Fright At the Museum


Stiller in Film


My recut movie trailer essentially took a children’s movie, “Night at the Museum, Battle at the Smithsonian”, and twisted its plot to make it seem like a horror film. For me, this process was extremely enjoyable. The trailer begins by showing Ben Stiller, a former museum security guard, walking around a somewhat creepy museum. Although the focus is primarily on Stiller in the beginning portion of the trailer, much of the background is emphasized in order to help grab the viewer’s attention throughout the clip.  After showing Stiller walking around the museum, the general mood of the trailer changes as action is emphasized in the clip.  For instance in the action segments, Stiller is portrayed running down hallways and getting thrown across rooms.

Although showing Stiller walking through the museum and running away from danger are important factors in showing the scary genre of the trailer, the most important factor in making this preview scary was definitely the music.  The creepy music in the background helps establish early on the times when the viewer should be on the edge of his or her seat.  In my trailer, I chose the soundtrack “Killing Field” because it started out slowly and ended noisily, which coincided with the trailer since their was little action early on in the clip and a lot of action later on in the clip.  Without the music in the preview, there would be absolutely no way to depict “Fright at the Museum” as a horror film.

Specific Links to Course Readings:

Besides adding the soundtrack “Killing Field”, I was able to turn “Night at the Museum Battle of the Smithsonian” into a horror film (“Fright at the Museum”) by using some other techniques. First off, by using clips of the film that included long shots (Dick, B 2002: Anatomy of Film page 2), I was able to capture not only the night guard, Stiller’s, actions, bust also I was able to capture the surrounding background, which was extremely important since the background had many rich signifiers in it.  In addition to the many signifiers captured by using the long shots, I was able to highlight specific objects in the trailer by using foreshadowing.  For example, I showed the stuffed monkey in the beginning of the trailer, which came to life by the end of the trailer.  Much of the foreshadowing in the trailer is shown through the use of iconic symbols, symbols, like the monkey, which are used to grab the viewers attention (M,  Dansei 2004 : “What is Semiotics page 17).   Lastly, I affectively grabbed the reader’s attention since the overall concept of the movie-trailer is extremely far-fetched: a night guard getting haunted in a museum that comes to life.  According to Klosterman, “film studios are almost requiring movies to be bad because they tend to be more efficient (C, Klosterman 2004: “Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Cultural Manifesto” page 154); with that being said, this trailer should be a success.

Rationale for Creative Choices:

My project all started in the five-dollar movie section in the local San Antonio Walmart.  Not only did I not have any idea what movie I was going to recut going into the project, but also I had no idea what kind of genre I was going to use for my recut trailer.  When I dug my hand into the massive pile of DVD’s and pulled out the movie “Night At the Museum, Battle for the Smithsonian”, my creative mindset immediately took over.  I remembered one day, years ago, seeing my youngest brother Andrew, who is currently 8 years old, scared out of his mind from all of the museum animals in the movie, so I felt that it would be perfect for a horror film.

I really did not do too much to mess with the film.  After watching a couple of recut horror films on YouTube, I noticed that many of them did not have any background dialogue, since a good portion of the background audio consisted primarily of some sort of creepy soundtrack.  Therefore, I followed the norm, and did not input any dialogue into the background of my recut preview.  Because the audio is on of the most important elements in the majority of horror film trailers, I inserted the background audio first, and inserted clips of the movie second.  When inserting the movie clips, I mainly looked for clips that generally came across to me as being unintentionally creepy, and clips that were filled with intense action.  For example, watching Stiller sinisterly prowl through a museum came across to me as being way too creepy for a children’s movie.  In addition, the intensity of watching Stiller get cornered by a bunch of Ancient Egyptian soldiers stuck out to me since it offered the viewer a heavy dose of action.  The order of which I choose to assemble the clips followed one format: slow-paced, creepy, clips first and action-packed, strong clips second.  Besides that, the order the clips fit into the trailer was pretty much random.  The way I transitioned between slow paced clips and fast paced clips was through the use of themes.  The themes not only transitioned between the pace of the clips, but also the themes helped keep the viewer attentive in the trailer, since it forced the viewer to do some reading.

Frustrations, Difficulties, and Solutions


The biggest frustration I encountered in this project was learning how to work with Premier. Other than that, the project was pretty much “smooth sailing”.  I really enjoyed breaking down this movie, since it not only gave me the opportunity to show my creative side, but also it gave me some confidence in my ability to use computer technology, a field that has consistently given me problems over the past decade.  The way in which I was able to conquer Premier was by asking questions.  I consistently looked at the class email list, which answered any question I had.  In addition to the class mailing list, the PDF’s on TLEARN offered me much support, since they gave me step by step instructions for some of the problems I met during this project.


1. Dick, B. (2002). Anatomy of a Film. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s. 

2. Danesi, M. (2004) “What is semiotics?” 

3. “The awe-inspiring beauty of tom Cruise’s Shattered, Troll-Like Face,” in Chuck Klosterman (2004). Sex, drugs and Cocoa-Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto.

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