Light and Horror

August 01 2010 — by Philip Rose
Light is a fundamental part of the cinematic experience. Along with the musical score, light helps to create mood, drama, and suspense. While special effects and techniques have evolved over the past century of filmmaking, lighting remains crucial to the success of both black and white classics and modern Technicolor blockbusters. Its greatest impact, however, is in the horror genre. From the earliest days of German impressionist films such as Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1919) and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s Nosferatu (1921) to Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and Donahue, Leonard and William’s Blair Witch Project (2002), the light – or in many cases the lack of it – has been integral to creating the fear factor. In horror movies light is commonly used to reveal or conceal the object of horror by employing various lighting techniques:
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