Intertext 1- paranormal Activity
• Paranormal Activity is a 2007 supernatural thriller, originally produced by Blumhouse
Productions, but was taken over by Paramount Pictures who changed parts of the film from
• It was written and directed by Oren Peli and stars Kate Featherston and Micah Sloat.
• The story line involves a young, middle class couple who move into a suburban 'starter'
tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be
somehow demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. Especially when
• The reviews were positive, receiving a maximum of 4 stars and was ranked 16th in ‘Bloody
Disgusting's’ horror film website.
The Diegetic sound includes the pure silence that creates enigma and suspense for the
audience; as it builds their expectation that something will happen.
Using only voices/screams or the fuzzy sound which a tape makes when you rewind it
too far, creates this sense of realism for the audience and therefore makes the trailer
seem more terrifying.
The diegetic sound also includes the audience’s fearful reactions (included from the
cinema, in the trailer); for example when the bed sheets move. This makes the
audience watching doubt the level of ‘scariness’ because it’s seen as humorous to
jump at something scary that might not actually be scary and so the audience wants to
see it for themselves.
The fact that the trailer shows one of the main characters talking into the camera,
telling the audience what’s going on also makes it seem more real because the
producers aren’t using famous Hollywood actors but ‘normal’ people who the
audience can relate to.
The colours used are really dark, almost in black and white which connotes fear and is
iconography of a security camera at night (someone is watching you).
The light involved shines off the back of the bed board as if from the moon; which is
again iconography of the horror/thriller genre. It creates the shadow on the door; the
fact that the audience can't actually see what is pulling the woman out of her bed
makes it more real because the creature is invisible. As most people don't believe in
ghosts and demons (they're not common anyway!), the producers didn't show the
creature as it would look comic; the audience don't have an image in their heads and is
therefore a risk it would look so unreal.
The way that the producers include shots of the audience walking into the cinema and
them watching the film means the audience can see their reactions of the film (gesture
codes were scared and fearful as people clung to those next to them for example) and
can therefore tell it’s terrifying.
The setting is in the cinema for the audience, which involves personal identity, as most
people can relate to this, knowing what it feels like to watch something on a big screen
(especially a horror film).
More Visual Codes
The mise-en-scene of the setting in the actual film is shown in an everyday house,
nothing special; and this also brings a sense of personal identity because everyone
knows what’s this is like and increases the realism because people can imagine the
unknown ‘monster’ in their house.
It’s all about making it look as real as possible, as other factors show, such as the
relaxed and casual dress codes of the characters and the audience. As well the
characters gesture codes which are natural and look as if they were unscripted, this has
an effective impact on the audience because they’re acting as anyone would and
therefore makes the narrative of the film more believable. This is especially important
when advertising a horror/thriller film.
The action codes shown in the trailer included the audiences reactions, which caught the
audience gripping their seats and screaming at particular points in the film. This impacted what
the audience watching this felt, they would be more likely to go and watch the film because they
know people in their own audience found it scary; this involves the personal identity side of the
uses and gratifications theory, the way the audience can relate to texts due to the characters
involves sharing the same values (scared of what ever is haunting the house). And as people
who like horror films they will want it to be as scary as possible because this satisfies their
The action codes within the actual film involve the scenes where the mysterious and scary
happenings are occurring, for example when the door slams, the white footsteps on the floor and
the bed sheet moving up as if something’s underneath it. These scenes are shown to give a taster
to the audience of what the film is like and were chosen because they are particularly creepy.
This creates the idea of moral panic because the film comes across so real, people might believe
it exists in real life and as there have been other mysterious events that have actually happened it
links real events to texts in the media.
The Narrative codes first show that the women in the film is sure theirs something weird
going on at night, whereas the her partner gives the impression he doesn’t believe there’s
anything wrong as she asks him ‘you believe me right?’. This is stereotypical that the
female character would be worried or paranoid that something’s wrong and she’s scared,
whereas the male character’s gesture codes show it’s all a waste of time. This is the same
in most narratives; the female character represented to be scared and worried which
makes her seem more vulnerable.
Then they set up the camera to catch what happens, the man’s voice goes through that
the doors are locked and the alarm is on. This builds the audience’s expectation that
something must happen, otherwise they wouldn’t have included it in the trailer or film.
the audience can also relate to this because it’s what everyone does to make themselves
feel safe at night and this therefore gives them the impression that it’s no going to be
enough this time.
