This is n example of one of the horror trailer conventions we used in our own trailer “Off Campus” (Right) and a similarshot from the trailer of the 2001 Sci-Fi horror “Jason-X”.As you can see, the convention we used is the use of shadows and silhouettes. The context is also the same, theantagonist being a large human of sorts, in this case Jason Voorhees, standing in front of light creating a silhouette. Theidea behind this is to show the audience that something is there but not reveal too much playing on the notion that webecome less scared of something the more familiar it is.Unfortunately we didn’t have as much control over the lighting as a professional production company would. We triedto use the lights in one of our group members garden but not only were they not bright enough we had difficulty gettingour own antagonist hidden perfectly without removing any background features including the all-important lighting.
This next screenshot comes from the trailer of the 2001 monster movie,“Jeepers Creepers”.What I’m comparing here is two things, first is the lightning and thesecond is the car. The lighting is what you would find during the lateafternoon shortly before sunset, we tried to capture the same lighting herebecause we felt that it gives you a “Calm before the storm” feel sincemajority of horrors happen during the night which is of course shortlyafter sunset or late-afternoon.
The next point is that of the car.This denotes an arrival or a travel, perhaps to somewhere new and mostimportantly, unknown.Not only is the location unknown but the motive is too, why are the peoplein the car driving somewhere, where are they going ect. And this couldtrigger the audiences curiosity and make them want to know more aboutwhats going on and focus on the rest of the trailer, which is always goodbecause it increases the chances of them seeing something they like andthen paying to watch the movie.
This next scene is from the 2003 slasher movie “Freddy vs. Jason”.What we’re looking at is the use of newspaper, and the ideas of the “return of therepressed”, something from the past that has been hidden and locked away now returns. In this caseone of our characters, Dan, finds a whole selection of clippings about his new houses grim history.By using newspaper and specifically the headlines we’re able to give the audience small snippets ofinformation. For example in his particular shot we can see “Serial Kil”, the audience can add 2 and 2and work out that the film has something to do with a serial killer. The paper above that reads“Burnt hill butcher corpse missing” (Which can be seen fully in another shot) which adds moremystery to the story.
This is a shot from the trailer for the 2004 zombie horror, “Resident Evil:Apocalypse”.The eye is the key feature here, or more specifically, the opening of the eye.In both shots a character opens their eye as if shocked and stunned by seeingsomething, and in our trailer this shot of one of ourcharacters, Dave, opening his eye is followed by the first glimpse of ourantagonist.
The next convention is similar to a previously mentioned one, shadows and darkness.The screenshot is from John Carpenters 1978 Slasher movie “Halloween” and whilst neither picture areparticularly clear, they both have a character fall victim to the antagonist in almost pitch black.The similarities go further, the antagonists are both silent, dressed in blue overalls and have their facescovered as well as acting almost robotic, this alone removes any form of emotion making them seemruthless and relentless.The lighting is also similar, both using a small amount of lighting, just enough to see the killer and hisvictim, and what is lit-up has a slight blue-ish tint to it.
This next convention is the use of POV shots from the antagonists point of view.Used in horror a lot throughout a fair few subgenres including monster movies and slashers, the POV isoften coupled with shots of another scene in the same location with a focus on the helpless victim as wecut back and forth between them and the killer as they “prowl” through bushes ect ready to make the kill.The screenshot is a very typical example, this one from the 1981 slasher “Friday the 13th Part 2”, and whilstwe haven’t used it for the same effect we’ve done what other movies have, parodied it. Like movies such asScream, we’ve parodied this typical and often over-used convention by making it seem like a monster orsomething is peering through the gap in a door at their victim, when it is in fact just another characterwho jumps out with a dolls head for the sake of scaring someone.We’ve used it to get our audience in the mood, and to relax them a bit luring them into a false sense ofsecurity before we really start to turn the heat up. Also, most slashers tend to feature characters that arejokers or “assholes” of some sort that the audience grow to hate and more often than not get killed or“punished”, just like in our trailer.
Another trailer convention we covered was the use of titles during the trailer, relaying information aboutthe narrative. On the left is an example from the trailer of 2004 monster movie, Jeepers Creepers 2 and ourone on the right. As well as just being there they follow further conventions, they’re the first in a series thatare linked in some way. For example, the Jeepers Creepers 2 titles read “Every 23rd spring, for 23 das, it getsto eat.” . Whilst our trailer didn’t feature the repetition of a number or word like some may do, all our titlesflowed as one long sentence, “What happens when the house you move into has an agenda of its own andinvites back some old friends from the past?”. By using this we’re not just giving the viewer random chunksof information, instead it’s an easily understandable, spoiler-free version of the narrative condensed into asentence that can be conveniently chopped up into titles.
As well as following horror conventions, our trailer also follows a number of trailerconventions. Some of which include the use of production titles. Here we have 4 differenttitles used, the mpaa title, the production company title, a condensed billing blockincluding major cast members, our producer and distributor. The final title is a small“coming soon” at the very end, we found similar titles all over the place, often accompaniedby some form of musical queue, an idea we proceeded to use in our own trailer.
In conclusion I think we tackled the task of using conventions of horror, and morespecifically slashers, rather well.Some areas we did overdo it a bit, I got the idea of showing deaths in the trailerafter seeing the Friday the 13th trailer which is literally a montage of 13 deathscenes, not realising that the trick was to tease the viewer with some gore and aperson getting attacked but not actually showing a load of corpses and this issomething I would consider seriously changing.The only other thing would be the newspapers. I have already explained why weused newspapers in our trailer but like the deaths it was apparent that we used toomany scenes with the newspapers and cutting down on this might prove helpful aswe’re not bombarding the viewer with the same convention over and over again.We used other conventions that were somewhat hard to represent in a single framesuch as small scenes used to make the audience jump. We used one at the end ofour trailer with a character getting grabbed by our killer from the shadows, andthis works as a sort of last ditch attempt at scaring the audience if nothing hasdone already.We also made sure that we added in the various trailer conventions including titlesin the appropriate places, and use of a soundtrack and shot speed and length usedto increase the pace at the end.