"I don't know what that noise is, and I purposely avoided finding out. I like to think that it's Satan playing a vuvuzela in hell."
What the hell is that noise?
Sometimes, sounds can be incredibly creepy. When you hear them the first time, they may not be that terrifying, but as time passes, they become more and more frightening as they gain more and more relevance. Given time, the sound comes to haunt you, even when you are not anywhere near the source. It doesn't just have to be a sentence, a catch phrase, a song, or even a laugh, it can also be a simple, mundane sound, like the creak of a chair, or a door, the sound of footsteps, the crackle of radio static
, the call of a loud little animal
, or any one of hundreds of seemingly mundane noises that suddenly take on a nightmarish relevance because of something you heard. This isn't a Brown Note
, a sound or image that causes actual harm to a person in a story, but rather a completely mundane noise that, due to context, will terrify you in ways that cannot be described.
See also Hearing Voices
, which can also be this depending on what kind of voices they are, and Nothing Is Scarier
, which is almost the Visible Silence
version of this. Sinister Scraping Sound
is an intentional, psych-out type of hellish noise; if a noise foreshadowing a threat is produced by something attached to, or ingested by, that threat, it's The Croc Is Ticking
Contrast Most Wonderful Sound
, and compare and
contrast Awesome Music
- The Ur Example may very well come from Classical Mythology. The god Pan loved to scare the shit out of lonely travelers by hiding nearby and letting out a bloodcurdling scream. Ever wonder where we get the word "panic?" Now you know.
- The shrill, piercing factory whistle in Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is first used to make the audience jump and shut up in time for the opening number. Every subsequent use of the thing gets more and more hardcore - Sweeney's first kill, for instance - until the final use of the factory whistle coincides with Toby killing the main character in the world's creepiest Freak Out. Yeah, you're still going to jump when you hear it on the soundtrack later.
- For those who haven't heard it, it's really shrill and piercing. If you're listening to it on your iPod with earbuds in, the sheer high-pitchedness of it will make you jump out of your skin no matter how many times you've heard it and how much you're expecting it.
- Probably the most ubiquitous example of this trope found everywhere in fiction today is the Flatline tone.
- Tornado sirens for those who live in regions where they are used frequently. While the specific sounds they make may vary, they are almost always terrifying. The mental association with danger and destruction only adds to the horror.
- Same goes for air raid sirens. Or just about any sirens, really.
- The Emergency Broadcast system to this day remains one of the most prominent examples of this trouble and seems to be growing in popularity with thriller/horror movie trailers. The initial three beep tones of the broadcast are absolutely chilling and the soft, trailing boooooo following afterwards in just unsettling.
- Most TV stations for one odd reason or another play the broadcast at an unannounced moment during the hours of 1am-3am. Anybody that's not a good sleeper will be startled awake by the broadcast and most certainly won't go back to sleep.