2. Gothic horrors were first made in the 1920’s, with the first ever horror ‘Nosferatu’ released in
1922. They were the first to use sound in their film with the instrumental background . This
was a time when female characters where becoming more popular and the first female
monsters were created. But these female monsters tended to be more beautiful and mystical
rather than scary and horrifying which defied the typical conventions of a horror/gothic horror
Typically set in far off lands e.g. castles, isolated towns and dark mysterious
woods such as in films like Dracula and Frankenstein where Dracula lives and a
lot of the time lures his victims in and also where Frankenstein is set.
Most gothic films are very dark and eerie such as in ‘The Woman in black’
, which is set in an abandoned home which is haunted by the ghost of a
woman. Even when it is daytime, the film is constantly in darkness, mistiness
and dim lighting, creating fear for the audience who do not know what’s lurking
in the dark.
There are usually scenes of mutilation, we see this a lot in Sweeny Todd as he
uses his hairdressing skills to mask the terror of what he really loves to do. But
while the oblivious customers await their haircut, he slits their throat instantly
Other typical conventions that we see, are that the main character is usually a
mystical monster such as werewolves and vampires or Frankenstein. Other
characters include headless horsemen and ghosts. This reflects the fact that
audiences were originally terrified by unknown creatures that they had never
seen before and had only read about in literature.
Woman In Black
The Curse of
The Return of Dracula
3. Supernatural horror films were first brought about in the 1980’s. Its roots are in religious
traditions, death, the after life, the demonic and the principle of evil embodied in the devil.
Supernatural films tend to have themes including spirits, and devils and other similar ideas or
depictions of extraordinary phenomena. Since these films emphasize the unknown, Supernatural
horrors are considered as the most spine chilling and suspense building. These films often cross
over into other genres, creating hybrids like Supernatural-Comedy and Supernatural-Drama.
• Supernatural horrors are typically set in the home of the protagonist. They are always in the stock location of
the protagonist that is being possessed or the family that this evil spirit is effecting. For example in Insidious and
Insidious Chapter Two the film is pretty much based around the families home or close family members home
where most of the haunting and horror takes place, but also if could be set somewhere in the characters past
which brings back memories e.g. The hospital where the grandmother used to work at when her son was first
being possessed by these spirits.
• Another typical conventions is for the audience being led to believe that a certain character is one that we can
trust, when eventually it is exposed that they are the cause of the horror. For example, in Paranormal Activity
the couple believe they are being followed by a spirit, when in fact; the female character turns out to be the
one that is possessed. Also, in What Lies Beneath we are led to believe that the husband is a good and honest
man, until it is revealed that he is the responsible for the death of the spirit haunting his wife.
• A very typical convention if for an innocent object to become the main objects of horror e.g. Things such as
baby walkers, baby monitors and dolls these are displayed in films such as Poltergeist, sinister and insidious
when the baby monitor moves and works by itself.
• Other conventions of supernatural films are priests, psychics and mediums that are called to rid the place of its
haunting and also séances and Ouija boards. Curses can feature too, e.g. Drag Me to Hell, when she looks upon
a priest to help her get rid of her curse and she it told to put the button in an envelope and give it to another as
a present transferring the curse onto them. Jumpy moments and spirits suddenly appearing behind characters
as they look in the mirror, etc., also appear commonly too such as when the mother in ‘Insidious’ looks in the
mirror and sees the spirit and as she turns around there is no one there.
What Lies Beneath
Insidious Chapter 2
4. Possession horror films, are a sub genre of a sub genre and come under the sub genre of super natural. Since my
advanced portfolio is designing a horror trailer and the sub genre my group has chosen is possession I thought
that it would be important to devote a section on possession horror films. Possession Horror films follow many of
the same conventions as supernatural, but also have their own codes and conventions which makes them slightly
different. Possession films always base the main storyline around a family where one member of the family
become possessed by a spirit of someone, who either died there or has some connection to the house.
• A typical convention of possession horror films is that the spirit/demon a lot of the time will try and
communicate or speak to the protagonists family through them , by taking control of their bodies e.g.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose talks in tongue or as the demon when she is lying in bed.
• Another convention that is shown is the use of a religious figures that always crop up in the films, or a
specialist that comes to help the families. For example priests come to bless the house or try to take the
evil spirits out of possessed character. The Possession uses a lot of this when Clyde (the father) sneaks
into Stephanie's house with the Torah, enters Em's (the possessed child) room and begins to read Psalm
91. Em stares at him blankly, and a force hurls the Torah across the room.
• The character that is always possessed usually harms or kills those who try to help e.g. Father Brennan
in The Omen and also the young boys nanny. But in most possession horror films they tend to also
attempt to kill those that they love the most, such as in the Amityville Horror when the father becomes
possessed and tries to kill his wife and his children.
