Looks That Kill: Eleven Horror DPs Reveal the Tricks and Tech Behind the Year’s Scariest Shooting Schemes

Looks That Kill: Eleven Horror DPs Reveal the Tricks and Tech Behind the Year’s Scariest Shooting Schemes

Cinematography

Robrecht Heyvaert on Revenge

The Approach: Beauty versus brutality, surreal, subjective

How They Did It: The nature of the story demanded an evenly muscular look with sizzling colors, striking contrasts, and surreal sharpness. We didn’t set out to achieve realism and subtlety. Jen (Matilda Lutz), the film’s heroine, and the villa setting are as colorful and stylized as a cosmetics commercial, and we chose to show the violent desert, its vicious animals, and the gallons of blood in a way that was just as forceful. Our goal was to create something powerful by presenting the beauty in a brutal way and the brutality in a beautiful way. That contrast is everywhere in the story—the production design, the characters, and the cinematography.

The Harsh Light of Day: Sunlight can be beautiful in combination with a luxurious villa and a pool; that’s the kind seen in the first part of the film. On the other hand, sunlight can be brutal and even deadly when you are in the middle of a desert or at the bottom of a canyon. By using the sun to enhance the beauty at certain moments and the brutality at others, we tried to create tension in broad daylight.

The Takeaway: The sun is not a lamp. You can’t control it, and you sure can’t move it. When the sun is your main light source, you have to adjust the blocking of the scenes and the shooting schedule to it. Also, never pick fights with animal handlers. They might have scorpions in their back pockets.

To shoot Revenge, DP Robrecht Heyvaert painted the Moroccan desert with buckets of blood. Image courtesy of NEON

Tech Box

Shooting days: 30

Camera: Alexa Mini

Lenses: Panavision Primo Primes, Panavision 90mm macro, Canon 1000mm for the binocular and sniper-scope shots

Lighting: HMIs with full CTS for the daylight scenes, tungsten Fresnels and China balls for the night scenes

Picture post/DI: Frédéric Savoir

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