How Did Ari Aster's Horror Films Inspire Martin Scorsese's 'Killers of the Flower Moon'
Martin Scorsese looked to Ari Aster's biggest horror films to find the right tempo for Killers of the Flower Moon's three and half hour long runtime.
Inspiration can come from the strangest places. Like many of us, some of the biggest names in cinema draw inspiration from other great movies. Martin Scorsese is one of those filmmakers who found inspiration for his latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon, from an indie filmmaker who primarily works in the horror genre.
Scorsese, who adapted the film from the true crime novel of the same name by David Grann, is a master of pacing. But sometimes, masters are looking toward indie films to help guide them. For Scorsese, two of Ari Aster's horror films helped the American auteur find the right tempo for Killers of the Flower Moon.
Killers of the Flower Moon | Official Trailer 2 (2023 Movie)youtu.be
In an interview with the Irish Times, Scorsese reveals that Ari Aster's horror movies Midsommar and Beau Is Afraid had a style and pacing that he is trying to achieve to make Killers of the Flower Moon's extremely long runtime fly by.
“I very much like the style and pacing of good horror films like Ari Aster’s Midsommar or Beau Is Afraid," Scorsese says in the interview. "The pacing of those films goes back to the B films of Val Lewton, Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People or I Walked With a Zombie. Just going a little slower. A little quieter."
Why Is Pacing Important for 'Killers of the Flower Moon'?
For Scorsese, a film's pacing is extremely important to ensure that the story is both entertaining and hitting the necessary beats to highlight the heart of the story.
Pacing is vital to a story's success. If a movie is poorly-paced, it can have a number of negative effects. For example, a movie that is too fast can be difficult to follow, while a movie that is too slow can be boring. A movie with uneven pacing can also be jarring and disorienting for the audience.
When you are telling a complicated three-hour-long story, pacing becomes an important factor. But how do you balance pacing with important beats that highlight to beauty and complexity of the story like Killers of the Flower Moon?
In the interview with the Irish Times, Scorsese says, "I was very concerned about allowing scenes that were not narrative into the story, scenes to do with the Osage culture—leaving in those scenes of custom, like the baby namings, the funerals, and the weddings—so we could begin to understand a little more about the people. I felt confident that a lot of people would allow themselves to be immersed in the world of the film. One has to take these chances. At this age, what else can I do?”
Behind the scenes of 'Killers of the Flower Moon' Credit: Apple Orignal Films
Good pacing is kind of enigmatic. There is no rule or rubric to measure the quality of your film's pacing, but you can find films that nail the pacing you want to go for. Study that film and discover ways to mimic that pacing in your screenplay.
There are a few tips to keep you on the right track when it comes to pacing, but, most importantly, make sure you are telling a full, complete story that has heart.