• Todorov’s theory suggests that narrative is equilibrium -
disruption - new equilibrium.
• Propp’s analysis of Russian Fairytales although not
claimed to be universal, can be applied generally to most
narratives in terms of the character stereotypes.
• Levi-Strauss identified binary opposites which are used
to identify differences between characters such as
young/old, and to contrast the settings and mood of the
trailer, e.g. dark/light, good/bad.
Barthes 5 Narrative Codes:
• Enigma Code
Refers to the mystery within a text; often keeps the audience
interested to find out the end result.
• Action Code
Showing sequential clips of action which leaves the audience
wanting to again know the result.
• Semantic Code
Parts within the text that have an extra layer of meaning.
• Symbolic Code
Symbolism within the texts create contrast and greater meaning.
• Referential Code
Refers to an external body of knowledge such as scientific,
cultural, historical or political knowledge.
• Uses visual imageries of graveyards and sacrifice which
represents death to the viewer.
• Dark and dingy lighting is used which is mood enhancing
and creates tension.
• The weather in the trailer is generally dark and/or rainy
which represents the mood and atmosphere of the film.
• Rural areas such as forests are shown and there is no use
of technology shown throughout the trailer which leaves the
impression that the setting has the characters very isolated.
• A husky American narrative voice is used in the first 30
seconds or so to help set the mood and tone of the trailer
as well as giving a brief overview of the themes.
• Sharp, metallic sound effects are used throughout to help
enhance the visual scenes in the trailer such as the
scenes suggesting sacrifice, as well as augmenting the
jumpier scenes such as where Ben grabs the protagonists
arm. These sound effects are used as they provide a
more suspense-filled experience for the audience.
• Non–digetic music is used to intensify the mood of the
trailer. The piano music that starts around 40 seconds in
appears calm but also quite sinister, which portrays the
initial tone of the film trailer.
• The Skeleton Key trailer ends during a disruption, which
leaves the viewer curious as to how and if the new
equilibrium will be resolved.
• In The Skeleton Key the stock character of the Hero can
be seen as the protagonist. However, it is not made clear
who the Villain (Antagonist) is, which is a selling point of
the film as the audience are curious to find out who it is.
• Binary opposites are used to identify differences between
characters in the trailer such as young/old, ill/healthy and
malefemale. They are also used to contrast the settings
and mood of the trailer, e.g. dark/light, good/bad.
• The religious ceremony at the start of the trailer could be
seen as innocent, but the context of the trailer makes it
come across more malicious.
• When the protagonist circles the job ad she is connoting
to the audience that she is going for this job which also
suggests that this is where the disruption of the
equilibrium will start.
• When Ben looks into the mirror the protagonist is holding
he begins to fit but the audience are not shown exactly
what he has seen or what has caused it. This also
happens when he points to the door; the audience are not
shown what he has seen.
• The voice-over in the trailer mentions
“unexplained incidents” that still happen to
this day, but the audience are never told
what exactly they are.
• The protagonist sets out a line that “people
who mean (her) harm cannot cross” and the
next clip shows a woman not able to cross
it, but it is not revealed why.
• A woman says “you see them, in the
mirrors” but it is never revealed who.
• The trailer ends with the protagonist
admitting “it‟s all real” but the audience is
still not aware what exactly is going on or
whether she gets out alive.
• On screen text is used fairly frequently
throughout the trailer and is used to show the
title, release, the acclaimed writer and is then
used three times swiftly one after the other to
enhance the plot line. Each piece of text is only
shown for a second.
• The start of the trailer fades clips quickly one
over the other to give a general idea of the
religious ceremony. When the trailer moves
back to everyday life the fades become less
frequent and often go to black in between
• Pictures of the ghosts have been edited in over
the original clip and flash over the screen for
split seconds to leave the audience wondering
if they are really there.
• All of the scenes are very dimly lit, some have hardly
any light at all or use background light to create a
• The settings are all quite plain and desolate.
• Images of death, graves, pain, possession, fear,
• Non diegetic music and sound effects are used to create
tension by recreating footsteps coming towards someone.
Fast paced music is used at the start which puts the
audience right in the middle of the action and draws them
Metallic sounds are used to intensify the atmosphere and
give the idea of knives slashing.
Children‟s voices singing are used along with the music
which is chilling for the viewer.
There is no voice-over narration.
