The Horror, The Horror: New BBFC Classifications to Factor in Theme and Tone of Horror Films


The BBFC has announced a decision to update its guidelines for the classification of horror films. Under the new guidelines, the theme, tone and impact of films will be taken account alongside specific aspects of content and visual detail.

In an interview with BBC Breakfast, the BBFC’s Assistant Director David Austin acknowledged that “sometimes visual detail isn’t the key issue” in establishing the potential impact of horror movies on their viewers, explaining that “what resonates with people in relation to horror films is often the theme of the film: themes of loss, the dark, and things that play on people’s primal fears like supernatural horror”.

Studies conducted by the classification board have found that the recently introduced 12A rating has been a particular source of confusion, with many parents feeling that the content of some films rated 12A is unsuitable for young children, although children of any age are allowed to see them, provided they are accompanied by an adult. Perhaps the clearest example of this has been The Woman in Black, for which the BBFC received 134 complaints, making it the most complained-about film of the last four years. According to Austin, the film’s distributors, Momentum Pictures, were keen to obtain a 12A rating rather than the BBFC’s initially proposed 15, in part because of the involvement of Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe and his appeal to younger viewers. Though visual detail in the film was toned down in line with BBFC directions, many still felt that it was too frightening for very young audiences.

The new guidelines will come into practice on 24th February this year. You can read more on the BBFC website.

Sources: BBC News | BBFC

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