1. Rory Giddings
Genre Analysis – Horror
Horror is a genre of film that is designed to elicit a negative emotional reaction from
viewers by playing on the audience’s fears, such as nightmares, the paranormal,
alienation, fear of the unknown, fear of pain, death, etc. Most successful horror films
are done without the use of over-elaborate special effects and mainly rely on what is
not seen as this is often scarier for the audience. Stereotypical plots involve the
intrusion of an evil force, historical event, or paranormal entity invading/affecting a
character’s everyday lifestyle. Horror films have mainly developed from a number of
sources, such as demonic entities, the paranormal, witchcraft, old legends, myths,
ghost stories, and especially fear of the unknown. The stereotypical characters of
horror films are the innocent characters which nearly always feature a female victim,
the protagonist, the dramatic/hysterical character, and the antagonist which we do
not always see.
The common clichés of horror films feature characters that make stupid decisions
and investigate in places where they shouldn’t be – such as a restricted area or
abandoned house in the woods. The stereotypical locations of a horror film are
haunted/abandoned buildings, the woods, houses associated with paranormal
entities, isolated areas, etc. These places are almost always shown at night as the
darkness adds to the suspense because the audience can’t fully distinguish the
layout or area of where the film is taking place, or what might be lurking in the dark.
The genre of horror mainly originated from depictions of supernatural events in the
silent short films created by Georges Méliès in the late 1890s. His most well-known
film was Le Manoir du Diable (Known as The Haunted Castle in Britain), which was
an 1897 French short silent film; also known as the world’s first horror film.
Furthermore, the genre of horror also has strong roots within ancient folklore and
religious traditions, such as death, the afterlife, evil, the demonic, exorcisms, etc.
These became ingrained into literature as stories of horror became formally
introduced from the 18th century onwards. This form of literature was designed to
frighten, scare, or startle the readers by inducing feelings of horror and suspense.
2. Rory Giddings
Horror Film Production Companies:
Blumhouse Productions – an American horror movie production company,
founded by Jason Blum in 2004. Blumhouse specialises in producing low-
budget horror movies, such as Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, and
Platinum Dunes – an American film production company created by
filmmakers Michael Bay and Brad Fuller in 2001. The company specializes in
horror films, mainly modern remakes, such as The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Amityville Horror,
Crystal Lake Entertainment – an American multi-media production company.
The company was named after the fictional Camp Crystal Lake from founder
and CEO, Sean S. Cunningham's cult film, Friday the 13th.
Twisted Pictures – an American independent production company, founded in
2004 by Mark Burg, Oren Koules and Gregg Hoffman. This company is well-
known for creating the Saw franchise, Dead Silence, The Tortured, etc.
Horror Film Directors and Writers:
James Wan – Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious, Dead Silence
Alfred Hitchcock – Psycho, The Birds
Wes Craven – The Hills Have Eyes, Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street
Sam Raimi – Evil Dead, The Grudge, The Possession, Spiderman
James Watkins – The Woman in Black, Gone, The Descent Part 2
John Carpenter – Halloween, The Thing, The Fog, They Live
Steven Spielberg – Jaws, Poltergeist, Something Evil
Michael Bay – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street
Oren Peli – Paranormal Activity, Chernobyl Diaries, Insidious, Area 51
Eli Roth – Hostel, The Green Inferno, Grindhouse, The Last Exorcism
3. Rory Giddings
Horror Film Awards:
‘Best Achievement in Makeup’
‘Best Visual Effects’
‘Best Sound Editing’
‘Best Costume Design’
Actors & Actresses
Most horror films usually feature relatively attractive males and females to
play either the protagonist or the irritating character. This is usually done in
order to help keep the audience entertained throughout the duration of the
film, but most likely to distract the audience from a poorly executed storyline.
The directors often choose average/less well-known actors due to the low-
budget production costs and/or because the director does not want the
audience to just watch the film because there are famous actors in it rather
than appreciate how the director has crafted the actual horror experience of
his/her film. The anonymity of the characters helps to keep the plot/action
unfolding on screen more believable and ensures that the audience aren’t
distracted by the actor’s presence. For example, if Tom Hardy was to star in a
horror film then the chances are that the audience would just focus on him
and how he looks/acts rather than the film itself. Below is an example list of
less well-known actors and actresses that have starred in unique horror films:
Jonathan Sadowski – Chernobyl Diaries (2012)
Katie Featherston – Paranormal Activity (2007)
Patrick Wilson – Insidious (2010)
Andrew Jacobs – Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)
Shelley Hennig – Unfriended (2014)
Tobin Bell – Saw (2004)
Essie Davis – The Babadook (2014)
Danielle Panabaker – Friday the 13th (2009)
Tania Raymonde – Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
4. Rory Giddings
Key Features and Elements:
There are four essential elements that, when combined, make a successful
horror film. These are:
1. Fear - fear is by far the most important factor as people choose to watch a
horror film because they enjoy the anticipation and the idea of placing themselves
outside their personal comfort zone.
2. Suspense - the best scenario usually involves someone waiting for something
to happen, and when it doesn’t happen, it occurs when they are least expecting it.
An expansion on this scenario includes fear. The viewer may know what will
happen to the character based on their fears, but there's still the looming anxiety
of waiting for the scary parts.
3. Surprise - getting someone to fear what the director has created isn't the
hardest part; making the fear surprising enough is. There are also plot twists
included in some horror films which aim to surprise the audience.
4. Mystery - many horror films try to pack the storyline straight into the film.
However, some particular viewers enjoy understanding the story during one
moment and then later realising that there is a bigger picture to be uncovered
within the film.
What makes a good horror film?
Creating a sense of reality to the fears on the screen
Creating a sense of 'discomfort', 'anticipation' and 'tension' to the audience
Acting - the actors need to be convincingly 'scared', 'lost' or whatever the plot
Plot - the plot needs to engage the audience from start to finish and keep
them gripped with unexpected twists and scares during the story.
Musical score & sound effects
What makes a bad horror film?
Simple, un-imaginative and predictable plot
Poor acting; actors that are too cheesy or over the top
Poor visual effects
The scares and tension are not of a sufficient standard
Weak camera angles and shots