The trailer also contains some binary oppositions; first the name ‘paranormal’ is an
opposition, in the narrative something against the normal happens and this is
iconography of horror/thriller films because the narrative always contains an event
which goes against the usual everyday occurrences. Also the camera at night shows a
black and white scene, colours that oppose each other which have opposite connotations.
The man at the beginning of the trailer looks directly into the camera, making a direct mode
of address to the audience. This makes the narrative seem more important because the
characters are speaking and looking directly to the audience as if to say this is real and
serious. It makes the audience feel special because what they are saying is directed at them
and therefore they find it easier to empathise with the characters on the basis of what’s
happening to them.
The fact they are using a hand held camera shows the film has a low production value, the
trailer doesn’t show any special effects and this is all contributing to the make up of how real
The shots used are all simple, which again links to the low production values; the long shot of
them asleep where most of the action occurs is effective because it’s as if someone/thing’s
watching them. And the close and medium shots show the audience’s reactions and that
everyone is acting the same. This will attract the audience because they know everyone finds
it scary rather than just the individuals shown.
As the trailer moves on the editing involves very quick cuts that flash from one to the other;
the view is edited so it looks like an old tape, the visual noise effect as if a tape is rewinding
is flashed between shots, suggesting what’s happening has been going on for a while and
might not go away.
Intertext 2- The Awakening
• The Awakening is a Horror/Thriller film released on the 11/11/11 in the U.K and produced
by StudioCanal which is a French based production company and has the third largest film
library in the world.
• It was directed by Nick Murphy and stars Rebecca Hall and Dominic West.
• The narrative is set in 1921, where England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World
War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a
child ghost. Everything she knew unravels as the 'missing' begin to show themselves.
The diegetic sound is just the character’s voices throughout the trailer, they are shown in
way which tells the story quickly to the audience of what the film is about and what they say
are clips from the film. This gives a taster to the audience of what it will be like and what it’s
about, it also introduces the characters and what they are like, which is important in terms of
the audience relating of empathizing to them. The diegetic sound also comes from slamming
doors and the little bells set as traps; these are iconographic of horror/thriller films, events
which make it all seem more dramatic and real. This is conventional because the more real
the producers make the film, the scarier it is.
The non-diegetic sound is the music soundtrack throughout the first part of the trailer where
it’s introducing the characters and telling the plot; the music then dies down as things get
more serious and creepy, building the audience’s expectation that something horrid is
happening, from the silence of the huge school. The music then speeds up to match the
camera shots which are quick cuts, these are the parts in the film that the producers don’t
want to give too much away, but want the audience to see the excitement and action
The setting is shown by a long shot at the beginning of the trailer, it shows a huge, grey grand
looking building which is the school; the school is shown to be surrounded by countryside, in
the middle of no-where. This indicates that the boys who go here come from rich families, who
can afford to send their children off to well educated private school. The fact that the school is
set in the countryside with no visible towns or villages suggests to the audience that something
is hidden here that nobody usually sees. So this immediately builds their expectation, creating
enigma of what happens in this mysterious school and why do they need a ‘ghost’ hunter?
The lighting throughout the whole trailer is very grey; the colours are very neutral, connoting
boredom perhaps from the school or the iconographic darkness associated with all horror/thriller
films. This darkness also shows the time it’s set in; as mentioned at the start of the trailer it’s set
just after the first world war which was a relieving but sad time and the greys also connote old
rather than modern. This immediately sets the mood of the film as the audience feel this will be
chilling film which includes some pretty dark ideas.
Their dress codes also reflect the time period, the men wearing old fashioned waist coats and
suits, the maid of the school wearing the apron dresses and the woman wearing long skirts and
white blouses. This helps set the time zone of the film for the audience, making it seem more
real and therefore more terrifying. As their gesture codes are always afraid, also aware of
something strange going on; which confirms what is happening and the scale of it.
The action codes first include the boys running in from gym, as Florence arrives with the
headmaster, their gesture codes are nervous and lonely looking. Showing the students at the
school in the trailer quite early on means the audience can personally identify to what they
partly feel, as everyone has been to school and therefor know what lessons feel like. It’s just
their expressions show there’s something different about this school.