• Binary opposites are used in the trailer with a lot of blue
colours that represent cold along with the snow which
contrasts the fire on the candles and in the building
• There is a clear villain (antagonist) but what seems to be
more than one hero (protagonist). We are also shown a
scene with the villain and the damsel in distress
character, which ends abruptly and with no resolution.
• The trailer only conforms to Todorov‟s theory up to a point
as it ends in disruption.
• Action packed at the start when the antagonist is running
into a building with a mob of people chasing him which
conforms to the thriller genre.
• Supernatural action when the girl is lifted out of the bed by
• Dragging the knife-hand across the metal creates a sound
most people detest so is unsettling for the viewer.
• When the man is burned to death the audience do not
know why, who he is or what he has supposedly done
• The audience do not know why the girl is having dreams
about a “burnt” man or why she or the other characters
cannot fall asleep
• The audience do not know why the “burnt man” is going
after the characters in the trailer and still do not know who
• The trailer ends with the man leaning over one of the
main characters saying “this won‟t hurt a bit” and he then
raises a knife covered hand to her face, leaving the
audience wondering what is going to happen to her
• On screen text in blood red writing – date of release,
successful producer, film title and the phrase “don‟t fall
• As the rhythm of the background music becomes
faster, the cuts between slides and cuts to black
become more frequent. As well as this there are some
cuts to white which flash so are more unnerving for the
• The setting of a mental hospital is quite sinister as
many of the patients are a potential threat.
• The setting is quite sterile and clean looking which
juxtaposes the mess that is going to occur.
• The patient the viewer sees in the garden is unkempt
and looks very messy.
• The island is in the middle of nowhere so is isolated.
• As the trailer progresses the images become more and
more terrifying, such as the man with the stitched up
face and the woman that crumbles to ash.
• Snippets of dialogue is taken from the film to help briefly
explain to the audience the basic plotline of the trailer as
well as setting it.
• Sounds that are much like gunshots are used throughout
the trailer, particularly towards the end to create jump
scares and build tension in the audience.
• The above point also works in conjunction with the
dramatic music that is played in the background. It starts
off fairly calm but then builds to a climax that then leaves
the audience without any catharsis.
• Binary opposites in appearance show the patients very
scruffy, some covered in tattoos in comparison to the
more wealthy and „sane‟ professors who are immaculately
dressed and well presented. Later on in the trailer the
protagonist also becomes very unkempt, suggesting he
may be turning insane himself.
• Much like the other two trailers, Shutter Island ends in
• The gates opening shows they are used to keep the
patients in and seeing the protagonist enter means he
may be in danger and cannot escape.
• The patient tries to grab the protagonist through the iron
gates as well as when one prisoner jumps on top of the
protagonist which shows how dangerous they both are.
• The wind blowing open the doors shows how strong
nature outside is.
• The protagonist picking up the gun frantically shows he
• It is not initially revealed why they are at the mental hospital
until later on in the trailer which keeps the audience watching.
The audience do not know anything about the escaped
prisoner except that she is a female and she may be anywhere
on the entire island.
The protagonist says “its like they‟re scared of something”
which leaves the audience thinking what that could be.
The film trailer hints that the real antagonist could be
something much more than just an escaped prisoner.
Many images are shown such as the woman dissolving to ash
and a sudden surge of fire that have the viewer question what
that has to do with the plotline.
The trailer ends with the protagonist being dragged down some
stairs by what is assumed to be an inpatient, which leaves the
audience wondering what is going to happen to him.
• Quick fades to black at the start and a mixture of cuts
and fades are used throughout the trailer which
quicken in pace to build tension.
• Longer fades are used to separate the parts of the
plotline which are show.
• Flashes to white appear later on in the trailer which
directly represent the lightening and bad weather which
suggests to the audience something mysterious or bad
is going to occur, much like an approaching storm.
• Settings in all are dark and dingy. The Skeleton Key and A
Nightmare on Elm Street both feature images of graveyards,
connoting death which is conventional to the horror genre.
Metallic and gunshot sound effects are used in the trailers
which connotes the idea of violence, death and sinning.
All trailers in end disruption which keeps the audience
interested and wanting to know what happens next.
All of these trailers have some sort of supernatural element so
the enigma codes are mainly superhuman and keep the
audience attracted because the enigma isn‟t easy to be solved.
On screen text is shown throughout all of the trailers to show
the films‟ slogan, name and release date.