Thursday, 25 February 2010

The Horror Genre DRAFT

  • The basic structure of horror films is to show the reconstruction of an order in a portrayed society
  • The opening sets the scene for a community unaware of the impending danger- (a "normal town" was used in Halloween and Gremlins) whereas movies such as "Friday the 13th" uses an isolated group 
  • The second act sees the arrival of the monster, the breakdown of social order and change (Halloween, Jaws, Friday the 13th)
  • The final act resolves the issues, and restores order o the community, this could be different to the order that opened the picture
  • Most films follow this three act structure, although some notably during the sixties and seventies try to break free from this mould, and offer no solution to the breakdown (Night of the living dead, The birds)
  • The reconstruction of the order does not necessarily mean that the new world is any better than the original (Invasion of the body snatchers)
  •  In order to keep the audience interested from the word "go" some films often show a killing within the first few minutes (Friday the 13th, Bride of Chucky)
  •  There are stereotypical characters to horror films, there is the "scream queen" whom is often targetted, and in many cases, killed first. She is stereotypically blonde and busty.- Scream
  • There is often also a final girl, a binary opposition to the scream queen, she is often brunette, and intelligent, a virgin. - Halloween
  • There is often two strands of music, long notes and piano, to cause tension and irregular heartbeats (Halloween)
  • The colour blue can be connoted as super-natural, cold, tense (Bride of Chucky 1998) 
  • They typically use point of view shots, this is seen in Halloween, it sets the scene that a change is going to place, they are approaching their victims, however does not reveal too much to the audience
  • Mise-en-scene if often used to signify horror, for example, rain, thunder, graveyards, woods, night (Bride of Chucky)
  • Most killers are the same in horror films, they are mostly male, hide their identity, and aim for the "scream queen"
  • Many hide their identity, giving a narrative enigma (Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th)
  • Some killers wear masks to hide their identity (scream)
  • You often see the weapon before you see the killer, connoting they are going to attack, you see that the brake fluid is leaking out of the car before the characters realise in Family Plot (1976)
  • Many horrors use false impressions, when they build suspense, but really nothing is there, so the audience have gone calm again, but out of the blue something happens, making them more nervous (Bride of Chucky- when the radio goes off, when everything is silent) makes the audience jump
  • Serif font is often used for sub-titles, anchoring it is a thriller/horror film (Trick or treat, Memento)
  • Some include a voice over rather than dialogue- (Trick or Treat) 
  • There's always a lead character which usually results in being the survivor of the film
  • The killer/monster usually has a trademark in how/what he uses to kill people, In I know what you did last summer, the killer uses a hook (fish rod) Friday the 13th, Jason uses a kitchen knife all the way through, Nightmare on elm street the killer uses a razor sharp glove all the way through to kill the victims
  • When we are scared. we generally turn to three legitimate authority figures, Parents, The Police and God, In many horrors these are either prevented or each of these are presented and disposed of, leaving the victim unprotected. (Scream- Casey's parents do not see her being stabbed)
  • Scream represented alot of common conventions, you do not survive the movie if you are not a virgin, if you do drugs, and if you say "I will be right back"
  • Scream again used a lot of common conventions for the killer, you will most often not survive if you ask "who's there?" or if you investigate strange noises. 
  • There is the same voice used, even if the identity of the killer is hidden, to connote that it is the same killer (Scream)
  • The main actor/killer is usually killing/attacking for revenge, "the underdog gets his own back" (Last house on the left) (Trick or treat)
  • In many films you don't see the killer in the opening, but you see the weapon, which is connoted that it is going to be used to attack, for example in nightmare on elm street, you see an individual's hands and a strange weapon, a glove with sharp knives for fingers 
  • Many horrors have a twist in the opening, again in A nightmare on elm street, the girl, Tina, whom is thought to be attacked, is actually dreaming, however she does have a slash on her nightgown near her stomach, which would of been created had she been attacked by the man in her dreams 


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