Film genres are based on various storytelling conventions. There are audience expectations or “a promise” to them of the story that awaits. The main crux of horror movies is their desire to explore the unknown and the darkest depths of the abyss that is the human psyche.
Here are some concepts Blake Snyder considers to be the basis of most horror films:
- TRAPPED – Imprisoned in an enclosed space with a monster. Such films include “Saw”.
- CURSED – Ignoring a blatant warning and unleashing hell. Such films include “The Mummy”.
- GODZILLA LIVES – Creating a monster from our guilt eg 1950s schlock from the arms race anti-Communist paranoia, or socio-political paradigms such as Apartheid. Such films include “District 9”.
- TORN FROM TODAY’S HEADLINES – Reality is stranger than fiction. It has been mooted that “Nightmare On Elm Street” was based on a newspaper article.
- INVERSION – subverting the genre with another such as comedy or musical. Such movies include “Sweeney Todd. The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street”.
- THE NEW COKE – Reviving, rebranding, reimaginging, reconstituting and repurposing. Old is the new new. Such examples include “Friday The 13th”.
- ZAPPED – Transformation caused by interfering with nature and man playing God. Such examples include “The Fly”.
- SEX AND THE SINGLE MONSTER– These films straddle the human/monster line by through a love story. They were initially thought to be a metaphor for cross-cultural/ racial relationships. Such films include “King Kong”.
- GEOGRAPHIC – These films utilize their setting to tell their story. They tend to be hostile, dark and inescapable. Such films include “Thirty Days Of Night”.
- SOCIAL COMMENTARY– George A. Romero is considered the luminary of such horror films which raise awareness of undesirable social trends. A typical example is “Dawn Of The Dead”.