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When writers, producers, and creators sit down at the table to come up with a script for a movie, they have a list of things they want to include. They know they have to play up to viewers' greatest fears.
Most of the items on their list are usually included. So, what are those items you expect to see in a horror film?
1. The Dark
Expect to see some dark content in some dark settings. You will be totally disappointed if you are looking forward to seeing nice bright beach scenes with a beautiful sky and people relaxing in clear blue water throughout a horror film. Instead, the scenes are usually dark as they are watched in a dark theater.
2. Scary Places
A horror movie wouldn't be a horror movie without some scary places. Writers have plenty of those places to choose from, including haunted houses, graveyards, forests, woods, swamps, and dungeons.
In the Netflix movie The Ritual, four college friends spend the night in an abandoned cabin. Then they are seen running through thick woods. In the movie Under the Shadow, a mother and daughter are trapped in an apartment after a missile strikes the building.
Everybody's ultimate fear is the fear of death. Someone dies in almost every horror movie. Viewers would rather see the bad guys dying than the good people. The build-up to a death scene makes the movie more appealing. Therefore, writers try to portray an unexpected death rather than one that viewers know is coming.
4. Creepy Things
Almost every horror movie includes creepy things even those that might make only cameo appearances. You might not be as afraid of snakes, spiders, bugs, and big rats if you see them in another setting. When you watch their behavior on the big screen, it is enough to make you think they are crawling all over you.
Some horror movies feature disfigured people and zombies. Some examples include Frankenstein, The Phantom of the Opera, The Night of the Living Dead and Train to Busan.
Train to Busan is a movie about zombies invading a speeding train full of scared passengers.
Dismemberment is a little different from disfigurement. Dismemberment means losing body parts. That involves the villain cutting off a finger, arm, ear, toe, or some other parts of the victim's body. Disfigurement means body parts are permanently damaged caused by cutting, bruising, burning, or maiming.
Some of the best horror movies are full of suspense where viewers anticipate and expect certain things to happen based on their knowledge of horror films.
Suspense is expecting something bad will happen. Viewers may not know exactly what will happen or when it will happen. Some of the best horror movies are those that keep viewers in suspense. Some moviegoers likes suspenseful twists when they are not expected. For example, the good guy is the murderer, or someone viewers least expect.
8. Spooky Music and Cinematography
Spooky music in horror movies is often used to match the action that's on the screen. Eerie music brings about fear and suspense just like the cinematography. The Village on Netflix is a very good example of how music and cinematography play major parts to keep viewers scared while watching the film.
9. The Weather
The weather has a lot to do will how good a horror movie is. Scenes sometimes include rain coming down like cats and dogs. There are also bouts of loud thunder and lightning that create a deafening sound.
10. Unusual Things
A common theme in horror movies is to make normal things scary. For instance, a doll, a child, or a clown could be made into something to be afraid of. In the Netflix movie The Boy, a lifesize doll turns out to be scary. Cult of Chucky is also a movie about a killer doll.
The list above includes just some of the characteristics associated with horror movies. Perhaps you can think of others. If so, keep them in mind as you watch your next horror film.