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  • What do horror movies and comedies have in common?

  • The two genres might seem totally different, but the reason they're both so popular is perhaps because what they have in common: their use of dramatic irony.

  • First, let's clarify.

  • There are three types of irony out there.

  • Situational irony is when you expect one thing, but get the opposite.

  • Verbal irony is when someone says something, but truly means the opposite.

  • Dramatic irony, though, is what we will be looking at right now.

  • Dramatic irony is when the audience seems to know more about an event, a situation, or a conversation than the characters in the movie, on the show, or in the book do.

  • The audience is in on a secret that the characters have missed.

  • This is a great story-telling device that creates tremendous emotion within that text.

  • Think about it for a moment.

  • How does it feel when, in a horror film, you know that the scary villain is hiding behind that door in the darkened room?

  • The music becomes eerie.

  • The lighting creates complete shadows.

  • This has to be bad for the hero!

  • Of course, though, that hero must enter the room to find the villain.

  • You feel tremendous tension and the suspense of knowing that someone will jump out and be scary, but you just don't know when.

  • That tension is dramatic ironyyou know something more than the characters in the film.

  • Now, take the typical comedy.

  • There will probably be some type of "misunderstanding".

  • Again, we know more of what is going on than the characters do.

  • Picture two characters making a plan for a birthday surprise for their roommate, while that roommate overhears the entire conversation from the hallway.

  • From there, confusion and misunderstanding occur, and the tension builds.

  • But this isn't the same tension as the horror film since it is probably pretty funny, as the character tries to figure out the whos and the whats.

  • But it serves as a great example of the tension and suspense of dramatic irony.

  • This tension or suspense in both genres drives the story and keeps the plot progressing.

  • The audience wants, no, needs, to see the tension of the dramatic irony broken,

  • either by the scary person jumping out of the shadows, or by someone finally revealing someone's true identity and clearing up the confusion.

  • So, when you feel like you are in on a secret, that is dramatic irony, a hallmark of all the great writers from Shakespeare to Hitchcock.

What do horror movies and comedies have in common?

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