How are media languages used to convey tension surprise and engage the audience?
The movie begins with a black screen and atmospheric music. Initially the music is short sharp minor notes, which add to the spooky feeling. The music also builds up tension with the audience, as they don’t know what to expect. We then see a pumpkin and the credits run by the side of them. The credits come up on screen red then turn to orange then back to red. This is symbolic because red is often the colour seen as blood and orange is the colour which is associated with All Hallows Eve (Halloween). The other colours on the screen also play a part in setting the mood of fear, black orange and red together show us that it is scary and dangerous.
We get a slow tract on the pumpkin zooming in closer and closer until eventually we get to the eye of the pumpkin, and then as the screen goes black we hear the sound of children singing:
‘It’s Halloween! It’s Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can’t be seen
On any other night.
Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,
Grinning goblins fighting duels,
Werewolves rising from their tombs,
Witches on their magic brooms.
In masks and gowns
we haunt the street
And knock on doors
for trick or treat.’
This is symbolic as it is called ‘Its HALLOWEEN’ and this is setting the scene for that night. We then see writing on the screen saying that it is Haddonfield Illinois and giving the date. John Carpenter is very clever in his choice of setting because Illinois is supposed to be a very boring mid American state where nothing happens.
We then get the picture of a house with most of the lights on the screen then moves forwards as if the view is the character. John Carpenter went one bit further and put in a single Panaglide sequence shot from the character’s point-of-view: circling the house. This helps the audience to have empathy with the character as we are seeing through their eyes.
He then stops at a window watching his sister and her boyfriend kissing on the sofa. This is voyeuristic, as the audience might find this pleasurable, as they are secretly watching Judith Myers and her boyfriend.
The boyfriend then says ‘lets go upstairs’ this is symbolic as guys only want ‘one thing’. The character then moves round the front of the house and we see the light go off upstairs and we suddenly hear loud music when this happens it makes us want to jump. The light going off is also symbolic because it shows us that she is not doing what she is supposed to be and that is babysitting her brother, instead she is looking after her boyfriend.
The character then moves round the back of the house and we see an open door and inside the house all is dark and menacing. The camera then moves into the kitchen and the light goes on as we see a hand reach to open a draw (one thing I notice while watching that part is how tall the child has to be as the knife is held quite high up), and pull out a knife. We notice that the camera focuses on the blade of the knife which means something is going to happen and I thing the audience can guess it won’t be a good thing.
We then moves through the house to the lounge where the camera focuses on the rocking chair, this is symbolic because an old wives tale says that if you leave a rocking chair rocking when empty, it invites evil spirits to come into your house to sit in the chair. This could show why later in the movie the killer is shown as being mad.
The boyfriend comes down the stairs and the character backs into the shadows as he then goes out of the house. The character then makes his way up the dark stairs. This is spooky because there is not much light and the use of shadow makes it even more scary.
The character then picks up a mask this is symbolic as a mask means many things, which include hiding real identity and dehumanising the person.
The camera then moves forward and we see a semi naked girl sitting on a chair singing. The view then moves to show us the bed which is all creased and wrecked, suggesting that the girl and her boyfriend were having sex.
The character then moves towards the girl and we see her turn to face him and it is at this point we know that this is Michael because the girl screams his name. We then see the knife come down, hear the sound of the knife hitting something and the sound of a girl screaming in pain. The camera then moves up so all we can see is the knife moving up and down. The characters head then moves down as we see the body of the girl lying on the floor motionless with blood on her.
Michael then proceeds down the stairs and out of the house where we see a car drive up and a man and a women get out. The man approaches Michael and takes the mask off him. We then get a shock when we realise a six-year-old boy committed this brutal murder.
In this clip we get a morale meaning because Judith Myers was supposed to be looking after her brother, but instead she looked after her boyfriend in a “sexual nature” and was punished.