Camera Movement in Fear of the Dark

Film Criticism can be applied anywhere and a salient, valid point can be found in nearly any film whatsoever. A case in point would be the film Fear of the Dark. It’s a 2002 independent Canadian production and co-stars Kevin Zegers, best known from Transamerica, and Jesse James, best known as Helen Hunt’s son in As Good As It Gets. It’s a low-budget horror film with deals with a very simple concept, which is “What if there are beings in the dark to be feared, and what if they can hurt you?”

This was a film I recently re-viewed and what struck me was the amount of movement the camera made in the course of the film. It’s all to build tension and was effective but what was striking is that since handholding wasn’t exactly as in vogue when this film was made as it is now so the movements were almost all controlled dollies, pans, pushes, and tilts.

In all, the estimate is 225 shots in the film in which there is significant movement. The film runs 86 minutes so that’s an average of 2.6 moving shots per minute. That is dedication to a stylistic decision. What’s more the shots are very creative such as:

10. Tracking shots following skateboards.
16. Vertigo shot pushing down the stairs.
66. Reflection shot in mirror pull back and create an in-mirror Two-Shot/OTS combo.
76. Swish Pan.
91. Sped up dolly shot.
93. Crane down on house.
103. Push in reverse.
123. Circle shot.
211. Tracking and Reverse Tracking.

These are just some of the examples. Kudos to Marc Charlebois the Director of Photography and Director K.C. Bascome for daring to move the camera with a purpose and with effect and not whipping it about willy-nilly.

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