In film theory, genre refers to the method based on similarities in the narrative elements from which films are constructed. Most theories of film genre are borrowed from literary genre criticism. As with genre in a literary context, there is a great deal of debate over how to define or categorize genres. Besides the basic distinction in genre between fiction and documentary, film genres can be categorized in several ways. Most films are usually categorized according to their setting, theme topic,mood, or format.
I have listed below the most identifiable and most popular film genres with full descriptions on each of them:
Action films usually include high energy, big-budget physical stunts and chases, possibly with rescues, battles, fights, escapes, destructive crises (floods, explosions, natural disasters, fires, etc.), non-stop motion, spectacular rhythm and pacing, and adventurous, often two-dimensional ‘good guy’ heroes (or recently, heroines) battling bad guys – all designed for pure audience escapism. Includes the James Bond ‘fantasy’ spy/espionage series, martial arts films, and so-called ‘blaxploitation’ films.
Adventure films are usually exciting stories, with new experiences or exotic locales, very similar to or often paired with the action film genre. They can include traditional swashbucklers, serialized films, and historical spectacles (similar to the epics film genre), searches or expeditions for lost continents, “jungle” and “desert” epics, treasure hunts, disaster films, or searches for the unknown.
Comedies are light-hearted plots consistently and deliberately designed to amuse and provoke laughter (with one-liners, jokes, etc.) by exaggerating the situation, the language, action, relationships and characters. This section describes various forms of comedy through cinematic history, including slapstick, screwball, spoofs and parodies, romantic comedies, black comedy (dark satirical comedy), and more.
CRIME AND GANGSTER
Crime (gangster) films are developed around the sinister actions of criminals or mobsters, particularly bank robbers, underworld figures, or ruthless hoodlums who operate outside the law, stealing and murdering their way through life. Criminal and gangster films are often categorized as film noir or detective-mystery films – because of underlying similarities between these cinematic forms.
Dramas are serious, plot-driven presentations, portraying realistic characters, settings, life situations, and stories involving intense character development and interaction. Usually, they are not focused on special-effects, comedy, or action, Dramatic films are probably the largest film genre, with many subsets. Dramatic biographical films are a major sub-genre, as are ‘adult’ films (with mature subject content).
Epics include costume dramas, historical dramas, war films, medieval romps, or ‘period pictures’ that often cover a large expanse of time set against a vast, panoramic backdrop. Epics often share elements of the elaborate adventure films genre. Epics take an historical or imagined event, mythic, legendary, or heroic figure, and add an extravagant setting and lavish costumes, accompanied by grandeur and spectacle, dramatic scope, high production values, and a sweeping musical score. Epics are often a more spectacular, lavish version of a biopic film. Some ‘sword and sandal’ films (Biblical epics or films occurring during antiquity) qualify as a sub-genre.
Horror films are designed to frighten and to invoke our hidden worst fears, often in a terrifying, shocking finale, while captivating and entertaining us at the same time in a cathartic experience. Horror films feature a wide range of styles, from the earliest silent Nosferatu classic, to today’s CGI monsters and deranged humans. They are often combined with science fiction when the menace or monster is related to a corruption of technology, or when Earth is threatened by aliens. The fantasy and supernatural film genres are not usually synonymous with the horror genre. There are many sub-genres of horror: slasher, teen terror, serial killers, satanic, Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.
Musical/dance films are cinematic forms that emphasize full-scale scores or song and dance routines in a significant way (usually with a musical or dance performance integrated as part of the film narrative), or they are films that are centered on combinations of music, dance, song or choreography. Major subgenres include the musical comedy or the concert film.
Sci-fi films are often quasi-scientific, visionary and imaginative – complete with heroes, aliens, distant planets, impossible quests, improbable settings, fantastic places, great dark and shadowy villains, futuristic technology, unknown and unknowable forces, and extraordinary monsters (‘things or creatures from space’), either created by mad scientists or by nuclear havoc. They are sometimes an offshoot of fantasy films, or they share some similarities with action/adventure films. Science fiction often expresses the potential of technology to destroy humankind and easily overlaps with horror films, particularly when technology or alien life forms become malevolent, as in the “Atomic Age” of sci-fi films in the 1950s
War (and anti-war) films acknowledge the horror and heartbreak of war, letting the actual combat fighting (against nations or humankind) on land, sea, or in the air provide the primary plot or background for the action of the film. War films are often paired with other genres, such as action, adventure, drama, romance, comedy (black), suspense, and even epics and westerns, and they often take a denunciatory approach toward warfare. They may include POW tales, stories of military operations, and training.
Westerns are the major defining genre of the American film industry – a eulogy to the early days of the expansive American frontier. They are one of the oldest, most enduring genres with very recognizable plots, elements, and characters (six-guns, horses, dusty towns and trails, cowboys, Indians, etc.). Over time, westerns have been re-defined, re-invented and expanded, dismissed, re-discovered, and spoofed.
After carefully analysing all of the genres above, I have decided to make a film which will be a horror genre. I can therefore start to base my primary research on horror and look at other promotion packages which are also of this genre, making my promotion look more conventional. This is also the genre which I watch the most, therefore having wider knowledge on this genre than any other, thus being able to identify what stereotypically a horror film consists of and I will be able to apply my knowledge throughout the planning and making process. Also I had based my choice on sensibility. As horror genre films always have a surprising story line, I thought that I could use my tactile thinking to think of a stereotypical story line. Also with the equipment available to me it is in my reach to do, filming wise. For example, if I decided to do something with the genre of war the props and location would not be in my reach, nor would the special effects if I had decided to make a sci-fi.