Four Horror Flicks To Inspire Your Spine-Chilling Halloween VFX

Four Horror Flicks To Inspire Your Spine-Chilling Halloween VFX

Explore these four films and be inspired to take your Halloween VFX to the next level.

If there’s one genre that’s simply fun to tell stories within, it’s horror. From the edible stage blood on set, to wacky costumes and fun tropes, horror has always been a staple of the indie filmmaking community and is rife with flavor. 

Even at micro-budgets, horror films are able to capture cult followings and make what many would consider a “bad movie” one of the most fun nights you can have with a group of friends and some popcorn. 

Consider how you can use VFX or new approaches to push your storytelling to the limit. The following films found their footing through strong visuals, which not only push the narrative, but built suspense and pulled that emotional response out of the audience. 

1. 28 Weeks Later

28 Weeks Later ups the ante on the first film in scale and budget with even more action and zombies. There’s so much to learn from 28 Weeks in the way of building suspense, but also the stakes that come with overwhelming scale. Zombie films are a dime a dozen after their 2000s boom, but the 28 series brought a high octane, super-infected approach that offered a fresh take. 

A zombie film is truthfully an awesome place to take your horror short given you have enough friends. Your crew of extras will have the pleasure of tearing up their clothes, rolling around in the dirt, and splattering stage blood all over their body.

If you really want to make things interesting, you can send a friend through a (safe and clear) window, starting with the tempered glass effect found in our Breaking Glass stock footage.

2. Malignant

Malignant is the latest installment in famed horror aficionado James Wan’s portfolio and presents a masterclass on subverting expectations in the name of trying something new. 

Malignant shows how a story can be special and bring a fresh perspective to genre filmmaking by not doing the obvious. It seems counter-intuitive, but creatives can often hold themselves back by trying to do what they know will be good and received well. A murderer with a knife and lots of blood? Already been done. Demon terrorizing a big family in a new home? Seen it a million times. 

Often the best thing you can do to kick off a truly creative story is to hit the randomize button on your concepts, and Malignant is an incredible film to get your brain moving in that direction. I can’t say much more or it will ruin all the fun, but check it out and make sure you have some gore assets ready for the effects it may inspire you to make. 

3. The Conjuring 2

Another entry in a franchise from the legend James Wan, The Conjuring 2 is the continuation of Ed and Lorraine Warren’s adventures through paranormal investigation and assistance. This VFX breakdown for the film offers an incredibly important lesson in horror which is that it’s not only about blood and gore and the scary parts. 

One of the most impressive components of The Conjuring series are the invisible effects that are seen throughout the film, yet rarely noticed. As a recent-history period piece, it’s crucial for the audience to be suspended in disbelief as they watch the film, fully bought into every scene from the outside world the house where the haunting takes place. 

Without this extra effort to build the setting and tone, you run the risk of breaking audience immersion—at which point it becomes increasingly difficult to get that bone-chilling scare out of your viewers. 

This process is painstaking, yet worth it, with everything from cars of a newer model to security cameras far in the background posing a threat to the reality within your frame. 

4. Slender Man

Slender Man has had quite the rise over the years. From internet cult character to silver screen fame, this dapper monster has captivated audiences around the world with his simple, yet chilling design. In 2018s Slender Man film, classic tropes from the origin stories across copypasta forums and YouTube videos are placed front and center. 

One such trope is the iconic dark and misty forest wherein the Slender Man resides. This setting is relatable, familiar to most audiences, and offers so much flexibility when it comes to scares. Is it a tree, or is it Slender Man? The concept is simple, but the result is effective and displays the importance of picking the setting for your own short. 

When it comes to building things out, there are a few gimmes to go for in the composite, starting with a smooth layer of ground fog to set the mood and working through mist and smoke to bring depth to your scene. You may have to roto trees for a few hours, but the end result can really set the stage and the free pack for our contest comes ready with a perfect Lingering Fog asset to kick things off. 

Another crucial component is the color correction. Horror films need to be dark and mysterious enough to build tension, but not so muddy that you lose the action. One of the appeals of Slender Man is this in-the-shadows effect that has always been associated with the character. Consider how you can use the environment of your own scenes to build suspense and add the environment itself to your conflict. 

All of these stories offer a different, but familiar approach to horror as a genre. From on-the-nose scares to captivating visuals, there’s so much flexibility when your ultimate goal is to simply bring the thrill. 

There are several obvious choices for inspiration in horror which didn’t make the cut, but once you’ve had your fill, get out there and make it happen. We can’t wait to see what you create!

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