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How to write an essay about horror movies

Horror movies have long been a popular genre in the film industry, thanks to those pulse-quickening thrill rides featuring heart-stopping moments of terror and suspense. Whether you’re a film student, a horror fan or just someone who has long been curious about the genre’s cultural significance, there’s no better way to hone that hankering for horror than to write an essay about the subject. If you need assistance, services like Academized writing service can help write my paper in a week, offering expert guidance and support in crafting essays on various topics, including horror movies.

1. Understanding the Genre

First, there are (literally) countless subgenres of horror movies, and to write about all of them as if they were basically the same thing would be a terrible read. You need to get a handle on the stereotypes: there are countless readers who might recognise you as a timid young woman when you look a lot more like an authoritative priest in their brain.

  • Identify Subgenres: Although it is a diverse category, horror is not a genre unto itself but rather a domain that hosts a surprising amount of variety, with subgenres such as: supernatural horror (eg, The Exorcist); psychological horror (eg, Psycho); slasher horror (eg, Halloween); and more. Within these, different techniques produce different kinds of fear and suspense.
  • Lesson (theme/subject): horror films elaborate a lot of Universal Ideas, some of which at the very root of human nature and explain things like fears of the unknown, driving instincts that test our core survival, meddlesome human curiosity and its catastrophic consequences. For instance, even though Jaws is about a fully grown, nearly indestructible shark that goes on rampage, it’s actually primarily about primal fears of nature and all the other things that lie just beyond our field of vision.
  • Cultural Importance: Viewing horror films through a cultural lens shows how they reflect and address our cultural anxieties; for example, the zombie movie has been read as a metaphor for social problems, from consumerism (Dawn of the Dead) to pandemic (28 Days Later).

2. Analysing Techniques with Examples

Many films use horror as a setting or backdrop to their story, but a truly effective horror film subverts our expectations by using a range of audiovisual strategies to elicit fear and suspense from the viewer. By analysing films in detail, and understanding how they might create an atmosphere of dread, we can add depth and sophistication to our analysis of horror. For those seeking guidance, utilising the expertise of the best essay service can provide invaluable support in crafting insightful essays that delve into the intricacies of horror cinema.

  • Use of Sound: Sound and score are crucial to bis, as are manipulations of sound (such as silence and sudden noises) that leave an audience tense and on edge. See how they use these tactics in A Quiet Place.
  • The visual imagery: Whether in cinematography or visual effects – can also be hugely instrumental in generating responses. For example, the utilisation of poor lighting and shadows in The Babadook can lead viewers to feel disconcerted and afraid.
  • Characterisation: Character, particularly antagonists, is vital in horror. Explore how iconic evil characters such as Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street) or Leatherface (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) represent pure misgivings and become long term symbols of terror.

3. Constructing a Strong Thesis Statement

A strong thesis statement represents the heart and soul of your essay, summing up its main argument or interpretation:

Thesis Development: Choose a specific claim about the horror film you’re writing about and state it as a thesis; it should then help to determine the shape your essay will take. For example, ‘Supernatural forces in the film The Conjuring series function as a figurative way of depicting the vulnerability of family bonds to harmful influences from beyond the home.

4. Comparative Analysis

Analysis of horror movies can be improved by better drawing out contrasts between them. It can be quite helpful to write an essay drawing out similarities and differences between two movies, well-presented in a comparative table:

Movie Title Subgenre Main Themes Director’s Style
The Shining Psychological Isolation, Madness Visually striking, surreal
Paranormal Activity Found Footage Haunting, Supernatural Minimalist, tension-building
Scream Slasher Meta-horror, Identity Satirical, self-aware

Setting these next to each other allows you to show how different horror directors treat the genre, and also what makes each film emotionally resonant with viewers.

5. Incorporating Critical Perspectives

To establish your essay, introduce what film critics and scholars who have written extensively about horror cinema have stated:

Critical Reviews: Look for reviews of a particular film studied by reliable or credible sources. These may present alternative perspectives, enabling you to see films through different lenses. Disclaimer: All Boris Karloff clips on our website are taken from the DVDs History’s Greatest Villains Boris Karloff and Universal’s Classic Monsters Complete 30-Film Collection, released by Shout! Factory.

Academic Analysis: Read textbook articles or chapters that analyse horror cinema in theoretical terms (psychoanalysis, feminist theory, cultural studies, etc) in order to understand how the movies are intended to communicate more ‘serious’ (or, given one’s acquaintance with other theoretical frameworks, perhaps ‘just as serious’) meanings and affective ‘lessons’.

6. Applying Theoretical Frameworks

To take a step further, try using theoretical tools that shed light on the wider themes present within horror cinema: theology/religion; psychoanalysis; queer theory; feminist theory/psychoanalysis.

  • Final Girl Theory: Dubbed by American film scholar Carol J Clover, this theory investigates how films such as Halloween (1978) perpetuate the trope of the ‘final girl’ – often a sole female survivor in slasher films who triumphs over the killer – by reversing genre conventions. These conventions privilege male perspectives as the norm and relegate women to symbolism, as one of the ‘screaming girls’. Discuss how the representation of the final girl subverts or reinforces traditional gender roles.


In writing this essay, you would need to account for themes and techniques that drive the genre, as well as understand the cultural contexts that facilitate its development as a cinematic genre with subgenres of its own. By engaging with those requirements, your essay would utilise the appreciation and analysis of relevant cinematic techniques and develop a focused thesis. You might present a comparative analysis of horror genres, critically engage with a horror trope, or fully address a theoretical perspective on horror.

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