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Horrror genre&conventions

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Alexandra Golici

on 13 November 2016

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Transcript of Horrror genre&conventions

Horrror history
It is a film genre that often deals with people's fears of the unknown. Its themes usually involve evil forces(demons, ghosts, werewolves, gore etc) but also psychological personages such as psychopaths or serial killers.
Its roots are planted in Gothic horror, a genre of literature that started in the late 1700s. (Gothic referring to medieval isolated, gloomy buildings) Georges Méliès created the first horror film "A haunted castle" in 1896.
From Georges' first film we can already see the gothic elements that are being used (ghosts, bats and a castle) They can also be considered the first codes and conventions depicted in a horror film.
Considering horror films, settings are usually emphasized by isolated places, big haunted/abandoned houses, insane asylums, woods/forests, suburban area, The idea of an isolated place as a horror setting has been around since the gothic era.
The horror narratives illustrate a protagonist that eventually ends up being the hero of the story, as he/she solves the problems. In "Scream"(1996) the protagonist is a female that fights to survive and kills in the end the one who wanted to murder her. In "A haunted castle"(1897) a cavalier succeeds in scaring the Devil away by showing him a crucifix.
POV shots are contemporary used as they allow the audience to see through the villain's eyes, especially when they are chasing the victim. Low lightning creates more suspense. High angle and low angle are also highly used as they illustrate fear.
Filming techniques
Characters have always been categorized in two sections: victims and villains/killers. In this particular genre(including the sub-genre "slasher"), victims have mostly been women, young and attractive, sought to be murdered, or teenagers/children. Villains are often supernatural evil entities(demons, zombies, ghosts etc) or a serial killer, mental psychopath, usually male.
Codes and conventions are typical symbols or genre specific ways used in (but not only) horror. They are assigned to 6 categories: settings, characters, filming techniques, narratives, iconography, themes.
Commonly seen themes in horror movies, always relying on "good vs evil": religion, zombies, afterlife, supernatural, nightmares, insanity etc.
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