Is the fear factor in horror films constantly refreshed because of the media’s influence on audience opinion? : Essay Plan


Horror Films over the last 60 years have been through a plethora of changes in order to stay fresh and relevant to the open minded and often critical horror target audience. Although rehashing old ideas in post modernist fashion is considered an instant draw,

(take for example the remakes of Halloween in 2007 and Nightmare on Elm Street in 2010) the film makers must find new ways to wow, entertain, and most of all frighten the viewers. Society as a whole is constantly changing with ever growing technology and more active audience thinking; horror films noticeably change their creative direction according to current fears or situations in Western society.

Take for example the attitudes of civilians post WWII. When people discovered the nuclear bomb and its effect on the world, people grew scared of radiation and its effect on wildlife etc. This lead to a series of horror films depicting insects and various animals suffering from radiation poisoning killing civilians. Godzilla and Them! were among the most popular. Many other changes have ushered since then and the media must find new and unique ways to terrify the audience.

Point 1

Talk about the changes throughout the decades and link them to the social significance. The 70’s for example when the western civilisation was in the midst of the Vietnam war, families had fears of children being taken away to go to war. It triggered many horror films like Omen and The Exorcist depicting possessed or evil children representing the loss of family members. Body Horror and Apocalypse soon followed.

However these changes could have been necessary because of repetition, horror must be refreshed to intrigue the audience with new ideas. Also due to Two Step Flow critics will begin to spread negativity about the repetitiveness of horror and audiences will stagnate from them.

This shows the usual amount of negativity presented by critics of repetitiveness in horror films.

Point 3

The effect of CGI on us as an audience and why things need to be changed to cater to our needs. Take for example Alien in 1979, it was the single most scary monster ever created because of its savagery look. However looking back at the creature, it looks silly to take seriously as a horror villain therefore it is not considered a top horror film any more. The more believable a creature is the scarier it is, take for example the woman from The Devil inside and even the remade versions of Michael Myers and Freddie Kruger have all adjusted to our needs and are now much scarier. The use of CGI allows for more complex entities like Smiley and the Silent Hill beings.

An argument against this is that it doesn’t matter about technology, an iconic villain is someone/something you will never forget. Their own looks, personality and method of killing. Just some of the most iconic villains range from Predator, Alien, Jigsaw, Freddy Kruger, Jason and Michael Myers. They were such popular villains that they all had remakes to give audience the gratification of seeing them again on screen.

Point 4

To evaluate from that point 3, ‘based on a true story’ horror films are the most common at the moment to show that the depicted instances can be very well possible. Paranormal Activity had the most socially spread story: the video recorder footage was found in the house they died in by police, the footage was put together to make a movie and majority of people were convinced this story be true. A similar strategy was used with the Human Centipede, which boasted the fact it was 100% medically accurate. Paranormal Activity had an extremely successful viral marketing campaign which led to huge media buzz and attraction to the film triggering many more copycat entity movies like Insidious and the Women in Black.

Point 5

Talk about the comedic horror films that have been presented over the years that use comedy to dissect horror film staples. Films such as Shaun of the Dead, Army of Darkness and Scary Movie have done this and have become cult phenomenons themselves. Comedy Horror has become so popular it has developed a genre of its own. Could show that more people are disinterested with being scared and would rather mess about with the idea. Or it could just give people a way to laugh off their biggest fears.


A summary of where horror is at this current stage and how far it has progressed since the early 40’s. A range of explanations for the change in horror and its villains. What the media has done to change our views (social media, two step critics). Finally make a suggestion based off current events and what has previously been done, what is next for horror films in the next decade or so?


3 thoughts on “Is the fear factor in horror films constantly refreshed because of the media’s influence on audience opinion? : Essay Plan

  1. Okay, I like this more than where you were at before so I think it is making progress. Your question is getting better but still feels clunky–I’m not convinced it makes a great deal of sense and contains an assumption. I still feel like there is a bigger question which could be asked about how horror reflects society, or how horror needs to adapt to maintain audiences, or if horror actually never changes but audiences still lap it up and why. Or whether in the cgi age, audiences just long for some old fashioned jumps and scares.

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