The topic of the free lecture of the Budapest Film Academy was the genre of horror and thriller. These films are rarely talked about in an academic setting so I was even more excited. Also the lecture can bring together students with the same field of interest and there is a chance to meet new people.
The lecture appealed to me from the beginning, it started on time and they told us why it is important. Film shooting needs to start on time, if a crew member is late there is less time to shoot the scenes. I agree with that. First we talked about the bases of the horror genre. The lecturer, Jenő Hódi, founder of BFA, was focused and summarized it well. I’ve already made a short film which included some horror elements and it was very good to hear that some of the basic characteristics of the genre mentioned here can be found in my film, too. They explained why these key elements are important and what makes a good story. We also analyzed some classic horror movies such as Psycho, The Shining and The Silence of the Lambs, which are, in my opinion, the best of the genre and are definitely worth being discussed. Moreover, we watched some scenes from the films and talked about our observations, everybody could share their opinion. I really enjoyed that the lecture was interactive and that we could ask questions anytime.
For me, the most useful part of the lecture was when Jenő Hódi talked about his life experiences as a filmmaker, his time in Hollywood, what kind of advice he got from directors like Brian de Palma or Milos Forman. All in all, I didn’t regret at all attending the lecture and I would come again in the future.
Tension, suspense and shock – the genre of horror
Budapest Film Academy offered a free lecture in the topic of the horror genre. If we learn the clichés and stylistic features we learn a lot about horror films in general. First of all, the location of the movie has key importance, as it affects the mood of the film. Typically, abandoned houses, ranches in the middle of nowhere can increase the feeling of fear and vulnerability. Moreover, choosing the main character is also crucial, since the audience is more likely to remember the monster than the victims. Everybody knows the evil Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees, however we tend to forget the names of the rest of the characters when we leave the movie theatre. Other clichés such as the big knife, broken electronic devices and the weapons which are only an inch away were also mentioned.
We learned a lot about genre mixing while we analyzed the movies The Terminator, Harry Potter franchise and The Pirates of the Caribbean. These pictures beside horror elements use other popular genres such as sci-fi, action and adventure. We summarized our knowledge after watching the original theatrical trailer of The Rocky Horror Picture Show which is a classic example of both genre mixing and of unique usage of old clichés. The difference between horror and thriller was illustrated with an opening scene, and the lecturer pointed out that in horror films we can show certain things which in thrillers are usually only hinted at. Odd contrasts can make a horror movie more dynamic: after a murder in a forest the next scene can be in a bright supermarket. The friendly environment is the opposite of the eerie location. This is important because the audience sometimes need a break.
During the lecture scenes from horror films were shown such as The Strangers, Scream, Metamorphosis which were all great in creating suspense and fear, they use the old, boring plot devices innovatively.
Horror is one of the most popular genres, but sadly there are fewer masterpieces than cheap, B-movies. The bad and good ones both use the same clichés and genre characteristics; the difference lies in the originality. Only the talented and experienced directors can make a truly great picture.
József Máté Kiss