Now You Can Write A Frightening Horror Film With This Amazing Template


Horror is a ubiquitous film genre which preys on our primal fears. Some believe that horror has its origins in religious scriptures. These include cautionary tales which result in dire consequences by submitting to the devil. The devil can be represented by a fear, monster, a villain or a curse.

Screenwriters have often sought to break into the film industry with horror movies because they can be produced at a relatively low cost, with lesser known actors and few locations.

Here are some of the main features of horror films and a sequence of typical events which define them.

ICONOGRAPHY

Horror films often have images and symbols relating to power, strength, doom, death and destruction. These include animals, logos and objects. Not to mention the ubiquitous use of blood (the giver of life.)

THE VICTIM

This is often a Faustian (unhappy person who sells his should to the devil in exchange for happiness) hero or someone who’s at a low point in their lives. They’ve endured much pain and loss are are vulnerable and suggestible. They’re on the lookout for anything that can turn their fortunes around.

APPEARANCE OF THE DEVIL

This is the person or monster without an apparent soul or moral conscience. They wreak havoc to consolidate their power and install fear. They are soulless, without conscience and remorseless. They represent are Machiavellian in their modus operandi.

THE OBSESSION

The devil is fixated on the hero. This could be intellectual, sexual or spiritual. The obsession leads them to tempt them to their den.

SEDUCTION

A charismatic devil introduces themselves to the hero and pretends to have their best interest at heart. They are attractive, confident and promise untold rewards to the unsuspecting hero. These rewards often come without great effort. At first the hero is suspicious, but they’ll try anything to get themselves out of their slump, even if it’s against their better judgement.

CONTRACT WITH THE DEVIL

The devil adds to the rewards knowing that everyone has their price. They ask the hero to name their price and falsely convince them they have the upper bargaining hand.

The devil finally convinces the hero to sign a binding contract leading to entrapment. Soon after the contract is signed, the devil shows their true evil colours. They subject the hero to constant humiliation, manipulation and attacks. The attacks continue with increasing ferocity and frequency until the hero is beaten down and their soul is degraded.

BETRAYAL

The hero tries to break the contract, but it’s too late to change their decision. The devil draws the hero further into their control by amending the terms of contract, sometimes to seemingly better terms for the hero, when in fact they are more odious. At some point, the devil makes the downtrodden hero believe they are their only friend, so escape will not lead to happiness. The physical and psychological attacks continue with increasing ferocity and frequency until the hero is beaten down and their soul is degraded.

THE ESCAPE

The hero tries to extricate themselves from the situation, but the are caught and restrained with even harsher terms and conditions. They resign themselves to their eternal damnation.

THE POSSESSION

The hero succumbs to servitude and comes to worship their evil master. At some point, the hero may take on the devil’s characteristics when they’re convinced that power and control lead to ultimate happiness.

THE EXPANSION

The greedy and lustful devil seeks to extend their control by tempting more victims into their influence. This is where the devil exhibits their weakness which the hero discovers and exploits.

THE ACCOMPLICE

A mentor or friend appears to reveal the true extent of the devil’s motivations to the hero. The situation is far graver than the hero originally thought. The accomplice helps the hero formulate a plan which may or may not work.

THE DOWNFALL

The devil is so drunk with power, he becomes careless and makes a critical mistake leading to their demise or the hero’s escape. 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. louisdalton says:

    Thank you for this guide. I will be using it as a framework in the development of my antagonist – protagonist relationship.

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