horror narratives

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  • 1. HORROR NARRATIVESNarrative conventions are important for defining genre.

2. HORROR NARRATIVES When we think ofhorror narratives, weare really consideringthe devices that areused to communicate astory to you. In theexam you may comeacross questions like 3. HORROR NARRATIVES How far are the storytelling methods used in the filmsyou have studied for this topic typical of their genre? To what extent are the narratives of the films you havestudied for this topic typical of their genre? How are narrative devices used to increase the impactof horror in the films you have studies for this topic? What are some of the narrative features that aredistinctive in the films you have studied? How far are the narratives of the genre films you havestudied for this topic predictable? 4. HORROR NARRATIVES The assumption is that the WAY a horror film is told isgoing to be the very similar across all horror films,thats what makes it recognisable to the audience. Forthe most part these questions want you to: 1. Make known that you are aware of the narrativefeatures of the horror genre and how they areused in the films to communicate their stories 2. Discuss how this is done in a similar/typical wayacross all films 3. Consider how the films manage to break thegenre mould and not be typical 5. HORROR NARRATIVES Aims: To discuss and understand the storytelling methods used inDracula, The Descent and Creep To do this we need to consider the use of: Narrative Structures Narrative Theory Narrative Themes Use of characters Use of settings Micro features (typical visual and sound techniques) And how they are used to draw the audience into thediegesis of the film. 6. HORROR NARRATIVE STRUCTURESA narrative convention of any genre is its predictableset of plot events What could we say issimilar about these filmsin terms of plot events? Work in your studygroups and write eachfilm out in 3 acts,explaining how each act issimilar. 7. Typical 3 Act Structure As sited in Film a Critical Introduction The first act in a horror film focuses on central characters beginning aventure into a strange and ultimately threatening setting. Stumbling into a forbidding, and often forbidden, setting unleashes awave of violence that leaves many (if not most) of the protagonistsdead. As those who survive the initial onslaught begin to fight back,fear and fatigue provoke dissention within the group, putting them atgreater risk. Those who have come in contact with the monster maytry to warn the larger community, or they go to the authorities tomuster up support, only to be met with disbelief and derision. The climax of the film generally involves a dramatic, sometimesapocalyptic, showdown between the main characters and the monster,with varying results. In contemporary horror films the resolution of theplot leaves open the possibility of the monsters return. 8. NOEL CARROLL Noel Carroll, in his essay The Philosophy of Horror, maps out thetraditional 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 charactersof the story discover that the disorder has occurred. The third phase he calls the Disruption phase, where thecharacters destroy the source of the disorder and restore normality. This similar to what Todorov stated, he argued that the basis ofconventional narrative structure consists of an initial situation(situation 1); a problem which disrupts this situation; a resolution ofthe problem which allows the reinstatement of the initial situation,perhaps with slight changes (situation2). 9. Onset PhaseDiscoveryPhaseDisruptionPhase 10. Dracula is wreaking Is there an Onset Phase? TheCraig kills one of the workers Onset havoc in the area in female spelunkers entered into the monsters territory in the sewer pipe which he live going Phase out a killing people Van Helsing sends When they realise that they Craig kills the man trying toDiscoveryHarker to dispose of were in the Crawlers feeding den. The POV through the attack Kate She is now witness to his actions she also knows Dracula and DraculaPhasekills Harker. Van camcorder is used for this then we see one of the Crawlers. when the controller is killed then Mandy Helsing realises the reason for Lucys illness. Van Helsing and The women fight for their lives Kate tries to escape withDisruption Holmwood work against the Crawlers, only living Sarah but is order Jimmy but he dies. Then Kate Fights on with George. Kate together to killPhaseDracula. Van Helsing is restored? And if so whos order? (Ideological messages?) finally kills Craig but whos order is restored? (Ideological messages?) successful during a climatic battle 11. Further reading You could also consider the traditional threeact structure relevant for all films And Kristen Thompsons Four-Part Structure You were given a sheet on the above pointduring the first half term 12. Why is narrative structure important in genre films? 