A definition of the codes and conventions presented within the typical horror film genres media texts with particular reference to movie posters

Essay by big_dave18 January 2004

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The conventions of Horror advertisement:

A definition of the genre

Horror films often involve a complex set of codes and conventions that will give the audience the idea that they are watching a horror film. In most media texts, particularly advertisement posters concerned with films of the genre, many of the codes and conventions displayed within the narrative of the film are portrayed to an effect that will suggest important aspects of the film i.e. lead characters and their alignment (good/evil). This is important in informing the audience of what to expect of the film and give them an idea of the narrative structure or plot, which in itself is very inviting as we want to see why these particular elements and themes presented in the text are used.

Typical themes presented within media texts advertising horror films are:

§Use of the dark or Black saturated colour schemes:

This can be used to connote a sinister theme or gothic setting and also acts as a tool of representation for characters, the monster is often enshrouded in darkness and we rarely see its face in most posters.

§A monster or representation of distorted humanity and evil:

The monster is mostly a singular entity and is often pictured in the background if at all as if to linger over his victim(s). The monster often has a trademark tool for killing i.e. a claw, hook or knives that is emphasised in the pictography.

§The victims:

The victims are often displayed in different colours than the text and monster to show innocence or neutrality. The lead character that is often the sole survivor (another regularly used convention of the horror genre) is depicted in the foreground to show his/her importance, this also presents him/her as a possible motive for the monster.

Other themes often integrated into the structure of the poster are:

oBody parts/Blood/Slime anything vulgar

oA distortion or a perverse outlook on everyday objects possibly a music box (a perversion of innocence)


All of these keys attributes contribute to informing the audience of the nature of the film and the importance of the characters. To advertise a more complex and art house horror film I would use completely different techniques to give the audience an even more sinister and unique reading of the text.