Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What Make A Horror Film Scary: The Five Stage of Horror

So this post was inspired by two events. First off, I'm in a speculative fiction class in which we recently discussed and analysed horror films. The second was that I got the chance to see the new horror film The VVitch If you haven't seen the trailer, check it out here..

Besides containing what is perhaps the most terrifying goat in cinema to this date, the film was a fantastically horrifying atmospheric horror and definitely one of the better modern horror films. While there have been some critiques have the film being too slow, I feel like that's part of what makes this film so great. Instead of rushing through this family's struggle, we are forced to witness with them as the feeling of unease is always present. If I film rushes through and relies too heavily on jump scares, the real impact of the horror is lost.
In my Speculative Fiction class we talked about the five stages of horror and I thought I'd discuss them here.

1. Unease

Unease is often the first stage present in a horror film. While nothing has happened yes there is a feeling of, for lack of a better word, unease present. At this point the audience and usually the protagonist as well are both unsure about something or what is going on.  Take a look at this scene from the 2015 horror film It Follows. While nothing is explicitly happening we are very unsure and can sense that something is not right 

Dread and Terror

2. Dread

The next phase present is dread. During dread we know something is coming or going to happen. Looking at It Follows this happens when we see the entity somewhere in the background getting closer. Very often dread will include a false scare or cat scare as it is sometimes called in order to get a cheap thrill or make the film seem scarier than it really is. 

3. Terror

Terror features the personification of the antagonist causing harm. There are high tension and high stakes. This is when the Freddy or Jason begins to do their thing. 

4. Horror

Horror is not so much a point in the film but the bigger idea based around it. The phase of Horror goes beyond the moment of terror. Look at It Follows, the horror is the idea that you cannot outrun and escape the entity and that everything you do only buys you time. 

5. Disgust

Disgust is visceral and often causes disgust in the audience. Though not present in all horror film the SAW series are perfect example of this. There are several types of disgust including 
-Contamination
-Bodily Functions
-Injury, often one that is helpless to fix.
-Torture
-Slicing and Dicing
-Unclean Food
-Consumption/Being Eaten


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