The Strangers is an American horror film released in 2008, the films sub-genre is Psychological horror. The film received a mixed bag of reviews from critics, it was however produced on what is considered a very small budget of $9 Million, and grossed overall approximately $83 million, and therefore was very financially successful. According to the films marketing it is inspired by true life events, the word 'inspired' however means that it is not strictly based directly on a true story. The film revolves around a couple who are taking a summer break in a house in the middle of nowhere after attending a wedding reception, they are then constantly harassed by a number of masked assailants before being knifed towards the end of film.
How are the genre and sub-genre signalled?
The horror genre is signified in the trailer with the use of an iconic piece of visual audio effects present in a number of different horror film trailers- perhaps even overused, this is the use of a swing, accompanied by a squeaking designed to resonate with people who now unconsciously associate this sound with horror, it is almost like a code and convention of horror itself. Another giveaway in the trailer is the presence of a sub-plot the romance between the couple, also it is clear that this is not a central plot because there is the presence of a loud bang after the couple hug and then the camera looks over towards a window with curtains shut, the curtains along with the lights in the house make me assume that it is night-time setting. The slow start of the trailer allows the audience to gather a sense of what is happening. Midway through the trailer it is clear they are on their own and that there is no one around, this is a convention of the horror genre. Also the protagonists in the trailer are all wearing masks- a convention of many horror films.
Conventions, Iconography, Actors, & Directors?
There are a number of different conventions which are followed in this trailer to help create idyllic horror trailer. The first of these conventions is the use of a dark setting and a remote location far from anyway, the way in which I know they are in a remote location is because the male actor (Played by Scott Speedman) makes this very suggestion about it being far away from anywhere. All of the Protagonists are wearing masks to hide their faces, the masks appear to look like a dolls face, not knowing who the protagonist is means that speculation of the unknown creates more fear among the couple. The use of a number of different murder weapons used in many different types of horror films enables the audience to begin associate the trailer with similar films, the use of a knife by the female to protect herself from the intruders and the use of the axe by the protagonists.
Scott Speedman is one of the actors who stars in this film, he is a British actor who is known for appearing in other horror films such as Dead Silence, and Underworld. Starring alongside him is Liv Tyler, well known for appearing in a number of different roles franchise Lord of The Rings, her horror film credits are however limited. The films budget may reflect why these particular actors were chosen. The Director of this film is Bryan Bertino, who is also the writer of the film.
How is the audience lured in to watch the movie?
Film trailers often use a number of different tactics to lure their audience in, with the strangers this is done with the help of straps, one of which makes the suggestion that the film is based on a true story, knowing this audiences may then assume that because it is based on fact the realism of the movie increases therefore so does the fear that it creates. A steady build-up of tension is created, as the pace of the editing in the trailer increase; audiences may want to know how the protagonists got into the house, and how they intend to inflict terror on the couple. The job of the trailer is ultimately to get people to view the film, and how this is achieved is by ensuring that the ending of the film is not given away by doing this the audience will want to find out what happens which means viewing the entire film.
What is the trailers narrative structure?
The beginning of the trailer appears to look like the beginning of the film, where the setting is created and they have yet to experience any torment. As the trailer progresses it is clear that the trailer must have skipped a few scenes, the trailer largely appears to be in a chronological order from start to finish. Towards the end appears to possibly be the end as the Protagonist is looking down on the woman.
Which elements of the movies narrative are revealed?
A number of movie elements of the narrative are revealed in the trailer although not enough to give the narrative away. When the women asks why they are they terrorising her they reply 'because you were home', this would answer questions relating to what the motives are of the protagonist, although this answer could lead to more questions as it is unclear whether there is any other underlying reason or motive that drives them to kill. The protagonists are revealed to be in masks, and are terrorising the couple it is also clear that they had already broken into the house and for some reason or another decided to torment them first rather than kill them straight away, the scene when one of the protagonists can be seen in the distance behind the women relates to this.
How are the following used for effect and to create meaning?
Sound: The sound at the begging of the trailer helps to convey a sense of the romance between the couple, before this abruptly ends after bang from outside. The sound then changes to an intense squeal creating tension, this then changes to a few silent moments with speech, creating intense loneliness feeling, towards the end the soundtrack being played in the trailer skips and repeats itself and speeds up, amplifying the desperation of the characters.
Setting: The remote location creates the feeling that the actors are helpless and are unable to contact anyone, or achieve any help to stop the protagonists.
Hair: The females hair is long and a golden brown colour, the males hair is much shorter and darker.
Camera: A long-shot is used in the trailer when looking outside; this enables the audience to get a sense of what is going on, and to see the bigger picture outside. A close-up shot is used when the female and male are hugging; this enables the audiences to read the woman’s emotions.
Props: Knife, Gun & Axe are all used as weapons. Also present are the record player, the mobile phone, and the ring to show the romantic link between the characters at the beginning.
Make-up: Little make-up appears to be used except possibly whitener to show that the characters are scarred, also the female character appears to be crying at some points, and therefore make-up may have been used.
Expressions: Expressions in the trailer range considerably depending on the mood of the characters, for example at the beginning of the trailer the characters appear to be genuinely normal and happy with a few smiles, this then changes to sadness, fear, and distress.
Mise-en-scene: The use of the fire in the trailer showing how the mobile has been burned and that there is no longer any hope. A squeaky swing is used like a convention of horror. A lot of the trailer captures the 1970's style ranch, very dull and brown/gold colours convey the idea that this trailer could have been set in the 70's.
Costumes: They are both wearing clothes that were worn at the wedding, the man is wearing a suite and the female is wearing a dress.
Lighting: The lighting is kept very low level, common among horror films.
Speed & Style of editing: Editing at the beginning is kept very slow, but soon gathers pace midway, before slowing down again, this style allows the audience to appreciate what’s happening but also helps to keep their interest by only showing quick teaser montages of shots.