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GCSE Media Studies: Controlled Assessment

The conventions of horror genre are gruesome-bloody murders usually

committed by the antagonist and the protagonist tries to solve the
murders and eliminate the antagonist another type of conventions is the
protagonist is trapped in the antagonists psychological games and tries to
survive the game. The threats in a Horror genre are Scientific Threat
where a monster or infection is created by a mad scientist, the threat
partially lies in who controls the monster and there is the psychological
threat, psychological threat is split into two groups Murder/Violent threat
these can be in the form of brutal murders which are committed usually
with brutal and terrifying weapons such as chainsaw and serial killers and
psychological games/traps these comes in the forms of torture and
There are four type of female characters in a typical horror movie. The
protagonist or heroine who is portrayed as smart, saviour and fearless.
The antagonist also known as femme fatale and villainess who is evil and
is an obstacle to the protagonist. Then there is the damsel in distress who
is portrayed as weak, helpless, D.I.D are sometimes tortured mentally and
physically by the antagonist and they typically need to be protected or
saved by the protagonist. Finally there is a trouble maker as the name
suggest their job is to cause or start a trouble usually for the protagonist
to sort it out.
It is important to study women in film because women are portrayed in
films differently than they are in reality. They are being presented in film
by the male gaze theory which is when women are sexualised so they
would appeal to a heterosexual male audience. One typical way women
are disempowered through is by them having sexual intercourse with male
in the film.

The synopsis of Nightmare on Elm Street is Freddy Krueger, a mysterious,

evil, invincible man with long metal like fingers who hunts teenagers in
their dreams and Freddie kills Tina, Tinas boyfriend (Rod) is blamed for
murdering Tina and he is arrested. Rod is strangled by Freddy Krueger
when he is in jail. Nancy investigates the murder and find out it was
Freddy Krueger who killed Tina and Rod. Nancy tries to pull Freddy
Krueger out of her dream. The reason why Nightmare on Elm Street fits
into the horror genre because the 3 typical characters are present in the

film, the vicious antagonist, the foolish damsel-in-distress, Tina the brave
and curious heroine, Nancy and finally the partially hero Rod who is
portrayed as a typical sex crazed male. The film disempowers women
through Tinas character, she is the damsel-in-distress, she keeps
screaming when she Freddy Krueger appears in her dream this portrays
her as weak and defenceless. Another way she is disempowered is when
she have sexual intercourse with her boyfriend Rod, here she is presented
by male gaze theory and women are presented as sex objects. Another
way the film disempowers women Tina is portrayed as vulnerable by the
clothes she is wearing which are her boyfriends white shirt and
underwear, the colour white represent weakness, innocence and peace
but in the real world women are not weak, in films women are stripped of
their powers. The film does not disempower women completely as the
main protagonist is Nancy, a brave, smart female. She is doing
unconventional things in the film such as trying to fight Freddy Krueger.
This makes women seem strong and brave.
The synopsis of The Ring is a teenage girls dies after watching a cursed
tape, the tape is of a teenage girl (samara) who is dead and whoever
watches the tape gets a phone call, foretelling them their death in exactly
seven days. Newspaper reporter Rachel Keller who is the protagonist is
skeptical of the story until four teenagers all die exactly a week after
watching the tape. Rachel tracks down the video and watches it, she has
just seven days to solve the mystery before she dies too. This movie fits
into the horror genre because

In Nightmare on Elm Street, the characteristics of Nancy is portrayed as

a gallantry and smart protagonist. She is presented as the one of the
strongest characters In the movie e.g. she tries to get Freddy Krueger out
of her dream, the audience would never have excepted her to do this, this
is abnormal because in a horror movie the female are usually stripped of
their powers or are usually below their male counterparts in strength. On
the other hand, Tina is portrayed completely oppositely to Nancy, she is
the damsel-in-distress, she acts femininely which irate the audience and
makes her vulnerable.
In The Ring, the characteristics of Samara is portrayed as a scary, evil
and grotesque antagonist. She is haunting in her appearance and the fact
that she was an innocent girl turned into vengeful ghost makes her
scarier. She is one of the most powerful characters in the movie with all
sorts of powers and few weaknesses. Rachel is the brave, curious and
irritating protagonist who wants to protect her child and a troublemaker

because she causes the death of her ex-boyfriend Noah, if she hasnt
investigated, Noah wouldnt have been involved and the death wouldnt
have occurred.
In Woman in Black, the characteristics of the woman in black is portrayed
as sinister, malevolent and a mad villainess who took the lives of innocent
children to fulfil her vengeance.
In Psycho the characteristics of Marion is portrayed as a troublemaker
and damsel-in-distress because it was her who stole the money and then
she is killed by Norman Bates. Arbogast, a private detective who
investigates what happened to Marion, in this process he is killed. Laila,
Marions sister is also portrayed as a troublemaker she goes to Norman
Bates which could result in her and Sams death house and a brave and
smart protagonist because she avoided getting killed by Norman like her

In horror movies, female are disempowered by the sound used in the

movie usually by diegetic sounds- diegetic sounds are sounds that are
natural in the scene and are not added during post-production. In Night
Mare on Elm Street, Tina screams and moans in pleasure during sexual
intercourse with her boyfriend, the screaming and moaning portrays
female as people who are only useful for sex but nothing else and
Female are also disempowered through mise-en-scene such as costume,
female are made vulnerable when they wear certain clothes or certain
coloured clothes for example if a female wore white clothes, she is made
defenceless because the connation with the colour white is peace and
innocence. Example in Night Mare on Elm Street, Tina can be seen
wearing just her boyfriends white shirt in her nightmare, this makes her
more sexually attractive and she is physically weakened and the fact that
she is wearing her boyfriends shirt makes her stronger but it brings back
the stereotype that women are weak without their men.
To conclude I disagree with the portrayal of women in horror movies
because lots of the way they are presented are very inaccurate. Women
are mostly portrayed as sex toys, vulnerable and stupid but in reality the
characteristics of women are completely different. However is some horror
movies like In the Nightmare on Elm Street, women are portrayed more
positively then they are presented typically.

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