In the film “Shallow Grave” directed by Danny Boyle several techniques including visual and verbal were used to show the genres and film styles of gothic and film noir as well as exploring ideas of true friendship when it comes to the choice of friends or money.
The gothic style consists typically of a castle, beast and a mystery. The film opens with the tipsy turvy image of David saying “If you can’t trust your friends, what then?” right at the beginning of the film the audience gets hints that something is wrong. The camera then fast zooms to an apartment which is the castle the three protagonists Juliet, Alex and David live. There is also an establishing shot showing the big grey bricks which appear like a castle. In terms of sound techniques showing this when prospective flatmate Cameron closes the door it makes a cavernous boom, similar to the noise of a castle dungeon door closing. The trio interview prospective flatmates with questions such as “how would you react if I told you I was the antichrist.” And “how do you decide which shade of black to wear every morning.” It’s clear that the three have no intention of flatting with these candidates as they just “don’t fit the bill.” The three main characters seem to be a tight knit, invincible trio, who are a bunch of likeable almost respectable group. Which all changes when they find a mysterious dead man and a suitcase full of money lying in their apartment. These techniques are very typical of a gothic styled film and helped me understand friendship better.
The genre film noir is very similar to the gothic style in some aspects, one being a sense of dark mystery. The title “Shallow Grave” is definitely film noir with its dark meaning of hidden vices just below the surface. The questions they ask also gives the audience a glimpse of their personality. David asks “Do you freebase” and other technical questions which suggest that he is into the more technical and inhuman aspect of things. Alex asks a possible flatmate “Why on earth would we want to share a flat with you?” Which shows he is a sarcastic and arrogant person who has no regards for anyone else’s feeling’s. Juliet however asks questions like “Either you’re divorced or you’re not” which at first seems simple but is actually a paradox because you don’t have to be in a relationship to not be divorced.
The last scene of the film shows Alex lying down in a pool of blood with a knife in his shoulder which Juliet pushed, right after Alex punched David for hitting Juliet. We would have never guessed this would happen from the beginning but as the three started valuing the money more than their friendship, they became monsters. Juliet became more manipulative by seducing whoever seemt to be the one in control and feeding Alex’s ego by saying “you’re much smarter than him.” While David became a monster; his breathing slowed, his physical capabilities exaggerated and his cold calculated methods in killing anyone who dared to take the money all contributed to his demise. Alex however stays the same which is evident by him cheerily talking to the officer with a knife in his shoulder, which is understandable because he had replaced the money with the newspaper. He is the same old wisecracking sensationalist and he knew he couldn’t trust anyone, not even his friends.
The movie ends with the same shot as it began with but this time it reveals the hole in David’s neck. The toxic relationship which is perceived as being unbreakable at the beginning has been obliterated by a large amount of cash. The film Shallow Grave has two prevalent genres, gothic and film noir, which are both represented well with the use of certain techniques. The gothic style is shown by various techniques such as visual, verbal, sound and lighting to show the castle, the beast and mystery typical to gothic films. The end is best summed up by David earlier saying “Victory is the same as defeat, it’s giving into destructive competitive urges.” Everyone loses.