosing about again and wind up wandering into a sound stage to see.... DOZENS of Daleks running around all over the place. They were to me real, alive and out to exterminate. You never heard a kid scream so long or loud... Dad had to finish work early to take me home... oops :-)

Lisa Bain Landis

Sounds & sudden shocks... Hate blood & gore...

Brian Flinchbaugh

I love a good scare, but it's so hard to find! I can't remember the last time I was actually scared by something on screen. Now, I haven't seen the blockbuster horrors yet that came out this year, so I'm looking forward to seeing if they're any different. But sound (or lack thereof) can really make a scary atmosphere.

Andy Davie

Lisa... I do think the blood and gore fest films are wearing thin these days, though they can be good fun, but agree that sounds and sudden shocks work well in scaring the audience.

Andy Davie

Hey Jacqueline... yup Dr. Who really did get into a kids head just as you've described. We used to have these electric fires that looked just like the Cybermen hives... used to scare the hell out of me looking at em as a kid :-) Ahh! Those creepy ads from ikea are horrible aren't they? I'd agree with the gnomes being brought back, if they didn't remind me of the evil gnome that I think I saw in a who episode when John Pertwee was the doctor... gnome like thing with fangs... eeek!

Andy Davie

Brian... You're right in it being hard to find a 'good' scare... but I wonder if it's hardest of all for writers since we kind of know what to look for. Now if I could write a screenplay that scared the hell out of the reader or another writer while reading, let alone on the screen, then I think I'd have really cracked it :-) It's amazing how many times sound has come up in this thread... it's definitely key to the whole thing, now I wonder how screenwriters should write what kind of sound should be heard without it appearing like we're directing the director.... hmmm... this is proving a great thread with so many thoughts on what is scary and what isn't :-) Thanks

Shay McLean

My first scary movie was The Exorcist. I still can't believe my Dad let me watch it. Actually, he let me and my brother watch it - alone, at that. When it was said and done, I spent the night thinking about Mickey Mouse and Disneyland. That was my mantra whenever I was scared and had to go to sleep to keep from having nightmares. It worked too!

Andy Davie

Hi Shay... Umm, two questions spring to mind. 1. How old were you and your brother? 2. Did you ever get to go see Mickey Mouse in Disneyland?

Shay McLean

LOL...Let's see I believe I was around 10 so my brother was 13 and yes...I did see Mickey Mouse at Disneyland. My parents were really quite liberal with what they let us see as far as movies go but then again, my Dad was in the business so we were around it constantly anyway.

Andy Davie

Wow! 10 and 13 watching the Exorcist! Actually I think that's pretty cool. I grew up surrounded by the business too so I understand the way most folk behind the screen don't see movies etc the same way civilians do :-) Glad you got to go to Disneyland and see Mickey Mouse.

Shay McLean

Haha! Yes, my Dad was a peach. Seriously, he's awesome. ;)

Andy Davie

Sounds like a pretty cool customer letting you watch movies like the Exorcist at 10 :-)

Andy Davie

Hey all, just wanted to apologize for being so quiet on here. Been busy working on the script for which I posed the question What's your fear? and am pleased to report that the final draft is now with the production company - just waiting for their response beyond the initial 'I love it' from the exec. I'm now working on another script (almost half way through) for another company so time is in short supply. I'm going to pose another question in a new discussion I think, but meanwhile wanted to thank everyone for their input on this one. I'll let you know what happens with the one I was writing when I posed the fear question, as and when anything does happen. Thanks everyone :-)

Janet Scott

Cool.... way to go Andy.... Fingers crossed .... and willing the Universe to supply for you...

Andy Davie

Thanks Janet :-) Will let people on here know when it happens, etc. Assuming it does happen it'll be my fourth feature production... can't wait :-) Now to let the universe do it's thang! :-)

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