John Carpenter: Master of Perspective

A new way of looking at the director.
By  · Published on August 23rd, 2017

A new way of looking at the director.

Good horror is all about perspective. It’s about who you identify with, the killer or the victim, or rather, it’s about who the director wants you to identify with. In films like Psycho or those of the Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises, it’s about identifying with the killers, seeing ourselves in these grotesque personifications of the outsider, the misfit, the different. In other films, like most of Hitchcock or his endless imitators, it’s about identifying with the victim, seeing ourselves in the unjustly persecuted, the undeserving sufferers, the innocent.

Out of all of horror’s masterful purveyors, though, perhaps the best at employing various perspectives as a means of engaging audience sympathies is the Master himself, John Carpenter. In the following video from Christopher Small and James Dorning for MUBI, Carpenter’s specific sense of perspective is explored in fascinating detail, establishing the director as not just one of the best in his genre, but his art form at using the camera as a translator for unspoken motivations and emotional shifts, unthinkable actions, and unknowable terror.

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