Group 1: Dark Summer

Preliminary Group 2C: Pens

Monday, March 29, 2010

Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Dark Summer:

  • Genre: Thriller (Psychological)
  • 2 Main Characters
    • Zoe: female teenage babysitter
    • Stranger: masked man. It is assumed that he has kidnapped the child
  • Other characters: Summer and Mrs Matthews

Theorist Tzvetan Todorov discovered that many stories follow a similar structural pattern. The classic narrative pattern comprises of an equilibrium, disruption, resolution with restored order and a new equilibrium. All films feature this structure, even if it is subtle. Examples similar to Dark Summer are Scream (Craven, 1996) and Prom Night (McCormick, 2008):

Similarly, Claude Lévi-Strauss recognised another pattern that emerges in films, which is binary opposites. The main example of this in Dark Summer is the victim/villain scenario. 
Others include:
  • Good/evil: I think we established this particularly well with the shot below, where both characters are seen. The audience sees the stranger, but Zoe does not, which signifies that he has more power and Zoe isn't; even the audience have more knowledge about the situation than her.
  • Interior/Exterior: The same shot is also a good example of outside and inside as the stranger is standing behind the door. In a way, the fact that he is outside, in the unknown is more chilling as the audience cannot see if there is anything or anyone else out there.
  • Fear/happiness: The equilibrium is disrupted as soon as Zoe hears the scream. Along with the strange music, the frantic running and shouting, the atmosphere is a scary one as nobody has the knowledge of what will happen.
  • Absence/Presence : We see the man at the door, then he’s gone. Also, the audience expect Summer to be in her room but she is never actually seen.

Roland Barthes identifed five codes that signifiers can be grouped under. These apply to our film:

Barthes 5 Codes

The style of our opening sequence creates tension through starting of slow then building the pace through adding music, having less chatty dialogue and having the main character run around. By blending the familiar with the unknown, we are able to meet audience expectations while also creating enigma and making our film different to pre-existing ones.
The thriller genre has become so lucrative by repeating successful formulas, such as the 'psycho killer' character in films like Halloween (Carpenter, 1978), Friday the 13th (Cunningham, 1980), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Hooper, 1974) etc. but also adding something so that audiences don't get bored. This is what we have tried to accomplish with Dark Summer