Success Criteria Reason My Critique of “Lights Out” My Critique of “Tuck Me In”
Have characters that are likeable and realistic, make them worth caring about. The characters don’t need to be super developed; they just need to be recognizable and different from others. Maybe one defining trait. The character in lights out is quite relatable and comedic. People normally care more about characters who are relatable. For example, in this short film, when she gets scared, she hides in the blanket, something most people would do in that situation. She is also comic relief as shown in the part where she duct tapes the light switch. Since the movie is only a minute long, there wasn’t such characterization apart from the man being a father. This, however, makes us sympathetic towards him. He has a child, so we care about what happens to him.
Have an actual storyline, not just a situation. An actual story line will get and keep people watching invested. Situations followed by other situations have no flow and can quickly put viewers off. The film “Lights Out” does have a storyline following one character and the “demon” stalking her. It isn’t unfocused. This mini film doesn’t really have a story line, it’s just one supernatural situation.
Get from the situation to a story as quickly as possible. It’s important to introduce the situation and get to the actual story as quickly as possible as there is no time to develop the characters or to develop an elaborate backstory. The film got to the central plot pretty quickly. It showed off the setting of a house, the main character and then started to reveal the plot. It didn’t waste time telling a backstory on why the demon is stalking her. The film gets to the supernatural occurrence at around 0:30. This is quick, but the film is only a minute long. However, they didn’t waste time developing a backstory.
Have multiple different camera angles. Multiple different camera angles create more varied and interesting scenes which the viewer would want. If your film is filled with just wide shots it gets boring and if your film is filled with only close ups, nothing is new and quickly will also get boring. There were multiple shot types in this film, including point of view shots, close ups. There were also shots angled downwards which added variety. This film has different shot types, from close-ups to point of view shots. It kept the film feeling fresh and new.
Don’t have too much exposition where it’s just a lot of dialogue. Max 1 min of exposition. There is not enough time to have around 2 minutes of exposition. Horror movies tend to have more action than dialogue and if you have to much exposition, there won’t be enough time for the build-up and action. No exposition at all, no explanation of why the demon came to be and why it is following the main character. This film gets straight to the action and that was especially important considering that this film only had a run time of 2 mins. There wasn’t any exposition wasting time. The film used dialogue which isn’t a bad thing. There was only a simple set up in the form of “check under the bed.” This allowed the film to still have enough time to build up suspense.
An ending that’s interesting, as in don’t tie up all loose ends, up to interpretation. Not a “happily ever after.” A clear-cut conclusion sometimes isn’t very interesting. Many films have done the “happily ever after” trope and it’ll get boring. Having an open ending encourages discussion which is good. The ending isn’t a happily ever after and is quite vague. It doesn’t explicitly show the woman being killed by is hinted at. This ending is up to the audience’s interpretation. The ending is quite vague, but that isn’t a bad thing. If the film revealed which one the kids were fake, it would have less impact. It’s up to the audience to interpretate and theorize which Alex(the kid’s name) is fake.
Use of sound to amplify the effect of scenes, such as to create tension and suspense. Without the right sound, your film won’t have an impact. Sound can be used to create suspense which is helpful to add. Sound can also help with building up a climax and during a jumpscare. This film uses sound to build up suspense with the creaks and to amplify the jumpscares. It also uses silence to build suspense with only the quiet buzzing of a lamp. This creates unease in the audience. The music at the start already is mystery which creates an uneasy atmosphere. During the part where the dad looks under the bed, the creepy music comes back. This is a good use of sound because it creates a feeling of “what’s going to happen” when the music comes on.
Having a buildup to the climax. Not just a scare out of nowhere. Random scares spread throughout the film won’t be very effective. Yes, it may catch someone off guard once, but a build-up will be more effective and will be more satisfying. At the start of the film, there was a random scare that wasn’t really effective but after that, the final scare when we see the demons face is built up with sound and suspense. It was satisfying to see the final payoff after all the suspense. The film had a small build-up towards the big reveal, one line of dialogue. Unlike “Lights Out” this film didn’t use too much time setting up and creating suspense, most likely due to time constraints. The scare is still effective but with a bit more suspense and unease could be better.
A jumpscare, almost every horror film has one of these. A jumpscare is a key element of horror, jumpscares can be used as the final big payoff. The film has 2 jumpscares, one at the start to give us a view at the figure on the monster and one at the end as the big payoff. The first jumpscare was sudden but not very effective because the monster was quite far away. The second one however, was effective as an ending. There wasn’t really a jumpscare in this film, unless you count the reveal of a second Alex. That “jumpscare” however, wasn’t really scary.
Use of lighting to set the mood and atmosphere, specifically a dark and moody one. Mood and atmosphere are very important in horror films, they allow viewers to immerse themselves in the film which will benefit all other aspects. The film sets the mood and atmosphere with an establishing shot of the house. The house being surrounded by darkness sets a dark atmosphere. Light also plays a big role in the film. When the lights are on, the main character and we are supposed to feel safe and when the lights are off, we feel vulnerable. This really creates a sense of immersion. This film uses lighting to set the mood. When the setting was brighter, it seemed safer, for example when talking to Alex. When the lighting was dark, it seem more dangerous, for example when searching under the bed.