The Black and White of It

     Thrillers that are filmed in black and white have a greater advantage in delivering the chilling suspense of a scary movie. The movie The Innocents, directed by Jack Clayton in 1961, is based on the 1950 Broadway play by William Archibald, which, in turn, is based on Henry James's 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw. This suspense thriller had its intended effect on me with the dark dungeon like mansion and the dreadful "Shining" twins. The movie would not have been as convincing had it been in color. The black and white film added to the dark, sinister, and eerie nature of the movie.

     This effect also holds true for Psycho. It seems that after the film makers started doing the sequels in color, the movie lost its intended effect. Black and white movies have a tendency to offer a constant night-time atmosphere, which adds to the terror of a thriller, because most of us have been afraid of the dark at one point in our lifetime. After viewing The Innocents in class, I was afraid to walk out to my car. This film was so powerful that it took a couple of hours for the chilling experience to wear off. Another black and white movie, Wait Until Dark, is an excellent suspense movie that would have definitely lost its effect had it been filmed in color.

     Colorizing thrillers such as The Innocents and Psycho would be a big mistake and might take away their appeal forever. The scary movies they make today do not utilize the art of black and white photography. Maybe they ought to start making horror in black and white again so that younger audiences can experience the chills of a true suspense film.

Amy Houk

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