After my discussions the other day of how I might present a haunting-inside-your-head story, it seemed a good time to post this article by Richard Brooks that I really enjoyed. He devotes a whole section to immersive sound and how it can work well for haunted house stories in this age of headphone use.
Discussing Wireless Theatre Company’s 2017 production of Blood and Stone, he says:
“What makes this recording unique for listeners used to a standard mono or stereo configurations, is the degree the individual feels the world is shaped around them. Stimulus doesn’t just come from left or right, but from in front or behind, an experience that can feel immersive but also disorientating. In the climax of the production the the protagonist finds herself in a deadly game of cat and mouse, and for the listener attending to their everyday tasks the dislocation between the world that is seen and heard can be quite jarring — much as computer game enthusiasts often find VR experiences.”
Going beyond this, I wonder if it could add to the creepiness if we were to intersperse a baddie’s point of view from time to time in such stories, which are often about being hunted. Occasionally in film, the view of the victim through the eyes of the unseen hunter is presented, and it can be pretty chilling; psychopath films are the obvious example.
In nature, predators’ eyes are usually close together and forward-facing, in order to focus in on the prey, while the eyes of prey tend to be placed further apart, better to see the whole environment and detect danger. Could this be mirrored in audio by intermittently removing that disorienting immersive perspective and making our gaze instead mimic that controlled, directional focus of the predator’s eyes, omitting all other sound but that of the hunted?
This is another use for switching between immersive and more traditional audio presentations that I think may be effective.