Small communities or isolated places. Urban environments, dark streets and narrow alleyways. Large cities or run down ghost towns. Anything that connotes isolation or being alone.
Often sometimes places with “dark” history, like abandoned houses, hotels and insane asylums.
Locations for any good horror genre film could be: Lakes, Roads, Highways, Countryside, Barns, Farms, Dark Woods, Woodlands, Houses, Cabins, Cities, Subways, Gloomy Underground Tunnels, Creepy Hotels, Abounded Houses, Haunted Houses, Space-Stations (for Sci-Fi Horror), Graveyard (Or Cemetery), Dungeons, Deserted Ships at Sea, Space Ships, Alien Planets (Like Predators), basements, attics, meat factories, science lab, London Underground, Shopping Mall, Cornfield, Pirate Ship, Tundra, Asylum, Deep Water, Blizzards and many other dark locations.
Technical Codes George Woodford
Camerawork is very expressive and not natural. High and Low angles can connote fear and nightmares.
POV shots are important because they allow the audience to see the world from the monster’s eye. This happens roughly at the end or in the middle of typical horror film (Evil Dead had a very long POV shot when it chasing Ash the hero through his house).
Handheld shots make it difficult for the audience to make out what is happening. Cloverfieldis one prime example of this, since the entire movie is shot with a handheld camera to promote the feeling of terror and the unknown.
Sometimes framework uses the depth of field, makes it harder to see the monster creeping up behind the protagonist.
Disturbing sounds are very important in a horror movie. Ambient diegetic sounds like footsteps and non-diegetic sounds (like a heartbeat).
Types of shots used like ECU on a certain victim’s face can help the audience identification with horror and fear, and also to exclude any threats (if we can’t see it, then its more terrifying).
Editing can create unsettling tension and suspense. If the editing hasn’t been paced up in a while then you know that something very bad is about to jump out and scare you.
Iconography George Woodford
Visual style: Often dark colours like red and black (links to evil, blood and danger etc).
Lighting is expressive and non-naturalistic. Low-key lighting can help to crate dark shadows and unfamiliar shapes in the blackness. Lighting can be motivated in the world of the film (like bonfires, fireplaces and torches).
Props can help us to further identify horror genre. Specific props can be identified with a certain villain or character (Chainsaws, Machetes, Knife, Claw Gauntlets, Costumes, Firearms etc).
Common objects include: Weapons, Masks, Icons of the Supernatural, Religious Icons etc).
The iconography of the monsters help to connote extreme fear, disgust and terror: Werewolves, Vampires, Mummies, Frankenstein and many others.
Narrative Structure George Woodford
Classic narrative structure largely made applicable to the Horror genre but it can either be left for closure or maybe perhaps leave room for sequel and thus enable a franchise (Like Friday the 13th, Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street)
There’s always a hero a protagonist, a man or “final girl” of the film, keeping with the normal conventions of the genre. Usually the hero must embark on a mission or quest to kill or solve problems.
Some narratives are very formulaic and this is practically present in sub-genres, most noticeably Slasher films. After some event that turns the killer insane or by some childhood past or even psychotic medical issues, the villain returns to his home-town and always preys on teenagers. These teenagers represent “immoral” and are quite stupid, usually they are the ones who start the horror in the first place or maybe they just get killed quickly and there is always (sometimes) a survivor, most likely a female character.
Character Types George Woodford
The Main Protagonist, often the “victim/hero” of the movie.
The Villain, often a monster, mutated freak, alien or serial killer.
The stupid/immoral teenagers that always get killed.
Police Officers that can either be good or bad.
And many more: Ghosts, Zombies, Demons, Psychopath, Stalker, Weirdo, Werewolf, cheerleader and the list goes on.
Themes George Woodford
Good Versus Evil
Science gone bad
“Self-consciousness” making you question what is real and what is not