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Conventions of horror films. By Jumana Ismail

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Conventions of horror films. By Jumana Ismail

  1. 1. Jumana Ismail Conventions of Horror films There are many conventions of horror films that we as the audience expect to see when watching a horror films. Different aspects of horror films and their conventions is what makes a film a horror, or make it typical of a horror. Conventions are the general way of how something is accepted. All genres of films will have specific conventions that the audience will expect to see, however movies within the horror genre have specific conventions that I will discuss. Conventions of Horror films include: - Red and Black Imagery - Low lighting - Isolated locations - Slow paced sound that builds up Red and Black Imagery Red imagery is a common convention in horror films as it adds a sense of death and misery. The colour red is associated with pain, harm and death. If there is constant red imagery in a horror film, it indirectly informs the audience that evil is happening throughout the film. Additionally, the audience will recognise that someone has been killed or harmed which is a common feature in horror films, as the whole point of a horror film is to fright the audience. This is present in many horror films; however I have specifically noticed it in the movie saw 1. Saw 1 is a very gruesome movie which includes a lot of red imagery including blood as it involves many disgusting things happening such as cutting body parts off. The fact that there is so many blood present in the film emphasises on the fact there are so many people with body parts cut off and that this will continue to happen throughout the film. It is clear to the audience that this may be a horror as the causes of blood occurring is coming from something harmful or negative. Moreover, black and red titles are forms of conventions of horror movies, as they are two contrasting colours. Many horror films include that aspect in their films, and specifically the film Insidious. Both colours connote danger, especially when put together.
  2. 2. Jumana Ismail Low Lighting Low lighting is very important in horror movies as it builds up suspense and tension throughout the film, as well as gives an eerie feeling to the audience in order for the audience to feel frightened. Low lighting is very popular in many horror films as it puts the audience in a scary environment that’s full of suspense. Low lighting is also vital in creating dark shadows and unusual shapes which is used for effect as builds up mystery amongst the audience. An example of low lighting is present in the opening sequence of Insidious 1. The dark lighting is very effective on the film as the audience can not clearly see what’s going on which causes them to focus well on all the aspects going on in the film. The fact that the antagonist comes out of the dark with a candle emphasises on how scary the antagonist looks. Isolated Locations In most horror films, isolated locations are a common and popular convention as it gives a sense of loneliness, and loneliness can build up fear. Additionally, when isolation is present, it informs the audience that no one is around to rescue the victim in a horror film. I have seen this present in the movie ‘The Shining’ which is a horror. The fact that the opening sequence consists of an isolated location of the country side and mountains highlights the fact that the danger that will occur in the film will be harder to escape from as there are not much people around the location. In addition, it gives the
  3. 3. Jumana Ismail audience a clue that someone superior may be living in a place like that as it is near the mountains, and therefore they may be the villain. Other examples of isolated locations that are frequently used in horror films are abandoned houses, forests, grave yards, etc. They are all typical and ideal settings used in horror films that make it conventions of horror movies. Slow paced sound that builds up As the sound is very vital in horror movies, slow paced non-diegetic sound that builds up towards a specific scene is a form of convention in horror films. In a scene where something dangerous may occur, non-diegetic sound usually builds up in pace and increases in volume in order to give a dramatic and alarming effect. For example, in the opening sequence of the movie “28 weeks later”, the non- diegetic sound increases in pace and volume as the victim walks towards the door. When she opens the door, the audience is introduced to the antagonist, in which there is a loud screeching noise. This has a big impact on the audience, as it scares them (which is the whole point), as well as exciting them to see what may happen next.

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