Horror Sub-Genre Classification
For Critics and Moviegoers
When critiquing horror movies, it’s important to remember all the different sub-genres of horror and the sub-genre from which a film is written. For instance, if you were looking for an emotional element, you would be disappointed watching a horror movie from the Campy sub-genre. This is a detailed classification of sub-genre to explain the elements you will need to focus on for critiquing.
The Slasher subgenre focuses on making the villain as terrifying as possible with no supernatural element or complicated character developments. This type of film usually has a body count of around ten and the victims are murdered in similar ways. The villain tends to stay a mystery to the rest of the characters in the film. Movies from this subgenre would include Jason and Sleepaway Camp.
Campy sub-genre movies tend to be comical in the horror with no serious plot or in-depth character development. This type of film typically has a low body count with the victims being killed in an accident or the story will cut away and not follow through with details to a murder to maintain light spirit. Dale and Tucker vs. Evil and The Addams Family are examples of the Campy sub-genre.
The Thriller sub-genre tends to focus on a singular setting with a seemingly unsuspecting area that becomes a place of fear due to a second party interfering unexpectedly causing terror to the victim. Characters that are unimportant to the plot often die in similar ways but usually the body count is less than five. Typically the victim grows in morality or personal strength and overcomes the villain. Thriller sub-genre examples are Phone Booth and Red Eye.
Dramatic sub-genre has a particular emotional aspect that can almost be confused with a typical drama with the exception of a character with significant sinister intent and the slow climbing character strength in the victim. Victims are often killed in different ways with a very low body count because of the emotional element. The villain’s main concern is usually to get a point across to the victim. The Good Son and Devil’s Pond are great examples of this genre.
Supernatural Horror is the most common type because it has the least rules and the most complex villains. In this genre, the victims are often by chance with a slightly higher body count. The villain will either have a supernatural ability or be a supernatural entity. The victims usually have no knowledge of the occult before the encounter and will need to research their issue. Amityville Horror and Wolf are written in this style.
Science Fiction is a sub-genre that typically focuses on an illness or disease. Occasionally the illness is caused with intent and this would create a compound villainous element being the illness and the party responsible. The body count for this sub-genre is massive and the struggles often center on not becoming infected while the main characters fight for their life. Infection and Resident Evil were created with this sub-genre.
Detailed knowledge of each sub-genre will help any critic give a better analysis of the film. It is important to realize where the plot is coming from and recognizing the level of character development as well as character growth to be accurate in a critique.