• Supernatural/Possession films are extremely popular with todays audiences, as supernatural beings
are what the audience are most afraid off; the fear that the evil may never be gone terrifies as well as
thrills the audience into watching them time and time again. Films that are extremely popular within
these sub-genres are films such as, ‘Paranormal Activity’, ‘Insidious’, ‘The Conjuring’, ‘The Devil
inside’, ‘Mama’ and so many more.
• The Possession
• The Exorcism of Emily Rose
• The omen
• Amityville Horror
• The Conjuring
• The Devil Inside
• Drag Me To Hell
Slasher Horror films began in the 1990’s and the first one made was scream in 1996 by Wez Craven. These
brought terror for the audience as they typically involved a mysterious psychopathic killer stalking and killing a
sequence of victims usually in a graphically violent manner, often with a cutting tool such as a knife or axe. This
created fear amongst the audiences as they were fearful for their own lives and was scared that these things
could happen to them and they were made to believe that anyone could be this killer even their closest of
• The most typical conventions for a Slasher horror film is the weapons that are used.
They are always a utensil to cut things or a utensil that you use to cut meat which give
it a symbiotic link to the film because the victims are being cut up like they are a piece
of meat. The best examples of this use of props are in Scream and the Texas Chainsaw
Massacre with the use of the huge knife and chainsaws that are used which cause the
most damage and pain to their victims.
• In Slasher films there always tends to be a final girl, the girl who isn't like the rest of
her friends, she's academically smart and doesn't go around flaunting herself as a sex
object. She is the one person who isn't afraid to fight the Killer back , instead of hiding
she will go find the killer e.g. Sorority Row where we find out the killer is her
boyfriend and she tries to stop him and wont allow him to kill anyone else. Also
Nightmare on Elm Street where she sets up a plan to trap freddie and get rid of him
for once and for all.
• The stock locations are always typically set in forests, homes, university; in places
where the public is always set but rarely pays attentions or notices what is going
on, for instance Childs Play and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
• The killer is usually masked or disfigured, which allows them to keep their identity a
secret films such as Friday The 13th and Scream show this.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Friday The 13th
The Hills Have Eyes
Nightmare On Elm Street
6. Psychological horror can be seen as the most terrifying they rely on the characters' fears and emotional instability
to build tension. Characters face struggles known as 'adult fears' that attack the sense of psychological safety and
security of the audience experiencing the fictional work. Example include things such as kidnapping, home
invasion, sexual assault. Psychological horrors focus on realistic horrors that effect us rather than made up
monsters and killers that kill us through weapons.
• A typical convention for a Psychological horror is when watching a Psychological horror film, the weapons you
tend to see are not actual physical weapons, but tend to be more psychological. For example, the antagonists
twisted minds act a weapon of fear against the victims in the film, rather than actually possessing a knife, or
axe for examples, e.g. In Silence Of The Lambs the antagonist uses people to hunt down other victims and gets
into their minds and thoughts, and in Saw the antagonist uses unlikely object e.g. Dirty/infected needles etc.
• The main stock location you will see time and time again when watching a Psychological horror film are big
woodland areas, ware houses, schools, and hospitals and so on. These types of settings create realism for the
target audience as they are able to relate to the film on some level, having seen/ been or currently live in these
settings. This increases the fear for the audiences as they begin to picture themselves in these positions.
• There are less deaths in Psychological Horrors, as the antagonist tends to focus on one victim throughout the
plot line and not many others die. Their deaths seem to be less gruesome and gory as they don’t mutilate or
cut their victims up such as silent hill where they don’t tend to use weapons.
• The props used are typically old fashioned, such as chairs and hospital beds; they tend to be very old and
rusting making the objects look dirty and unclean even unsafe. Such as in Session 9 where an old fashioned
hospital chair is predominately used.
• The protagonist tends to be put through a lot of pain and mental torture before they are usually killed of, this
is very common in psychological horrors as this thrills the antagonist and his twisted games.
• In psychological horrors, the main character may look normal, but is twisted and damaged psychologically
that is why and how their methods of killing their victims are so evil and deranged such as the main antagonist
in silence of the lambs.
• Twists in the narrative are another key convention, for example in Silence of the lambs, the Antagonist and
Protagonist are working together to find another antagonist character within the narrative.
• Silence Of The
• Session 9
• Funny Games
• The Uninvited