13. Why is narrative structure important in genre films? Narrative structure provides a formula ortemplate in film production It works as a contract the implicitagreement between a film and its audiencethat governs the way fans enjoy it Without a typical narrative structure genrefilms would not be recognisable to audiencesand conversely films would not be able tobreak with predictability 14. Meeting Objectives of the lesson You should now be able to: Discuss how narrative structure can be used as astorytelling method Discuss the ways in which horror films havetypical narrative structures Argue if narrative structure can be used as adevice to create impact in a horror film Consider if the narrative structures of the filmswe have studied are distinctive or predictable 15. NARRATIVE THEORY Be warned that some of what we have alreadydiscussed can come under narrative theorye.g. Noel Carroll theorising about the typicalnarrative structures of horror films. AlsoKristen Thompsons 4 act structure We are now going to consider traditionalnarrative theory, and its applications to thehorror genre. 16. NARRATIVE THEORY Tzvetan Todorov Equilibrium disequilibrium resolution. Vladimir Propp Propp suggests that there are a limited number ofcharacter types that share a function Roland Barthes Barthes identifies 5 narrative codes which readers use todecode texts. He emphasises the active role of readers increating meaning, and their culturally formedexpectations. Claude Levi-Strauss Narratives are structured by pairs of binary oppositions. 17. Todorovs approach to narrative There are five stages a narrative has to pass through:1. The state of equilibrium (state of normality good, bad or neutral).2. An event disrupts the equilibrium (a character or an action).3. The main protagonist recognises that the equilibrium has been disrupted.4. Protagonist attempts to rectify this in order to restore equilibrium.5. Equilibrium is restored but, because causal transformations have occurred, there are differences (good, bad, or neutral) from original equilibrium, which establish it as a new equilibrium. 18. Propps approach to narrative Vladimir Propp studied hundreds of Russian folk andfairytales before deciding that all narratives have acommon structure. He observed that narratives are shaped and directed bycertain types of characters and specific kinds of actions He believed that there are 31 possible stages orfunctions in any narrative. These may not all appear in a single story, butnevertheless always appear in the same sequence. A function is a plot motif or event in the story. A tale may skip functions but it cannot shuffle theirunvarying order. 19. Propps approach to narrative Propp believed that there are seven roles which any character mayassume in the story: Villain - struggles with hero Donor - prepares and/or provides hero with magical agent Helper - assists, rescues, solves and/or transfigures the hero Princess - a sought-for person (and/or her father) who exists asgoal and often recognises and marries hero and/or punishes villain Dispatcher - sends hero off Hero - departs on a search (seeker-hero), reacts to donor and wedsat end False Hero - claims to be the hero, often seeking and reacting like areal hero 20. Claude Levi-Strausss approach to narrative After studying hundreds of myths and legendsfrom around the world, Levi-Strauss observedthat we make sense of the world, people andevents by seeing and using binary oppositeseverywhere. He observed that all narratives are organisedaround the conflict between such binaryopposites. 21. Examples of binary opposites Good vs. evil Protagonist vs. antagonist Black vs. white Action vs. inaction Boy vs. girl Motivator vs. observer Peace vs. war Empowered vs. victim Civilised vs. savage Man vs. woman Democracy vs. Good-looking vs. uglydictatorship Strong vs. weak Conqueror vs. conquered Decisive vs. indecisive First world vs. third world East vs. west Domestic vs. foreign/alien Humanity vs. technology Articulate vs. inarticulate Ignorance vs. wisdom Young vs. old Man vs. nature 21 22. Meeting Objectives of the lesson You should now be able to: Discuss how narrative theory can be used as atool for discussing the storytelling methods usedin films Argue if the application of narrative theory isuseful when considering the distinctive orpredictable traits of the horror genre Consider the usefulness of some narrative theoryto explain the ideology and values hidden withinhorror film narratives 23. HORROR MICRO FEATURES AS NARRATIVE CONVENTIONS Taken from: Horror (Brigid Cherry) Horror genre most important characteristics arethe modes of affect that horror films intend tocreate in their audiences. It is these emotionaland physiological responses that remain constantwhile other characteristics and genericconventions evolve. We need to consider how thetechnical codes of cinema are manipula