Film audiences already have an idea of conventions in films that help to signify the genre of the film but we are only aware of straight genres. We are often less aware about sub genres and a hybrid genre. The fact that the audience already has an idea of the films generic conventions helps the audience with their expectations in a film, for instance, you wouldn’t expect to see horror conventions in a romantic comedy. The fact that the audience already has a rough idea of what is expected in the film through generic conventions which makes the film more pleasurable for the audience to view as their expectations of the film will be met. The fact that the audience has an idea of generic conventions helps the improvement on the financial success of the film as it meets more of the audience’s expectations. This essay will look at both the genre and narrative in the film “Final Destination” directed by James Wong in the year 2000.
The film “Final Destination” as a straight genre film and its genre is horror. The audience is aware of this film being a horror film by the generic conventions used in the opening sequence which I will be looking at. I will be looking specifically at the first 10 minutes of the film including the films credits.
From watching the credits we get the horror conventions that the audience can signify with the horror genre for example there is background music playing over the credits or the images that suggest death. From seeing this convention the audience can signify that this is a horror film just from the first few minutes of the credits. Now that we have established the horror conventions, the audience can create a basic story based on previous horror films that have used similar conventions.
As the audience is already aware of horror conventions they are able to establish a basic idea of what will happen in the story, most horror films follow Tzvetan Toderov’s narrative model of an equilibrium followed by a disruption ending in a new equilibrium. “Final Destination” follows this narrative model as in the beginning of the film we are faced with the equilibrium of Alex being suspicious of his plan journey, the disruption is the plan crash and the survivors deaths and it ends in a new equilibrium of have they beaten death at his own game. From the fact that most horror films follow the same narrative model the audience can create an idea of how the film will end. They are aware from the opening sequence of all the hints of Alex being superstitious of the plane crashing and all the small signs that signal bad luck and hints of a plan crash suggests to the audience that the plan will crash which is the disruption and from the narrative model we are aware that the film is going to end with it all seeming ok but the audience is left on a cliff hanger as we are given a sign to suggest that things are not ok and that the horror isn’t over yet which is a key convention used in most horror films.
The sequence I have chosen for this essay does use generic conventions in a clear way as from the opening credits we are aware that it’s a horror genre and as we progress into the actual movie the audience are given little hints to enhance on the superstition of something going wrong as we are given lines from characters such as “You have your whole life ahead of you” or a baby crying on the plan which suggests bad luck. As the audience is unconsciously aware of Tzvetan Toderov’s narrative model but are familiar with it’s use in film, they can begin to predict the outcome of the film and once that outcome is complete the audience feels satisfied as it has reached their expectations of the film.
The audience’s appreciation of the film increases the films profits and this can be achieved by meeting the audience’s expectations of the genre by the use of similar conventions to other films of the same genre. Some horror films such as “The Shining” and “Dead End” have similar conventions to “Final destination” as they both start with the credits showing that the film is of the horror genre but beginning the very first scene as a normal everyday thing. This first sets up the equilibrium for the film which follows the Tzvetan Toderov’s narrative model, but also lowers the audience’s consciousness so that they become unaware of when the disruption is going to beginning. The fact that the audience has become calm from the introduction of the equilibrium makes the disruption more dramatic and shocking as the audience is unprepared for it. The audience is still kept in suspense as they are aware from the horror conventions used in previous films that disruption will occur which leaves the audience unsettled.
The conventions used in my sequence of the film identify clearly to the audience the genre of the film and its narrative model based on previous horror conventions used in other films. The audience can clearly identify the genre of the film from the generic conventions such as the mise-en-scene and cinematography used. The generic conventions use in the opening credits are similar to the ones used in previous horror film films as they have an uneasy music playing over the top and the images we are shown are hinting death like the wind turns to a page in a book on the French revolution or we see a toy hanging from the window but when we see the shadow we can see someone being hung. The audience can make the connection of the genre through their knowledge of other horror films.
As the film progresses the audience become aware of the equilibrium as it plays but the audience are also given indications as to the disruption that the film is based around. The audience also is aware of the disruption as we are constantly given small clues that lead to the same outcome. In this sequence we are shown signs to a plane crash such as a song playing called plane crash and bad weather and the baby crying which suggests bad luck. we become aware that the film is about a plane crash and because we have already established that the film is of the horror genre we can make the connection of people dieing throughout the film as this is a key convention to the horror genre.
A final convention that this film and many other films of the same genre have followed is leaving the story on a cliff hanger – ‘unfinished.’ This leaves the audience asking questions as to what is going to happen now? Another film that follows that convention is “Dead End” as at the end of the film we wonder what happens to the main character. The fact that we are left on a cliff hanger opens the way for a sequels to continue the story. This will maximise the producer’s potential and further the profits from the films.
After looking at this sequence I have become aware of the narrative and genre elements that help signify the film to the audience and it’s effects on the films financial investment if the expectations of the generic conventions are met. The sequence I have looked at offers predictable narrative conventions that signify the genre and the narrative theory. I am aware that this film has met the audience’s expectations and made a financial investment as the producers of this film have created a sequel to carry on the ‘unfinished story’