I will be discussing four different sub-genres
that exist within the larger genre of
Horror. These sub-genres include Possession,
Slasher, Psychological, Supernatural and
A convention that always occurs in supernatural horror is that it is normally set in
a home or other everyday places. A supernatural presence is not something that
someone can escape from or fight against this is what makes this sub-genre so
terrifying. Supernatural films are usually set at the protagonist's home because it
creates that fear that your safe place is not safe at all and it being supernatural
you don’t know what could happen next. The supernatural object creating fear is a
ghost, spirit or a curse.
There are two common narrative of supernatural horrors that tend to be used.
One revolves around the idea that a new family are moving in a home that turns
out to have a history and to be haunted. Soon they are being tormented by
paranormal events, such as in The Amityville Horror.
The other common narrative that is also used is when a person is either cursed or
a spirit comes after them for example in Drag Me To Hell, where Christine is
It is conventional for this sub-genre to use orchestral music as it suits the scenes
presented. Contrapuntal sound is also used to create fear and terrify the audience
for example when something terrible is going to happen by adding sound that is
meant to be sweet and innocent it scares the audience more as your are turning
something innocent into something terrifying, by adding a child's laughter to a
scene it becomes sinister. For example in Amityville horror as the woman walks
past a room you hear a child's laughter.
A psychological horror does not contain gore and weapons, psychological plays with
the mind of the audience making them feel vulnerable.
The killer normally has a twisted mind and that acts as an instigator of fear and is, in
effect, their ‘weapon’. A disturbed or tormented individual is the main antagonist
who may come back to get revenge on their victims. The may be a child this could be
because it terrifies the audience even more because they are turning an innocent
child into a devil/monster . Most of the times the victims tend to be female and this
could be because the fact the mothers are maternal and the female audiences
watching will be able to relate.
Psychological horror are set normal settings like big houses, schools and hospitals.
These types of settings creates realism for the audience and they are able to relate
to them. They will also feel vulnerable as they feel their safe place ( their home) is
not safe from anything and that danger can invade their safety.
In psychological horrors, the ‘monster’ looks normal too; they are normal and even
attractive sometimes on the outside, but have purely distorted minds.
Psychological horrors often feature a really good twist towards the end.
Most slasher films have a final girl which survives till the end. The features of the final girl are suggestive that
she is not very feminine to suggest that she has the kind of qualities required to out wit h killer and survive.
Their costume is generally quite conservative and they are normally the most clever out of the friendship circle.
The final girl always survives to the end, generally she has a chase scene to endure and at the end of this there
will be the confrontation were the killer is defeated, killed or warded off. The final girl will usually be a brunette,
not very sexual and she may be unpopular amongst her circle of friends.
The slasher villains are portrayed as mentally deranged and/or physically deformed individuals who were
traumatized in many instances at an early age. The killer in slasher films is usually male, his identity is often
hidden and unknown, as they usually wear a mask , this gives the effect of not knowing the killer , the killer
staying unknown and the victims always staying aware of who it could be a close friend or an enemy . The
costume that hides their body and makes them look more physically imposing. The killer is usually big and
strong which makes it impossible to kill him. Slasher killers tend to prefer brutal hand held weapons such as
knives, axes, machetes and chainsaws. This gives the killer an up close and personal relation with the victim,
that he will be killing.
Many slasher films feature a group of teenage friends and most of them end up dead which usually leaves one
survivor who is usually the final girl. The group of friends tend to be young, attractive and high school or college
There are two main types of locations in the majority of horror slasher films, suburban neighbourhoods and
woods. More commonly used is suburbs, this helps to leave the audience with a sense of fear because it is a
place that you would consider to be safe in. The location could be part of the killer’s identity as it could be
associated with a bad childhood or a significant event which the killer was involved in. Examples of existing
major films which take place in surban areas are Halloween and Scream, Casey is home alone in an isolated
mansion in a wealthy suburban – meaning there are plenty of rooms and places for a killer to hide with limited
neighbours or towns nearby. Another location is woods, which is rarely used in slasher films, but it is still used.
An example of this is Friday the Thirteenth, which took place in woods by a lake
Possession films are usually based on an object or a person being possessed by
an evil spirit. This then leads to them showing abnormal, scary and horrific
behaviour as if manipulated by evil itself. Audiences will see characters
levitating, contorting their bodies or speaking in strange voices or languages.
They may even kill animals or eat insects.
Possession films use religious imagery, especially Christian or Jewish religious
artefacts e.g. Crucifix, due to the fact that priests and religious figures are often
drafted in to perform exorcisms or to get rid of the evil present. It also creates
more of a scare factor as people who are religious will be more terrified as they
believe this could happen to them. The great history of the religions featured in
possession films leads the audience to believe that the evil spirit has also been
in existence for a long time, meaning that it is hard to get rid of the evil spirit.
Possession films are usually set in the home or isolated locations with lots of
dark history and the location is normally a large house or even a place of
worship. The place of worship ties in with the religious imagery convention of
the genre. These places are normally old which gives the the audience a sense
that the place has a lot of history and evil has been there for years and will
continue to be there and terrorise its next victims.
Gothic horror films were popular in the 1920’s , 30’s and 40’s. Gothic
horrors feed on our darkest fears and desires, and conjure up
creatures of the night into being. The monster is usually mythical,
such as vampires, werewolves, headless horsemen and ghosts that
either try to kill or haunt their victims. Gothic films are usually set in
a isolated location such as a dark misty forest or a big house/
mansion in the middle of nowhere in far off mystical lands that the
audience would never visit. Castles and graveyards also feature.
Gothic horrors are often set in the past and use dark shadows and
8. The sub genre chosen by my group
My Group and I decided to choose the Possession sub-genre because
we believe that it is the most interesting genre to create a film
in. There are many conventions to follow and challenge and there are
also many different narrative possibilities. Since Possession films are
becoming increasingly relevant in today's society, it would make sense
to create a film that will appeal to a wide range of audiences that like
to watch the latest Possession films such as "Insidious 2" and "The
Since the sub-genre is one of the more sophisticated Horror sub-
genres, we can target a sophisticated audience that understands the
many codes and conventions of the genre.
Not only will the film be interesting for the audience, it will be very
interesting to create the film itself in all stages of production, from
brainstorming narrative ideas to story-boarding to filming and to
editing. We believe as a group that the project will be very interesting
to produce and will allow our creative ideas and thoughts to
flourish. This will allow us to develop as media practitioners because
of the great opportunity for creative ideas.