Investigate how far the poster for The Woman in Black conforms to or challenges the genre conventions of horror.
The poster for The Woman in Black was released in 2012. The genre of the film is horror and the sub-genre is supernatural. The conventions of horror include: pathetic fallacy and the theme of death. A typical horror viewer depends on the sub-genre of the film. For example, a slasher horror would generally be viewed by men. The Woman in Black is produced by Hammer films, Cross creek pictures and Exclusive media group, all of which specialise in making horror films. This should mean that the film will conform to the genre conventions of Horror. The poster however may not as it is not distributed by the same company (who do not specialise in horror), so the poster may not conform to the conventions of horror. The audience expect the poster to make you feel scared- a stereotype that people have of all horror posters. The title of this poster does signify that this is horror and the tagline being: “fear her curse” conforms to this stereotype. But the rest of the poster doesn’t appear to from first impressions. I think that this poster will conform to the conventions of horror in most mays but in some it will challenge them.
The shot type of this poster is a medium close up of Daniel Radcliffe, with the background of the poster being a wide shot, showing all of the different elements of the set. Daniel Radcliffe has been put at the front of the shot to make sure that he is seen, attracting people to see the film who are interested in him. The poster conforms to many conventions of horror. The layout of the poster shows lots of different elements of the poster; the setting, the scary person and the main character are all positioned so that they can all be seen. This also adds to the theme of isolation, a classic convention of horror, leaving the protagonist vulnerable. The typography of the poster is very ghost-like due to the very bright white colour and no clear stroke to the text. This alongside the dark, creaky house and the Woman in Black in the background, shows us that this is of the gothic horror sub-genre. Another convention that this poster conforms to is the theme of death and religion. This is represented by the cross in the background. This alerts to an active audience that there might be death within the plot.
Daniel Radcliffe is the main attention for this poster much like the clown on the front of the poster for stitches is the main focus too. The lighting for this is a cool white/ blue tint, signifying that this is a rather ghostly and spooky film. This also improves the fog that appears in the background, making it seem even spookier. A passive audience would see these colours as only to make it scarier. Whereas an active audience would see behind this and realise that they show the story ends well. When they see the mysterious character standing in the background a death may occur within the plot. A denotation from the poster is the fog talking up the majority of the right of the poster. This connotes that the character will be left vulnerable due to the reduction of their field of vision. The fog also is a use of pathetic fallacy, a subtle warning to both active and passive audiences that something bad is going to happen. This is very typical of the horror genre.
The poster conforms to Todorov’s theorem. The house creates the state of equilibrium, with everything looking as it should do. The disruption is shown by the woman in black herself. She is standing there, dressed in black, appearing to be trying to upset the original equilibrium. Unfortunately there isn’t a clear recognition, this could have been someone realising that the woman in black is there, perhaps looking in horror at her. The repair is combined with the restoration of the equilibrium, in the form of the light coming through the clouds, showing that there is hope for them. To an active audience, this shows that the film could conform to the todorov theory. Not everything is represented as scary, which challenges the norm of horror posters. On the poster for Stitches, everything that is on the poster is supposed to scare you, just like it would in the film. Archetypes have been used on the poster for the woman in black. The Woman in black herself is dressed in a very typical person of the horror genre. A cloak is generally associated with the “baddie” in the story. Daniel Radcliffe is linked with the target audience of a young audience due to his appearance in Harry Potter, a film seen by this audience, attracting them to this new film. This is a negotiated reading of the film, people would need to know about Harry Potter in order to get some ideas about who Daniel Radcliffe is. In many ways this would be an ambiguity as previously we have associated him with being a good guy, but seeing him in this dark, gloomy state gives viewers an oppositional reading. It also conforms to Propp’s theory of character types. The main character is in the foreground, implying he is a good character, allowing the audience to empathise with him as there are bad characters in the background. This challenges the conventions of horror.
The Stitches poster included the colour red which contrasts with the background, symbolising death and violence. This is also shown by the blood on the character’s face. Both give a warning to the audience that death could occur during the film. Red also suggests a male target audience due to the death and violence that comes across. The colour scheme in this poster is different to that of The Woman in Black as they are of another horror sub-genre.
Similar to The Woman in Black, The Exorcist includes a religious theme (a typical convention of horror), as an exorcist is a person who rids evil. The use of spotlighting on the character, illuminating him, insinuating he is a good character. Moreover, both posters use dark colours which conforms to horror conventions.
I think that this would fall under the demographic group E to C2. I think it is E because of students who are going to watch it because Daniel Radcliffe stars in it and they will be attracted to the film because of him. His name being the only name featured at the top of the poster implies that he is used as a selling point. This aims to get people who would not normally watch a horror to watch it. It is also C2 because it is still a scary film that people of this demographic would enjoy. I don’t think that it would be any higher demographic groups because these people do not enjoy horror films as much as people in lower demographic groups. Also they prefer “upper class” actors and Daniel Radcliffe is not what they want to see. They prefer people such as Leonardo De Caprio. It also doesn’t have a sophisticated enough narrative for them. The poster was made by Hammer films, who specialise in horror films, because of this they have lots of knowledge about these kind of posters. This allows them to conform and challenge the conventions of horror, attracting a wider audience.
I think that this poster highlights its genre very well. Most of the features used do conform to those of the horror genre, but I think the main character has been used too much to attract the audience. Normally the main character is only put there to show who it is. In The Woman in Black the main character has been used as “eye candy”, attracting people to watch the film because of him, not the thing that make it a horror film. This is how I think that it challenges the horror genre. Linking back to my hypothesis, it does conform to most of the conventions of horror, things such as the lighting, positioning of objects and pathetic fallacy. But challenges it when it tries to gain audiences with the use of the star playing the main character. Overall I think that this definitely shows that the film is horror and the typical conventions allow viewers to see what sub-genre it falls into.