Let’s learn ya a thing or two watching slashers!

So, a little while ago I posted the press release for a slasher film I’ve been hired to edit later this summer. I received a list of films to watch by the director and actually added a couple to the list myself.

From Director:

Halloween  (1978)

Sleep Away Camp (1983)

Sid and Nancy (1986)

Prom Night (1980)

What I’ve added thus far:

Last House on the Left (1972)

The Thing (1982)

I think editors, especially the younger generation can get hung up on the technological aspects of they’re job and almost forget the creative essence of it. I am part of that younger generation of editors and can point out definite times when I’ve done exactly that. But to be an assistant transitioning to editor, I guess that’s kind of how it goes.

I have read the script a couple times, created short hand continuity sheets and now it’s time for the research. While I push my way through the list of films suggested by the director (more of them to come), I’ll be recording what I learned from each on this blog – starting with Prom Night (1980)

While watching Prom Night I found this sequence:

In this scene a girl is looking to hide from an axe murderer. She takes cover in a near by classroom. She ducks behind a desk and the sequence begins.

1. We get to see the CU of her. She’s listening. Is the killer coming? Will I get hacked to bits by an axe? Am I safe now?

2.CU of the killer’s feet as he gets closer. This is not one of those cheesy scenes where she can hear the killer coming towards her. She doesn’t know the killer is coming her way. Only you the viewer does. This is why the scene is powerful to me.  This shot doesn’t make her scared, it makes us scared.

3. We then get a wide shot of the classroom cutting to a CU of her eyes peeking over the ledge of the desk. This shot makes me think of two questions: What is she looking at exactly? and Is the killer going to see her?

4. My first question gets answered. She’s looking at a shadow of the killer passing by the window.

5. Back to the CU of her eyes peeking over the ledge. This is a significant shot. Every time this shot is shown the viewer becomes more worried for the characters well-being. We know she has seen the shadow of the killer in the window. Her reaction is to duck down behind the desk lower and hope the Killer doesn’t spot her.

6. Wide shot of the killer opening the door. This feels like somewhat of a POV shot. It’s lower, field of vision is cluttered.

7. CU of her peeking around the side of the desk. Yes, it was her POV.

8. Killer exits.

9. Back to her CU and the scene is over. (Side note, later on she gets caught and killed.)

Why does this scene interest me so much? This particular scene interests me because of the emotional arch the character goes through and how the arch is amplified by the choices made in the edit.



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