Why movies are scarier than they used to be
Patricia Pisters explores why horror movies are much scarier than they used to be in her essay Neurothriller:
Consciously or unconsciously, contemporary filmmakers not only tap into increased knowledge about the brain offered by neuroscientific experiments, but their films also stimulate the neural senses of emotions without the detour of narrative. […]
But the difference between the classic thriller and the neurothriller is not simply the difference between a narrative-driven plot and a character-driven plot. It is not necessary, and often not possible, to identify or engage with the character at the beginning of a neurothriller at all. In contemporary cinema, we are often denied an establishing shot or introductory scenes situating the character in a narrative context. Thrown in the middle of a confusing situation, we first connect on the immediate primal level, expressed through cinematography’s aesthetic stand-in for the emotional mind: close-ups, grainy images, colours, sounds can all have direct impact without being connected to either a story or a person. The neurothriller has ‘embodied’ the emotion of the film, just as the human body embodies the emotion of the mind.
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