1. How successful isthe openingscene of The Stepfatherasa thrillerfilm?
For the first 31:00 seconds, wesee a single establishing shot.
This sets the scene, and gives us a little insight as to where the film is
going to be based. Although there has only been 31 seconds, the film
opening has already used a very common thriller convention, the use
of ordinary suburbs.
The SOT begins right from the very start, and the music has been
composed especially for this film,therefore making it a score. The
music appears quite calm, but the staccato instruments add tension
and make the viewerwonder why there is a pace beginning to form
right at the very beginning of the film. Stereotypically, wewould hear
the trees swaying, and the child whistling or humming to oneself,
howeverthere is no ambient noise, therefore creating an atmosphere
2. How successful isthe openingscene of The Stepfatherasa thrillerfilm?
Now, we see the use of mirrors and reflection starting to take
place. As we already know, mirrors and reflection are a common
convention of the thriller genre. This makes it a successful opening
as it is recognisable as something from the thriller genre.
The mirrors signify self-reflection, and the director has used an
over the shoulder shot to show exactly what the man can see.
This is a close-up of the man. He has blood splattered all over his
face; this is a use of make-up and special effects. The use of make-
up can be generalised into the category of mise-en-scene. The man
is looking at himself in the mirror, almost in shock at what he looks
like. This shot makes us very intrigued as to why he has blood on
his face. We also wonder, what has happened, and also, what is
about to happen.
Due to making the audience feel like this, it is therefore a
3. How successful isthe openingscene of The Stepfatherasa thrillerfilm?
After his transformation, we see him for the first time fully after
ridding his facial hair, applying contact lenses, and smartening
A medium shot is used, to show what he is wearing. If a close-up
shot was used instead, it wouldn’t look as good, and we would not
be able to see the full extent of his transformation.
The shot zooms in slightly as he raises his head, pouts, and admires
himself in the mirror. The zoon highlights his emotion, and clearly
displays his facial expression.
We see him place a toy back away into a toy box. This makes the
viewer even more curious as to what it is he is doing. We get a
flashback of the blood on his face and begin to form many
questions regarding what has happened, and who he lives with. It
is a nice shot, however is quite dark, which incorporates low-key
lighting, a common code of the thriller genre. This once again,
makes it a successful opening as a child’s bedroom is usually bright
We then get a tracking shot of him walking down the stairs, and as
it slowly zooms out to reveal the whole of the downstairs area.
4. How successful isthe openingscene of The Stepfatherasa thrillerfilm?
We are very shocked when we see the bloodshed all over the
house’s downstairs. It makes us wonder why the man has not
reacted to all the dead bodies, subsequently resulting in the
audience suspecting the man of killing them all.
The director has chosen to reveal what has happened now,
because we have had the build- up of all the shots regarding the
man’s transformation from covered in blood, to a stereotypical
business man, on his way to work.
This is an absolutely horrible shot. Although we cannot see the
face, we know that it is a child due to them holding a teddy bear.
A teddy bear connotes innocence and the vulnerability of a child.
This shot has been taken from above which high shows how
vulnerable the child is.
The colour red is from the blood. This shot makes us even more
intrigued to know how this child was killed, and why they were
5. How successful isthe openingscene of The Stepfatherasa thrillerfilm?
He casually walks out of the house, looking like he has not a care in
the world. He picks up his paper, and flips it round with ‘swagger’.
The director uses a tracking shot to show the progression of his
walking down the lawn. The fact that he walks straight across the
grass, and not on the path suggests that he has little or no respect
to the building. The audience then question whether or not it is his
house or not.
What have you learntfrom the openingof The Stepfather that you could use in your own film?
A good buildupisimportantas itmakesthe audience veryintriguedanddesperatetokeeponwatching. Thisisthe ultimate aimforanyfilmmaker,andI
wouldlike myviewersto wantto continue watching.