Top of Sidebar
Mission Statement
Do It Yourself Tips and Tricks
Books, Equipment, Software, and Training Reviews
Film Critiques
Community Section
Savings and Links
Bottom of Sidebar
Back to the Home Page
Short Critique: Hellraiser, Pg. 2

This leads him to
a strange book...
...And a series of
bizarre puzzles.

Visual Look
Following the sequence of film clips that explained the backstory, the film began with what appeared to be a home movie that replicated the final scene in Hellraiser: Deader in which the character of Winter meets his rather unpleasant demise. I was quite impressed with how well this scene matched with the movie clip. It was done with a shaky, mostly unfocused handheld, and a female character standing at a strategic point in front of the camera to block some of the action. Even though it came directly after seeing the original scene, which was a little bit odd, it did help to put the viewer into the mood of the film. My one complaint is that no explanation of who took the footage was ever given.

While these handhelds served to help the film, there were quite a few within it that did not. The majority of the movie was comprised of handhelds, and many of them had too much shake. My guess is that it was meant to add a creepy aspect to the film, but the shake appears even in the more normal scenes.  I would recommend, for future films, looking at a camera steadying device such as those that are listed in our Tips & Tricks section under camerawork.

Along those same lines, I noticed quite a few shots where the filmmakers "crossed the line" - the idea being that two characters in a scene have an imaginary line running through them both, and that a camera must only stay on one side of the line, or the final image will not match. (For further on this, read this article: on Wikipedia.)

At the end of the film, there was a nice shot that showed Winter's point of view as he is about to meet his end at the hand of Pinhead. It's a really nice shaky and frantic shot, but there is a sort of transition that is used which is designed to replicate a human eye "blinking.”  Unfortunately, it looks like what it is, an easily over-used cookie cutter transition that involves two black bars come down from top and up from the bottom, almost to the center. I realize what was being attempted here, but it looks rather odd and hokey. It would be better to just eliminate this effect all together and make quick cuts (or quick fade-to-blacks, all the blackout sequence in Fight Club) instead.

Use of Audio
In keeping with the overall creepy theme of the film, its sound effects and music match quite nicely. I particularly liked the song played during the closing credits. There was also a great effect of creepy whispering voices that popped up several times throughout the film.

I did notice, however, that during a scene in the library that the audio echoed quite a bit, and the librarian's voice was a lot lower volume than Winter's voice was. A part of this problem stems from using the camera’s on-board mic, which doesn’t give the best sound when it comes to dialogue.   (Regardless of whether your film is a fan film or a traditional film, using either a shotgun mic—which should be positioned 1.5' to 3' from the actor/actress--or a hidden “lapel” mic is a necessity to getting good audio.)

During a later scene, the Professor gives the Grimoire to his student Natasha, whose translation later causes her demise. In this scene, the two meet at a restaurant, in which the background noise seemes a bit too loud. Scenes like this should not be shot in open restaurants, as one is unable to control the ambient noise; whenever nightclub scenes are done, they are shot without music, which is added in later. A restaurant scene that only includes two people and makes no plans for any large shots can easily be faked in someone's home, as many nice restaurants have low lighting anyway, and that saves on the hassle of renting a space, and a better opportunity to control ambient noise. In any case, if this background noise was added, it should have been lowered so as not to drown out the dialogue. Also, once the scene ended, this background noise cut out very suddenly, when it should have faded out instead.  (For more on avoiding these sorts of audio mistakes, be sure to read our Audio Tips That Every MicroFilmmaker Must Know article. )

Mission | Tips & Tricks | Equipment & Software Reviews | Film Critiques
Groups & Community | Links & Savings
| Home

Contact Us Search Submit Films for Critique