Yesterday was Agatha Christie’s birthday. She would have turned 127.
But her spine-chilling stories have stayed evergreen. Murder on the Orient Express is one of her tour de forces in the crime genre. The setting is contained. Time is limited. And every single person on the scene is a suspect. Anyone could have been the killer.
In November, this classic is given new life (heh) in a film adaptation with a cast of talented actors and actresses. The film advertisement is designed with the same technique as used in several of Kenny G’s album covers.
The interaction of hands (and a leg) with the glowing word “MURDER” is unsettling. It feels slippery and sly, underhanded and eerie. In particular, the woman with the M and the man with the R have body language that makes me distrust what they are doing with their hands.
The word “MURDER” already grabs our attention more than any other word on the page because of our negativity bias, and it is magnified for full horror effect. The other details are differentiated based on color, size, and position.
The color choices in this ad are mostly cold and shadowy. The clothing is subdued, so the faces stand out, This draws our attention even more to their shifty eyes, impassive expressions, and their guarded body positions amongst themselves. Everyone looks guilty, yet unwilling to confess. The scene is full of tension—you might feel your own breath stop if you slowly pan across the image. Without resorting to the obvious choices of gory red hues or images of daggers or a corpse, this ad creates the suspenseful sense that danger is afoot.
But, like the Kenny G covers, it’s another example of a thin sans serif face with this image-weaving effect. Where might we spot an effective example with a chunkier face?