Horror is one of the most popular movie genres that movie lovers like. The horror
movies are known to frighten the audience by instilling a sense of paranoia and panic to
entertain the audience and invoke some hidden fears (Prince 12). They have mythical
creatures like zombies, vampires, ghosts, and even people who are used to scare viewers. The
horror genre can further be divided into sub-genre also referred to as conventions like zombie
horror, supernatural horror, psychological horror, and action horror (Kawin 33). Just but to
mention a few. This paper will focus on the psychological horror which typically relies on the
psychological, emotional, and mental states to disturb, unsettle, and frighten the viewers. The
three movies in this subgenre that we will be analyzing include, “The Blair Witch Project,”
“Martyrs 2008”, and “Jacobs Ladder.”
The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project is one of the best psychological horror films. When a college
student realized that the sister had gone missing, she gathered her friends to her in finding the
sister. This, however, turned out to be a wrong move. With this movie, there is no violence,
blood, and murder something that is often associated with horror movies. This horror film can
be described as intense and scary with an objective to exploit the occult imagery in so doing
it will generate fear. The witches and supernatural beings have been used to incite paranoia.
Profane language has been widely used with the s-word and the f-word topping the chats. The
name of Jesus has also been extensively abused.
This horror movie tells the story of Anna, a missing girl who is found after year
loitering on the country road. It is apparent that the girl has been abused physically several
times. Anna grows into a beautiful woman, but it is clear that she issues. She is on a mission
to avenge her kidnapping and torture as a child. She happens to partner her friend Lucie who
was also a victim of child abuse. Lucie is haunted continuously by some spirit that makes her
kill Belford family who tortured her as a child. It then happens that the ghost that has been
haunting her was a girl who was abused in the same house as her. She, however, failed to
help her escape when she found a breakthrough. She kills the family to help her in alleviating
the guilt that she has had all this while. Since Lucie can’t escape from this creature that keeps
on tormenting her, she eventually decides to kill herself by banging her head continuously on
the wall. This movie can be referred to as humorless, disturbing, and uncomfortable to watch.
It is a great movie that depicts the psychological aspects of the horror movie.
Jacob finds himself in the middle ground between reality and hallucination. Jacob is
dispatched as a soldier in Vietnam whereby he undergoes various traumatic experiences. The
nature of the traumatic experience is not that clear initially. However, after moving to New
York, he continually feels traumatized but cannot remember exactly what happened while in
Vietnam. He is well-schooled, but later works as a letter carrier for the postal service and
later gets into a romantic relationship with one of her colleagues. He, however, begins to lose
his mind when he starts recalling the horrifying events that he underwent. He is nearly run
over by a train and is pursued by the faceless demons in vehicles. He sees protruding reptilian
horns and tails of those he comes across. He also suffers panic attacks that seem to exist in
his mind but not in reality. He seeks professional help for his troubled soul.
There is a striking resemblance in the three movies that make them perfectly fit in the
psychological sub-genre. As we had stated earlier on, this movie convention relies on the
psychological, emotional, and mental states to unsettle or disturb the viewers.
In”The Blair Witch Project,” there are tales of the supernatural going-on which are
exchanged with the various characters. For example, we have a scenario, whereby a hand
reaches out to the river to take away a child. One of the characters goes to fetch firewood for
the night bonfire but returns with none. This causes lots of psychological anxiety as they do
not know what to expect.
As for the “Martyrs 2008”, two girls Anna and Lucie were abused when they were
children. Anna goes missing for one year only to be found in one of the roads in the
countryside. The two girls grow up into women and decide to avenge the torture that they
underwent when they were girls. Lucie is possessed by some character which makes her go
on the extreme. She manages to take revenge on the family that had abused her while she was
a little girl. This “spirit” does not leave her immediately as it causes her to take her life. The
director has correctly used the psychological and mental states in this movie to disturb the
Jacob is a soldier who is dispatched in Vietnam during the World War II. Since the
war scene is one of the traumatizing scenes, Jacob leaves Vietnam a disturbed man. He does
not know precisely what is wrong with him, but he can tell that there is a problem. He is in
between reality and hallucination. As time goes back, the hallucinations start getting the
better of Jacob. It is at this point that he seeks professional help. We realize that in this film,
just like the other two the psychological horror convention is highlighted by highlighting the
psychological and mental state of Jacob.
The three movies differ in the various elements of the psychological horror that have
been applied. The first movie, for instance, does not portray violence. We do not see scenes
of senseless killings and violence like in the second movie. In the first movie, a college
student gets help from the other students to help in tracing her lost sister. It is during the
search of the sister that they come across various mental and psychological problems. This is
one horror movie that is rare to find since the scenes of blood are not painted as it is usually
When we compare the first movie and the second movie, there is a sharp contrast.
Whereas there are no elements of violence and horror in the first movie, there are violent
scenes in the second movie. When Lucie seeks to avenge the mistreatment that she faced as a
child, she kills the entire family. As much as she was mentally disturbed, this section of this
movie highlights violence and murder. Lucie goes ahead to kill herself by banging her head
on the wall.
The third movie is titled, “Jacobs Ladder.” This movie is also different from the
“Martyrs 2008” movie. As much as the film begins with Jacob being on the battlefield in
Vietnam, this movie is mostly non-violent. A better part of the film is spent in highlighting
the mental battle that Jacob had as he tried to strike a balance between reality and
In conclusion, we realize that “Martyrs 2008”, “The Blair Witch,” and “Jacob
Ladder,” horror movies are identical. They all belong to the psychological conventions of the
horror film. When you watch the three movies, you will be challenged both psychologically
and mentality. You may find it hard watching some scenes of these movies as they will stir
some inner human feelings which we typically try to suppress. The directors of the movies
have perfectly executed these movies that will help us deal with some of our inner emotions
and feelings which we try to contain only to hurt us or others in the future.
The movies are also different in a way because the different filmmakers have different
stories to tell. The various stories have different characters who correctly execute their plot
(Kawin 44). There is also the aspect of the filmmakers highlighting more than one convention
of horror in a film. The movies have also been produced and directed by different individuals
who make them different from one another.
Prince, Stephen. The Horror Film. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Kawin, Bruce F. Horror and the Horror Film. London: Anthem Press, 2012. Print.