Narrative Structure of Horror Films

What are Narrative Structures?

The devices that are used to communicate a story to you. In our trailer, we used narrative devices to a certain extent. We figured it would be easier to tell a story in chronological order and then break away from that when using flashbacks. It helps to establish the time frame that the film is based on and makes it easier for the audience to follow the story.

The narrative structure of our trailer contradicts what is normally observed. We decided to follow a narrative structure up to a certain point, but after that would be random shots taken from different time periods in time. This is used to raise the climax and chaos.

  • The assumption is that the WAY a horror film is told is going to be the very similar across all horror films, that’s what makes it recognisable to the audience. For the most part these questions want you to:

1.We made known that we were aware of the narrative features of the horror genre and how they are used in the film trailer to communicate our story by including a creature or supernatural being that anchors story as well as moving it forward. This person was both Jessica and Violet the doll (you could say they were one person).

2.This is done in a similar/ typical way across all horror films as a villain is needed as a catalyst for the film. (‘The Purge’ and ‘The Conjuring’)

3.The films manage to break the ‘genre mould’ and not be typical by including plot twists. Our plot twist is that Jessica in fact killed her parents and did not wasn’t to be faced with that realisation that she created an untrue story in her mind and blamed her doll Violet’s supernatural powers.

Noel Carroll

  • Noel Carroll, in his essay The Philosophy of Horror, maps out the traditional narrative structure of the horror film in three stages.
  • The first he names the ‘Onset phase’ where a disorder is created, generally in the form of a monster.
  • The second Carroll calls the ‘Discovery phase’, where the characters of the story discover that the disorder has occurred.
  • The third phase he calls the ‘Disruption phase’, where the characters destroy the source of the disorder and restore normality.
  • This similar to what Todorov stated, he argued that the basis of conventional narrative structure consists of an initial situation (situation 1); a problem which disrupts this situation; a resolution of the problem which allows the reinstatement of the initial situation, perhaps with slight changes (situation2).

Noel Carroll’s theory was similar to out trailer.

Why is narrative structure important in genre films?

  • Narrative structure provides a formula or template in film production
  • It works as a ‘contract’ – the implicit agreement between a film and it’s audience that governs the way fans enjoy it
  • Without a typical narrative structure genre films would not be recognisable to audiences and conversely films would not be able to break with predictability