Symbolic Code Analysis


The image I have chosen is from the film Ouija. The film is about a young woman who mysteriously kills herself after using a Ouija board alone. Her friends then use the Ouija board and start talking to someone from ‘the other side’ who they think is their dead friend, Debbie, but is really the spirit of an evil young girl called Dorris. I have chosen this particular image because I think that it was well thought out and every aspect of the Mise En Scene was planned out extremely carefully. I find this film interesting because it is an unusual story revolving around a Ouija board, which is used in the real world and is most commonly related to the supernatural. This makes the film more realistic as well as making it seem like the event in the film could actually happen. This captivates the audience as they also see the film as more realistic so they pay more attention as well as relate to the characters in the film more easily.

Setting and Props:

The image is set around a dining room table in an old house. An old house is a conventional setting for a horror film as it can be secluded and is perceived by most people as a scary place to be in. This can be seen in the  1979 film Amityville horror(Stuart Rosenberg). The film has multiple sequels and the original film grossed $86.4 Million. Old houses are a good setting as they have a lot of history and there are multiple ways a horror film’s storyline could be linked to an old house. Also old houses are quite common and sometimes are linked to real life crimes. An example of a real life crime in an old house is the 1977 murders of Duluth heiress Elisabeth Congdon and her night nurse by Marjorie Caldwell Hagen. The murders took place in a house that was built in 1905.

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The only prop is the ouiji board and as they are used for trying to contact the dead it adds to the mysteriousness of what could be hiding in the darkness. Also again it fits in with the horror genre because it has been used in such films as the 2013-A haunted House(Michael Tiddes) which made $60.1 Million from a $2.5 Million budget. Also they are used by some members of the public to contact the dead as they think it is a real way of communication. Occasionally from these encounters from the public the sometimes report some form of paranormal activity. This means the film seems more realistic as the films portrays the ouiji board being used in a realistic manner. It is a conventional prop as it fits in with the horror genre and a lot of stories can be created by using a Ouija board as a prop. The ouija board also have an interesting history and it is a real life object which adds to the realism of the film. The Ouija board started life in February 1891 in a Pittsburgh toy and novelty shop as a,’magical device that answered questions “about the past, present and future with marvelous accuracy’.


VARIOUS - 2006

Costume, hair and make-up:

The clothes the characters are wearing are dark, this is to co-ordinate with the dark lighting and also links in with danger and evil. Also brightly coloured clothing could suggest happiness but the characters in this shot are far from happy. They are wearing casual clothing, this suggests that they believe its a normal night out at a friends house, a good example of this is almost every film in the genre. This could be a reason as to why horror films are so successful, as the characters are dressed like the audience watching the movie, meaning that the audience can relate better as they have more things in common. An example of this can be seen in TV soaps such as Coronation Street and EastEnders where all of the characters are wearing modern clothes that people watching the shows would also wear. This allows the audience to relate to the characters more easily as the audience would be able to see more similarities between them.


The hair and make up is also nothing fancy, again suggesting that the characters do not think anything unusual will happen, this is a common factor amongst the majority of horror films and again the audience can relate better to characters that are similar to themselves. This means the audience feels a bond with one or more characters so they would want to see these characters again, this would lead to sequels having greater success as the audience are paying to see the characters they can mostly relate to. This can be seen in the film franchise Alien(Ridley Scott)that follows warrant officer Ellen Ripley. The franchise has grossed just over $1.4 Billion off of a $336 Million production budget with another film set to release on the 31st of December 2015. I believe the reason this franchise of film is so popular is because of the revolutionary use of CGI and special effects that the audience had never seen before.


Facial expression and body language:

All of the character’s facial expression shows that they are all scared and they are worried about something. The main character is looking towards another character that isn’t taking part in the ouiji session. The centre character looks shocked and in disbelief. The majority of the characters have their arms closed, this suggests that they don’t want anyone or anything to contact them. On the other hand the main character has her arms open as she is the only character that wants to contact the dead, her arms being open then conveys this to the audience.

This type of body language is natural and almost everyone does this subconsciously. Appropriate body language is important in any genre of film, but horror films especially. This is because the aim of a horror film is to frighten the audience, so the director of the film needs to make sure that the body language of the characters looks realistic and doesn’t convey a message of happiness.


lighting and color: 

Low key lighting is used in this particular shot, this is so the background is dark and makes the audience focus on the characters and the table. The key light is the hanging light above the table, this allows the characters faces and the table to be lit up. The backlight is the natural light shining through the curtain behind the central character. This could have been done to suggest that the main character is the only one that wants an entity to contact her.

The lighting is also very dim, this could be to better represent the house as being old, also this is because having a dimly lit room better fits in with the horror genre as it gives the audience the feeling that something could be hiding in the darkness and could jump out at any time. The light is at the top of the frame so it shadows the back of the characters, forcing the audience to be looking directly at the characters faces and also gives the impression that what they are doing is serious.


In conclusion the Mise en scene of this shot is brilliantly done, from the prop used to the costumes of the characters the focus of the scene is to allow the audience to easily relate and bond with the characters in the film among other things. The techniques used are all proven to work through the examples I have given, such as the prop being one that has a, somewhat, real world use. Meaning the audience see’s the film as more realistic. Furthermore the use of lighting can connote various things but in this scene in particular the use of light connotes exactly what I think the director wants it too, although it be subconsciously. For example it made me question what could be lurking in the darkness.



