Alfred Hitchcock's Ability to Scare

Alfred Hitchcock's Ability to Scare

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Throughout the years, many directors have been making movies that seem to "scare the hell out of people". From thrilling to just suspenseful scenes, Alfred Hitchcock explores different techniques to ensure that he captures the audience's attention.

The characters in Hitchcock's films play a very important role in creating the tensions and twists, causing that heart stopping moment where you just want to yell at the TV.
He uses the characters like strategically placed chess pieces, knowing exactly when to make his move. Alfred Hitchcock was a very scared person in life, which ironically led him to be one of the greatest directors for thrillers and perhaps horrors. ?I?m not against the police, I?m just afraid of them? is a quote from Hitchcock that leads you to believe the characters in the movies he directed, were what he would be afraid of in real life. Alfred Hitchcock expresses his fear of the police in Psycho when a police officer finds Marion Crane sleeping in her car. The officer looks extremely intimidating and you start to think that maybe he is the psycho. This thought is soon juxtaposed when Marion is at the car yard and the same police officer who had spoken to her earlier, stops his car across the road, gets out and just stands there watching her. We later find out that he is not the psycho and Marion finds herself sheltered by the lonely and secluded Bates Hotel. Here we are introduced to Norman Bates, a shy, nervous but very friendly young man. You would never guess, and end up shocked when you realise that he is the psycho.

The sounds and camera angles of this film are the key to the feeling of suspense. The sounds of the violin make up most of the soundtrack for Psycho. Although the soundtrack is very repetitive and slightly annoying, it gives you a sense of anticipation when it played throughout the movie. The screeching violins are always played when you least expect them to, catching you off guard. As said by Alfred Hitchcock, ?There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it.? The camera angles also play an important role in this movie. When Lila, Marion?s sister, goes to find Mrs Bates and talk to her, it seems to take Lila forever just to reach the house, with the camera switching back and forth from her face, then to the door.

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?One must never set up a murder. They must happen unexpectedly, as in life.? - Alfred Hitchcock.
The world famous shower scene is the first death we witness. We seem to watch Marion for a long time before the psycho?s shadow is seen. Her death is a long and painful one, with many screaming and stabbing sounds, followed by the shots of blood going down the drain. Straight after her death, there is an extreme close up of Marion?s eye. The camera slowly zooms out to reveal the dead body of Marion Crane. The second and final death we witness is that of Private Investigator Arbogast. When he enters the Bates? house and starts walking up the stairs it seems like the only thing he has his sight set on is the door to Mrs Bates bedroom. You see another door opening just slightly and then out of nowhere the psycho jumps out and stabs Arbogast, just as the screeching violins begin to play. It is the most unexpected attack and again, it takes a while before he is murdered.

Throughout the movie, regardless of whether or not something bad is going to happen, you are always sitting on the edge of your seat. After the police had arrested Norman, and the psychiatrist is explaining Norman?s state of mind, you expect him to jump out of nowhere and start killing everybody, even though you know he will not. The last few shots are chilling and leave a lingering horror in the viewer's mind after putting us inside the head of a madman. Norman has finally become his mother, and he is sitting on a chair wrapped in a blanket. The mother is so convinced that there are people watching to see what she is doing, that when a fly lands on her hand she decides not to swat it so they can see what a harmless old woman she really is. ?Why she wouldn?t even harm a fly?.

Whether it is by playing music, focusing on certain objects or just killing people Alfred Hitchcock manages to illustrate the feel of suspense throughout this film. Scaring the hell out of people was one of Alfred Hitchcock?s main missions in life, and he succeeded in accomplishing it.
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