Some of the main subgenres are:
Slasher films are the most common type of
horror films due to the impact they had
between the 60s and 70s. This demand for
slasher horror has led to the creation of some
of the most well known horror films. These
include Scream and Texas Chainsaw
4. Common Conventions
• Antagonist is a masked killer and usually psychotic
• Normally a sacrificial lamb at the beginning of the film
to set the tone and introduce the killer. Likely a dumb
bimbo. (Casey from Scream or Tina from Nightmare
on Elm Street)
• Most of the main characters are usually stereotypical
teens, with lots of drinking and sex. This is usually
used against them, as slasher villains usually kill as
punishment for acts of irresponsibility.
• The main character is usually a goodie two shoes
female (Sidney from Scream)
5. Common Conventions Cont.
• The main female (or the final girl) will survive to
the end, usually because she is more intelligent
and brave than the other characters.
• As name of the sub-genre suggests, the main
weapons used are things like knives, stabbing
and slashing weapons. However, the genre is
well suited to over-the-top weapons, like a
chainsaw, an axe or a scythe. This is to
• Very bloody and gory (usually as bloody as film
ratings will allow at the time of release)
Psychological horror films are a more
intellectual type of horror movie, relying on
the mental and emotional instability of the
antagonist for most of the horror value. The
antagonist can appear to be normal on the
outside, and they don’t normally commit
vicious crimes, but they can be however one
of the scariest and most twisted horror
7. Common Conventions
• The antagonist looks normal but has a twisted mind
(i.e. Hannibal Lecter)
• Main source of the horror is from the twisted mind of
• Audience can be tricked into thinking the antagonist is
innocent, or forget that he is guilty. (American Psycho
– where he believes what he is doing is morally
• Death may occur, but will not be as brutal or gruesome
as they are in slashers.
• Can sometimes be from the antagonist’s perspective,
i.e. American Psycho, he is simultaneously the killer
and main character of the movie
8. Common Conventions Cont.
• Events may be shown as the antagonists
• TWISTS IN NARRATIVE.
• Usually a more sophisticated SUB-genre
meaning that they offer more of an intellectual
challenge to the audience, instead of the
“mindless violence” of some slasher films
Movies like the Sixth Sense and the
Amityville Horror are good examples of a
supernatural horror movie. In films within this
sub-genre, an unknown force terrorises an
unwitting and seemingly “normal” family,
usually in a remote location.
10. Common Conventions
• Narrative focuses on the presence of some kind of ghost
• Some supernatural phenomena are also present like
curses and miracles
• Characters try to make contact with the spirits using
séances and Ouija boards.
• Third parties like psychics, mediums and priests are
called upon, as characters strive to remove the
supernatural presence from their lives.
• Most of the action happens in a normal, yet isolated
suburban area with a young couple or family who have
normally just moved in, this is usually because the spirit
was there to begin with and also to ensure the family
cannot send for help easily, so they are the ones who
must find an answer to the problem.
11. Common Conventions Cont.
• Contrapuntal sound and loud sudden diegetic
noises like creaking floorboards and squeaking
doors are common.
• Everyday objects like mirrors, baths and
windows are commonly used for jump scares.
• Everday, innocent objects are transformed into
something sinister or as conduits of evil.
• This genre is where the found footage style is
found most commonly, as it further involves the
audience and makes it feel grounded in reality.
The possession SUB-genre is the second
most popular behind slasher. Most cult
classic horror movies are either slasher or
possession. Practical (and gruesome) effects
are used very commonly in possession films
and can usually be made with much smaller
budgets than some horrors.
13. Common Conventions
• Both adults and children (usually young for added effect)
are possessed by evil demons or spirits.
• Religion often has a strong role, either in the
possessions or when trying to get rid of the demon. This
is because religious forces act as a binary opposite to
demonic forces, so they often go hand in hand. In
addition to this, characters often go down the religious
route to try and deal with the demonic force. Demonic
forces may even make a mockery of religion and
• The spirit can be contained in boxes or books at the
beginning of the movie.
• Exorcisms are usually performed mid way through the
movie but are unsuccessful.
14. Common Conventions Cont.
• Experts are usually bought in, either
Priests or pastors are common, however
their attempts are usually unsuccessful, a
suggestion that the force cannot be
defeated or controlled, an idea that will
terrify the audience..
• Contortion of the body, self harming and
levitation are all common symptoms of
• The eyes of the victim usually roll or glaze
over. Usually appearance is affected
more, skin discolouration, etc.
15. Common Conventions Cont.
• The victim is usually young or otherwise
innocent and naive. She may be
particularly religious or may have lived a
sheltered existence. Children often
become vessels of evil too, as being
young and vulnerable they are easier to
overtake and control.
Gothic horrors are what most of the earlier
horror films were. Films like Nosferatu and
Dracula are considered gothic, because they
are dark, feature strange/mythical characters
and take place in far off lands.
17. Common Conventions
• Often set in the past.
• Sometimes in far off, mystical lands.
• Dark and gloomy mise-en-scene.
• Castles, graveyards and forests are
• Fog and mist usually fills the air, adding
atmosphere and creating a sense of
• Mythical monsters can be found such as
werewolves and vampires.
18. Common Conventions Cont.
• Male character is usually the stereotypical
good looking action hero (The Huntsman -
Chris Hemsworth - in Snow white and the
• Female characters are usually the damsel
in distress, thus presenting a traditional
representation of gender.
• They often put a dark twist on fairytale
stories and events. (i.e. Red Riding Hood -
This sub genre has given birth to some of the
most well known horror films, with films like
Alien, Predator and Pitch Black all earning
cult status and inspiring several sequels,
prequels and video games for each.
21. Common Conventions
• Main characters start being killed off by
some unknown force, and the monster is
only revealed later in the movie.
• Can be very gory.
• Normally very high budget but high
• Enemy is usually some form of alien
creature or infection.
• The main character is usually
accompanied by a group of people that
will get smaller in numbers until only a
small number remain (two or three)
22. Common Conventions Cont.
two or three are left at the end.
• Usually have a final resolution, the good
guy wins, the alien is dead.
• The almost mandatory sequel is not
usually as good as the original.
• The creature usually hunts the humans
and stays in the dark.
• Jump scares can be common.
Comedy horror movies have only recently
become popular and after the success of
films like Zombieland and Shawn of the
Dead. They usually rip off famous scenes
from already well known horror films for
added value and to spark recognition in the
24. Common Conventions
• Usually overplay certain conventions for
• Main character is usually a nerd or
layabout and generally not suited for the
• Main character is usually paired with an
attractive female (who can normally
protect herself but will, at one point, be a
damsel in distress,) and a handsome,
strong hero character who will help him
out ( like Tallahassee in Zombieland)
25. Common Conventions Cont.
• Main character will make some slip ups
along the way (like the unintentional killing
of Bill Murray in Zombieland) but will
usually rise to the challenge and prove
• Many of the things that other horrors take
seriously may be used satirically in this
27. • This scene from Zombieland is when the
main character (Jesse Eisenberg) is laying
down his basic rules for surviving an
• These are done for comedy value, but
also show an awareness of zombie sub-genre
conventions and play off of them for
added comedy value. (i.e. The zombie
isn’t actually dead jump scare – double