Aesthetic strategies in horror film sound design: Case studies from Japanese horror cinema

Akdeniz, Tolga
Süreli Yayın başlığı
Süreli Yayın ISSN
Cilt Başlığı
Graduate School
Horror films have a unique place in cinema with their imagery and sonic qualities. While the experience of watching a horror film evolved throughout the years, the fundamental goal of the horror genre is to horrify the viewer in various ways, and it is named after this particular effect it aims to elicit. Sound design plays a major role in creating the horror film experience. In this study the contribution of sound design to aesthetic strategies employed in horror films will be investigated based on case studies from the prolific and influential contemporary horror cinema of Japan. In order to have a better perspective on the conventions of the genre and understand how the selected films converge or diverge from them, the study will be introduced with a theoretical investigation of the horror genre and a historical investigation of Japanese cinema. After the introduction, the properties of film sound in horror films will be examined individually. The analysis method of this study relies both on measurable data with objective observations and also subjective observations based on the phenomenological experience of horror films. The introduction of the analysis is by examining the atmosphere of horror films, although a vague and an intangible phenomenon, it is a crucial quality that affects the perception and it relies heavily on music and sound design. The framework of the analysis consists of 3 major components based on the theories of Michel Chion (1994), the functional properties of film sound: Anticipation, punctuation, unification and separation. The analysis methodology developed by Taylan Özdemir (2015) based on the physical, spatial and temporal properties of film sound will be utilized to gather and interpret measurable data within these functional properties of film sound. The anticipation function of film sound investigates how sound is employed in order to create and build tension, to create suspense. The punctuation function of film sound is investigated under four categories, these are cinematic shock, sonic emphasis for narrative cueing, silence for emphasis and somatic empathy. While cinematic shock focuses on the abrupt startling moments of horror films, somatic empathy explores how horror films affect the body of the viewer. In the last part of the individual analysis, how film sound contributes to achieving spatial, temporal or atmospheric unification and separation is investigated. In the final section of the study, the developed analysis methodology will be utilized to examine the selected scenes in detail. In conclusion, in this study the previously developed analysis methodologies will be further expanded to horror cinema; and the sonic aesthetic strategies employed for the intended horror film experience and how these emerge in Japanese horror cinema will be investigated.
Thesis (M.Sc.) -- İstanbul Technical University, Graduate School, 2023
Anahtar kelimeler
film music, film müziği, Japanese cinema, Japon sineması, horror films, korku filmleri, sound design, ses tasarımı, musical aesthetic, müzikal estetik