Putting the “Horror” in Horror Movie Trailers

Movie trailers generally have symbols that will tell the audience what genre it belongs to. From the moment the lights dim and the trailers begin at a movie theater, the audience is given some clues about the different genres the upcoming movies belong to. These clues can be found through music, pacing, and transitions. For example, a horror movie is filled with short, action filled shots with tension building music and fading transitions while a romantic comedy might have a voice over explaining what is going to happen in the story with upbeat music playing in the background.

When looking at the differences between romantic comedies and horror films, pacing and sound effects are very different between the two. The trailers were roughly two minutes and thirty seconds. The shortest time length was two minutes and eighteen seconds, and the longest was two minutes and forty-nine seconds. A horror trailer is filled with short shots that flash on the screen through either straight cuts or fade ins while a romantic comedy is much more relaxed. In a romantic comedy the trailer tells the story, so overall the pacing is slower because the story line needs more time to be developed. The shots in a romantic comedy are still short, but they are longer than what is shown in a horror movie. Usually shots transition in straight cuts or more showy transitions such as the wipe. There is much more talking during the shots of romantic comedies which affects pacing as well. In horror films, shots are action filled and suspenseful because one of the goals of the movie is to scare people. Music also impacts this because in horror trailers, the music is spontaneous. It is composed of loud booms, screams, or dissonance that crescendos while short shots are being displayed to increase anxiety. Typically, the music is very creepy. This is very different from the type of music that is played in romantic comedies. Music tends to be very upbeat and fun in romantic comedies. Also, it is mainly instrumental tracks because there is usually a voice over explaining the story and the characters.

Typography and narration tend to work together during the trailers because if there is not a voice over, the narration is aided through text. This is what happened during the horror trailers. The text is a type of old style or decorative font which is white and falls on a black screen after a shot has faded away. It is used as narration in order to increase the suspense of the scene. In romantic comedies, the typography is in either traditional or sans serif fonts. The is used to explain more about the plot of the movie to the audience.

In the recut trailers, the creators use dialogue from the movie, music, and typography to change the genre. They often split the audio from the shots in order to have dialogue explaining what is occurring while short shots are shown with straight cuts or fade in transitions. Because this method of editing is used to explain the story, these trailers did not use a voice over. Also, typography is used very rarely to explain what is occurring in the plot. Text is used sparingly for suspense, as well as some plot development that is missing from the audio. However, in a well-made horror recut trailer, text is rarely used to explain the plot. For example, in the trailer remakes of Mrs. Doubtfire and Up, typography is not used at all. In a recut trailer where Willy Wonka is transformed into a horror movie, typography is used seven times to explain the story and add suspense. The text, along with the music and sudden bursts of sounds, made the trailer very suspenseful and an effective horror trailer. The recut trailer of Mrs. Doubtfire is especially great due to the creator’s use of transitioning, audio synchronization, and the music. In this trailer, the creator tells the story through the strategic placement of shots and the transitions between them that correspond to the audio. For example, this trailer is notably horror due to the fading in and out of scenes accompanied with sharp inhales of breath or booms. Also, the transitions between cuts is really well done.

Trailers: Prom Night, Carrie, Lights Out, Don’t Breathe, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, She’s the Man, Sixteen Candles, Blended.

Recut Trailers: Willy Wonka (children’s film converted to horror), Mrs. Doubtfire (drama converted to horror), Up (children’s film converted to horror).

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