According to the Todorov theory, there is a traditional narrative structure of the films have five parts. The theory contains the equilibrium, disequilibrium, acknowledgement, solving and again the equilibrium (A2 Media Studies 2018). Todorov believed that his theory of 5 elements can be applied to any film (Elsare Productions 2015).By applying Todorov’s theory to the chosen films, we can see how it works. The films begin with the equilibrium and represent the usual life of a city where a story occurs.
Then an event occurs, one way or another related to the second stage, namely, the disequilibrium. At this stage, the main intrigue is presented, after which three parts of the theory remain. The third stage is the realisation that something has gone wrong. The recognition of the fact that the equilibrium was disrupted, there were abductions and murders, and a solution of this problem must be found. The fourth part of the theory implies the search for a solution in which it is necessary to catch the killer and release the hostages. The final part of Todorov’s theory leads to the solution of the problem and the establishment of a new equilibrium.
Applying the narrative theory of Claude Levi Strauss, which is based on the conflict of binary opposites, it can be noted that the struggle between good and evil is undoubtedly an integral part of the horror films. In the above films, one can note the struggle between an antagonist and a protagonist, that creates the main conflict in the films. When the antagonist tries to stop the protagonist from achieving his goal, all this becomes an obstacle, and overcoming this obstacle becomes a conflict (DeFeo 2016). The main conflict is clearly visible between the detective Halloran and John Kramer in “Jigsaw”, the struggle for the lives of seven children with a terrible creature in the film “It”, and a sharp confrontation between Texas Ranger Hal Hartman and a maniac in the film “Leatherface”. In terms of themes and motifs, the genre of horrors is considered the most recurring in the development of these elements. In a plot, there is always a murderer who leaves one survivor, the search for victims and a police investigation accompanying the plot.
The audience expects from this genre the presence of a maniac or a monster, and the viewers crave murders to experience a sense of fear in the classical sense of the word. The horror films have the similar internal structure, general plot formulas and types of characters. The main feature of the horror films is undoubtedly a fear. This emotional element is designed to frighten the viewer, instil in him a sense of insecurity, and the agonising expectation of inevitability.
The systems of signs that can be technical and symbolic, can create meaning and help to tell a story. The features of the technical codes in the genre of horror are unusual camera angles, camera shots and camera movement. The low and high angle shots create an atmosphere of confusion in a space, causing an irritation and nervous tension. The POV shots make an audience a part of the story. Hand help shots often use in the horror genre because it gives a freedom of shooting and allows to shoot the situations that are completely unexpected and shocking.The conventions of the genre are specific and universally recognised features regarding the characters, locations, visual style, and narrative structure.
The isolated locations such as the barns, farms, abandoned houses, or hangars are an integral part of the horror genre and undoubtedly create a certain feeling peculiar only to this genre. A terrible story of a violence in the film “Jigsaw” occurs in a closed hangar. The story of killing in the film “Leatherface” has a place to be on a farm in a closed basement. In the film “It”, Pennywise moves through the sewer tunnels that lead to a well under an abandoned house. The main features of the visual style are the bright contrasts of the colour range inherent only in the horror genre.
The bright red colours symbolise blood, cold blue and grey colours create a gloomy image. A gloomy picture leads to reflections on the value of life and darkness exacerbates feelings of the fear and horror. Not only the colour scheme can create a grim sensation.
Low-key lighting also is one of the most important moments in the creation of the horror genre because it creates a sense of the fear and despair. The props help us identify any genre, and especially the horror genre because quite specific things are used to create tension. Thanks to the props can also identify a particular character. When the audience hears the word a saw, they clearly understand what movie this refers to. When we talk about a clown, the audience implies the film “It”.
Although in the film “Jigsaw” the protagonist also wearing a clown mask but this film does not associate with the clown and everything connected with it. The main prop in the film “Leatherface” is a chainsaw and the audience for some reason immediately understands what kind of movie it is.Based on the examples presented, it can be said with certainty that the horror genre has undergone some changes, and has become more like a hybrid that has signs of a psychological thriller and drama.
This was due to the extinction of the audience interest in this genre. To increase the involvement of the viewer, the filmmakers introduced some changes to add an intrigue. The essential elements such as the low key lighting, contrast of colours, and the presence of a monster or a maniac have remained unchanged.