The trailer then shows Florence setting up traps and detectors to catch the what they think is a
ghost. This shows the audience that what they have here is serious and that it’s bad enough to try
everything to catch it. If this film was shown in the time it’s set it would have created a moral
panic because people don’t believe in ghosts and the supernatural. Whereas this film is
suggesting they do exist; at first she didn’t believe there actually was a ghost but she soon found
out this was no school boy trick, it was real and this is why the audience would be more likely to
The action codes in the trailer are all to build tension and enigma; for example when the little
red ball rolls down the stairs and she calls out ‘Hello?’ as a question the audience can tell
something unusual is happening that’s out of her control.
When Florence is introduced at the start of the trailer as the ghost catcher, who then travels to the
school and meets the maid it sets the scene and introduces the main characters to the audience.
This would be the equilibrium, the audience is told what it’s about and the can get a feel of what
it’s like. Florence then asks the pupils about this so called ghost and immediately sets up traps the
devices to stop it; yet she has some strange encounters herself and is shown confused in what is
happening. This is the disruption; the event that upsets scene one and builds the audience’s
expectations of what it to happen. The trailer then includes a series of fast cuts, up to the end; this
means the audience can glimpse the action but not gaining too much from it so they are made to
want to go and see it.
Propp’s character role can also be applied; as Florence acts as the hero, which unconventional
because the produces have a female playing a stereotypically male’s role (especially in that time
period, where the men are shown to do the work). The headmaster is the prince and the helper,
the maid is the donor as she gives information to the hero and the ghost would be the villain.
Including these subtle roles in films is conventional because it creates a conflict which makes it
more interesting to watch and means there is someone who the audience can look up to.
The editing mostly involves cuts with few fades between them and slight panning shots of
the school and surroundings. Because it’s only a trailer it’s important to keep it simple
because the audience needs to understand it, if the trailer involved loads of complicated
editing the narrative could also seem this way too and therefore discourage people from
wanting to see it.
There are close ups of the small details such as the ball rolling down the stairs and the traps
which create and excite the audience. Again the trailer doesn’t include complicated shots as
this takes the focus off what is happening in the scene and makes it seem unreal (especially
not wanted in a horror/thriller film).
There are long shots of the school which occurs throughout the trailer, reminding the
audience of where they are, helping them to imagine what it would be like.
There are some point of view shots, for example when she is talking to the boys in class and
this helps the audience understanding what it’s like for them; generally relating to the whole
situation means they find it more interesting.
Intertext 3- The Amityville
• The Amityville Horror is a 2005 horror film based on a true story.
• It was directed by Andrew Douglas and stars Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George.
• It was produced by Dimension Films in the US and MGM, who claimed the remake was
based on new information uncovered during research of the original events.
• The film was originally a book by Jay Anson and plot includes a family who is terrorized
by demonic forces after moving into a home that was the site of a grisly mass-murder.
• Manohla Dargis of the New York Times said, “Low-key creepy rather than outright scary,
the new Amityville marks a modest improvement over the original…”
The trailer first begins with the diegetic sounds of gun shots which then goes into the newspaper
headlines of the mass murder. At this point the sound of the tape rewinding can be heard and the
visual noise as if it was made a long time ago which is conventional because it creates suspense
and enigma for the audience. This is voiced over from what seems a radio or TV news headline;
this again makes it all seem real for the audience, as they are totally passive viewers.
As the family move into the house, the children’s laughter can be heard and this echoes
emphasising the sound, making it seem more dramatic and creepy. This is an intertext from
other films; it’s conventional to involved a possessed child with that skin crawling laughter that
doesn’t seem quite natural.
Then there is a classic haunted house scene as the camera zooms out on the house, rain pouring
down and lightning illuminating the sky. This is also conventional and is a stereotype in way of
horror films. It sets the fearful mood of the audience because of what they associate with the
sound of thunder and lightning.
The non-diegetic sound is slow and tension building music, this builds the suspense that
something will happen that is not expected and so builds audience’s expectations.
The film is set in an old house in New York which was the place of a mass murder; this is
shown after the murder happened with policemen coming out of the house. One year later
the house is shown again, more clearly but obvious that it’s old. This setting is iconographic
of horror films and it’s very conventional to have a ‘haunted’ house; this builds the audiences
expectations that this will be different from the conventional haunted house idea.
