OnlyOnAOL: No clowning around! Here's how to make a very, very scary movie
By: Donna Freydkin
Few things are more scary than horror-movie clowns. The exaggerated makeup. Those gaping mouths. The leers.
And herewith, we bring you the chiller "Clown," starring Andy Powers. The movie opens June 17, and we asked Powers to name the key components of any solid terror flick. (Watch our interview with "American Horror Star" star Cheyenne Jackson above).
1. Story. "All of my favorite horror movies have a great story, like 'The Silence of The Lambs', 'Jaws,' 'Poltergeist,' 'The Exorcist,' 'The Conjuring.' I feel so much of the genre depends on the suspension of disbelief. If the story is shoddy or undeveloped I lose interest and all the bits lose their power. Clown has a great story that allows the movie to have a sense of plausibility."
2. Casting. "Great horror movies have great actors. Sometimes people think that a horror film doesn't require real talent from it's cast and I find this sad. Think of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. Or Ellen Burstyn in 'The Exorcist.' Or Andy Powers in 'Clown.' And then try to remember some silly slasher movie where an actor had no inner life or connection to the movie. When I see that all I think is what a sad waste of resources."
3. Direction. "I think 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' owes it's success to Tobe Hooper's singleness of vision. That film walks on the edge of a razor between total chaos and cinematic precision. Scary as hell. I think Jon Watts relished in the silliness of Kent's situation as a means of delivering a real sucker punch of terror and violence. He understands that presenting a situation you cannot necessarily define can be scarier than a movie that tells you exactly what to feel. It did for me anyway."
4. Photography direction. "A still wide shot or dimly lit hallway sends shivers up my spine. Or when the camera follows Lili Taylor as she investigates the sounds from downstairs after all the children went to bed in 'The Conjuring.' The best horror movies I've seen are the ones that make me feel like I'm going to die. Where the blood and guts looks real. Or the sound of an object going into the skin met by a well lit and photographed monster or victim in agony. Not being able to see around a corner or underwater. The DP influences so much of what we feel about a moment."
5. Suspense. "Perhaps this should have been first but I mention it last because suspense is achieved when all the other elements fall into place. A horror film that has a great set up has a great payoff. I love carnage as long as it is "earned." I love the inexorable feeling that we are drifting towards a nasty and bloody outcome. The suspense in 'Clown' is driven by the subtle changes in Kent as the demon slowly gets into the driver's seat. Each situation has a greater feeling of suspense because Kent is a little weaker than he was before. Not even he knows what he wants or what is going to happen. Clown is the initially unseen boogie man that creeps in the shadows. Like everyone is being hunted or consumed."