Claustrophobic Vision: The Omen

General Geekiness

Continuing with my classic horror viewing, on Friday night I watched the 1976 version of The Omen.

As the use of silence in The Exorcist struck me, The Omen‘s defining feature was the claustrophobic nature of the shots. The director uses close ups in the best possible way, focusing on the actors’ eyes. We see shots of Mrs Baylock’s eyes filling the screen frequently, and of Thorn’s as well. The extremely tight shots create feelings of intimacy and heightened awareness, along with adding to the creeping despair.

There is also a building feeling of dread to the movie. The film’s tension rises slowly, increasing with the dawning realization of what is actually going on. By the film’s climax, I was shaking, looking to my friend and whispering “I’m scared.”

Richard Donner, the director, did a fantastic job of disorienting the viewer. At times, particularly the scene in the Italian graveyard, the viewer is distanced from the characters. We take on a bird’s eye view, on the same level as the Rottweilers. At points, we cannot see the dogs, but we hear them shuffling around us.

The Rottweiler that guarded Damien was incredibly disturbing. Part of the film’s strength lies in how it makes the ordinary extraordinarily frightening. The dog walks through the house in the film’s climax…we can hear it, we can see it, but there’s something about it that frightens us tremendously.


Happy Halloween everyone!

Silence. Fearful, Hollow Silence: Sonic Atmosphere in The Exorcist

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

This weekend, I watched the 1973 movie The Exorcist for the first time.

One thing that struck me about the film was the use of silence, the creeping, ever present lack of background accompaniment. The theme played twice (to my recollection), once when Chris is walking past the row of houses when returning from the set, and at the very end of the film.

The lack of an instrumental soundtrack adds to the encroaching foreboding persistent throughout the entire film. I found the quiet, the still, the calm, when contrasted with Regan’s wild, possessed moments, disturbing. It was the sense of waiting, of the knowledge of something darker just around the corner, that the silence portrayed so well.

The scene that struck me most was not one of horror, but one of desperate contemplation. It is the scene where Father Merrin and Father Karras are seated on the stairs, resting after the first round against the demon.  As they sit, deep within their own thoughts, worries and fears, the silence envelopes them. The viewer, who, like the two priests, has just been through the harrowing first part of the exorcism, rests, like them. The silence that surrounds the priests surrounds the viewer as well, a perfect mirror.

Just earlier that day, I was listening to one of the music channels. On the bottom of the page, the phrase “Choose Your Mood, On Music Choice” appeared. This seemingly innocuous phrase made my mind run.

The Exorcist does a good job of effecting one’s mood, even with the minimal soundtrack. The silence that permeates throughout the film gives a sense of alienation, heightened isolation.

The visuals, too, add a stark quality to the film that mirrors the lack of sound. The colors are muted. The set decoration is largely minimal. Much of the action surrounding Regan takes place in either hospitals or in her frighteningly Spartan room. Even the basement, often a site of clutter for many families, is eerily bare.

As a writer, this stark, empty, disconcerting quiet had me thinking about creating atmosphere in my writing. How would I go about conveying that encroaching, crushing quiet? My thought is minimal dialogue, short sentences, descriptive ones. Something to explore!

Note on the title: It sounds painfully academic. I’ve been doing research for my two theses–one is on The Prisoner, which has been somewhat documented here. The other is about Psycho and that’s the first mention of it.

Of stuffed birds, peep holes/cricket bats, pints, pubs, and Jags/ deconstructing brains

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Inspired by the Fix It or Deal post ‘zombie, zombie, burning bright’, I decided to write some of my own horror movie and zombie inspired haikus for Halloween!



Drip, drip, shower drain
Pretty girl, carving knife, scream
Blood, Mother, blood, blood!

Shaun of the Dead:

Pete is a zombie
Let’s go to the Winchester
Don’t say the zed word!

Philosopher zombies:
Vacant dead gaze
Shuffling gait. Drooling mouths sigh
What does undeath mean?

I’m rather proud of my Psycho haiku.

Haikus are fun to write. There’s something about there being very little space to compose a poem to grab the best words, best lines, twists of phrase. I prefer (when I even attempt to write poetry) to follow a form. I find free verse a little too free. For me, creativity (in poetry) rises out of restrictions.

There’s a bonus haiku in the title.