Horror Movie: End of the Corridor

In the visual language of horror movies, the corridor plays a more important role. At least after the expressionist claustrophobic space of “Dr. Caligari” (1920) was presented, the horror shots of the corridor became a very common metaphor. method.

A very meaningful example is the movie “The Curse of the Devil” (1957)-adapted by Jacques Tournull based on James’s story “Using Runes”-American psychologist John Howe Denton was in the corridor of an unnamed hotel. When his hand touched the door of the room, the image of the devil flashed in his mind. This is a borrowing of pre-modern in a typical modern space, but the sudden deformation and expansion of the corridor space behind Holden also reveals that in the face of supernatural threats, the rationality of psychologists will also show unspeakable fragility.

When shooting a classic wide-angle lens in a narrow focal length range, the narrow corridor space is distorted and the space is expanded. As a result, the audience loses sight: “The edges of the frame are no longer straight, and the lines become slanted. The empty space in the picture is expanded. The distance is longer than the human eye can see.” This technique played a major role in “Hunter House” and “Legend of the Old House” (1973). Almost all of the corridor shots of the two films used a deformed wide angle to reflect the endless feeling of the corridor of the villa in the mountains.

The reason why corridors appear in large numbers in horror movies is that the advancement of the camera in a limited space will multiply the fear caused by the space outside the screen and the blank spaces where the camera passes. In order to create suspense, Dario Argento’s “Glowing Wind” (1977) uses strange pauses in the highly stylized corridors and secret passages of the dance academy, and makes the camera look from the point of view with unclear motivation. Slip over. In the opera-like ending, with the steady progress of the camera, a secret and obscure spell appeared at the turn of the hidden corridor, which revealed that the witch was gathering in the distance.

Whether in a straight perspective or at an angled turn, the length of the corridor allows objects to move forward or backward from the perspective of the audience, bringing an ominous feeling. Narrow spaces can contain threats, turning corridors into harsh test sites: this is common, from Romero’s zombie horror film “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) to “Dawn of the Living Dead” (1978) ) In the arcade of the mall, and then to the endless corridors of the umbrella company in the “Resident Evil” series with various research equipment. Sometimes, the corridor space itself will expand, strengthening its role as a transitional space or transmission space. The indoor corridor in “Ghost Driven” (1982) has been distorted and stretched out of normal.

The corridor space itself will also become a source of fear. In major influential movies such as “Supernatural Activity” (2007), a considerable part of the film length is waiting, waiting for something to come out of the empty darkness in the bedroom door that is half open in the distance. In Mike Flanagan’s “Absence” (2011), the underground passage at the end of the street is a secret passage that we cannot fully understand. At the end of the remake of an old British film “Frontier” (2013), the slowly narrowing tunnel finally squeezed people to death.

Roman Polanski uses expressionist gorgeous forms to show the distortion of the corridor in “Cold Blood”.

Baroque dormitory hallway in the film “The Wind and Wind” directed by Dario Agento.

Dale Cooper in the supernatural corridor space of the black cabin. From “Shuangfeng Town: Return”.

Looking out the corridor of the hotel in The Shining.

3 directors who make good use of the corridor
I would like to introduce 3 directors who make good use of the corridor. In “Cold Blood” (1965), Roman Polanski used the gorgeous form of expressionism to show the distortion of the corridor. Carol’s madness is expressed through a subjective illusion: there is always a hand reaching out to catch her in the apartment hallway wall. In “Tenant”, Polanski used a distorted angle to move the camera in the corridor of an apartment building in Paris. In “The Devil’s Infant” (1968), the form becomes the content, because the mysterious enclosed corridor in the apartment contains clues to the evil conspiracy between the tenants of the Dakota Building.

David Lynch usually uses corridor space to evoke people’s fear of the future, from the shadow of the corridor in “Rubber Head” (1976) to the entrance to the world of adult sex as Jeffrey in “Blue Velvet” (1986) This is true of all the deep river apartments. In “Shuangfeng Town” (1990-1991 and 2017), sexual injuries often occurred in transitional family spaces such as stairs, halls, and corridors in houses, while in hotel halls or institutional corridors, they always There will be violent attacks. In the film, just before the principal announces the death of Laura Palmer, a purposeless scene slides through the empty school corridor. The red room and the white hut or black hut that Laura lived after are all supernatural spaces, which are constantly divided into mazes with curtains, which exist for ulterior purposes. In “Mulholland Road” (2001), the scary scene at the turn of a narrow alley behind the small restaurant is enough to scare people to death.

