The film is one of the few mediums in which you can deceive and divert your audience while yet making them happy. When telling a tale for a film, you frequently want to leave only a few clues as to where the plot is going to avoid giving too much away about the ending.
Misdirection is required in these situations. One of the most effective and well-known methods is to use a red herring, which may be done in several various ways. StudioBinder appears to agree and has broken out five main strategies that filmmakers might employ to deceive and divert viewers.
A red herring is a tactic with an amusing name. The handler would use a herring to coat the trail with a different fragrance when teaching dogs to catch foxes. The objective was to teach the dog to ignore the additional scent. The dog was believed to be pursuing the red herring when it was tricked.
It's a technique used in movies to deceive the audience and defy their expectations. However, if not done properly, there are complications. There can't be too much or too little of it. Here are a few ideas for how to accomplish that.
1. WHOM DO YOU THINK DID IT?
The whodunit in mystery and thriller films is arguably the most traditional red herring. Everyone is a suspect, and no one knows who committed the crime. Good writers will leave hints and cues throughout the story that will lead the reader away from the truth without being outright lies. You don't want them to figure it out until the last possible moment, or the reveal's impact will be diminished.
Murder on the Orient Express, for example, subverts this cliche by revealing that every character was complicit in the murder before the twist is revealed. The urge to figure out the red herrings was a red herring.
2. INCONSISTENT NARRATION
Many movies are told from the perspective of a single person or a small group of people. If the person recounting the narrative isn't accurately describing the events. You're witnessing what's being said, but it's not the reality – or it's meant to be. The fact that Keyser Soze is telling the story makes the whole thing a red herring in The Usual Suspects. You trust all he says until the very end when you discover he has been deceiving everyone the entire time.
3. EMOTIONAL IMPACT
To elicit an emotional response, employ a red herring. This is handled admirably in Saving Private Ryan. Before we get into a flashback focused on Tom Hanks' role, we have an unknown figure in the beginning.
We presume that Hanks' character must survive the ordeal because we went from one to the other without any details, which could suggest that his mission to save Private Ryan was a failure. Finally, you learn that Hanks' character does not survive, and Ryan will pay his respects. From the beginning, it subverts the audience's expectations.
4. SUBVERSION OF HISTORICAL TRUTH
One of Tarantino's favorite things to do is to reinterpret historical events. The way he constructs the film—with plenty of actual moments—leaves us with the impression that everything will turn out just as we expect. When the twist appears, he changes his strategy. We are absolutely shocked and possibly more satisfied as a result of rewriting history.
5. MARKETING AND CASTING
When it comes to movies today, marketing tactics have a big influence on what people expect. Drew Barrymore was cast in the original Scream, and Janet Leigh was cast in Psycho, both of whom were killed off rather early in the films.
We all know that famous actors have thick narrative armor and can withstand the harshest of circumstances. The audience is taken aback when they don't follow through.
Another casting blunder is portraying roles that stars aren't recognized for. You can throw people off if you cast a humorous and pleasant actor as the unexpected villain.
A red herring is a clever device for amplifying the story's impact and for throwing the audience off the scent trail which often helps to heighten the feeling of suspense and excitement.
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