The lighting and colours are mostly dark, connoting death and unhappiness which are both
traits associated with horror films. The beginning of the trailer starts in black and white,
suggesting an event that happened a long time ago; it was only a year ago so it implies that
whatever happened isn’t over yet. The only lighter part is when the family are shown to
move in, their gesture codes are so happy and so the light helps set this mood too. This
creates enigma for the audience because this family are shown to be almost too happy, so
surely something bad will happen to them.
The gesture codes of the policemen are stern but confused; an indication that there was
something different about these murders. This creates realism for the audience because it
shows a serious case as a real event. There’s a binary opposition when the family move into
the same house as the murders; they are happy and seem completely oblivious to what
happened a year ago.
The Iconography also shown in the trailer is the bath and the axe, both objects that are
associated with everyday life but conventional that horror films use this normality to create
The action codes begin with the camera scanning the news headlines of the murders and that
they caught the man who is said to be ‘possessed’. This brings the Hypodermic Syringe
theory, as producers can inject the passive audience that the narrative of this film is based on
the true story and here’s the proof. Because the newspapers and news are part of the
audience's everyday lives they are very familiar, so if they are involved in a film then it’s
likely the audience will take it seriously. This also introduces the personal identity side of the
uses and gratifications theory because the audience can relate to what’s happening, meaning
they feel more involved in the film.
The action codes then include lots of fast cuts from the film, the happy family suddenly
seems not so happy anymore so this satisfies the audience’s expectation they made from the
beginning. This create a moral panic because the family is shown to be braking up, even
though these clips are flashed by in an instant the audience can tell something is different and
something is wrong. And because of the life like news at the start the audience could question
of this actually happened; creating a panic inside.
The horror/thriller film’s trailer narrative all happen the same; first some context is given or the
equilibrium, which usually involves the character’s voices or other voices. For example in this
film the newspaper headings show the information, in Paranormal Activity the characters were
filming each other telling the audience what they were doing and why. Next something
happens to upset this equilibrium, called the disruption; this is when the family move into the
old ‘haunted’ house, in The Awakening this is shown when Florence sets up the traps. This
gives the audience the base of what happens next, they have an idea of why. The resolution
doesn’t occur in trailers because this would make it just a summery of the film rather than
making people wanting to go and see it by not spoiling the end; the audience want to find this
out for themselves.
The happy gesture codes of the family who are moving in create a conceptual binary
opposition of innocent and evil. The fact that this family is portrayed to be a stereotypically
perfect American family the audience have realised they are actually the victims of something
deadly. This opposition creates a conflict for the audience; a conventional narrative involving
good and evil, traits which everyone is so used to and yet that are still effective in captivating
an audience to a film.
The editing of the scenes at the start of the trailer are fast shots showing the paper headings
and interviews of the policeman. This is filmed in black and white, where the voice is fuzzy
and unclear; the part between cuts are the rewind effects that are normally seen as tape
rewinds. This helps set the time period of the film which was 1974; this is conventional of this
genre as The Awakening was also set a while back. The font of the text is old fashioned and
recognisable from a typewriter, this could also challenge audience expectations because it
happened a long time ago so makes it seem less scary.
The newspaper headings fade in with each other, linking each story with the next as they
discover who was behind the murders.
The screen as the family move in becomes smaller, as if it’s from a handheld camera and this
is confirmed as the mother blows a kiss into the screen. This direct mode of address helps the
audience become familiar with the characters, as if they are involved too. This is also shown in
Paranormal activity; it’s conventional because it makes the plot seem more real if the
characters come across as normal (not huge Hollywood stars with perfect dress codes).
As the trailer comes into the disruption the shots slow down, enabling the audience to
understand what’s happening. Also in this part of the trailer, shoot of the house which
gradually zooms out to reveal the huge scale of it and the name of the house ‘High Hopes’.
The camera shots vary from close to long, which means the audience is provided with enough
detail but nothing complicated that it’s unclear.
Intertext 4- Scream 4
• Scream 4 is a 2011 American horror film produced by The Weinstein Company; an
American film studio that also worked with Dimension Films.
• It was Directed by Wes Craven and stars Courtney Cox and David Arquette.
• Originally, the series was intended to be a trilogy, but after ten years, Bob Weinstein
thought it was the right time for another film. Depending on the box office, Scream 4 is
intended to be the first of a new trilogy.
• The plot involves Sidney Prescott, now the author of a self-help book, who returns home to
Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. Sidney's appearance also brings about the
return of Ghostface, putting her whole town in danger.
