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Tishani De Silva

Genre Research: Horror


The genre we decided on as a group was horror, the genre typically aims to frighten/startle
the viewer in various different ways. Horror films include various codes and conventions to
evoke a feeling of fear and suspense from the audience. For example a horror film may play
on hidden fears/phobias or include supernatural elements such as ghosts, vampires,
zombies etc.
The genre first derived from literature of the same genre, stories such as Frankenstein and
Dracula first sparked an interest in supernatural elements, the first film considered to be a
horror film was a short silent film called Le Manior Du Diable, this was because it was the
first film to depict a supernatural sequence (a bat transformation) however early horror films
did not sustain a dark tone throughout the film instead opting for a theatrical/comical tone.
This style of horror refers to gothic tradition which combines horror with romance, another
example of this is The Castle of Ortranto which is a short film that encompasses
supernatural elements as well as a melodramatic and suspenseful tone.
The expressionist movement as a result of WWI allowed artists to express emotion in a
much more intense, unconventional way. German expressionism was born out of a time
when Germany had banned foreign films and therefore were pressured to produce films
nationally. German expressionist film makers impacted later films by providing influential
films, for example the first vampire themed movie (Nosferatu) is considered to be an
unofficial adaptation of Dracula.
Advances in technology is the 50s allowed a shift from gothic to contemporary within the
genre, two key subgenres emerged as a result of this; doomsday and demonic.

These production had a low-budget and involved threats such as alien invasions,
mutations, plants and insects. Hollywood productions focused on gimmicks such as
3-D films or electric seat buzzers to attract audiences. In the late 50s the Hammer
Company focused on producing horror films for the first time, the company had
international success and featured traditional horror characters. Many more horror
films featured a high stringed or orchestral soundtrack to help build tension within the
film and colours used in film (e.g: costume) would typically be black and red as they
both connote danger death and fear.
Typical codes and conventions of the horror genre include montages, fast paced
shots to help build up tension and keep the audience in a state of anticipation. The
shots used also may have hidden meanings for example if the plot involves a
mystery the shot may focus on a detail which reveals a certain detail vital to the
mystery that the audience may not understand and the point that it is revealed. Other
codes and conventions include situations that allow tension to be built by placing the
protagonist(s) in a dangerous situation, tension may be created further by making
the audience aware that the character(s) are in danger but make the on screen
character(s) oblivious to this fact.
Further codes and conventions include:
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Narrative enigmas
Slow paced editing to build tension
Three act narrative structure
Clear binary oppositions (e.g: good v.s evil)
Low key lighting

Tishani De Silva

CGI/FX
Extensive use of close ups
Distorted diegetic sound
Handheld camera
POV shots
Low angle shots

The subgenres of horror include: supernatural horror, dark fantasy, sci-fi horror,
psychological horror, thriller/horror e.t.c.
The top 10 horror films on the imbd list include:
1. The Ornate lock (1993)
2. Psycho (1960)
3. Alien (1979)
4. The Shining (1980)
5. Aliens (1986)
6. The Blue Elephant (2014)
7. Demons (1971)
8. Variola vera (1982)
9. Strangler vs strangler (1984)
10. Les Diaboliques (1955)

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_film
http://www.imdb.com/search/title?
genres=horror&num_votes=1000,&sort=user_rating,desc&title_type=feature
http://media.edusites.co.uk/article/horror-genre-codes-conventions/