Scare Tactics: Making A Horror Movie Part 1

Scare Tactics: Making A Horror Movie Part 1

Making a horror movie is a good way to kick-start an independent film maker’s career forward.

Horror films do not require a big budget to achieve that edge-of-your-seat, nail biting, fear-inducing effect. All it takes is a good understanding of your audience and what terrifies them, what pushes their fear button, and of course, doing it right.

Choose the Perfect Setting and Atmosphere

So you don’t have A-listers to star in your film. The plot is a bit iffy, and you don’t have the best audio equipment at your disposal. Creating a shadowy feeling of dread can always overcome these obstacles. If you want to make your audience to sink into their seats, create an air of unimaginable fear. A poorly lit, claustrophobic, no-way-out setting is a good place to start. This will trigger little red flags in the audience, making them associate these visual cues to what is actually scary to them.


This is just for the sake of getting the point across – think outside of the box, get something original, break the mold. The more you understand your audience, the more successful you can get inside their heads. There is no easier way to bring your audience into a “dark and scary” frame of mind when making a horror movie.

The Jump Scare Tactic

The jump scare tactic has got to be the most used and abused way to startle us viewers. However being  scared and being surprised are two very different things. The former can make a grown man wet his pants, the latter can make him jump out of it. A good jump care is punctuating an otherwise placid scene. Another effective way of doing this is by introducing the scare in the most unpredictable fashion. The audience would often see this coming a mile away regardless if it is done with climactic music or obvious symbolism.

Silence is Indeed Golden

Deep in the night, and in the darkness of your room you hear a soft thud not too far where you lie. You wouldn’t feel the same if you heard the same mysterious noise if your room wasn’t eerily still and silent, would you? Not to undermine the crucial role of the right use of a musical score, but silence can be a very effective tool in setting up an audience for a fear-inducing scene.

If you are using music, consider something along the lines of low strings or spooky background sound such as children’s distant laughter or the thumping sound of a heart gradually getting louder and louder.

There are still other ways instilling fear into the hearts and minds, and we’ll be highlighting a few more techniques on making a horror movie in the 2nd part if this series.


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