• ‘Uninspiringly, unoriginally postmodern, Scream 4 fails to frighten or enlighten’The
The film opening starts with the diegetic sound of the phone ringing, with non-diegetic
sound of soft, mysterious piano music. This is conventional to have the sound of the phone
because it’s iconographic of horror films, it’s creating enigma of who is calling and
usually ends up with some mysterious voice telling the person they’re outside their house.
This suggests to the audience that this is a conventional, classic scary film.
The opening then goes onto someone’s voice asking what their favourite scary movie is,
which is then continued in the high school. While this is happening the background music
is still playing underneath the voices and this creates an opposition of something which is
fairly normal and the idea that something’s going to happen. This creates a social
interaction and integration, as audiences can discuss what they think will happen (this will
generally happen when they’ve seen the whole trailer).
The music then speeds up as the reporter comes on, talking about a returning celebrity and
the anniversary of the Woodspurl murders. The audience can therefore tell the obvious
connection between a well loved celebrity and the bloody murders. The fact that the music
speeds up connotes tension and importance, subconsciously drawing the audience in.
The trailer also involves a lot of screaming, hence the title and the sounds of a blade; this
is also very iconic, as the audience build their expectations because of the foreknowledge
they received from other films in the same genre.
The trailer is set in a typical American Environment, the high school and the town where
everyone seems to know everyone. Because the audience has brought the foreknowledge from
outside this genre of what American programmes are like, the environment is very familiar to
them; so for something different to happen which upsets this security follows the conventions
of a horror film (this is also what happens in the other interexts).
The lighting is quite bright and normal to begin with, as the audience would expect to see an
American town and this connotes happiness. Then the trailer shows clips from the night, the
darkness connoting mystery and fear; this is conventionally when the action codes occur, as
well as the fear.
The gesture codes of the girls at the start is quite tedious, as they role their eyes and mimic the
boy asking what their favourite horror film was. As the trailer moves on their gesture codes get
more freaked and terrified as they find out and experience what’s happening to everyone else.
The fact that the main characters are females is very stereotypical of their gender; the film
represents them as weak and scared, stereotypically as any girl would feel if their was
something creepy happening.
The iconography is the grim reaper that’s causing the stabbings, with the iconographic dagger.
This is intertextuality from other films, a familiar image to the audience even though it’s scary
enough, recognising the figure is a reminder of what they do. Also the writing on the wall is
very iconographic, the audience will associate it
with threats and heart pounding messages from
killers to their victims.
The narrative first involves the phone call, the interviews in the school and the news report.
These are shown in the trailer to set the setting and introduce the characters to the audience. It
also includes the beginning of a mystery which has usually happened in the past and is now
reappearing. The audience can then empathize to how the characters feel about something
they’ve heard about in the news which is then happening to them. This is a section of the
equilibrium of the film.
As the killings start the music quickens and the camera cuts also get faster; it shows the
characters terror and fright as they try to escape from this killer. Some of the clips in this part
are humorous, especially of the two policemen; this is intertextuality from Hot Fuzz just on a
less extreme level. For example Hot Fuzz also includes two policemen as the main characters
and the Hooded murderer. This makes the film seem less serious, therefore unconventional of
a Horror film because it make it seem less real for the audience.
It also brings a source of entertainment from the Uses and Gratifications theory because it’s
made less serious by the humour and by using typical American stars that are very
recognisable (also unconventional of genre) from other films. This allows the audience to get
away from their everyday lives because it’s not made as real as a typical horror film; the fear
wouldn’t have an as bigger effect.
The editing involves blackouts at the beginning with just a voice, the screen then suddenly
flashes with the grim reaper to make the audience jump before flashing black again. This is
unusual for any trailer to involve something that makes the audience jump as it’s usually just
an overview of the film but it’s also effective because it grabs the audience’s attention
The trailer mostly includes cuts from one image to the next, some have slight pans which are
held for longer and this is usually on the setting or characters. It also is followed by a quick
series of cuts. This sudden change from a pause to sudden action adds drama and tension to
the trailer. The fact that the trailer also doesn’t contain any complicated editing means the
audience isn’t distracted from the main narrative.
The camera angles are also simple and conventional: close ups to show characters gesture
codes and reactions, medium shots including the action and setting and long shots to place
the scene. If the trailer used lots of birds eye views and over the shoulder shots for example
the scenes wouldn’t be as clear in relation to what is happening.