March 15, 2012
The Effects of Suspense in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho
The building of emotion, whether it is romantic love or deep hatred, can make a low-budget film into a blockbuster hit. Directors are constantly trying to build this deep feeling and emotion to make blockbuster hits. Alfred Hitchcock made hit films but instead, he built suspense – so much that it scared women from showering alone for years. Hitchcock’s appropriate label as the “Master of Suspense” came supremely out of his number one thriller, Psycho. His genius cinematic view shaped modern-day thrillers and horrors, and many of his techniques are still used today in such films. Hitchcock’s combined use of eerie sounds, high camera angles, creepy settings, and misleading tricks make Psycho one of the best (if not, the best) thriller ever made.
Hitchcock constantly tricks and misleads his audience one direction, which builds tension and creates shock. From the very beginning of Psycho, Hitchcock guides his audience into thinking this film is a different genre than expected from the title. He opens the film with Marion and Sam in a bedroom together, which leads the audience into believing that this is a love or romance film. Then, when Marion steals the money, the audience is led to believe it is a crime drama. This stays true while she is on the run, until she comes across the Bates Motel. This is when the genre shifts again – now into a horror thriller. Through this progression in the film, Hitchcock uses subtle humor to misguide his audience as well. This technique guides the audience in the wrong direction, while successfully building suspense as the film progresses. Hitchcock’s misleading techniques create wonder and tension in the audience. This, along with false suspense allows for the big shocks to become even more terrifying when they do occur.
Marion’s getaway trip includes many tense moments that create false suspense, which brings the audience to the edge of their seat...