How Does the Use of Camera Work and Editing Create Tension or Suspence in the Sequence “Wrong Number”? “Payback”, a 1999 crime/noir film written and directed by Brian Helgeland. The sequence I am studying is “Wrong Number”.
The whole film is a classic modern interpretation of Film Noir starring Mel Gibson as “Porter” and Maria Bello as Rosie. At the beginning of this sequence we see the door open and in comes Porter holding the dog, belonging to Rosie, which was shot in the previous scene. This accentuates Porter’s “nice guy” and “anti-hero” image and character.It also makes us breathe a certain sigh of relief because we know the dog is ok. Porter puts the dog down and we hear the door shut. Rosie appears through the doorway looking weary. We see fragmented shadows on the bed suggesting that maybe something isn’t quite right. The film cuts to Rosie, now cleaned up, rooting around in her pocket.
She is wearing black to signify the colour of danger, death, and morbid symbols and also relates back to this Noir feel that the movie puts across as is Porter wearing black and other such dark colours.The walls behind her are very dark which subsequently create a shadowed and dark effect over her image. Next there is a cut to the dog (what she had been looking at in the previous shot) and we see Porters hand stroking him.
This again relates to Porter’s “hard man” image but he does have morals to a certain point and has a soft spot for Rosie, therefore treats her dog well. He then gets up and turns to talk to her. We now see a different angle of the room and Porter is half in shadows making him seem more mysterious. The room is very angular with most things at right angles t o each other.
This creates a type of unnatural feel to the place and makes it more cold and isolated. We see behind him a large picture of a naked woman, who looks like some sort of, prostitute. This creates a dirty atmosphere to the room and makes it seem unclean and un-welcoming and most of all undisguised. There is a cut back to her who says “its ok baby, its ok puppy” suggesting that she is scared but wants to comfort the dog to make herself feel better, it also eases the tension slightly. She looks at him off screen as he moves into shot and stands next to her in a medium close up two shot.We see him as being more in the light and she is in shadows, suggesting that he knows more about what is going on than she or even the audience do.
Rosie suddenly notices something behind him. The camera cuts to behind her so that we can see her facial expressions and her body movements at a medium shot. His head turns and then we see a point of view shot for the both of them looking at the picture on the wall. The camera then comes back to the previous position of being behind her and porter explains “yeah I know, it’s not much but at least you’ll be safe here”.He then proceeds to tell her to “sit down” and “relax” when the phone beings to ring. This is just after he has said; “nobody knows I’m here”.
We then see his very shocked and worried reaction shot followed by a point of view shot from the phone creating tension as we are not sure on whether he will pick it up or not. Then to add more tension and suspense, music is added creating excitement, terror and confusion in the audience as to what will happen next. There is now a close up of the phone which is black and an old style circular dial phone to again create this Noir feel, and then again back to the shot of the two of them.