Before television it was radio shows, and even before radio we had the stories pass down generation to generation by mouth. I remember my mother told me once that she used to listen to the “novelas” soap operas in the radio and she said it was quite interesting and all the “sound effect” they made so you can imaging what was going on. I also can remember how my grandfather or even my uncles change their voice tone to emphasize a point or to scare us when they were telling us scary stories. Also, during my grade school years, I can remember my teacher bothering me about intonation in my reading. Now I know is not that she wanted to bother me but that with the correct intonation you can express different emotions.
Audio can be a very powerful tool. It can either enrich the movie or destroy it. In my opinion, the best sound effect are the one that create suspend without making you jump just because of the change in the volume.
For example, in the soundtrack I found of The Conjuring, it provide a sense of suspend and horror. It is a good combination of sound without making it to loud so that you jump because of the music rather than the actual movie. Listen to the soundtrack below and close your eyes. If you had watch the movie is much better.
Now listen, and just listen to the clip below is a clip from Paranormal Activity 4.
What do you think? Did it make you jump just because of the increase of sound in the right moment? My opinion of a good horror movie is a movie that will make you jump because the suspense is in there and with the help of the audio it makes it even better. But there are a couple of movies the script is BAD and the scary part is just due to the excessive volume of the sound effects.
Going back to audio, audio is a really big player in transmitting emotion. It may not be a big or noisy sound, but every sound has a purpose. For example, the bell in a small town can have different meaning depending in how many times it had rung. The wait people use they honk while driving, it can be use to alert you or to …..(leave it to your imagination).
If we compare the intonation of a narrating host, narrating a horror movie like in the Tales of the Crypt. He used a voice to confer suspense, terror or even danger. However, if we compare it with a news narrator, he or she used a natural voice tone. Why? because they have a different theme to present and each theme need to deliver a specific emotion or information.
Audio can deliver happiness (songs), sadness, emergency(alerts), and many other information and it all depend in the intonation, exclamation and even in the volume that has been use.