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Audience Expectations-

Psychological Horror
• Plot will effect the audience mentally rather than explicitly- less blood
and gore than other horror sub-genres
• Plays on audiences personal fears and anxieties, leaving them with
these feelings even after the film has finished
• Invariably there will be a death but the audience will be questioning
when it will happen rather than how it will happen
• Identity of antagonist not revealed until well into the plot
• Shocks audience using music and editing techniques rather than
• The use of ‘psychological’ within the genre title shows that the horror
experienced will be mental rather than physical
• Antagonist often has a mental/emotional issue causing them to
behave the way they do.

Jenny Carter
Technical codes- Editing
This is a clip from the horror film 28 Weeks Later directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and edited by Chris
Gill. Editing of both the visual and auditory elements of the this section effectively build tension.
Some of the ways in which editing has been used include:
• At 1.18 when a knock is heard at the door, the shot cuts rapidly between close-ups (CU) of the
characters sat round the table turning towards the sound. This highlights the significance of the
sound and allows the audience to see the characters’ facial expressions, therefore enabling them to
empathise with them.
• The low-level extra-diegetic humming sound that begins after the knocking builds tension
significantly as it effects the audience subconsciously. This sound would have been added during the
editing process. The sound crescendos then changes to haunting synthesized sound, reflecting the
bright light shining into the darkness of the room.
• As the boy talks about what is happening outside, the shot tracks the woman ask she goes to look
through a gap in the wall. The shot then cuts to her point of view (POV) and we see that she is
looking out onto an empty field. This is contrasts with what the boy is saying, making the audience
aware of the danger but showing the outside as appearing safe, therefore adding tension.
• At 2.59 the shot again cuts back to the woman looking outside. The calm is then suddenly broken by
a loud crashing and rasping noise and shot cuts rapidly to the woman’s point of view to make the
audience aware of the partially obscured face of the zombie outside. This type of editing is called a
‘shock cut’ and aims to scare the audience by juxtaposing two radically different scenes-in this case
the calm and supposedly safe scene of the group talking to the boy and then the cut to the zombie
braking into the shed.

Jenny Carter
Generic Conventions-
Psychological Horror
• Antagonist against protagonist
• Antagonist often unseen until later in film
• Back story to all characters- helps audience connect with
• Tension
• Death
• Insecurity
• Isolation
• Weapons
• Innocent and unsuspecting victim/s
• Mental rather than psychical violence Scene from The Shining, 1980
• Plays on audiences fears and emotions
• The unknown
Jenny Carter
Title and year: Psycho, 1980
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Country of Origin: United States

How this film links to the ‘Psychological Horror’ genre

• The psychological problems of the antagonist are integral to the plot
(hence the title) but the audience is unaware of this until the end of the
film, therefore leaving them guessing throughout.
• The famous ‘shower scene’ uses both diegetic and extra-diegetic sound to
convey the horror of the stabbing , rather than showing the full extent of
the blood and gore that would be present in other sub genres of horror
such as Slasher.
• The plot of the film is realistic, making the audience consider their own
mortality and whether the same thing could happen to them.
• Audience is aware of the back stories of the characters, making them feel
closer to them and more involved in the plot.
• The film shows how horror can occur in seemingly normal situations, again
causing the audience to consider their own safety.

Jenny Carter
Analysis of Psycho Shower Scene
The psycho shower scene is the most famous section of the film and certainly one of the
most famous scenes in cinema history. There are many factors that contribute to
making this scene particularly effective. These include:
• Tension and suspense are effectively built up as soon as the antagonist enters the
scene. This is achieved by only showing the antagonists shadow behind the shower
curtain and not revealing their identity (a convention of the genre) and by allowing
the audience to observe this while the protagonist is completely unaware of the
predicament she is in.
• As the shot zooms in closer to both the antagonist and the woman, the sense of being
trapped is conveyed to the audience because there is visually less room in the shot.
• The use of high-pitched strings as extra-diegetic sound when the woman is stabbed
conveys the horror of the situation and coupled with the woman’s screams, makes
very uneasy viewing for the audience.
• The sound of the shower continuing to run as the after the woman is killed conveys
the sense of life going on without her.
• The close up of the plughole with the sudden match-on-action to the woman’s eye is
shocking for the audience, more so than actually showing her dead.
• The position in which the woman is slumped on the floor after the stabbing makes
visually uncomfortable viewing for the audience.

Jenny Carter