Horror genre conventions


Horror genre conventions

By Aaron Blake


• Horror films seem to stick to many fast paced action sequences flashing on the screen.

• Flashbacks are common in horror movie opening sequences commonly a flashback to a murder or other violent event to scare the audience about what is to come. This is evident in Friday the thirteenth: the final chapter opening scene.

• The editing usually put the audience on edge and creates a large amount of suspense.


• Nearly every horror movie opening sequence is hugely impacted by the choice of music used. A screechy eerie soundtrack is a staple to the horror genre, especially older films such as Halloween and Friday the thirteenth.

• Usually non diegetic sounds are used in place of violent acts such as stabbing, shooting, strangling or any other method of killing or inflicting harm. Such as a screech every time somebody is stabbed. This sharp sound shocks the audience and makes them feel uncomfortable.

• Women are often stereotyped as creating a bigger fuss in a tense situation as as screaming as this is one of the most common sounds hear in a horror movie opening sequence.


• The standard costume for the antagonist is ripped clothes, dirty, covered in blood.

• Many films use disguises to scare the audience. This is most commonly in the form of masks such as films like Halloween and IT.

Disguise is a very valuable tool as it builds suspense for the reveal and gets the audience guessing what is under the disguise such as a sheet on somebody's head.


• Lighting in opening sequences are nearly always dark and eerie. They try not to reveal much of the killer or antagonist until they reveal themselves.

Shadows play a large part in building suspense for the audience and creating many opportunity to scare the audience.

• Alternatively you might see a horror movie with an intentionally happy, bright, sunny scene until everything starts to become dark as the weather will commonly predict the storylines atmosphere.


• Props are some of the most important aspects of an opening scene. Most commonly in horror movies the most important prop used is the murder weapon. This can come in many forms such as a gun, knife, axe, blunt object, chainsaw… and so on.


• Common settings for a horror movie are dark rundown environments. These places make the audience feel unsafe and defensive. Loneliness is an important aspect of this. Isolated environments are common.

• Other classic movie settings are:

• Shacks, woods, isolated environments.

• Weather is usually dark and gloomy. To reflect the mood of the actors. Storms are commonly used for the same reason.

Camera shots

• POV is commonly used as it can put the audience in the shoes of the killer and give them the first person experience of killing.

• Handheld shots are also used a lot to make the audience feel on edge and to give the footage a ‘home feel’ to give it authenticity.

• Dutch angle, not used a lot but very effective at making the audience feel jarred and uncomfortable.