Lynch even carefully constructed a tortuous corridor in his house on Mulholland Road, which leads to the humiliating marriage bed in “Monster Night” (1997). That corridor was an illusory space full of fear—from a certain angle, it was even the camera itself that attacked Fred there. Richard Martin noticed that Lynch was obsessed with “dark corridors, narrow passages, and claustrophobic spaces symbolizing power.” He believes that in “Monster Night Panic”, “the corridor is a kind of portal, a conversion space where Fred has repeatedly disappeared.”

However, the most influential is Stanley Kubrick’s obsession with the single point of view of the camera. In this way, the vanishing line of the corridor became one of his most favored film formats. Kubrick’s lens will swallow space forward or backward, and mastering this requires absolute technical precision-this is his signature technique. He experimented with this technique on a straight track running through the room in “Hitman” (1956), and further optimized it in the shots gliding through the trenches of “Road to Glory” (1957). The architectural space of the corridor constitutes the trajectory of the lens itself, and the corridor and the lens are mirror images of each other in a completely symmetrical manner.

Darkness breeds, weirdness spreads
When shooting a horror movie, it is almost impossible to avoid the shot of looking out the hotel corridor in The Shining. This is one of the early film works using Garrett Brown’s new invention, the camera stabilizer, and it is definitely the first film to use this device upside down, which allows the lens to slide a few inches from the ground. The film makes full use of the strict horizontality of the corridor, allowing the camera to easily follow Danny’s tricycle and move in the horizontal direction. The use of the wide-angle lens makes the wall stand beside Danny. Jean-Pierre Guerns believes that “The Shining” introduces a “new mirroring system”, which liberates the camera from the mobile camera, so that the subjective perspective is no longer limited to the traditional handheld pan usage of. In addition, this method also creates a weightless mechanical perspective, “not necessarily from a certain entity” (Garret Brown), “but from something smoother and weird.”

Is the word “weird” appropriate? What kind of emotion does the corridor space want to inspire? Is this space full of suspense always to express more extreme fear? When French writer Perek thought about the “Paris subway car”, he thought that this kind of space was “empty, incomplete, and invisible immaturity” for him. “Its silence has been around for a long time, in order to cause some kind of similarity. The emotion of fear ends.” This quieter feeling, this kind of fear-like feeling, is what we call terror.

In his latest book “Weirdness and Weirdness”, Mark Fisher proposed that weirdness clearly belongs to the category of uncertain things, quieter than horror drama, and plays a role outside the non-family/family duality. “Weird silence” can lead to “things that shouldn’t exist in peace or tranquility, or quietness itself shouldn’t exist.” The grotesque implies a hidden and additional intermediary. At the edge of the mystery, there is no need to be connected with all supernatural. Instead, it implies the limit of the human intermediary to withstand the test or collapse. This is why Garrett Brown said that the corridor shots of “The Shining” will bring “weird” feeling, and it is also the reason why it can be used to describe the movement of the subjectless camera in the corridors of “The Shining Wind”—indicating some kind of Malicious mechanical intermediaries are working.

However, Fisher believes that grotesqueness is closely related to restlessness in nature, or more precisely, the final restlessness of all ideas in harmless nature. It is this emotion that heralds the arrival of the “dark ecology”. Compared with “grotesque”, the term “fear” seems more accurate.

In many cases, it is the ordinaryness of the corridor and the concealment along the horizontal direction that make it a place of restlessness and turbulence. There is a vicious place, a hell of an orderly world. Since the 1960s, the distribution of office space has gradually changed, and public spaces have gradually moved away from the corridors and developed in the direction of open glass curtain walls. Therefore, the anti-corridor trend reverses this architectural form, transforming it from a utopian origin to a zone surrounded by bureaucratic chaos or Gothic style.

Does this mean that we have reached the end of the corridor?