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Comparing Dark Water and The Mothman Prophecies

Powerful Essays
Audiences love to be scared. Horror films attempt to find some sort of

trigger in the audiences mind, and develop it to create horror.

Preceded by the great horror novels such as Dracula, and developed in

the early nineteen twenties and nineteen thirties in Germany. From

slash movies, to the post-modern psychological thrillers, horror films

have evolved into an art form. This genre relies heavily on the basic

horror conventions. These have been adapted from the early twentieth

century, and have developed a whole series of genre conventions into a

familiar variety of scary settings, iconography, and stereotyped

characterisation. Audiences have a clear understanding of this, and

they use it to their advantage. They can keep putting the audience

through the jolts that horror conventions continue to give. An

effective way of keeping the horror fresh would be to break the cycle,

by breaking certain conventions.

The isolated setting in the two films is a key device used to

establish a threatening atmosphere. In “Dark water”, the director uses

an old dilapidated block of flats as the main setting for the horror.

This kind of location is widely used in horror films, it isolates the

characters, and renders them vulnerable to the inevitable horror that

threatens them. In “The mothman prophecies” there is a different

setting, but with relatively similar conventions. It is set in a small

West Virginia town, and although the town is not quite as isolated or

claustrophobic as the setting for “Dark water”, it is far from outside

help, and this makes it prone to the horror. In this context, “Dark

water” uses its setting well, and in contrast t...

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...films suffer because of this.

Overall, I believe that “Dark water” uses horror genre conventions to

the best effect. The director merges his own ideas with traditional

conventions to great effect in the film, but it does not work well

with the Hollywood aspects of the film. Horror genre conventions are

evident in both films and the way they are directed has given me

obvious indications on the effect the horror conventions can have on a

film when used well, and the adverse effect when not used well. Both

Japanese and American society are evident in these films, and the

style of the films are similar to the nationality of the two

directors. Horror conventions are used in both films, but the way they

are used are quite different, and these contrasting styles are key in

how effective the two films are to their audience.