In order to create a financially successful and popular slasher film, directors and screen writers must satisfy and fulfil the audiences’ insatiable appetite for dismemberment and blood. The slasher genre also thought of as the ‘teenage genre’, is a sub-genre of horror, and one that is either loved or hated. Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream are all one of the same genre; slasher. A significant aspect that connects these four films is that they all target the teenage audience. The style used in all slasher films relies on a specific slasher formula of symbolism, narrative perspective and language choices. These films, however, have had to adapt and improve the ‘slasher style’ in order to keep the audience on their toes and to give them new experiences of fright, fear and disgust. Early on, when the genre was coming into play, majority of the audience was male, however, around the 1960’s feminism was coming into play, and as a result of this, brought the convention of the final girl to the horror genre. Now films of horror and gore appeal to both sexes, with gore and violence intensifying and a female protagonist.
In order for a film to fit into this genre it must contain a set of codes and conventions. Some of these conventions include: a UMK - an unstoppable masked killer, rather self-explanatory; it is the antagonist in the film, the one who slaughters all the other characters with, usually, no motive but the sadistic and sinister pleasure from doing so. The final girl is another convention, she is the untainted and virginal one, the one who, out of the group of teenagers that make up the main characters for the film, doesn’t drink smoke or have sex, she is the person who embodies the moral code that society thinks allows you to go forward in life, and it is up to her in the end, and her alone to either defeat the UMK, or to at least come close to and be the last to die. Another convention, which may be the most sinister on the director’s part, is the ‘safe place’. Directors chose to set the film in a place where the characters, and the audience for that matter, will feel safe in or find comfort in, this may be a park, a school, a neighbourhood, a holiday home, whatever it is the directors will exploit it and ruin it by making it the setting of murder and torture, ransacking and defiling any feeling of comfort you had before you walked into the cinema.
Each of the four films include all these conventions; ‘Halloween’: UMK = Michael Myers, final girl = Laurie Strode, safe place = Home, ‘Friday the 13th’: UMK = Jason (and his mother), final girl = Alice, safe place = Camp, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’: UMK = Freddy Krueger, final girl = Nancy, Safe Place = Neighbourhood and Dream, ‘Scream’: UMK = Ghost face, final girl = Sydney, safe place = Home, School and Police Station.
‘Halloween’, ‘Friday the 13th’, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Scream’ not only display examples violence, but when comparing t...