So, the real question is whether the manipulation positively serves the story, whether it positively serves the audience. If said manipulation acts in service to the filmmaker’s intentions, and they are artistically reasonable and ethical as evidenced by a generally satisfactory result, then such manipulation is valid and acceptable. Notice that I did not say the result had to achieve its ends through honesty. Deception is an axiom in art. The question, rather, is, “Does it serve the work effectively and to the benefit of a satisfactory audience experience?” So, while there is bad audience manipulation, all audience manipulation isn’t bad. As we’ve said, all communication is manipulation. The operative term, then, is “mutually-positive”—for the story, and for the audience—manipulation.
Scary movies succeed for the same reasons all movies succeed: they satisfy their audiences. Audiences aren’t satisfied by ever-larger explosions, ever-more diabolical torture devices. They are satisfied by having their expectations exceeded, by being happily or thrillingly surprised, by being entertained, not shown new technology. They’re satisfied not by the quantity of blood, but instead by the quality of the experience.
So, how to achieve said quality? It’s a well-known principle that fear is far worse before the fearful event than it is during. That implies that what goes on in the audience’s mind is far more powerful than what goes on before its eyes.
The piece is primarily about the making of scary movies as opposed to the writing of them (I'm still trying to come up with that magic tip list that assures us when a screenplay reads scary it will also play scary on the screen, as opposed to always being dependent on 'the execution'), but is still an entertaining and educational post.
Read the rest HERE.