The Exorcist Defines the Horror Genre Essay

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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…show more content…
In any genre, the correct note at the exact, pivotal moment can leave a member of the audience in tears, bliss, or suspense. Contrary to Julia Heimdinger’s opinion, however, the lack of non-digetic sound tends to be very important to the horror genre. This is because it allows you to experience the genuine fear that the protagonist is feeling. You can hear their frantic breath, or the creaking of floor boards, or even the rustling of leaves. This suspends the audience into a very realistic moment of suspence and fear. According to Clifford G. Schuette of Kansas State University: “when sound is taken out of the equation, one’s attention to detail and focus vastly increases” (Schuette 13). Once the soundtrack is removed and only digetic sound remains, the viewer may become more involved and invested in the scene. This will ultimately create a more intense emotional reaction when the scene’s suspense and tension culminate into the climatic scare.
Special effects are another very important tool in defining the horror genre. In the years leading up to the 1970s, special effects were almost non-existent, or minimal at best, in the film industry. It wasn’t until The Exorcist was released in 1973 that movie goers were hit with believable special effects that would have been thought impossible a mere half decade before. As a result of these revolutionary special effects, The

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