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WJEC AS Film Studies FM2 Section B British Film Horror Exemplar

Rob Miller | Tuesday March 11, 2014

Categories: A Level, EDUQAS A Level, EDUQAS AS, FM2, Section B: British Film Topics, Films & Case Studies, Hollywood Films, 28 Days Later, Non-Hollywood Films, The Wicker Man, Theatre of Blood, Genres & Case Studies, British Film, Horror, Hot Entries

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How do genre conventions in the films that you have studied link with messages and values? (40)

My chosen genre is horror and the two texts I have chosen to focus on are The Wicker Man (1973) and 28 Days Later (2002). The Wicker Man falls into the sub genre of horror and psychological thriller, with its own recognisable codes and conventions. As a film that was seen as problematical then in 1973 (hence its X/18 certificate) it has since become a cult classic exploring messages and values linked to fundamental religious and pagan beliefs through the characters of the naïve, virginal Police Sergeant Neil Howie, Lord Summerisle and the villagers who practice a form of witchcraft – narrative outcomes would suggest negative messages in regards to the values of the Christian faith as Neil Howie is burnt to death in a wicker man, sacrificed to the sun god. Alternative readings have suggested that there is evidence of a form of redemption through his unfaltering faith and resistance to temptation, including sexual seduction with additional messages and values associated with the idea of Britishness (it is set on a remote Scottish island), sexuality but also values associated with the end of the swinging sixties and 1970s ‘flower power’.

In terms of a virgin sacrifice, genre conventions link only in this regard to gothic horror while The Wicker Man is a highly stylised psychological horror that asks audiences to look deep into themselves and explore concepts of right and wrong, good versus evil and the whole idea of a subversive pagan cult who worship a false idol. A lack of non-diegetic music at times creates anxiety and builds paranoia, both Sergeant Howie’s and the audiences’. The mise-en-scene ensures the end sequence has a macabre, camp, theatrical feel to it with villagers in ritualistic, bizarre masks and elaborate dress code on May Day. Intrusive, claustrophobic framing, canted camera angles and...

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