How, after an almost global lockdown, are filmmakers going to keep the ‘behind closed doors’ genre fresh?

 

Whereas this year, 2020, the health crisis forced a large part of the planet into lockdown, cinema has for a long time experienced confinement. Just like in real life, in which lockdown allowed certain people to discover they had sewing or bread-making talents, cinematographic lockdown has proved that physically closing some doors leads to new openings. Although it seems obvious that this lockdown will be one of the major subjects in international film over the next few years, what methods are filmmakers going to use to entice filmgoers to shut themselves away in a room for two hours to watch characters being shut away in a room for the same amount of time?

Well, they can draw inspiration from past creations. The ‘behind closed doors’ genre appeared in cinema a long time ago via theatrical adaptations, in which keeping the same background scenery was an advantage and which soon appealed to film producers and their purses. However, this sub-genre does more than just achieve an economic goal. It’s well known that the more the hero of the story struggles, the more interesting the narrative. Couple that with Sartre’s famous “Hell Is Other People” and it’s easy to understand how con-fine-ment with other people is exactly not that and is an abundant source of problems, revealing the strengths and weaknesses of each character.

Hell Is Other People

 

It’s a flexible and versatile formula. Claustrophobia lends itself ideally to horror films: for example Alien could very easily have changed its tagline to “when you have no space, no one can hear you scream”. Because being trapped inside is one thing, but being trapped inside with a monster (a psychopath, the devil or your mother-in-law) just adds to the terror. Using the ‘behind-closed-doors’ model is also very practical when conducting an investigation because it means that everything has to be there already. It also has just as much comic potential: just throw together several, usually incompatible (and probably very silly) people and force them to spend an evening in each other’s company, for example.

A narrow, small or confined space, still allowing for explosions, draws on this feeling of urgency and can really allow action scenes to thrive. One option could be a mobile prison, like a bus or a train (transporting dynamite or cutting through the snow). As for drama? That is created naturally and spontaneously on camera through physical detention and psychological isolation, reminiscent of the works of the greats such as Lumet or Hitchcock.

A narrow, small or confined space, still allowing for explosions, draws on this feeling of urgency and can really allow action scenes to thrive. One option could be a mobile prison, like a bus or a train (transporting dynamite or cutting through the snow). As for drama? That is created naturally and spontaneously on camera through physical detention and psychological isolation, reminiscent of the works of the greats such as Lumet or Hitchcock.

All this to say that le huis clos, ‘behind closed doors’, lockdown, can be interpreted and expressed in many ways and in a wide variety of styles. There will be no excuse for lack of originality or artistic creativity for any type of filmmakers dealing with this recently experienced phenomenon.

What if this lockdown was simply a challenge to our ability to open up the horizon of possibilities?