Characters are the mediums for expressing and establishing a differentiated identity from competitors.
The originality and symbolism of characters in a movie or drama essentially make it possible for them to create their own unique area. These characteristics of the characters are considered more important in the genre of movies, which should appeal to the audience for a limited time of about 120 minutes. So, it has been considered important in movie genres such as SF, action, and comedy for many years. In addition, for the past decade, there have been efforts to make distinctive and differentiated characters in horror genre movies. In other words, horror movie makers have been trying to achieve 'successful storytelling’ in their marketing by making sure the audience keeps a deep impression their character so they think of the character when they think about the abstract word 'ghost'. So, what are some of the horror movies that have succeeded in marketing their characters and what characteristics do the characters have?
1. Movie ‘The ring’ – Sadako
The first horror movie character to introduce is Sadako from the movie, ‘The Ring’. She was born with a psychic ability that can kill a man, which she inherited from her mother Yamamura Shizuko. Sadako was labeled a witch and hunted by the public after they found out that she had psychic powers. She commits suicide due to depression and shock. She blames the public for her death, and creates a cursed video. Sadako was able to capture the audience’s imagination because of her unique appearance. Unlike traditional ghosts that suddenly come out of nowhere and surprise people, Sadako makes her appearance through the videotape. When the so called 'cursed video' is played, you see a well but there is no one on the screen; then Sadako comes out of the well with long black hair and a white dress, twisting her joints in a strange way. This kind of image; a ghost with a twisted body, will influence many horror movies in the future. Movies with the story of Sadako have been loved continuously since the movie 'The Ring' came out 20 years ago in 1998. The latest movie called 'Sadako 3D' was released in 2013. Indeed, in Japan there was a boom in interest in horror movies from the late 90s to the early 2000s, after the first movie 'The Ring'.
2. Movie ‘Child’s Play’ - Chucky
The second character is ‘Chucky’ from the movie, ‘Child’s Play’. Chucky is a small child-sized doll with an ugly freckled face. In addition to its freckled face, creepy eyes, dirty red hair, and height of a child, Chucky wears striped shirts, overalls, and sneakers. Chucky was born when the soul of the serial killer ‘Charles Lee Ray’ was transferred to a doll called ‘Good Guy,’ which happened to be very popular at the time. In ‘Child’s Play 4: Bride of Chucky’, a new character, Tiffany, whose soul was transferred in the same way as Chucky, comes out. With the birth of Glen, a child of Chucky, they form a doll family in ‘Child’s Play 5: Seed of Chucky’. To get back to a human body, Charles Le Ray always chants a spell: ‘Ade Due Damballa (Give me the power)’. Ironically, however, at the end of the movie, Charles decides to remain in the doll after realizing that having a doll body is more comfortable. With revenues of over $33 million in North America alone, while the whole series of ‘Child’s Play’ were produced for a total of $90 million, six titles were released by 2013. Most of the dolls that appear in recent horror movies, such as ‘The Conjuring’ and ‘Saw’, are the result of Chucky’s successful run at the box-office.
3. Movie ‘Ju-on: The Grudge’ – Toshio
The last character to be introduced is Toshio from the movie, ‘The Grudge’. Toshio is a white-faced child ghost, who frightens people from time to time by regularly appearing under the table, under a comforter, or in front of the shower-booth. Toshio is murdered by his violent father and is then possessed by the vindictive spirit of a cat; so he makes cat sounds. A child ghost making the sound of a crying cat might cause fear in the audience, however, the cute image of a child is a stronger memory than a scary image. Therefore, in order to increase fear, ‘Kayako Saeki’, a typical ghost, always follows Toshio in the movie. ‘Kayako’ is the mother of ‘Toshio’, and has the role of protecting ‘Toshio’. Actually the movie ‘Sadako vs. Kayako’ released in 2016 has the story of Kayako getting mad at Sadako, who attacks Toshio and eventually get into a fight. Since its debut in 1999, the series of ‘The Grudge’ has continued with great success since its box-office release. With its young ghost, Toshio, this movie is ranked No.1 on the foreign horror movie series.
Characters have become a necessary element in the success of horror movies. The audience remembers the characters rather than the context of the movie. The films mentioned above have won all hearts by grasping the imagination of the audience and by successfully carrying out marketing. Sadako has its own unique way of appearing, Chucky has a theme of ‘human soul transferred into a doll’, and Toshio has attracted the audience with its scary cuteness. It has been almost 20 years since the first release of these movies, but these characters are still stamped on our memory. Even people who have not watched these movies may have seen these characters somewhere. A hot summer is approaching right now! Why don’t we go watch horror movies with friends and family, where these characters can cool off the heat?< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >