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Horror Genre Codes & Conventions

Rob Miller | Wednesday June 24, 2015

Categories: A Level, Eduqas (WJEC) A Level, WJEC A2, WJEC A2 Media Studies, WJEC AS, WJEC AS Media Studies, Film, Horror, Key Concepts, Genre, Legacy

Contemporary Examples

  • The Rite Mikael Håfström, 2011
  • Paranormal Activity 2 Tod Williams, 2010
  • Saw (6 films in franchise) James Wan, 2002-2009
  • Blair Witch Project Daniel Myrick + Eduardo Sánchez, 1999
  • Dog Soldiers Neil Marshall, 2002
  • Urban Legend Jamie Blanks, 1998
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer Jim Gillespie, 1997
  • Hostel Eli Roth, 2005

Codes and Conventions

  • Split into sub genres (see below), often hybridised
  • Primary target audience – male, 16-24, Mainstreamers
  • 15 or 18 Certification (promises of pleasure) – debates on passive consumption
  • Uses and Gratifications (active audiences) theory can apply
  • Extensive use of Narrative enigmas
  • Exploration of Narrative Themes
  • Slow pace of Editing, builds tension. Long takes
  • Three act narrative structure
  • Predictable narrative content (follows format)
  • Clear binary oppositions e.g. good v evil
  • Use of low key lighting
  • Use of CGI, FX
  • High production values but many low budget horror films
  • Dominant, hegemomic representation of gender: The Female Victim
  • Extensive use of close up
  • Incidental non-diegetic sound
  • Distorted diegetic sound
  • Extensive use of narrative off-screen space
  • Young/teenage characters
  • Use of hand-held camera: audience identification/realism
  • Point of view shots
  • Low angle shots

Horror Sub Genres

Horror can be split into sub genres:

  • The Monster Scare
  • Psychological Thrillers
  • Slasher Pics
  • Zombie Films

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