The next acting style from my list of acting styles is a Slow yet Aggressive Characters. When I first started it was commonly accepted that there were three styles of acting…Loud and Violent, Slow and Stupid, and crazy. Over the years I watched and analyzed my personal styles and broke it up even more. The example often given for a slow and stupid character was a zombie, but it was the “slow” part that often bothered me. There are so many other characters that description could encompass that I started to revise the list in my seminars.
The best example I can give for a slow, yet aggressive type character is pulling from the treasure trove of Hollywood horror icons. Our friends Michael and Jason from the Halloween and Friday the 13th movie franchises. They are slow…they stalk…they do not run, but yet they aggressively get their victims and are not stupid. As always keep in mind the acting style does not pigeon hole you into specific characters. They can fit any character you like to dress up as. This brings me to one of the most important tool for a more experienced actor that my have reached the experience level to roam more than one room and that is stalking your victim…uh…I mean customers.
I will go into my stalking techniques in another essay; however, I scratch the surface here because it’s part of this acting style. For this acting style to be effective it takes a generic plan of your surroundings. Basically, it means that you reveal yourself to the customers early giving them a glimpse of yourself. You’re teasing your character and planting the seed of dread in the customer’s mind right off the bat. You “appear” and move slowly at first maybe even shouting some dialog. Be low key then strike fast to seal the deal. That could mean even a fast break towards the customer suddenly or even utilizing your surrounds to hide back in the shadows to use a pop out for your strike. That takes careful planning but can be done even in a room. Honestly if you are in a room the “disappear than reappear” trick works best when working with another actor. For those of you in rooms let me try to give you an example.
You are working a room with another actor. The other actor is hiding, and you are your slow and aggressive character. Because of this at first you are the distraction. The customers enter the room, and you slowly move out of the shadows maybe pacing a bit and shouting out some dialog. All this time you should be watching the customers slowly for the moment they take their eyes off you. For this example, that happens when the other actor pops out for their scare. That is your moment. Move quickly into the shadows and as close to the customers as possible. Set yourself in position and strike. Boom the scare is yours.
When you strike you can be aggressive the slow part is over. Move fast and be loud. Take your scare full force from the unsuspecting customer. This style is different from my stupid and creepy category like a zombie. Zombies will continue to be slow when they strike, but that’s a different essay.
In order for this type of character to be successful skills like stalking, timing, and movement are key. This is why I say know and plan around your surroundings. Trust me it feels so awesome when you first appear, do your slow stalking type actions and when the customers look away you dart into your hiding spot waiting for your final attack, then as you are waiting to strike you hear the customer go “oh my god where did they go?” That moment is one of the best acting highs because you know you have them off guard.
Now for more experienced roaming type actors in my opinion this should be your primary acting style. If you are covering an area or roaming the attraction, you have access to so many points to appear and disappear successfully. Doing this you get to make scaring the customer last longer. If you say are a loud and violent strike fast and hard act, then after hitting the same customer more than twice you lose effectiveness. This way as the slow yet aggressive style you get to play a game of cat and mouse with the customers building the tension and making the scare more meaningful.
Haunt acting in any acting style is a mental game with the customers. They know deep down you are not real. That you will not hurt them. That they are ultimately safe. You need a way to break those ideas that they are so sure of. Make them doubt that they are really safe. In reality they are because haunt actors should never…EVER…cross that line for whatever reason. However, there are ways to trick their minds into thinking you will and your job as an actor is to find a way to break that mental security and scare them until they lose control of their bodily functions. Easier said than done and takes lots of practice. This is why I feel taking the time to develop and break down your characters and acting styles so you can reach that point. Next, we will cover the stupid and creepy acting style.