Media Genre Essay - The Insane


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Discuss the short film Insane in relation to the key concepts of media language and genre.

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Media Genre Essay - The Insane

  1. 1. Discuss the short film ‘The Insane’ in relation to the key concepts of Media Language and Genre.‘The Insane’ is a short film of the Horror genre, which was written and directed by David J Ellison andMark Cripps. The film has won the Comic-Con Short Film award and is very typical of the horrorgenre. The Insane follows many conventions in terms of how it has been constructed; lighting,editing, props, but in terms of story and plot the film can be seen to be very unconventional to theGenre. Firstly there is a narrator, which is unusual for a horror film as we are usually just a part ofthe film, rather than being told the plot. Additionally the film has a twist where we learn that thevictim is in fact the person who is killing people.The film starts very predictably, but there is a twist towards the end. Many horror films leave us witha twist as it leaves us in shock and also leaves open the potential of a sequel, which can be seen inthe case of the Saw series, Final Destination series, amongst others. The film tells the story of an ex-police detective who seeks revenge on a cult of maniac insane killers who murdered his wife andyoung daughter. The story is similar to that of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, also of the horror genre,where a man seeks revenge after being dumped in a bin as a baby. Revenge can be seen as a maintheme of the horror genre.In terms of conventions, theme is not the only one followed by The Insane. The music used is alsoconventional and helps to create a feeling of suspense, and the drumbeat can signify a heartbeat,which helps to get our hearts beating too, again creating suspense. We hear the drumbeat againwhen the detective is trying to escape from the man with the chainsaw, which can represent thefear that he is feeling. Additional sound effects are also used throughout. At various points, laughingcan be heard. The laughing can connote insanity, which ties in with the title ‘The Insane’. Thelaughing could also imply that the ‘maniacs’ are laughing at him and mocking him. Additionally thenarrator has a very deep voice, which adds to the overall tone of the film. Although the concept of anarrator is unconventional, the deep voice is conventional as it can signify evil and provoke a feelingof fear towards both the detective and also in general towards the film.Additionally technical elements can also be seen to be very conventional. There is a mixture of bothfast and slow editing. This creates the impression that he is sneaking up on his victims, which is theslow editing, and then fleeing the scene after, which is the fast editing. This constructs the idea thathe is a hunter, and he is hunting down his victims and killing them. Camera shots also play animportant part throughout the short film. Several point of view shows are used at various points,this helps to put us in the detective’s position and relate to the story more, we are more likely to feelhis emotions, such as fear and shock. Various long distant and close up shorts are also used foreffect. Close Up shots (CU) are used on the victim’s faces, so we can see the emotions they feel laterin the film. These CU shots also put emphasis on the horror, adding to the overall gore of the film.Wide shots are used to give the audience a greater understanding of the setting and surroundingareas. Low angle and High angle shots are also used to act as a signifier of power, we are lookingdown on the detective and he has little power against these ‘maniac’ killers.There are many ways that the theme of ‘insanity’ is constructed in this film. One way is through non-diegetic sound, which is used to represent the voices in his head. These voices signify the idea ofinsanity as it is not what the audience would see as normal behaviour. Fast cuts appear when these‘voices’ can be heard. These quick cuts are images of his victims and also a vision of his wife andchild, who we later find out he has murdered.
  2. 2. Signs and Codes also play a huge part in making The Insane such a successful film. These signs andcodes provoke a deeper meaning, creating the audience to provoke a response. All of the victimsfaces are either fully or a majority covered up, which can relate to the film ‘Scream’ where the killerwears a mask. The masks also suggest that these killers are in disguise and are not who they arebelieved to be, which relates to the way they are normal people, yet the detective sees them asmaniacs. A majority of the film is shot in low key lighting, which can signify fear as we are scared ofthe unknown, and what is lurking in the dark. The colours used also connote a meaning, as the redlight that can be seen at the station can signify danger and blood, and suggest that he has blood onhis hands, which is his wife’s. This also relates to the red sky that can be seen, again danger andblood.Other aspects also help to generate fear, due to the unexpectedness and fear of the unknown. All ofthe weapons in the film are items that are not intended to be used to kill. The axe and chainsaws areused for cutting trees, and a knife has many purposes. This makes the film scarier as it is not what isexpected, where as a gun would be expected to be used to kill someone, as this is its purpose.Additionally all of the people are dressed in an unusual way, and some move in an unusual way, andall look insane, which again adds to the fear of the unknown and the unexpected, as we are unawareof how these people would behave.The ending is where the real twist occurs. As the two people, the man with the chainsaw, and thedetective fight face to face, we are aware that one of them is looking face to face with their killer,but we are unsure of who will win, creating a sense of suspense. We learn that the detective winsthe fight, and he then goes off to wash his face and hands, signifying that he believes the job is done,and that it is all over. It is at this point we find out he blames himself for his wife’s death, and that hecannot remember things and hasn’t slept for days, all of which are symptoms of insanity. This iswhere we learn that it is him, who is Insane, and responsible for his wife’s death as he killed her. Wethen learn from the man on the train’s paper, that he is an ‘escaped maniac killer’ who is ‘loose’. Thestory about the ‘escaped maniac killer’ is on the front page, which signifies the seriousness of thesituation and the danger that this man is too the public. We also find out from a revelation that hisvictims were all normal people, who were scared of him, yet he killed them all due to his ‘violentdelusions of horror’.In conclusion, the insane is very typical of the horror genre in relation to key concepts of medialanguage and genre as the film can be seen to use many signs and codes connected to the horrorgenre, and also to other successful horror movies, such as Scream. However, in terms of the narratorand also the twist, where the supposedly ‘good’ character is actually the evil character, whichchanges the whole storyline, the film can be seen to be unconventional in terms of these aspects.This leads us to question the extent to which ‘The Insane’ can be seen to be conventional, althoughit is very clear that the film is of the horror genre.