The Exorcist Defines the Horror Genre

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The horror genre has held a prominent position in culture for most of history. Beginning in folklore, used as a device to scare children into good behaviors (e.g. The Grimm Brother’s Fairy Tales), horror has integrated its way into the 21st century through film, and in recent years even video games. Yearly, primarily during the fall when the leaves start to brown and the natural eerie sense of fear fills the air around Halloween, the film industry likes to fill in the holes between its major grossing seasons by filling the audience with fear. However, it was Christmas of 1973 that defined the new age of Horror, when William Friedkin released The Exorcist. According to Julia Heimerdinger of Academia’s online journal, Horror, as a whole, can be identified by its heavy emphasis on evoking emotion; specifically those emotions that make the audience feel uncomfortable (panic, shock, disgust, fear, etc). In fact, emotion plays such an important role in defining this genre, it joins a list of only two genres that diverge their intended effect though the name—Horror and Romance. Heimerdinger says that “The goal of the genre is to get in touch with primal fears and bring people’s nightmares to life” (Heimerdinger). Steffen Hantke is the author of a Criticism on the Current State of American Horror Cinema. In his criticism he supports that horror films “can be best understood by . . . paying attention to the specifically technological aspects of cinema” (326). William Friedkin’s 1973 horror film The Exorcist uses the elements of sound, and special effects to emphasize the genre of horror within the film. Additionally, this film has influenced and created norms in thematic techniques used in the modern horror genre, such as public reception ...

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