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Compare and contrast the ways in which two horror films Use horror genre conventions

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the ways in which two horror films Use horror genre conventions Audiences love to be scared. Horror films attempt to find some sort of trigger in the audiences mind, and develop it to create horror. Preceded by the great horror novels such as Dracula, and developed in the early nineteen twenties and nineteen thirties in Germany. From slash movies, to the post-modern psychological thrillers, horror films have evolved into an art form. This genre relies heavily on the basic horror conventions. These have been adapted from the early twentieth century, and have developed a whole series of genre conventions into a familiar variety of scary settings, iconography, and stereotyped characterisation. Audiences have a clear understanding of this, and they use it to their advantage. They can keep putting the audience through the jolts that horror conventions continue to give. An effective way of keeping the horror fresh would be to break the cycle, by breaking certain conventions. The isolated setting in the two films is a key device used to establish a threatening atmosphere. In "Dark water", the director uses an old dilapidated block of flats as the main setting for the horror. This kind of location is widely used in horror films, it isolates the characters, and renders them vulnerable to the inevitable horror that threatens them. In "The mothman prophecies" there is a different setting, but with relatively similar conventions. It is set in a small West Virginia town, and although the town is not quite as isolated or claustrophobic as the setting for "Dark water", it is far from outside help, and this makes it prone to the horror. In this context, "Dark water" uses its setting well, and in contrast to "The mothman prophecies", makes the most of the conventional way in which it is set. In "The mothman prophecies" the horror is less physically frightening than in "Dark water", and at the beginning it seems no more than a vision. ...read more.

Middle

At the height of their happiness, we notice a moth fly above their heads. This would not mean anything, except the audience watching it know that the word "moth" appears in the title, therefore it is presumed significant. This results in tension within the audience, it also subsequently leads to the first sighting of the "mothman", and to Mary Klein's death. Colour is also well used in "The mothman prophecies". The red lipstick in the opening sequence, and the blurred extreme close-up shots of red traffic lights are frequently used. Red gives a sense of violence, and develops tension. The close ups and strange sounds and lights are fundamental in creating the atmosphere for "The mothman prophecies". These effects create an atmosphere of confusion and this is exploited well. Both "Dark water" and "The mothman prophecies" use conventional iconography well to develop, and create horror. They both use relatively normal things, such as a handbag or a light to develop the audiences already established horror and create a scary atmosphere. Narratives can be used by a director to distort a film of the horror genre and to confuse or help the audience understand the plot. The use of narratives is a commonly used convention, and is portrayed in many different ways. In "Dark water", a crucial part of understanding the plot, is watching the narratives within the film. At certain parts in the film, the director uses anti-linear narratives, or flashbacks. We recognise these flashbacks because of the yellow rinse the scene is given. This rinse gives the scenes a sense of abnormality, and is instantly recognised as a scene that is not in the same time frame as the other clean scenes. In "The mothman prophecies", we do not witness any flashbacks. Almost all of the film is in normal order, and although the plot its self includes a change in the order of time, It is presented in a normal order. ...read more.

Conclusion

The iconography in "Dark water" was well used, and I believe the director did well to create some very frightening sequences using only a red handbag and a water tower. The director of "The mothman prophecies" included some good iconography, but it was at times hard to understand, and too often he expects the audience to read between the lines. The main horror in both films, the dead girl in "Dark water", and the "moth man" in "The mothman prophecies" were both terrifying but for two crucial mistakes by the two directors. In "Dark water" it was terrifying not knowing what the thing was. As soon as the audience see it, they know what it is, but the mystery has gone, it is no longer frightening. In "The mothman prophecies", although the audience know what the "mothman" looks like they still do not know what it is, and what it can do. The director makes the mistake of making it speak. By doing this he humanises it, it is not as supernatural as the audience first believes. I believe both films suffer because of this. Overall, I believe that "Dark water" uses horror genre conventions to the best effect. The director merges his own ideas with traditional conventions to great effect in the film, but it does not work well with the Hollywood aspects of the film. Horror genre conventions are evident in both films and the way they are directed has given me obvious indications on the effect the horror conventions can have on a film when used well, and the adverse effect when not used well. Both Japanese and American society are evident in these films, and the style of the films are similar to the nationality of the two directors. Horror conventions are used in both films, but the way they are used are quite different, and these contrasting styles are key in how effective the two films are to their audience. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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