The image I have chosen is from the film Ouija. The film is about a young woman who mysteriously kills herself after using a Ouija board alone. Her friends then use the Ouija board and start talking to someone from ‘the other side’ who they think is their dead friend, Debbie, but is really the spirit of an evil young girl called Dorris. I have chosen this particular image because I think that it was well thought out and every aspect of the Mise En Scene was planned out extremely carefully. I find this film interesting because it is an unusual story revolving around a Ouija board, which is used in the real world and is most commonly related to the supernatural. This makes the film more realistic as well as making it seem like the event in the film could actually happen. This captivates the audience as they also see the film as more realistic so they pay more attention as well as relate to the characters in the film more easily.
Setting and Props:
The image is set around a dining room table in an old house. An old house is a conventional setting for a horror film as it can be secluded and is perceived by most people as a scary place to be in. This can be seen in the 1979 film Amityville horror(Stuart Rosenberg). The film has multiple sequels and the original film grossed $86.4 Million. Old houses are a good setting as they have a lot of history and there are multiple ways a horror film’s storyline could be linked to an old house. Also old houses are quite common and sometimes are linked to real life crimes. An example of a real life crime in an old house is the 1977 murders of Duluth heiress Elisabeth Congdon and her night nurse by Marjorie Caldwell Hagen. The murders took place in a house that was built in 1905.
The only prop is the ouiji board and as they are used for trying to contact the dead it adds to the mysteriousness of what could be hiding in the darkness. Also again it fits in with the horror genre because it has been used in such films as the 2013-A haunted House(Michael Tiddes) which made $60.1 Million from a $2.5 Million budget. Also they are used by some members of the public to contact the dead as they think it is a real way of communication. Occasionally from these encounters from the public the sometimes report some form of paranormal activity. This means the film seems more realistic as the films portrays the ouiji board being used in a realistic manner. It is a conventional prop as it fits in with the horror genre and a lot of stories can be created by using a Ouija board as a prop. The ouija board also have an interesting history and it is a real life object which adds to the realism of the film. The Ouija board started life in February 1891 in a Pittsburgh toy and novelty shop as a,’magical device that answered questions “about the past, present and future with marvelous accuracy’.
Costume, hair and make-up:
The clothes the characters are wearing are dark, this is to co-ordinate with the dark lighting and also links in with danger and evil. Also brightly coloured clothing could suggest happiness but the characters in this shot are far from happy. They are wearing casual clothing, this suggests that they believe its a normal night out at a friends house, a good example of this is almost every film in the genre. This could be a reason as to why horror films are so successful, as the characters are dressed like the audience watching the movie, meaning that the audience can relate better as they have more things in common. An example of this can be seen in TV soaps such as Coronation Street and EastEnders where all of the characters are wearing modern clothes that people watching the shows would also wear. This allows the audience to relate to the characters more easily as the audience would be able to see more similarities between them.
The hair and make up is also nothing fancy, again suggesting that the characters do not think anything unusual will happen, this is a common factor amongst the majority of horror films and again the audience can relate better to characters that are similar to themselves. This means the audience feels a bond with one or more characters so they would want to see these characters again, this would lead to sequels having greater success as the audience are paying to see the characters they can mostly relate to. This can be seen in the film franchise Alien(Ridley Scott)that follows warrant officer Ellen Ripley. The franchise has grossed just over $1.4 Billion off of a $336 Million production budget with another film set to release on the 31st of December 2015. I believe the reason this franchise of film is so popular is because of the revolutionary use of CGI and special effects that the audience had never seen before.
Facial expression and body language:
All of the character’s facial expression shows that they are all scared and they are worried about something. The main character is looking towards another character that isn’t taking part in the ouiji session. The centre character looks shocked and in disbelief. The majority of the characters have their arms closed, this suggests that they don’t want anyone or anything to contact them. On the other hand the main character has her arms open as she is the only character that wants to contact the dead, her arms being open then conveys this to the audience.
This type of body language is natural and almost everyone does this subconsciously. Appropriate body language is important in any genre of film, but horror films especially. This is because the aim of a horror film is to frighten the audience, so the director of the film needs to make sure that the body language of the characters looks realistic and doesn’t convey a message of happiness.
lighting and color:
Low key lighting is used in this particular shot, this is so the background is dark and makes the audience focus on the characters and the table. The key light is the hanging light above the table, this allows the characters faces and the table to be lit up. The backlight is the natural light shining through the curtain behind the central character. This could have been done to suggest that the main character is the only one that wants an entity to contact her.
The lighting is also very dim, this could be to better represent the house as being old, also this is because having a dimly lit room better fits in with the horror genre as it gives the audience the feeling that something could be hiding in the darkness and could jump out at any time. The light is at the top of the frame so it shadows the back of the characters, forcing the audience to be looking directly at the characters faces and also gives the impression that what they are doing is serious.
In conclusion the Mise en scene of this shot is brilliantly done, from the prop used to the costumes of the characters the focus of the scene is to allow the audience to easily relate and bond with the characters in the film among other things. The techniques used are all proven to work through the examples I have given, such as the prop being one that has a, somewhat, real world use. Meaning the audience see’s the film as more realistic. Furthermore the use of lighting can connote various things but in this scene in particular the use of light connotes exactly what I think the director wants it too, although it be subconsciously. For example it made me question what could be lurking in the darkness.
ouijiboardmovies.com -accessed 15/09/15
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2243537/ -accessed 15/09/15
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078767/ -accessed 16/09/15
http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/franchise/Alien -accessed 25/09/15
http://www.filmsite.org/visualeffects10.html -accessed 17/10/15
1979-Alien (Ridley Scott)
1979-The Amityville Horror (Stuart Rosenberg)
2005-The Amityville Horror (Andrew Douglas)
2013-Ouija (Stiles White)