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When and How to Use Reflection Scares

What does it look like?

It’s a shot that reveals a monster or killer in a reflective surface for the audience (not the character) to see. It also reveals the geography of the threat within the context of the shot. It could be behind, above, below or inside of something in the scene.

How’s it done?

It’s done by carefully blocking the action so the reflection appears in the shot or sequence during the right “scare” moment. It can also be enhanced with CGI, but it’s usually done on set with creative lighting and direction.

When should I use it?

It’s best to use this shot in moments when you want the audience to get a glimpse of the threat the character is under, but you don’t want the character to see the threat. This builds tension and creates suspense for the audience.

The Broken (2008)

Synopsis: From the very first moment Gina (Lena Headey) spots a woman who looks exactly like her driving down a busy London street, reality ceases to exist as she knows it.

Featured Scene: In the bathroom scene, Gina tends to her wound. When she drops something, she bends down to pick it up but her reflection takes on its own life and attacks her.

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Excerpt from Genre Filmmaking: A Visual Guide to Shots and Style by Danny Draven © 2013 Taylor and Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.

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