Codes and conventions of a horrorand sub genres of horror
• Supernatural: can include ghosts, monsters, dark forces, zombies, or pretty much any creepy thing that can’t be found in the real world.• Dark Fantasy: contains fantasy elements with a horror twist, or horror with a distinctly fantastical setting, like Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.• Sci-fi Horror: mash-up of science fiction and horror, usually where the sci-fic aspects (aliens, robots, space travel) are used to precipitate the overriding horror. Like in the movie Alien.• Psychological Horror: driven by characters’ fears and focused more on psychological dread than on murder, mutilation, and gore. Could be supernatural, but is more often associated with those twists where the protagonist turns out to be insane.• Lovecraft an Horror: yeah, Lovecraft is so awesome he gets his own genre. Includes stories of a distinct aesthetic involving either Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythology or similar ideas and situations: i.e., ancient secrets, giant monsters/aliens in the bowels of the earth, and a profoundly unsympathetic universe. Could also be called cosmic or atheistic horror.• Gothic: involves psychological terror in historically romantic settings, usually including mysteries, ghosts, castles, decay, madness, hereditary curses, and death. Pretty much dominated by Edgar Allan Poe.• Splatter punk/ Slasher: the horror extreme, with graphic and gory violence intended to gross you out. Includes cinema’s torture porn category, in movies like Hostel.
•Satanic/Religious/Occult: horror derived from certain belief systems and the evil aspects that theyfight against. Usually involves demonic possessions, exorcisms, or explorations of the darker side ofpagan religions and the use of ”left hand” magic. The Exorcism is a stand-out example.• Erotic Horror/Paranormal Romance: for some reason that I can’t fathom, sex and horror seem togo hand in hand. There’s plenty of erotica involving horrifying situations/the supernatural, and(unfortunately) paranormal romance (which I’m not even going to consider a genre of horror, becauseit’s NOT) has gotten huge among the teenyboppers with the unfortunate success of drivel likeTwilight.• Suspense/Thriller: does not involve any supernatural or otherworldly aspects, instead relying on real-life situations to generate horror through serial killers, deadly situations, natural disasters, andpsychopaths. Good film examples are Se7en and Jaws (even though it’s pretty unrealistic that a sharkgets so hung up on eating people).• Weird Fiction: a primarily historical term for fiction of the 1930s, it predates genre fiction andblended the supernatural, mythical, and even scientific into stories that were ultimately strange,uncanny, or unreal in nature. The term is popularized by Weird Tales magazine.• Speculative Fiction: not a subgenre but an umbrella term encompassing science fiction, fantasy,horror, superhero fiction, utopian/dystopian fiction, apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history literature.For a story that doesn’t necessarily fit into one genre, or blends several (maybe a post-apocalyptichorror/sci-fi piece with elves?), you can always just call it speculative fiction, since these genres oftenoverlap.
Codes and Conventions:Dark settings – Horror movies usually use dark locations and setting,typically at night time because both the audience and the protagonisthave limited visibility during this time. The darkness also hasconnotations with death and evilness.Low key lighting – The lighting is horror movies is normally well lithowever from an angle such as a low or high angle; this allows thelight to be concentrated in one particular area creating shadows whichbuild tension.Music- orchestral music is so common in horror films is probably thatthe open-endedness and great dynamic range of the genre allows thecomposer to greatly vary his compositions to follow the events in afilm. Another reason could be that it is very neutral and appeals to awide audience, but perhaps the main reason is that powerfulorchestral music simply works very well when there is a need toconvey emotions and set a certain mood.Groups of people- In a group of people the quite and mysteriouscharacter is always the first to get killed however the dumb and stupidcharacters always seem to survive till the very end.Costume – The victims are usually dressed as ordinary as possiblewhich keeps the audience thinking that the events are real. Normallyalso the victims wear lighter clothing because light colours haveconnotations with vulnerability or innocence however the
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