Cinematography is always a vital part of filmic storytelling. It is of particular importance, however, when it comes to horror, especially great horror, because great horror isn’t about jump-scares or gross-outs, great horror is about atmosphere, it’s about establishing a mood with visuals and music and yes, monsters and their ilk, but great horror is its greatest not when the camera captures slicing or dicing or chasing, rather when it is almost still, capturing the viewer in the eye of its storm, trapping them in a pocket of serenity they know is false because all around them there swirls horrific and deadly potential. These are the beats before the scares, and the anticipation they build is worth as many gasps as the eventual reveal.
To prove our point and in honor of this most hallowed month of horror appreciation, we here at One Perfect Shot have pooled our collective minds to come up with a top ten list of the best shots in modern horror (from PSYCHO in 1960 up to today), which we then gave to Chief Video Essayist Jacob T. Swinney to edit into the following montage. Notice how most of these are practically static, allowing that dreadful anticipation to build inside you; that feeling is what makes these films not just great scares, but flat-out great.
The Top 10 Shots in Horror from One Perfect Shot on Vimeo.