Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Off Duty Uses Creative Lighting to Depict the Supernatural Realm

In Off Duty, Police Constable Layton (Becki Pantling) investigates a haunting in a warehouse. It's something she performs "off duty," perhaps because the higher ups would frown upon her psychic gifts. She can commune with ghosts.

Off Duty is a spooky little ghost story, creepy and atmospheric. A British horror short which successfully captures that X-Files vibe. A police procedural with a serious tone and unexpected, original twists. PC Layton isn't just a ghost hunter. She's a vigilante.

The lighting is especially impressive. DP Jamie MacLeod uses two distinct lighting setups. One for the normal world and one for the astral realm that Layton enters. Warm yellow lights for normalcy. Cold blue lights for the astral plain.


The concept is similar to the lighting schemes used in Insidious and Stranger Things (to depict "The Further" and the "Upside Down," respectively), but simpler and on a much lower budget. Thankfully, Pantling and MacLead avoid the use of green nightvision. Ghost hunter films should give that a rest.


For more about lighting in horror films, see Horror Film Aesthetics: Creating the Visual Language of Fear. This blog represents a continuing discussion of my views on horror, picking up from where the book left off.