Have you ever found yourself reaching for the volume button
while watching a scary scene in a horror film? Or even muted said scene entirely? The suspense, dread, and atmosphere that had
you racing to lower the volume in the first place is completely gone, replaced
with voiceless images silently wandering in the dark. And that’s just not scary.
If you’ve ever noticed this, then you’ll have witnessed first-hand
the importance of sound design in cinema.
The music, sound effects,
ambiance, dialogue, every audial aspect of a film is what renowned film theorist
Michel Chion describes as “added value” to give a deeper meaning to the images onscreen. This is true of all audio-visual media
(including video games), but nowhere is this phenomenon best observed than in the horror genre.
From the eerie silences that proceed the inevitable loud sting
of a jump scare to the dissonant strings that form a foreboding soundscape, all horror films utilise sound design in one way or
another to heighten their fear factor. However, some films are better at this than others, with the sound design in some flicks being the main source of the terror.