The horror genre is a film genre which intends to effect the audience in one way or another. This is normally done through the use of gore, jump-scares, paranormal and violence. Within the horror genre there are different sub-genres, each sub-genre has it’s typicalities and distinctive style of narrative formulas and iconography. The four horror sub-genres that I will be looking at in-depth are gothic, psychological, zombie and slasher. It is important that I have thoroughly looked into each of these sub-genres and have extensive knowledge on them so that when planning for my final piece of a horror sequence, I will have a strong knowledge on the typicalities and iconography used within the sub-genre that my group and I choose.
Gothic Horror Conventions
- Frankenstein (1931) Is an example of a gothic film which includes many typical gothic conventions. The typical settings are used to inflict fear and anxiety onto the audience ; Graveyards, Laboratories, Castles and dungeons.
- Many Typical characters also act as iconography within the gothic sub-genre. Monsters, such as Dracula and Frankenstein are famous examples of monsters which have appeared within Gothic horror films. Monsters are typically used for their unusual and unnerving appearance and intern, spook the audience. Although Zombies and Vampires are still considered typical conventions, within the modern day tim industry, they’re being used less and less; Ghosts and demons are becoming more popular.
- The Plot often shows the consequences of power belonging to the wrong person. Scientific endeavour or black magic are common themes highlighted within gothic narrative.
- Style is often known as ‘German Expressionist’. Dramatic lighting and Camera angles are often used to emphasise a particular effect or emotion – fear, horror, pain.
- Similarly to slasher films, Within gothic films, Females are usually victims.
Slasher Horror Conventions
- Scenes of gore and violence are gratuitous and explicit.
- Serial killer figures tend to be loners or social outcasts. Many are also commonly seen to have mental disorders to deeply troubled pasts.
- Victims are represented as immoral and deserving of their fate. The purest individual tends to be the sole survivor. In Psycho (1960) Marion pays with her life for stealing the money. However, her sister, Lila, is rescued before Norman can carry out another attack.
- Attack sequences often feature a multitude of shots from various angles and distances. This technique is done so that the audience feel although they’re keeping up with the action and to prolong the brutal attack. An example of this is in Psycho, the shower sequence.
- Within Slasher films, a serial killer will commonly stalk their victims in one location; Summer camp, woodland area, Warehouse.
Psychological Horror Conventions
- Psychological Horror films often feature jarring, canted angles or unusual farming techniques. This is because the audience are often made to question what they see.
- Locations are commonly claustrophobic to reflect the feelings of isolation or entrapment.
- Lighting is often used symbolically- a face cast in shadow may represent a conflicting dual persona. By lighting someones face from underneath, they can appear more menacing
- This sub-genre plays on Freud’s notion of the ‘Uncanny’.
Zombie Horror Conventions
- Typically, a tight group of people are living within an apocalyptic world and fighting for survival
- Many of the locations they’re seeking shelter in are Urban, but deserted
- Typical themes include loss and isolation – Due to their situations, many of the characters have an inability to trust or build attachments to others
- Contrast between slow and fast editing – Mundane day to day survival is punctuated with gruesome Zombie attacks.
- Zombies can be listless, roaming, recently deceased humans or frenzied, infected humans.
- Human sacrifice for the greater good of the community is often a plot point.