YEAR 13 RESEARCH
a category of artistic composition characterized by
similarities in form, style, or subject matter.
Genre can be seen in many forms of art or entertainment,
including books (e.g romantic or fantasy novels) and music
(e.g rock and pop). Genre is used to classify people‟s tastes
into specific categories.
FOR EXAMPLE: There are several genres of film including,
Fantasy, Thriller, Romance and Comedy.
Genre is particularly important in the Film Industry so
audiences can form expectations of certain films based on
their genre. For example, a person may anticipate and enjoy
going to see comedy films as they assume it will be filled with
jokes and humor.
Daniel Chandler states that genres are “based on the idea that
they share particular convention of content e.g themes or
Robert Stam also gives other examples of categorizing films into
genres, for example story content, budget, racial identity or
These theories can be applied to the Horror genre, as all Horror
films tend to have common conventions. For example, horror
usually contains horrific or violent themes, spooky settings, are
usually low budget (as opposed to sci-fi films which spend great
amounts of money on special effects) and have low lighting and
dark colours throughout.
A narrative is any story of events that are connected which is
presented through film or spoken words.
When referring to film, narrative is the actual storyline or way
that the story is structured or portrayed to the audience.
According to Vladimir Propp, who analysed 100 russian
fairytales, there are several types of characters that were
common in the narratives:
The villain (struggles against the hero)
· The donor (prepares the hero or gives the hero some
· The (magical) helper (helps the hero in the quest)
· The princess (person the hero marries, often sought for
during the narrative)
· The false hero (perceived as good character in beginning but
emerges as evil)
· The dispatcher (character who makes the lack known and
sends the hero off)
· The hero or victim/seeker hero, reacts to the donor, weds
Propps theory can be applied to horror films, for example,
there is usually a hero and a villain, with great emphasis on
the villain (e.g Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street)
and the princess, who is usually in the form of an attractive
young woman who the villain targets.
However, some horror films do not fit the character types
perfectly, for example in the film “I Spit on Your Grave”
(2010), the female protagonist begins as a princess, damsel
in distress type character, but turns into a villain as she gets
revenge. However It could be argued that she is a Hero as she
is getting revenge for being sexually abused.
Noel Carrol narrative theory on Horror
NARRATIVE- HORROR GENRE
Historical: set in an imagined past without
suggestion of supernatural
Natural: events appear to be supernatural,
but eventually are given a rational
Equivocal: the presence of the supernatural
is ambiguous, and often given a
psychological explanation; this is the origin
of modern-day “uncanny” or “fantastic”
Supernatural: unnatural forces are clearly
asserted; this is the origin of modern-day
Here are some examples of horror narrative sub-types proposed by Carrol…
This is a theory on narrative which can be applied to several
horror films and states that a story begins in equilibrium, is
then disrupted and then aims to become back to „normal‟.
For example, in the film “The Orphan”, a normal family wants
to adopt a daughter (the equilibrium) who turns out to be
murderous and aims to break up the family (the disruption of
the equilibrium), the adopted daughter is then killed at the
climax of the film (return to equilibrium)
Representation is simply the nature of how something or
someone is portrayed in a media product.
Many different social groups and sub-cultures can be
represented in different ways in the film industry, including
ethnic minorities and the different socio-economic classes.
For example, in comedies, homosexual men are usually
portrayed as flamboyant and effeminate. Representations in
films can lead to negative stereotypes.
One theory that can be applied to the horror genre in
particular is Laura Mulvey‟s Male Gaze theory. This theory
states that because “heterosexual men were in control of the
camera”, the audience of the film is therefore put in the
perspective a a heterosexual man. This can be applied to the
horror genre because women are normally portrayed as weak
and in need of help which is a common view for sexist men
and may even attract them to the film. Horror films may also
view women as sex objects as it is common for women to be
sparsely dressed when running from the villain, this connotes
An audience is the person or people viewing, listening to or
engaging in a particular media product.
The following slides show some theories related to audiences
of horror films.
PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORY- THE UNCANNY
This was developed by Sigmund Freud, founder of
Psychodynamic theory (unconscious drives, internal
conflicts from childhood etc.)
His theory of the Uncanny can help explain why
some people are so attracted to the horror genre
The theory states that cognitive dissonance occurs
when something is familiar and foreign at the same
For example, people are attracted to paranormal
films because Ghosts are similar to the human form,
yet look frightening. This would be perceived as
being uncomfortably unfamiliar
FEMINIST THEORY- SADISTIC VOYEURISM
This was developed by feminist film theorist
Laura Mulvey (the male gaze etc.)
Her theory of sadistic voyeurism can also
explain why some people are attracted to the
This is when a weaker female character is
performing a daily, personal or intimate task
(e.g getting changed or having sex) where a
strong male character abuses her privacy in a
sadistic way (think the shower scene in the
This suggests that people watch horror films
to resort back to their traditional gender roles
when a male watches the film with the
When a frightening scene occurs the male
takes on the traditional and cultural role of a
male who is supportive and protective over the
This can result in a stronger bond between