Tips on Post-Production Techniques to Make Horror Flicks Eerie Guest Post by Helen Clark
The mood is king in horror flicks. And the mood that really puts a horror flick onto the next level
is eerie. No matter the style of your horror film – suspenseful or heavy on the action – creating
an eerie mood of impending dread will make the final payoffs work better in the final video
editing. Many of the attributes that make a film eerie are found in the roots of the story, the
script, in the performances of the actors, and the cinematography. But all of this essential work
is only part of the story.
The smart filmmaker looks beyond the production of the film and into the post-production
when searching for ways to create an even more effective film. During this video editing process,
there are excellent opportunities to utilize a variety of post-production techniques and post-
production elements to ramp up the effect of the film and create something that drips, not only
with blood but with mood – eerie mood.
Start with the edit
The film is just film until you edit it. Much like the materials on a painter’s palette, it’s the work
of the artist to combine the raw elements into an artistic work that reflects their vision. Creating
an eerie mood is as much a function of the video editing process as anything, and it’s solely
accomplishing in the post-production realm. When performing the video editing on your horror
flick, consider pacing above all. Rushing through the setup to a big reveal or major plot point
won’t allow the audience time to fully identify with the situation and become invested in the
outcome. To create an eerie mood, slow things down and take your time getting to where you
want to take the audience.
Lighting and more
The smart cinematographer knows how to set up the lighting for their shot for maximum effect,
and also how to set their camera to capture the look they want as well. Despite the skill of the
cinematographer and lighting crew, you may find that there are opportunities to enhance the
lighting and other visual effects once you’ve entered the post-production phase. Digital video
editing technology makes it possible to selectively darken or lighten portions of the image frame,
obscuring or accenting key details that add to the effect of the scene. And you can utilize digital
post-production effects to create fog, mist, or overlay and dramatic color hue as well.
Stick it to the audience with sound
The sound is a major element in good horror movie productions. When performing your video
editing of the film, look for opportunities to ramp up the level of tension by accentuating
ambient and specific sounds. Ambient sounds like the creaking of an old house or branches tapping against a window add to the overall sense of unease, while specific sounds, like a muffled tread on a staircase signal directly to the audience.
Music sets the mood
Think about how many horror films are well known for their music. And not just the screeching
violins of a shower stabbing, but for the ominous tones that warn you that danger, in the form of
a giant shark, is looming. The right music can do a lot to create the sense of tension that boosts
the eerie factor up to 11. Enlist a good composer to work with you and carefully consider how
you want to use music in each scene. In particular, identify key themes and motifs that
consciously or subconsciously warn that audience that something bad may happen very soon. If
you achieve this trick, you’ll have a horror film that will really resonate with your audience.