Batman’s Secret Weapon Is His Horror Movie Influences


Since the promotion on The Batman began, director and co-writer Matt Reeves was open that among the biggest influences on his film were the detective stories. Classic Black Chinese district and Alan Pakula Klute & All the President’s Men were among the titles specifically named by the director as films embedded in his new film’s DNA. With the DC movie now playing in theaters, however, it’s not only clear that Reeves had all of that in mind when making the film, but there were a few other movies in play for this new version of the detective. Dark Knight, and they were found in the Green Sticker Horror section of the Video Store. Spoilers follow!

The opening scene of The Batman is a POV shot from Paul Dano’s Riddler perspective. Through a pair of binoculars, Riddler watches Gotham Mayor Don Mitchell Jr. in his home as his child prepares to go out or play in a ninja costume. This specific plan, coupled with the decor, is clearly modeled on John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece, Halloween. The iconic slasher film begins with a POV shot of young Michael Myers wandering around his family home, ultimately murdering his sister. While Reeves doesn’t invoke the Panaglide motif that made Carpenter’s first shot so famous, it’s an unmistakable allusion, complete with Dano’s character’s heavy breathing that would become a Myers staple throughout the Halloween franchise.

The influence of Halloween doesn’t end with that single shot, however, as the next sequence takes us inside the house with Mitchell pacing while watching a news program about the upcoming election. As he paces, there is a second room behind him, with the television being the only source of light illuminating the entire space. At some point, Mitchell turns to walk in a new direction and it becomes clear that standing behind him for an undisclosed amount of time is Dano’s Riddler, perfectly still, only his eyes following his victim. Although the eye movement bears a distinct resemblance to Myers, the sudden appearance of the killer behind his target is also quintessential. Halloween trope.

A final piece of the scene that is clearly rooted in Halloween? It might be overkill, but the Riddler’s outfit, with his glasses over the mask, is quite similar to Michael Myers dressing up as Bob in the original film. This version of Riddler is clearly inspired by the Zodiac, but this minor detail from Myers is hard to ignore.


the Halloween influence on The Batman and his version of The Riddler doesn’t stop there either. Later in the film, when Dano’s killer tracks down Peter Sarsgaard’s district attorney character Gil Colson, he recreates another sequence from Carpenter’s film. In the film, Riddler watches Colson from the other side of the path, again breathing heavily, returning to the countless other stalking scenes of Halloween. When Colson returns to his car, things really start Halloween territory, as Riddler appears from the backseat and attacks him from behind, even fogging up the windows and forcing a prolonged honk like when Myers attacks Annie Brackett in the original film.

Carpenter’s Slasher isn’t the only horror film baked into the bones of The Batman; the film with an even greater influence is that of David Fincher Se7fr. Although the semantics of its gender label may be up for debate, Se7fr is essentially a detective film about an obsessed serial killer with a grand plan, doing The Batman a clear cousin. It is not only in the construction of the plots and the almost continuous rainfall that The Batman and Se7fr are similar, but also in his villain’s plans and their mansions. Riddler and John Doe’s hideout is eventually found by the police and includes mountains of handwritten journals.

John Doe’s schemes in Se7fr and The Riddler in The Batman also share similar foundations. Fincher’s movie killer believes he was sent by a higher power to shock the world and wake it up, a sentiment quite similar to The Riddler’s intentions to rock Gotham City with the plot he’s trying to unearth. There are also the means by which the two perform their twisted marks of justice, giving their victims just enough leeway to potentially live, most of them not making it out alive.


Branching out from Se7frhowever, is an entire horror series that clearly had an influence on The Batman: Seen. The torture franchise might not seem like an obvious point of reference for the DC Comics adaptation, but some of the similarities are undeniable. Already descended from Se7fr due to the means, methods and practices of the killer, Seen differs from Se7fr by its elaborate “traps”, which The Batman borrow in spades.

Although it was never shown in gory detail that Seen the franchise reveled, The Batman repeatedly portrayed
the torture devices that The Riddler builds and places his victims inside, and they are among the items created by Jigsaw. One of them, a maze of rats that leads the little nibblers to the eyes of the victim, may seem indistinguishable from the others Seen traps those unfamiliar, while the film’s neck bomb attached to DA Gil Colson is reminiscent of several such devices in the series. Some might say The Riddler never gave his victims a chance to make it out alive like Jigsaw, but there were plenty of unwinnable games throughout. Seen franchise too. There are also the enormous words written on the walls of the decrepit places, of which there seems to be an inexhaustible supply, a recurring motif in Seen movies and apparently The Batmanthis is Gotham.


There’s also the third act revelation that comes after The Riddler is arrested and imprisoned: he doesn’t work alone and has sidekicks who help him carry out his work. Seen fans know very well that the “secret apprentices” have been a staple of this series since Saw IIand in both The Batman and Seen followers even dress as the mastermind.

Still not buying it? Matt Reeves himself thinks the film is inspired by horror.

“I also wanted to make the movie kind of a horror movie,” Reeves said on the nation of heroes Podcast. “Because I thought Batman was also born out of a sensitivity to horror. So I wanted you to have all of those experiences and I wanted it to be immersive.”

By fully enrolling in these stylistic and narrative choices deeply rooted in horror cinema and storytelling, The Batman distinguished himself from other versions of the character to another degree. Each director brought their own set of tools to adapting the DC Comics icon, and delving into the realm of storytelling techniques and motifs that horror fans are used to seeing, Matt Reeves brought light tools that many cinephiles do not experience. regularly, and in doing so has created a unique and sometimes chilling Batman universe. You can decide for yourself how well it did in adding those horror sensibilities, like The Batman plays in theaters around the world.


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