Your Experiences of the Horror Genre:
The Horror Film and the Audience
a) Who do you think the target audience for the
Horror film is?
b) Do you watch horror films? If not , why, not?
c) What is you favourite horror film and why?
d) Do you watch horror films at home or at the cinema? Alone or with friends? Does this
change your experience of them?
e) Has anyone expressed concern about you watching horror films? What were the
reasons for this?
What is the Appeal of the Horror Genre?
While other genres such as the Thriller or Gangster film may have scenes that create
suspense and even revulsion for the audience, the horror genre is different in that the aim of
the film is to frighten the spectator/audience – to make them feel anxious and fearful – not
emotions we usually associate with pleasure!
So what is the attraction of the horror genre, why does the audience enjoy being scared and
are disappointed if they are not?
The Three Main Ideas/Theories
The Play Theory: Audiences enjoy the adrenaline rush, the roller coaster ride, secure in the
knowledge that there is no danger- it’s only a film!
Fantasies of Power: This reading suggests that we enjoy the power of the monster and are
attracted by the monsters violation of social conventions – he/it breaks the rules!
The Psychoanalytical account: That horror films allow us to fulfil our repressed desires
(often sexual and violent.) Horror films allow us to express these desires then repress them
again - often with the death of the monster. This idea is particular evident in gothic horror
films where the relationship between the female victim and Dracula is seen to represent
female sexual desire.
Psychoanalysis: developed by Sigmund Freud , was the attempt to understand human behaviour in
terms of the conflict between our conscious and unconscious desires.
Repression: A defence mechanism in how we protect ourselves from harmful but attractive ideas (often