Doors,doors,doors …..spooky doors

2

November 25, 2012 by Nikos

My friends and I gathered in a house today to watch Sinister, your classic horror story where SPOILER ALERT: a thousand year old sinister deity turns children into killers and then eats their souls after making them kill their entire family by different means every time:SPOILER END. As usual, in this film there are several doors that are given the spotlight because the protagonist has to satisfy his curiosity by opening and verify that nothing unnatural resides on the other side.

This has become a cliche nowadays. It almost seems forced to watch this kind of scene, so many are the times we’ve witnessed such an action that whenever we watch a movie and the protagonist comes in front of a door and there are no lights on, we all wish he/she would just leave the damn door alone, grab the rest of the family and get the hell away from that house. We all know that there’s probably something behind that door and while it does raise our adrenaline thinking about it, it’s lost it’s effect from being overused in films and so often. It feels like some kind of cheat a writer uses to do the job.

I think having a character not opening the door, walking away but getting caught by the presumed evil presense in the end anyway to be a fresher approach to it. Or maybe no doors at all could be an interesting way of dealing with this. I recall the game Slender by Parsec Productions did a great job at not having doors. Apart from it’s forest setting there was a weird building with white bathroom-like tiles all over the place that was structured as a maze of corridors tha eventually ended up in rooms and exits from the building itself but all of those entrances/exits were simple openings with no physical door. You could encounter Slender at any given time and if you were unlucky enough to get yourself in a room with no building exit between the room and the point where Slender was seen, then you know that soon enough you’ll see Slender appear in the doorway of the room and it’s game over. The other half of possibilities, you were lucky enough to exit the building and continue running like there was no tomorrow and you could eventually clear the game.

The point is that the entity called door is a very significant one, one used by writers for many years, no matter the genre or intended medium. As far as the horror/thriller type of stories go, it has two ways of affecting the story. Making the character feel safe behind it is number one and spelling the character’s doom is number two. As you can see the first way is a positive one, or at least as positive as it can get since we are talking about survival from ancient evils, gods, monsters etc. The second way is negative as it’s usually the reason why the end is a bad one for the characters.

But as with everything else you have to know when something is a cliche and change it if need be. It’s a great tool to have in a horror story but imho we have to try different approaches first and rely on it only as a last resort if no other way can be used in order to avoid this annoying feeling of the story being predictable and forced.
Title was inspired by fellow blogger, Zer0. I apologise if this post seems like rambling but it was written in 5 am :P.

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2 thoughts on “Doors,doors,doors …..spooky doors

  1. Zer0 says:

    I can see what you mean about horror cliches, they just don’t cut it anymore. Though I did enjoy sinister because of the soundtrack and the home movies, I thought it gave the film quite an atmosphere. But like usual, the end can never justify the whole film. I’m not sure it’s because I want more and I’m bitter that it’s ended, but I’m pretty sure it’s because it just didn’t cut it… Shame really, Sinister had some decent potential because of the theme of it, but I still liked it.

    I guess the reason why doors are so commonplace in horror, is because like you said, we don’t know what’s behind them. They’re good tools to use for the sake of suspense, but they shouldn’t be a massive focus.

    In video games like Resident Evil, opening doors means you go into the next room, but because it opens slowly it makes you a little bit nervous. So I think it works in some cases. We all know, that nothing is original and it’s all based on influence, so cliche is bound to happen… Just gotta get it right!

    • Nikos says:

      the movie was good …it’s just that yet again we see the damn door opening :P. It’s been used to such extent that it’s expected in every horror flick. I do think it’s a great tool but the frequent use of it has messed it up for the rest of us. So some originality in the area would be good to restore it a bit to something not necessarily expected in every horror flick. even what you said about Resident Evil sounds better(another very good example was Scratches….the doors had that creaky sound that immediately registered as “very old door”
      which was immensely creepy but nothing was behind the door and for the most part you knew that they were just old doors but still they were very creepy)

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© Nikolaos Patsiouras and Adventure Game Adventures, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nikolaos Patsiouras and Adventure Game Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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