So far I have deconstructed 10 films; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Idle Hands, 5ive Girls, Scream, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Def By Temptation, The Faculty, Saw and Buried Alive.
These are all horror movies but they vary in the sub-genres. Some are slasher (Scream), one is more vampire based (Def By Temptation) and one is more alien based (The Faculty). However, despite the sub-genres, all these movies have the same codes and conventions.
One of the most commonly used aspect to these horror movies has been the 'fake scare'. This is done in numerous films and is used to increase the heart rate of the audience and also keep them on the edge of their seats. We plan to incorporate a fake scare into our production, by having a music stereo turn itself on dramatically.
A second convention I've noticed after the conclusion of the first scene of a horror movie is that they quite often add some narrative enigma. For example, in 'The Faculty' there is a very strong narrative enigma as to who or what the shadow is, or in '5ive Girls' where we have no idea where the girl has disappeared to, however we feel we will find this out later in the film. We also plan to employ some narrative enigma into our production. To do this, we plan to not reveal the identity of our killer, by either having him wear a mask or use shadows and clothes to hide his identity. This will add a sense of mystery to our killer.
The typical duration of the opening of a scene seems to be around 5minutes, however 'Scream' lasts for 12mins and 'Saw' lasts for 15mins. These appear to be two exceptions, our opening scene cannot last for more than two minutes but I believe we will be able to incorporate all necessary scenes into our opening.
The main gender that is usally being killed appears to be women! (Films such as Scream show this straight on, with the Scream Queen.
^This is Drew Barrymore portraying a conventional scream queen in 'Scream'. We plan to use a similar type of girl in our production.
Other films such as 'ISKWYDLS' and 'Buried Alive' give strong impressions that the girl is the main character, and will be fighting off the killer. The idea of a 'final girl' is defiantly incorporated. Since we are only creating the opening to our film, we will not be able to give any idea to a final girl however, since our production willbe sticking to strict codes and conventions, it is a good guess to say that the our film would have a traditional final girl. Below is an image of Jennifer Love Hewitt, the final girl in 'ISKWYDLS'
However, in some horror movies, they flip this particular convention upside down, and have a woman killing men. This occurs in 'Def By Temptation' and also in 'Saw', only men are killed. These films are using counter-types, however we do not plan to do this.
A quick note on the opening credits, in almost every horror opening scene I've seen, the opening credits appears to be white writing on a black background, quite often with non-diagetic sound that's appropriate for the opening of the film. For our production, we are still unsure if we will use opening credits (time allowing etc.), but if we do, we will use white writing on a black background.
In the horror movies I've observed, I've noticed that the most common shot type is a close up, or even an extreme close up. This is usually done to connote what emotions the characters are going through, or the sheer pain/stress they are in. They could also be being used to hide something from the audience, adding some narrative enigma that may soon be revealed.
Finally, I think that violence is a key component in any horror movie, no matter which sub-genre. In films I've watched, the levels of violence do seem to be quite large and very realistic. 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' as a horrific caucus in it's opening shot and 'Scream' finishes with a great deal of violence. This has inspired our production to attempt to incorporate some fake blood, to make not only the stabbing seem more realistic, but also it will be more like a traditional slasher.