Horror films can be nothing without their setting. The ambiance of a certain house, town or woods can change a mediocre horror to one that stops you sleeping. After writing my review of The Witch I got to thinking about the setting and how perfect it was for the film. My train of thought so got onto other horror films with settings that did and didn’t work so I thought I’d share my favourites.
Scream – Stu’s house: The final showdown in Scream takes places in a huge farmhouse. Coming from a humble, British background there aren’t many houses on that scale around here. It’s the perfect place for the showdown the open layout, big rooms and multiple stories makes Scream‘s long final act feel as though there are a number of settings and not just the one. The Scream series does houses well in my opinion; Kirby’s house in Scream 4 almost made the list.
The Shining – The Overlook Hotel: This chilling hotel has enough history and ghostly activity to be terrifying during a one night stay in the peak season. But snowed in for weeks on end with no contact to the outside world? Forget it. The hotel is a perfect setting for The Shining; not just because it’s isolated and empty, but because it works so well with Jack.The apparitions that appear throughout the film each have their own history, their own story as to why they’re trapped there. It’s so grand and intimidating, the rooms are incredibly large but can become so claustrophobic in an instant. The building is a perfect, eerie counterpart to Jack’s decaying psychosis.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre – The ranch: I spoke about how Texas Chainsaw Massacre in one of my earlier Fear Friday posts and I think the setting has a lot to do with it. There’s something about the isolated, farm land in the middle of nowhere that makes my hair stand on end. The Texan landscape is so quiet and vast that it seems like there’s nowhere to go. No matter how far you run, there’s nowhere to go that will help. The only way out, t seems is with transport. It gives me shivers thinking that there could be (and probably is) similar things happening out on these ranches in remote parts of the US.
The Blair Witch Project – The woods: Blair Witch was innovative in many ways but the random house in the middle of the woods isn’t one of them. However, the handheld camera gives the setting a real punch. I find that many films set in the woods are shot in thin woods where you can see too much. There’s no real fear of not being able to see around you. But the woods in Blair Witch is thick, it’s quiet and it’s real. An important part of the subgenre is making even the smallest details realistic.
Chernobyl Diaries – Chernobyl: While I wouldn’t ever call this film “good”, I’d probably be terrified watching a documentary on Chernobyl. The idea of nuclear weapons terrifies me, the ideal of nuclear power plants terrifies me. NUCLEAR IS SCARY! The setting for Chernobyl Diaries personifies death. It looks cold, desolate and not appealing in the slightest. Seeing the destruction and the chaos that nuclear chemicals can do is beyond horrific for me. The plot of the film is ridiculous, but the setting is haunting and strikes a deep chord with me.
And that’s it for Fear Friday. I’m thinking I might start doing Fear Friday every 2 weeks; I love writing these posts and they let me relive my favourite horror moments. But we’ll see how it goes. For now, I hope you enjoyed reading and let me know your favourite horror locations.
Thanks for reading,
all the best,