Generic and British Horror characteristics


Narrative: Todorov's theory

1) Equilibrium: the journey from safety to isolation

2) Disruption of Equilibrium: audience is aware of the threat but the character/s is/are not 

3) Recognition of the disruption: threat is revealed to all

4) Attempt to repair the disruption: multiple deaths / attempt to defeat the threat by gaining knowledge / strength - therefore we see the 'transformation of the unlikely hero'

5) Return to the new Equilibrium: threat is defeated and society is saved (there is usually one lone survivor) 

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Narrative: Syd Field's 3 act structure

Act 1: the set up of what the film is going to be about, introduction to genre narrative & characters.

Act 2: confrontation - where the main character is placed in a number of more extreme problem situations that they seek to resolve

Act 3: the hero will take control, confront the enemy and achieve a final and decisive victory

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Narrative: Binary Oppositions

- Modern vs Primitive / Traditional vs Contemporary

- Dark vs light

- Good vs Evil

- Night vs Day 

- Urban vs Rural 

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- Binary Oppositions (see card 3)

- Fear of death by something unknown & seemingly unstoppable 

- Playing on our worst nightmares

- Creating fear of the everyday / safe settings

- Male dominated society / partiarchal society 

- individual and social fears (Wells, 2000)

  • Female sexual liberation
  • Loss of traditional family roles 
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Sound & Music

- Sharp and pitchy (use of string instruments)

- Soundtrack might build slowly to a climax (tone, pitch and volume increases)

- Silence is important as it ramps up the tension, suspense and anxiety

- Repetition to create discomfort and relentlessness of the theat

- Pleonastic sound (exaggerated sound)

- Use of flats and sharps (discorded sounds)

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- Injuries, gore, disfigurement 

- Low key lighting, darkness and desaturation 

- Weapons are unusual and painful

  • Axe
  • Chainsaw

- Old props 

- Religious iconography - (very british)

  • Crucifix
  • Coffins

- Black costumes 

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- Close ups: Focuses on emotions, facial expressions and reactions 

POV: makes audience feel like theyre there so they get more scared

- High & Low angles: show powershift

Canted angle: discomfort factor

Handheld camera: feels realistic to audience

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Varies between fast and slow pace. 

- mainly slow pace as it builds tension

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Characterisation: Generic

- male patriarchal society

- evil unknown masculine threat

- unlikely male hero

- female victims: weak physically and morally, sexually repressed, in need of saving by men

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Characterisation: British

- represents british social groups 

- often middle age and middle class

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British Horror: Traditional

- sexualised women & prominent sexual tone 

- elaborate mise-en-scene

  • gothic castle
  • lavish costume suggesting dark personas

- gothic iconography

  • heavy blood flow through technicolour
  • garlic, crucifixes, coffins, stakes

- Close up cinematgraphy

- Social anxieties focusing on traditional values

  • monogamy, sexual restraint, fears of women's liberation

- Comedic moment to provide audience with comic relief

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British Horror: Contemporary

- stylistically, roots in the 'social realist genre'

  • gritty, hard-edged realist depictions of groups, individuals, Britain etc

- unhappy endings

- british backdrops and locations

- british characterisations

- narratives reflecting contemporary social anxieties

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British Horror: Contemporary, Urbanoia

- conflict between past & present (modern vs primitive)

- 'Rite of Passage' narrative 

- if female hero makes it out alive she is left physically and/or mentally damaged or traumatised

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