Creating emotion in the viewer through any art form takes skill, but fans of cinema often overlook the precision required in getting a truly big scare from an audience.
The short video above deconstructs a few scary moments in film, and it does a great job of explaining why the editing and scene composition is so important for horror films — or any moment in a movie that’s supposed to be scary.
Having two different versions of the same basic scare is also helpful when it comes to zeroing in on what causes an audience reaction, and what may dull the effect of a scare. There are so many elements that have to work together for a truly great scare that I'd argue good horror is one of the most technically demanding achievements in cinema, and sadly that goes along with a somewhat chronic lack of respect.
If you get a great scare out of your audience? You did a lot of things right, and it's very easy to mess up. It's similar, in many ways, to comedy. Check out this look at the films of Edgar Wright to explore why visual comedy is another incredibly demanding art form.
The next time a movie really shakes you up, or makes you laugh for that matter, take a minute to really appreciate the craft that goes into those emotional responses. It's harder than you think.