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1979-Alien (Ridley Scott)

1979-The Amityville Horror (Stuart Rosenberg)

2005-The Amityville Horror (Andrew Douglas)

2013-Ouija (Stiles White)

Technical Code Analysis

The picture shown is from the film Dead Snow: Red vs Dead. The film is an Action, Comedy, Horror film that was made in 2014 from director Tommy Wirkola. I chose this image because I believe that the director of the film spent time on getting this shot right to convey a particular message to the audience. The synopsis of the plot involves  Martin(the main character)  killing his girlfriend with an axe, cutting off his infected arm with a chainsaw after being bitten, and watching his friends be devoured by Nazi zombies. I find this film interesting because although the film is about zombies, the plot is very different from most other films in the genre.

The angle used is a low angle, this is to make the character more prominent and more powerful than otherwise shown. This makes the character more noticeable to the audience, and therefore more scary. The shot is also from a child’s perspective so it makes the character look more scary and bigger than he realistically is. An example of this is in the Hobbit where many cinematography tricks were used to make the actor portraying Gandalf look taller than he really was. The Hobbit made $303 million off an estimated $180 million budget. This shows this approach was successful in adding to the realism of a film. Another example is in Tom Cruise films where they use low angles to show him looking much taller than he actually is. This is used because Tom Cruise is a fairly short actor(5″7), and he is usually cast as the hero. As for example in the highly successful mission impossible franchise, he is the hero and typically in film the hero is much taller and more masculine than that of his co stars.

The shot used shows almost all of the soldier, but the soldier in the foreground is clearly not like any ordinary Nazi soldier, and this would be made obvious to the audience, adding mysteriousness to the scene. This is because the audience doesn’t know what to think of the soldier. On the other hand the audience could also feel more tension. The use of a medium shot also shows the audience that there are other soldiers in the background, showing the audience that the soldier isn’t alone. This is to add tension to the scene and also grab the audiences attention, it could also add a sense of fear in the audience because it shows there is more than one threat. With the audience knowing that the threat is not that of a typical Nazi soldier. This technique has been used in TV shows such as the walking dead to show all of the zombies (pictured below), war films also use this technique to show the opposition soldiers, this can be seen in the 2014 film Fury(David Ayer). The Walking Dead is a hugely successful TV franchise that has had multiple series and had spin off games. I believe it is successful because currently audiences in the modern world are entangled in watching multiple films and TV shows that give a different view of the world before and after a zombie outbreak. Even the US government has devised a plan should a zombie outbreak occur.

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The shot also gives the audience a view of the background. Much like the character shown in this picture the background is dead and lifeless. Also the camera angle shows the dimness and the cloudy sky which is parallel to the character that is most prominent in the shot. This tells the audience that the film will most definitely revolve around these soldiers, and how they ended up like they are, as well as how, and why they ended up in the middle of no where. It also connotes bleakness and suggests the situation is a dire and dangerous one. This is a common convention of the horror genre because films of this genre aren’t supposed to be happy places where the audience would want to be by choice.


In conclusion the director successfully uses camera composition to make the audience frightened and scared, as well as using the shot to add tension. This could be attributed to the fact that the director is well established and is experienced in creating various effects to convey to the audience. Personally I think the use of low angles to tell the audience something is a lot better than having a character tell the audience by speech, for example. This is because the use of a low angle makes the focus character more prominent and noticeable, also the low angle adds definition to the  character the camera focuses an allowing the audience to see little details of the character, which would otherwise not be seen. This would in hand make the audience more tense.


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2012- Hobbit (Peter Jackson)

1996-Mission Impossible (Brian De Palma)

2000-Mission Impossible 2 (John Woo)

2006-Mission Impossible 3 (J.J Abrams)

2011-Mission Impossible 4 (Brad Bird)

2015-Mission Impossible 5 (Christopher McQuarrie)

2014-Fury (David Ayer)



My First Post

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Hello to anyone who can be bothered to read this, my name is Rhys(the welsh spelling)Groves. For the next two years i will be studying 3 A-levels: Maths, Physics and Media, I think it’s called? I like Youtube, Xbox One(not 360)and Football with my mates, when they can be bothered to invite me. All of my mates are in this sixth form and sadly I’m stuck with Callum in media (sad face). I also go to Villa matches because they are ”simply the best”, and also unlike one team we’re in the Prem and their not? I wonder what team that could be….

I chose to study media for an A-level because;

I have done the GCSE and passed (well done to me). It was a great time, filming, storyboarding, being left to do all the hard work and then loosing it all because Apple products are useless. its all good fun, until you have to sit down and do all the boring stuff afterwards.

Media, I believe, is one of the best subjects to study because as I’ve said (if you can be bothered to read all of it), it’s really fun and as technology and media becomes increasingly prevalent in everyday life it is a useful qualification to have. Also it can open a lot of (imaginary) doors to things in the future.

So hopefully when (not if) I get my Media A-level, it will give me an advantage over most people, I know this because there are only 3 people are in my class meanwhile some people are studying psychology (whats that useful for?).