The first movies had no sound and did not create the same emotions and fear factor that we have now in modern movies. Sound influences the movie in many ways by creating the mood, tension, ups and downs, and atmosphere. These are just some of the effects that make up sound. Sound effects that horrify you and make you feel alone will be factored into a good horror movie. An example of such a good horror movie is The Ring. Sound is the key that makes The Ring one of the scariest movies ever because it creates the atmosphere and tension in the movie that will force you to become scared.
The Ring starts with four teenagers that died one week after watching a strange video tape. The aunt, also an investigative news reporter, decides to look into the mysterious death of her niece, who was one of the four girls.
She retraces the teenage girl's steps back to a lost apartment, where she finds and watches a strange video and makes the connection between her niece's death and the video. Immediately after watching this video, a local phone rings, which the aunt answers. A little girl says "seven days" and hangs up. The aunt realizes that she has one week to figure out the mystery behind the video and who the creator of this tape is before she may be killed herself.
The Ring is one of the scariest movies because it creates a very disturbing mood by using appropriate sound. A good example for that is the first scene of the movie, in which the audience is drawn into a situation with the two teenagers alone in the house. The television is one of the objects that is seen many times in the movie, along with the static like sound of the television when you do not receive any channel. The strange movie that is the reason of all the accruing deaths throughout The Ring starts and ends with that static like sound. This became a symbol and represents The Ring. There are many off-screen sounds, such as the thunderstorm outside along with the wind striking against the outside walls and the rain draining down the building and splashing on the ground. This creates a sense of isolation because nobody would enter or leave the house in weather like that. It is inferred that the surroundings are very quiet, since the normally quiet off-screen sounds are very noticeable. These off-screen sounds create loneliness and isolation in The Ring. They also remind the audience of past experiences when they were all alone with similar sounds. This case frightens the audience even more, since they draw back their emotions from that past experience.
The pitch and pace of sound also play a big role in creating the mood in a horror movie. As the audience is watching The Ring, different music or sound will also define the mood of the current scene. During the scene, when the aunt was searching for proof in the house, pitch and pace of sound where adjusted to create a different mood than in the previous scene, when the aunt and her ex-husband had a emotional moment.
Sound is very helpful to create tension in a movie. The Ring uses off-screen sounds to build tension and make the audience wonder where the source of the noise may come from. The Ring used a banging door as a typical horror movie off-screen sound to scare the audience and make the main character walk towards that door, which will build up tension in the viewers again. This effect lets the audience guess what is behind that mysterious door. Some viewers will also expect something to happen when the sound gets louder, but that must not be the case. Some movies like The Ring will fool you by scaring you a scene later than expectedly in order to frighten you more. In one scene, the son of the aunt was in the dead teenager's room and walked sadly towards the television. Out of nowhere, sound gets rapidly louder and higher in pitch as the creature behind the little kid reflects on the television screen and then disappears again as he turns around. Just as it disappears, the sound gets normal again. An immediate change in the sound's volume is the key of scaring someone. Sound must be perfectly synchronized with the image in order to frighten you. The Ring does a good job with building up tension, but not for too long, since the audience tends to let go of that tension.
Sound has a very big influence in horror movies, along with camera angles, lighting and the plot. The better you can integrate these effects into the movie, the scarier the movie will be. The overall effect of sound is to make a movie more alive and real as it is in The Ring. Since technology improved sound effects and details, a horror movie seems to be more alive than as it used to be. Therefore, it will have a bigger impact on the audience when getting frightened by a horror movie that is more alive versus one that is not. In the future, sound will have even more impact on you than it does now because the movie will seem more and more real.
Movie CitationThe Ring. Taka Ichise. Hideo Nakata. Nanako Matsushima. Hiroyuki Sanada. Rikiya Otaka. Toho Company Ltd. January 31, 1998 (Japan)