ENG 450 University of Nevada Las Vegas Effects of Horror Films Essay
1. Watch the following scene from The Sixth Sense. In the space below, describe how precisely the scene is shot and edited (acknowledging the score/sound design) to produce a sense of dread, tension, or suspense. Don’t simply describe what happens in the scene— rather, describe how the scene is crafted to elicit a specific effect.
2. Next, consider the following statement from G. Neil Martin’s peer-reviewed article “(Why) Do You Like Scary Movies? A Review of the Empirical Research on Psychological Responses to Horror Films”
“People’s enjoyment of horror can also be affected by priming. Cantor et al. (1984) found that providing adults with information about the types of events they were about to see in four horror films increased the degree of fright and upset that the participants experienced.”
3. Lastly, take a look at the All Audience reviews for the film on Rotten Tomatoes. Pay close attention to the words that (re)viewers use, e.g. “suspenseful.”
4. Craft a short paragraph in which you put all three findings in conversation with one another. You may choose to start with a quote from Martin (e.g. “Psychology researcher G. Neil Martin claims that…”) or with a strong topic sentence in which you state a claim an follow through with direct evidence.
Consider this quotation from Stephen King’s famous mini-essay, titled “Why We Crave Horror Films”:
“The mythic horror movie, like the sick joke, has a dirty job to do. It deliberately appeals to all that is worst in us. It is morbidity unchained, our most base instincts let free, our nastiest fantasies realized . . . and it all happens, fittingly enough, in the dark. For those reasons, good liberals often shy away from horror films. For myself, I like to see the most aggressive of them – Dawn of the Dead, for instance – as lifting a trap door in the civilized forebrain and throwing a basket of raw meat to the hungry alligators swimming around in that subterranean river beneath. Why bother? Because it keeps them from getting out, man. It keeps them down there and me up here. It was Lennon and McCartney who said that all you need is love, and I would agree with that. As long as you keep the gators fed.”
Does King’s quote relate to your experience of watching horror films? Why or why not?
- In a scene from The Sixth Sense… [describe the scene]
- The techniques used in this scene support evidence cited by research psychologist G. Neil Martin about priming. More specifically… [explain how the idea of priming relates to scene from the film]
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