If fear made a sound, what would it be? That’s a trick question, somewhat, because fear and silence, the complete absence of sound, are inextricably linked. John Carpenter understood this when he made ‘Halloween.’ We can’t say, of course, that the film is completely without an audio component, given that its soundtrack is one of the most famous soundtracks in film history, but we can say that Carpenter’s approach, in his acute sound editing, in his spare production design, was to narrow the viewer’s field of attention so that whatever was happening to his central figures at any given moment was the only thing readily noticeable–making the scenes of attack in the film all the more frightening, given that they seemed almost as if they could be happening to us. As Julian Palmer indicates with this excellent video essay, the actions in the film occur in something of an aesthetic still chamber, and are all the more harrowing for that.
Watch: John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ Scares Us With Simplicity