Discussing the Short Film 'The Insane'


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Discussing the Short Film 'The Insane'

  1. 1. Hannah Holden Discuss the short film ‘The Insane’ in relation to the key concepts of media language and genre The short film ‘The Insane’ is one which fits many different conventions of its focussed genre of horror. This film would come under the horror genre ‘Slasher’ due to the gore element throughout as the protagonist John Vincent wanders the streets massacring innocent people as he is overcome by insanity believing a cult is out to get him. It could also be thought to be a physiologically based film as the twist we discover as we near the end of the piece is revealed. This side is cleverly constructed through signs which we only question once watching the film all the way through. Forexample the scene where John stumbles down a walkway in the underground and has flashbacks ofhis wife, a clear sign that his thoughts are confusing and distressing him. We misconstrue this sign as another way to make him seem more vulnerable as he is slowing down from a cult member rather than that he may have mental problems. The character John Vincent plays a typical horror film hero beating the cult followers’singlehandedly. His senior society role of a police detective gives him authority and ensures that theaudience are under the impression that he is the hero; stereotypically the police service protects the public. His first words of narration, ‘another one down’, indicates that he has battled cult members before and reinforces his strength. When considering John’s attire it is important to note that he is smartly dressed in a beige overcoat. His coat stands out on the dark night and therefore makes him more visible therefore vulnerable to any dangerous aspect of the film, a key convention of a horror putting the hero at threat with a trait which is obvious to the viewer e.g. The naïve damsel who hears a knock at the door and asks ‘who’s there?’ The sound for this short film is of an eerie nature with constant breaks for diegetic noise that immediately changes to non-diegetic up tempo instrumentals. This sound compilation is used specifically to create tension as the accompaniment comes as a complete shock. This fits the usualconventions of a horror film as tension creating background music is present when a shocking part of the scene occurs e.g. at the train station when the woman jumps on John’s back from behind and when the instrumental kicks in.It is also important to consider every aspect of the narration and how this convinces the audience to put their faith in John Vincent as the hero of the film. His voice seems steady as if unfazed by the ‘crazies’ that are following him which indicates his determination to beat them. Also the smooth deep tone of voice is a contrast from the eerie tension building instrumental acting as a counter balance between good and evil. The only speech in the whole film is when a woman begs theprotagonist for him to spare her life causing him to momentarily stop his murderous action for us tohear his thoughts. This plays upon a well-known convention of horror films where the villain begs for mercy and the hero sympathises for them. This would usually allow the bad force to continue causing havoc for longer endangering the main character; however, John does not do this and continues to kill the woman. At first thoughts we feel that he may be doing this as a sign ofcontinued heroic strength yet after knowing his maniac status we know that he does not completely fit the key conventions of a horror film hero.The lighting starts dark and follows this through right until the end to show us the time of day being night time yet also metaphorically to display the unknown and how we fear what we cannot see.
  2. 2. Hannah Holden The setting of the whole film is based around the streets following on from an alleyway down to atrain station. The empty streets and darkness of all shots indicate that the film is set at night time, a key convention of a horror. Within the technical codes of the setting an important concept of thehorror genre is touched upon; isolation. The idea that the protagonist is alone creates an element of fear as he is a minority and is therefore at a disadvantage in battle. It is widely thought that the sense of being alone can put you at more risk hence we see the empty alley ways and train station excluding the ‘crazies’ and fear for the hero. At the beginning of the film before the title sequence, slow fades occur and are used to show the setting, being the night streets, by showing close ups of everyday props we would discover in our cities. Immediately as the film starts, an establishing shot is used which pans across the city; we see skyscrapers and tall buildings representing the city at night. This then fades to a closer shot of anempty car park instantly launching us into the idea of isolation as such a wide space is so empty. This pan is constantly moving centrally to the right giving the illusion of a continuing shot. A fade occurs again with the pan continues through an empty street with a road central. The beginning titleappears and once more a fade is used to flow into the alleyway in which John is about to walk down. Slow and fades at the beginning scenes, create a slow start meaning there is space for tension to build. This short sequence uses slow transitions (the fade) and slow pan camera movement as a contrast from the tense and fast steady cam shots which are to come. A steady cam shooting is used as the action begins and the protagonist walks down the alleyway towards a figure crouching at a dead end. This in itself creates tension not only because we shakily feel as if we are approaching the danger from the shots perspective but because we are slowly edging towards the end of a path knowing what is at the end must be faced. Looking back at the whole film after watching it once through, we start to notice signs which intend to give clues to the audience as to John’s insanity. However, the balance between signs against him as the hero, are short lived throughout. This allows our minds as the audience to be over ruled and taken in to believe this to be a typical zombie, slasher film. At 2:00 a police car drives past as sirenssound and John cowers back to a wall with a look of distress. After seeing the end and understanding his insanity we know that this is a sign of hiding from the police who are clearly on the lookout for him as a mass murderer. We misconceive the signs that he is the film’s hero due to the common conventions of which his character would usually hold in a standard horror film including his police detective status and cool dressed exterior.